Unemployment should come under emergency, says labour

Dr Chris Ngige

Dr Chris Ngige

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called for a declaration of a state of emergency on unemployment in the country.Speaking during its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Lagos on Monday the union’s factional President Joe Ajaero said government should as a matter of urgency, call for a stakeholders’ summit on ways to tackle the unemployment crisis in the country.

According to the union, various policies by previous governments have over the years failed to address the worrisome situation, adding that, various job creation channels created in the past never yielded the desired result.

“The CWC-in-session observed the prevalent employment crisis, which keeps growing by the day and practically preparing the nation for heightened insecurity and other numerous social vices if unchecked. The CWC-in-session also sees as unproductive and impotent all the policies advanced for the stimulation of job creation especially for employable Nigerian youths. The federal government’s Youths Empowerment Scheme (YES) and hosts of others floated even right from the days of immediate past Administration have not yielded any known, desirable results. The federal government should, as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency and summon all patriotism to call for a Summit where ways out of the unemployment crisis could be advanced”, The congress said.

Frowning at the use of security agencies for dispute resolution, the union chided the Ministry of Labour and Productivity for abdicated its statutory role and conceding to the Nigeria Police and the State Security Service (SSS), whom it alleged are now freely meddling, most indiscriminately, in the affairs of labour.

It urged the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige to wade into the situation with a view to stopping the trend so as to avert imminent national industrial disharmony.

The union also dismissed plans by the government to raise the generation capacity to 10,000 MW in the next four years, saying it takes not less than four years to build power plant.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no ongoing power project that will be commissioned in the next four year. Megawatts are not decreed into existence, they are built. But today none of that is going on.

According him, “We had warned Nigerians about this crisis of power supply five years ago when they were pushing for privatisation of the assets of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN. Today, those that bought the assets of PHCN have no capacity to perform. All they are interested is making money. The power generation has dropped to 2000MW and the distribution companies, DISCOs especially in Lagos, are not picking load. They are only picking for what they call priority feeders. These are industrial areas where they can make huge profit. We have also warned that in as much as the government continues to take electricity and fuel supplies as business rather than social service, there would not be solution to the crisis.

Speaking in the same vein the Deputy President of the union, Achese Igwe, called for a review of the privatisation of PHCN’s assets because of alleged incapability of the DISCOs to deliver due to lack of expertise, lamented that though members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, were ready to partner with NNPC to distribute fuel to the nook and cranny of the country, NNPC had refused to implement decisions reached on how to ease supply problems.

He equally alleged that till today, the NNPC had not indicated its readiness to partner with NUPENG to find solution to the protracted supply crisis, we are expecting NNPC to implement the decision reach to ease the supply problem. Unfortunately, till now, NNPC has not and has also refused to partner with us to solve the problem.”
In the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting made available to The Guardian, the union called on government to find a lasting solution to persistent fuel scarcity in the country.

Besides it urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do all things practically possible to ensure that the scarcity situation is nipped in the bud.

The NLC said the situation has become worrisome and seemed to have defied all solutions, adding that, Nigerians may soon bounce on government due to the untold hardship being experienced daily.

“The CWC frowns at the reappearance and persistence on long queues at filling stations across the nation owing to scarcity of petroleum products recalling that scarcity has returned and yet to disappear in the past months.

The CWC advises President Muhammadu Buhari ‘s administration to do all practically possible to reverse the trend and ensure that such does not happen again”.

The committee members who discussed sundry issues concerning the nation, particularly called for all hands to be on deck towards solving the many problems bedeviling the country.

According to them, all gatekeepers of the nation at all levels must close rank and pull the nation back from this inexorable slide into a state of anomie. Those whose actions and statements are putting pressure on various national relations must immediately desist.

Besides, they urged all those at the various corridors of power to quickly conduct a sensitivity test on all their actions and utterances so as to redirect themselves accordingly to avoid policies and body languages that could easily be misread by other segments of the society.

Dwelling on government’s privatization agenda, they called for a review of the process, saying the expected dividends of the privatization were yet to be felt.

It said the failure of the process could be said to be responsible for the crisis in the nation’s power sector, alleging that; “the unbundling and subsequent sale of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to various private operators about three years ago is the worst mistake any government that is worth its integrity and responsibility can commit”.

“Before our very eyes, we have witnessed unprecedented power failure as a result of the steady drop in power generation. Presently, the nation is faced with sharp drop of power generation to 2,000 megawatts and we are yet to see the end of the abysmal drop.

Also traceable to the failure of the privatization policy is the operational docility in the mining sub-sector where licenses have been granted to various private miners who, up till date, have not commenced operation at various mining levels as expected.”

To this end, it urged government to borrow a leaf from the failure in the power sector privatization process and review its decision to privatize other national institutions like Nigerian Railway (NRC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), saying it portends greater socio-economic danger for the nation.

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