Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta has said that the request for good governance must come from the generality of the people, particularly the workers.
The governor stated this at the National Union of Civil Engineering, Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) 5th National Quadrennial Delegates Conference on Thursday in Asaba.
He said that the conference theme “Economic Woes, What Strategies for Nigeria and Trade Unions” was apt, particularly now when people had lost their purchasing power and prices of goods and services gone out of reach.
Okowa challenged the workers to think out things that could make government policies work and find ways of advising the politicians on the best ways such would profit the generality of the people.
He also charged labour unions to partner with government to develop the economy and encouraged workers to be committed to work and to increase their productivity.
Okowa said that proper mechanism must be put in place to check incompetence in workforce, particularly with the construction and building industry, giving the sensitive nature of the sector.
He said that for the country to harness its potential and liberate the nation from its economic woes, government economic development framework must be people-oriented and people-driven.
“Actually, good governance itself should come from the workforce, we can engineer good governance by resolving among ourselves that we will resist bad governance whenever it comes to play.
“Our workers must be committed in their work and be proactive, we cannot continue to live in the past.’’ he said. The governor said that the long-term dependent on oil revenue as a nation was the challenge.
He said that developing other sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, among others, would put the country back on recovery part.
“This is because whenever there is fluctuation in the price of oil, there is always a huge challenge in Nigeria.
“In the last two years now, the price of crude oil has been down and that is why we are witnessing the kind of economy we have now.
“We do not have immediate solutions, but we have to suffer the pains of today as we plan into the future to save us from further consequences.
“We must look into the financial sector. The energy sector is a great problem which we must address for the industries to come back in the scale which they can impact positively on our nation,’’ he said.
Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a goodwill message, said labour must continue to canvass for good governance predicated on transparency, respect for rule of law and accountability to the people.
He said the challenges the country was passing through were because those ingredients of good governance were lacking and had not actually been respected.
“That is why we have canvassed that for us to realise our economic goals we must get those tenets of development and good governance right,’’ Wabba said.
He said that it was part of the union’s responsibility to canvass for social justice, and the closure of the gap between the poor and the rich in the society.
The NLC President said that presently the inequality gap between the rich and the poor have continued to widen, with the middle class now wiped out of existence.
He said that currently the ordinary people and even the workers no longer had purchasing power, as their earnings could no longer sustain them to have a decent life.
“So, for us to have a meaningful development and for people to have decent life and for us to address all issues of poverty and development, government must be able to empower the people.
“Therefore, workers who are the creators of the wealth must be partakers of the wealth that the country creates and that will translate to prosperity for the people.
“The workers have lost their purchasing powers. They cannot pay their children’s school fees or even feed adequately, majorly because of rise in prices of fuel. “Even the exchange rates have also gone out of reach.
“We have made our submissions on why workers’ minimum wage must be reviewed to enable the workers live a decent life and more so to empower the workers to make purchases and to stimulate the economy.
“Most industries are closing down and many workers sacked because such companies no longer sell their goods and services but if the workers are empowered, the economy will bounce back,’’ Wabba said.
He said that the proposal before the Federal Government to review the minimum wage of workers was receiving due attention.
On his part, Amechi Asugwuni, President, NUCECFWW, said the union would sustain its struggles to ensure that members’ welfare were enhanced, particularly to end casualisation of workers in the country.
He also urged government at all levels to pursue policies that would spur development, check corruption and improve workers’ welfare.
“Every government must disassociate itself from those corrupt persons and ensure that those who have proven integrity manage the treasury effectively and efficiently to the benefits of all.
“There must be reforms to change the laws to enable it tackle issues relating to corruption and possibly to create special courts to fight corruption in the country.
“The rule of law must be respected such that the judiciary will operate independently with time limits to decide on issues relating to corruption.
“We must not spend all the years in court to decide issues that bothers on corruption because it makes nonsense of the whole issues as the loots recovered remain exhibits until the case is done with,’’ Asugwuni said.
He also called for true diversification of resources to spur development from all sectors of the economy.