Tasks African countries to cooperate more with themselves
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–THE National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria,NUTGTWN,has thrown its weight behind the federal government’s decision not to obey court order in the payment of P & ID’s $9.1 billion judgment debt.
This was even as it charged the government to go all out in ensuring that all Nigerians that collaborated with foreign contractors in the alleged shady deals were brought to book.
The union,in a communique it issued after its just concluded 31st Annual National Education Conference, held in Abuja,also enjoined African countries to cooperate more with themselves rather than competing with themselves for conditional aids and support with other countries in Asia and Africa.
“Europe once scrambled for Africa which led to colonialism and underdevelopment, African leaders in 2019 should not be willing tools for new domination and global exploitation,” it charged.
The organisation,which noted that “the P & ID contract scam underscores the need for Nigeria’s government to be conscious of foreign portfolio investment”, advised that “Government investment charity should start from home.”
While insisting that it “support for the federal government’s decision not to pay the money”, the union, in the communiqué, signed its president,John Adaji and General Secretary, and Vice President, Industrial Global Union,Issa Aremu, ” called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to the arrest and prosecute all Nigerians, who collaborated with the P &ID investment scammers.”
In the communique, the union said it “frowned at the idea of All Africa leaders engaging different countries of the world as unequal partners. Africa must indeed engage in globalized world”, adding:” But it’s unacceptable that a continent of 54 countries would be engaging with China, Russia, India, Turkey, Japan among others in unequal summits which often hold outside the Continent of Africa.”
While it “called on all industrial unions to invest in the training and retraining of their female members and young workers to improve their participation in union activities and national development,” the organisation charged “President Buhari to urgently lead the struggle to redeem the respect and dignity of Africa.”
It noted the “promise of independent Africa in 1957 when Ghana lowered the Union Jack is that Africans would relate with the world as equals not as junior partners begging for development. Africa Union vision of 2063 talks of prosperity for all Africans based on self reliance, partnership with the world as contained in 2030 UN sustainable Development Goals 17.”
“Europe once scrambled for Africa which led to colonialism and underdevelopment, African leaders in 2019 should not be willing tools for new domination and global exploitation,” it said.
While recalling that “on Tuesday July 23rd, President Muhammadu Buhari hosted the National Executive Council (NEC) members of the union at the Presidential Villa in Abuja during which the President unveiled a comprehensive Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) policy following extensive consultations with all stakeholders in the textile and garment value chain”, it commended the president for “changing the narrative of textile industry from that of closure to revival and recovery.”
While also acknowledging “that the new CTG policy in addition to the three unprecedented Presidential Executive orders mandating government agencies to patronize Nigeria goods (textile inclusive) through budget spending aims at creating millions of jobs”, the union commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its development financing initiatives on cotton seeds to farmers, restructured Bank of Industry (BOI) loans to the spinning and weaving mills and facilitating the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the textile mills and uniformed services (Army, Navy, Police, Road safety, Civil Defence, Customs, Immigration, National Youth Service Corps etc) for their uniforms to be produced locally.”
Noting that “President Buhari had envisioned 100 million jobs in a decade. Textile and garment sector promises as many as 2.5 million direct jobs,” it reaffirmed “that textile Industry remains the key driver of sustainable jobs and development for most national economies of developing nations like ours. Indeed for Nigeria and Africa to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 2030, especially SDG 9 dealing with industry and innovation, African continent must innovate and industrialize.
“Africa must copy China’s industrialization drive which has within 20 years moved over 250 million people out of poverty through manufacturing and industrialization,” it charged.
It commended the Bank of Industry (BOI) under the leadership of Mr. Olukayode Pitan for sustainable financing to textile operators to aid recovery just as it hailed United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) for support for industrial revival.
It observed “that the implementation of the CTG policy is taking place at the time most African countries including Nigeria had signed on to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA)” and “commended President Buhari for the signing of the Agreement.”
The organisation called on the federal government to develop a comprehensive strategy to fully optimise the benefits of ACFTA with necessary safeguards in place to prevent and apprehend unfair trading practices such as smuggling and dumping.
Other resolutions as contained in the communiqué included its support for the current closure of Nigerian borders by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) as part of the strategies to combat smuggling while calling on the Nigeria’s Customs to effectively enforce the directive;commended the directive by President Buhari for special fund by the CBN and Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for capacity building and training of workers in the cotton, textile and garment value chain against the background of the new CTG policy and signing of the ACFTA.
“The fund must be channelled through the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria,” it said.
While it observed “that for textile industry to be competitive,” it said “the existing workforce must be trained and retrained to acquire new skills for the challenges of competition within the context of the 4th industrial revolution.”
The union also commended the Federal Government, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and all the stakeholders for working together to ensure a new National Minimum Wage of N30,000.00 for Nigeria workers and the consequential adjustments as it affects public sector workers.”
It hailed the Kaduna State Government and other State Governments that have implemented the new Minimum Wage and called on other State governors and other employers of labour in both the public and private sectors to quickly implement the new minimum wage.
It observed “that economic recovery would elude Nigerian economy until the country put an end to persistent crisis of compensation of the working class through enhanced purchasing power which is only possible through prompt and adequate payment of minimum and living wage for the employed workforce.”
It also noted “that the key to sustainable development is labour productivity in both public and private sectors which is only possible with motivated paid workers at work and after work through adequate pensions.”
It further noted that increased wages and regular payments of the salaries would increase purchasing power of the citizens and enhance the patronage of locally produced goods including textiles.
While it commended the leadership of the textile union for commitment to welfare of workers,it said:” The union and textile employers had since signed and implemented new minimum wage of over N37,000 through the instrumentality of collective bargaining between the union and the textile employers association.”
It observed that as Nigeria’s industrial relations undergoes the challenges of avoidable disputes, strikes and lockouts, other unions and employers might find useful the model example of peaceful contestation and cooperation between workers and employers in the textile Industry on all aspects of industrial relations.
But the NUTGTWN called on workers to reciprocate the gesture by government and employers through improved productivity.
It alerted “on danger of drug abuse and called on parents and guardians to be more vigilant and monitor activities of their children and wards.”
It urged SMEDAN to continue its efforts in areas of capacity building, training and exposure of self-employed workers to access to credit and exposure to proper business management.
It also affirmed its support for the reconciliation effort by the leadership of Congress to ensure NUPENG and NUEE return to the NLC,saying, ” As capital and capitalists are building Unity, only United labour can confront global capitalism.”
It reaffirmed its “Commitment to the strategic goals of IndustriALL Global Union; Build Union Power, Defend Workers’ Rights, Confront Global Capital and ensure Sustainable Industrial Policy.
It further reaffirmed its ” commitment to implementing the resolutions of the IndustriALL Africa Regional Conference held in Tanzania from 7 to 11 October, 2019 on Youth, Women, Industrialisation and general resolutions.”
While it commended,”Affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union from South Africa for agreeing to host the Third World Congress of IndustriALL Global Union scheduled to hold in Cape Town next year,the NUTGTWN called on
“All affiliates of IndustriALL in Sub Saharan Africa to support South African affiliates to make South Africa 2020 as successful as second historic colourful Congress which took place in Brazil from 4-7 October 2016.”