Social Media Reactions: Keyamo launches 774,000 jobs in grand style 

As DG MINILS, Issa Aremu calls on African countries to produce own COVID-19 vaccines
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Federal Government on Monday said it was considering to upgrade the Micheal Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, MINILS, Ilorin to a university.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, started this at the opening session of 2021 Harmattan School, organized by the Nigeria Labour Congrss, NLC, at MINILS, Ilorin, Kwara State, with the then: “COVID-19 Pandemic and the challenges to the World of Work.”

The Minister said he would present the proposal for the upgrade of MINILS to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, adding that the institute will serve as a veritable avenue to solve all industrial matters between the government and the organized labour.

According to him, “Since the NLC has taken leadership of this place, we want to upgrade it this is about the only major labour institution we have in the whole sub Saharan Africa.

“And so we want to attract not only labour centres in Nigeria but labour centres in the whole of Africa and we have the space, atmosphere, the good location but the infrastructure we have to upgrade it to attract all the labour centres in Africa should come here.

“The first thing we have to do is to recommend to Mr. President and to FEC to see how we can upgrade this place to a full fledged university of Labour studies. That will be extremely good if we do that and one of the advantages is we can have more access to funds to operate this place and upgrade infrastructure here and once upgraded we can have access to funds like TETFund for us to upgrade infrastructure here.

“We can also have so many other labour related activities in this place. One thing we want to ensure this place does is to train upcoming labour leaders. Labour movement and labour studies is so serious that is not something that all kinds of people will just stumble into like we have now.

“Anywhere in this country where you have a new leadership of a union somewhere, a chapter they should come here for some induction course and in terms of major labour disputes in the country, this institute should form the bedrock the platform upon which negotiation should take place.

READ ALSO: FG’ll amend all extant labour laws to conform with new challenges — Festus Keyamo

“We have tough times coming especially with the issue of subsidy removal I know we have tough times coming with the labour unions we are praying for amicable resolution of the issues and we know their mandate to protect the right of workers, the interest of workers and I know they are ready to live upto that mandate.”

The Minister commended the leadership of the NLC for sustaining the educational programme despite the challenges faced by the labour movement over the years.

He said, “Education and especially life-long learning has become the corner stone for any organisation that hopes to transform itself and the environment in which it operates.

“Particularly with the exponential impacts of the 4th wave of industrialisation and globalization underpinned by the information communication technology (ICT) revolution.

“As well, the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic and various other socio-economic development challenges confronting countries like Nigeria has made educating, an imperative that no organisation and nation can ignore anymore.
There is high-quality evidence across the globe of how education has transformed organisations, communities, nations and societies.

“Countries like South Korea, China, India amongst many have leveraged education in actualising quantum leaps in development and are now well positioned to exude some influence on the trajectory of global development.

“We eulogise these countries for the transformations they have may in debates today, but the truth is that they paid attention to education at all levels and contexts and have sustained this. Today, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) is focusing on education to become the driver of development in the Middle East and Aljazeera’s Business and Economy reports that companies that have existed for over 100 years have been driven by a focus on education.

“So l must say that the NLC is doing some that is right which l think should be the bed rock of our country’s industrial relations system and development as the 21st century unfolds. Investing in education should not be just a jamboree or routine activity but be geared towards real emancipation, empowerment, gender equity, poverty eradication and inclusive growth and development.

“It is gratifying that the NLC and Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin are collaborating today in bringing this school to reality within the premises of the Institute. This is the kind of projects that the government and myself want to see occurring; where government agencies and institutions and other social partners work together to achieve our common goals and aspirations of equity and fair development for all.

“I am aware this training school will be practical and skills-oriented, with themes and thematic groups covering; leadership development, gender and organising. These themes are vital for the transformation of the unions but also of our country.

“As we prepare to kick-start this programme today, I want you all to know that a lot has gone into making this programme a huge success, and so, l encourage and expect total commitment from all the participants.”

He directed that staff of the institute should be paid 13 months salary as a form of motivation to them.

In his welcome address, the Director-General of MINILS, Comrade Issa Aremu expressed happiness that the institute that had been moribund has been revived since he assumed office with many factlities being built and commissioned.

