Organised Labour has berated the high level of unemployment in the country, saying it is a ‘vehicle’ for increase insecurity.
The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba echoed this view along with other labour leaders at the 40th Anniversary and Awards Nite of the Labour Writers Association of Nigeria (LAWAN) held at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja, Lagos. He said the governments in the country should address the high rate of unemployment in the country to bring about a peaceful nation.
Speaking on the theme of the anniversary, ‘Growing Insecurity and Unemployment: The Way Forward’, Comrade Wabba said it was dear to the heart of labour, being one of the major challenges facing the country currently.
Describing unemployment as a time bomb, Comrade Ayuba said if not urgently addressed, it would be difficult for the nation to have peace as problems of insecurity would continue to skyrocket.
“There is no difference between unemployment and insecurity, it is a fact and has been established, during the recent programme we held in addressing precarious work and making jobs available for our teeming youths. Decent jobs are very important, because without decent jobs there will be no security, and no social progress for everybody.
He commended the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for always partnering with the NLC to address some of the challenges of the entire Nigerian society.
He said with what is happening today, organised labour needed more collaboration and sensitisation of its rank and file to be able to be on the same page and address some of the ills.
According to him, while workers’ education is important, citizens education is more important.
The NLC chief also assured of the union’s continuous support to LAWAN even as he commended members’ efforts in joining in the struggles to fight and report the ills in the workplace.
According to him, “This is service to humanity for making our voices to be heard. When you do the right thing you find passion. We will continue to work together to address the various issues affecting our society, which we must put before the public domain. This event is about humanity, about society and doing what is right.”
Speaking on the theme of the anniversary, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Issa Aremu, said with what is happening in the country, especially with the recent #EndSARS protest, which brought out large number of youths across the country to the streets, there is a nexus between unemployment and insecurity.
He recalled how there was full employment in the early 70s and 80s with industries working at full capacity. Aremu said it was difficult to find idle youths then roaming about the streets.
On the way forward in addressing the menace, He urged for the need to take into cognisance, Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended on policies of states directed towards fundamental objectives and directives of states in creating employment, welfare of the citizens, minimum wage and pension, among others.
He lamented that it was unconstitutional and unacceptable that leaders have not worked enough towards the realisation of the policies, adding that the constitution spelt it out clearly as it guaranteed employment for every citizen.
Similarly, President of the Trade Union Congress, TUC, Comrade Olaleye Quadri, while congratulating LAWAN on the milestone, restated that the union will keep fighting and forging ahead to make Nigerian workers enjoy the fruits of their labour.
In his address, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, while commending LAWAN on the significant milestone, said the anchor of the anniversary lies in the fact that the association has put labour in the front burner in the last 40 years, to ensure that the administration of the tripartite community, which approximates the body and soul of every nation’s productivity, is aligned to the international best practices.
He said Nigeria, has no doubt been the beneficiaries of the rich contribution of labour reporters as manifest in the growth of friendly labour practices across the years.
Ngige, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Media, Nwachukwu Obidiwe, said LAWAN’s responsiveness to the course of workers is no doubt outstanding.
He said six years and five months after the current administration took over under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, with varying challenges, it had successfully pulled through with inherited gargantuan socio-economic downturn.
Among the challenges, Ngige mentioned include the mono-export crude production dropping from 2.4m bpd in 2014 to about 1.8m bpd in 2015/16 and the prices falling to an all-time low of about $25 at a time in 2020.
However, despite challenges, he stressed that the Buhari-led administration has maintained an equable industrial milieu and supportive of upward national productivity.
“We have succeeded in shifting the emphasis from white collar jobs to the blue collar skills with millions of young Nigerians embracing handwork. The awareness is growing and the impact is being felt,” he said.
He also disclosed that the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) has also been re-constituted after years of budgetary constraints, while the review of obsolete labour laws is awaiting legislative action.
Noting that there is still a lot of work ahead of collective efforts to realised full actualisation, he said as LAWAN marks its 40th anniversary, it calls for stock taking.
In her remarks, Chairman, LAWAN, Bimbola Oyesola, said that the choice of the theme was informed by the need to reflect on what could be done to put an end to the challenges highlighted.
“As media practitioners in the labour sector, we are burden and disturbed by the growing number of our youths who roam the streets daily without any means of livelihood. “More worrisome is the spate of insecurity in our land and the fact that most susceptible number of perpetrators are likewise the youths.
“We hope through the contributions from all our leaders gathered here tonight, we can use the recommendations which will be well publicised by our members as our little contribution to chart the path for the transformation of our country, ” Oyesola said.
The anniversary event also featured recognition and presentation
of individual and corporate awards to some key stakeholders in the Nigerian labour movement. They include the NLC, TUC, Trustfund Pension, Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Access Bank, Ecobank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Dangoted Group, among other corporates.