As Nigeria marks her 59th Independence anniversary, organised labour under the aegis of Trade Union Congress [TUC] has advised the newly created Economic team to work towards diversifying the economy for growth.
Lamenting the backwardness the country had been through in the last 59 years compared with countries like China and India, the labour centre in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, and Secretary General, Comrade (Barr.) Musa-Lawal Ozigi, mni, advised the team to work to diversify the economy so the teaming youths can be gainfully engaged.
According to the congress, “if there were jobs in Nigeria, our youths will not migrate in droves to other countries in search for greener pasture.
“It is saddening that our children die in different oceans in an attempt to cross over to Europe. Only recently hundreds of young men and women were forcefully ejected from South Africa; it is same with India, Ghana, Kenya, etc. That should not be.
“In the same vein, the team must take into cognizance the fact that we are now members of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“Government must not toy with the key objective of the agreement; else Nigeria will become a dumping ground. The world is a global village but every country jealously protects its corner, which is why they weigh options before partaking in agreements such as this.”
On the new minimum wage, it expressed displeasure that months after the National Minimum Wage Committee set up by the Federal Government to work on the new wage had submitted their report, government was still not committed to paying the new wage.
The congress said: “We are beginning to think that signing it in the first place was because of the 2019 General elections. To talk about setting up another Committee over the same issue makes us feel we have been swindled. We have learnt our lessons.
“The argument on the part of government has always been that there is no money to pay minimum wage whereas lawmakers have budgeted N5.6 billion to purchase automobile that are not produced in Nigeria.
“Our belief is that government can actually pay if only the cost of governance will be reduced. As long as some people continue to feel that they are more Nigerian and therefore should enjoy more than others we cannot have a sane society.”
It also lamented the widespread insecurity, saying that various forms of agitations have become a major threat to lives and properties.
According to TUC, it has even discouraged potential investors, especially foreigners. The billions of naira that should be invested to create jobs and build infrastructure are yearly budgeted for arms and ammunition, yet there appear to be no end in sight.
“We are beginning to think that there are people feeding from our insecurity challenge. This must be investigated and culprits brought to book. In the last 10 years according to report, Boko Haram sect have killed about 27, 000 civilians and 24 aid workers. We have a dire situation in our hand.
“The war on agitations is arising from what some call marginalization. There is need for inclusiveness in governance. People should be given a sense of belonging. All the regions are still deficient in terms of basic infrastructure and therefore should be attended to.
“No country can make any significant progress where there is absence of justice and equity. A united Nigeria can truly be stronger than European Union but a lot depends on the leadership,” the statement added.