…Demands end to hunger, unemployment, insecurity
By Victor Young
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, on New Year eve, took stock of how workers fared in 2019 and commended Nigerian workers for their outstanding dedication, sense of duty and profound contributions to national growth and development.
In its New Year message, NLC through its President, Ayuba Wabba, congratulated all workers, pensioners and other citizens in Nigeria and elsewhere with love, joy, hope and goodwill, urging them to hope for better outcomes for all in 2020.
Wabba, informed that in the year 2020, NLC would with an uncommon sense of duty, among others, “mount a very robust campaign for the generation of mass jobs and for already existing jobs to be decent. To this end, the NLC is perfecting plans for a National Job Summit in 2020. We will get stakeholders: experts, policymakers, concerned demographics and workers on a roundtable to find answers and solutions to Nigeria’s burgeoning unemployment crisis.
In the spirit of growing the economy and creating jobs, we urge our compatriots especially our elites to change our consumption habits. We must consume what we produce. We must patronize “Made in Nigeria”.
“Nigerian workers under the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress will continue to work assiduously towards the promotion of national security, peace and unity. We will continue to put the needed weight on the things that unite us and hold in contempt the things that seek to divide us. We encourage our political leaders to exemplify the same by their utterances and conduct. By so doing, we would be laying an enduring foundation for national peace, unity, and development.
“In 2020, we demand that government must prioritize the security of lives and property. Nigeria has seen enough bloodshed. While we commend the sacrifice and commitment of our soldiers and other security personnel in the war against terrorist insurgency and other violent crimes across Nigeria, we urge government to do all it takes to end the bloodletting and brigandage in different parts of the country. As we have always canvassed, the war against insecurity must be anchored on human security. We must feed hungry stomachs. We must create jobs to engage our youths. An idle mind is devil’s workshop.”
Wabba recalled that “in the outgone year, Congress pressed for economic growth through the diversification of the national economy, improvement in our physical infrastructure and institutional reforms especially in the commanding heights of our socio-economic life. During our courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on March 7, 2019, we urged Mr. President to focus on job generation through the creation of the enabling environment for industrialization, economic diversification through agriculture and robust engagement with the social partners. We also called for the fixing of our refineries as the current importation of refined petroleum products is an unsustainable aberration.
“2019 marked the consolidation of Nigeria’s presence and visibility in the international labour spheres. In addition to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, choice of Nigeria as the host of the Global Summit on Employment, the Nigeria Labour Congress hosted in Abuja the 6th African Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba from September 23 – 25, 2019. This biennial conference drew delegates from different African countries and other continents. The Nigeria Labour Congress also hosted the 4th Delegates Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation – Africa (ITUC-Africa) on 20th and 21st of November 2019. At the conference, a Nigerian, Comrade Joel Odigie was appointed the Deputy General Secretary of ITUC-Africa.
“In spite of the foregoing milestones in the outgone year, there were also a number of challenges. Some states refused to set up negotiating committees to bargain with labour over consequential salary adjustment incident on the new national minimum wage. It is heartwarming, though, that some states are already implementing the new national minimum wage while many states are already negotiating on the consequential adjustment arising from the new national minimum wage. We await conclusions and immediate implementation.
“Workers were also concerned about the diminishing space for institutionalized tripartite consultation among the social partners in Nigeria especially through the institutionalization of the National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC. Upon persistent advocacy by the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, promised to inaugurate the NLAC before the end of 2019. Unfortunately, this did not materialize in 2019. It is our expectation that the NLAC will be fully formalized in 2020.”