By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ORGANISED Labour has decried the rate of de-industrialisation in Nigerian economy, lamenting that the manufacturing continues to decline faced with the challenge of inadequate power supply, high cost of credit, inadequate foreign exchange supply and depreciating value of the naira.
Speaking, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, noted that “this trend needs to be reversed with a focus on key areas of the economy such as automobile, textile, petrochemical, agro allied, refineries, fertilizer and pharmaceutical industries. Other areas with great potential for growth and development include building materials, milling, paper and paper products, solid minerals, iron and steel and boat building, etc.”
Corroborating Wabba, President of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, from the fillers I have received from our affiliates there is no company that currently spends less than half a billion naira to power their plants in a month. Diesel now sells for between N250 and N300 per litre depending on where you are buying from. Those that could not sustain their businesses have left the shores of the country but their products still flood our markets. Who is losing? The food and beverage sector had in its employ millions of workers until recently when the issue of violation of collective agreement and redundancy arising from forex problems, etc became the order of the day. Employers of labour have become politicians and hardly adhere to agreements.
They take advantage of workers at every slight opportunity, like this one provided by recession. It is our thinking that the fact that there is a little drop in profit margin is not a criterion to lay off committed workers. Between July 2015 and now the senior staff of food and beverage union has lost thousands of workers to an already over-saturated labour market. “At its peak, the textile sector provided direct jobs to close to half a million of Nigerians and millions of indirect jobs.
Sadly, over 90% core investors have since gone into importation. We will be glad if government can do for the industry what it has done in the power sector by making solid arrangement to sell gas to this industry at the same rate it is selling to the DISCOS; since they both require this commodity for production.
The Footwear and Leather industry is combating with the challenges of influx of fake tyres from China and fairly used ones. The development possesses a great risk to the masses, who are daily on the roads. According to Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), a total of 4,005 deaths in 7,657 crashes was recorded at the end of week 47 of 2016. Fake tyres contribute to it. And we urge government to assist through policies to curb further closure of companies. “The same evil that befell the textile, food and beverage, footwear and leather sectors have since befallen the Pharmaceutical and Chemical, Aviation and iron and Steel sectors, etc. Reports have it that despite billions of naira so far spent on Aladja, Katsina and Ajaokuta they are yet to fully come on stream. The Pulp and Paper Industries at Jebba, Iwopin and Oku-Iboku have all long been abandoned and forgotten despite several appeals to government. It is not a plus that 21stcentury Nigeria still imports paper even with all the trees all over the country.