Comrade Aremu said that the level of abandonment of the institute was incredible, stressing that for 40 years, there was no road map.

He, however said that his administration has put in place a strategic work plan and that the institute has now been recognized to be the hub in training workers in West Africa.

While commending the Minister of State for Labour, Mr. Keyamo for his efforts towards ensuring that the institute is revived, he said, “I must share here that the Minister has inspired significant achievements in MINILS since my resumption on 18th May, 2021.

“Among uthese achievements are the reconnecting of MINILS with its constituents, the development of a strategic plan for 4 years, 2022-2025, the signing of an MOU between MINILS and the ILO for the institute as hub for ILO’s workers’ activities in West Africa, forging partnership with dRPC for Women Empowerment and up-scaling of the Institute’s website, which is funded by the Bill Gates Foundation, the designing of new curricula for workers’ education, potential affiliating with ARLAC (The African Regional Labour Administration Center, Harare, Zimbabwe) to run Post Graduate Diplomas and Degrees in Labour Administration, prospects for national workshops with National Salaries Income and Wages Commission on compensation and productivity management and the commissioning today of the new 20 rooms accommodation facility and the Enterprise Development Workshop.

“By having this first ever NLC School in MINILS, the NLC President shows himself as a leader deep in conviction and driven by a rich appreciation of the essence underlying trade unionism. He has prioritized workers and national interests above parochialism.”

He said with the emergence of the Omicron variant, apparently, COVID-19 is a new normal.

“The challenge is for stakeholders to work more concertedly towards striking a balance between life and livelihood. In keeping with this, MINILS for instance provided a platform for staff to take vaccine within the premises as part of our recovery efforts from the pandemic.

“We have also supported the holding of this school by providing access to a reputable healthcare consultancy to carry out COVID-19 tests, provide basic tips on measures to mitigate the spread of the virus as well as to be on stand-by to attend to any unforeseen health situations during this programme.

“This kind of pragmatism is hereby recommended to the governments at all levels to emulate. While we encourage intensifying campaigns for vaccination, workers yet to take the jabs should not be barred from working as this can only serve to worsen the already unpalatable unemployment levels being experienced in the country.

“Our country no doubt is confronted by challenges. However as is the unionism slogan, it is better to ‘organize and not to agonize’. The NLC is depicting this, through the holding of this programme and its other initiatives that promotes national unity in diversity.

“Rather than taking to name calling and to trade blames, this harmattan School portrays the NLC as firmly guided by the spirit of inclusivity, and a tolerance for differences.

“As Nigeria struggles with particularly the forces of disintegration, we must not lost sight of the great strides the President Muhamadu Buhari, supported by the National Assembly has recorded including the Return of the Budget cycle to the more predictable January – December period, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act, massive Infrastructural development straddling the length and breadth of the country etc.

“We therefore call on the NLC as well as other labour stakeholders not to sit on the fence. Labour must speak out to support a more united and prosperous Nigeria. We call on our leaders at all levels to embrace Africanism which is fully on display by the NLC in this 2021 Harmattan School.

“We demand that the rest of us should fully back the position President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa who is at the forefront campaigning against Afro-phobia promoted by the Western media in their response to the discovery of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa.

“By shutting their borders against African countries, the West is acting true to type as this is exactly their response to AIDS and other health crises there were successful in linking to an African origin.

“We must however learn from this to devote more attention to being self-reliant. Vaccine sovereignty by African countries should be a focus, so that we do not remain at the mercies of the Western donors in the face of COVID 19 and in future pandemics.

“The lessons of the recently held 10th session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-national commission should guide the NLC as it open its doors to unionists from our African neighbours. Indeed, there should be greater efforts toward encouraging people-to-people relationships by the unions.

“MINILS is willing to be involved in this as we work on the aforementioned collaboration with ARLAC to broaden our client base for the delivery of training and educational services, particularly using on-line/distance learning methodologies to reach learners in other African countries.”

Aremu reiterated the readiness of the Institute to facilitate learning through experience sharing and healthy discourses around the issues emanating from the newly passed Petroleum Industry Act.

“MINILS believes there can be mutual understanding around the issues and the evolving by social actors of pragmatic solutions to prevent disruptions in the near future associated with the provisions of the law,” he said.

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