By Oboh Agbonkhese
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has called on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, and other delegates attending the meeting of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, to support calls for ILO to cut ties with Big Tobacco.
ERA/FoEN said Nigeria has to declare its stand unequivocally in view of the Ugandan position last week that African bloc of nations still support that the agency continues its partnership with the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation, a non-profit funded by tobacco companies since 2002.
In a statement by ERA/FoEN’s Philip Jakpor, Head of Media and Campaigns, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Executive Director, said: “Nigeria’s delegation and that of other countries currently under tobacco industry assault should distance themselves from the Ugandan position.
“ILO and Big Tobacco’s split is long past-due. ILO must join other UN agencies in casting this deadly industry out for good.
“Big Tobacco has no place in any UN space. This month, ILO has the opportunity to stand on the right side of history and show Big Tobacco the door.”
The statement said the Ugandan position is not the true position of Africans, insisting that partnership with the tobacco industry by ILO represents a conflict of interest in the United Nations, UN, system.
The call to the Nigerian delegation is coming as the governing body of the UN entity, which met last week, failed to come up with a unified position on shuttering one of the tobacco industry’s last remaining avenues of interference in the UN. A vote is proposed this week.
Director-General of the UN, Michael Moller, issued a report three weeks ago calling on the ILO governing body to end its public-partnerships with Big Tobacco.
Over 150 public health and labour leaders had also called on ILO to cut ties with the industry and as the Secretariat of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO-FCTC, is demanding that ILO sever ties.
Big Tobacco is the “big five” largest global tobacco companies, which are Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International, and China Tobacco.