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Influence decisions for Africa, ILO urges Nigeria

Ukpono Ukpong, Abuja

Nigeria has been urged to use its position in the Governing Board of International Labour Organization (ILO) to influence decisions for the good of African Continents.

Speeking at a 2-day preparatory meeting and ILO Centenary Symposium for delegates attending the 2019 International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, the ILO Country Director in Nigeria, Mr Dennis Zulu, said that Africa looks up to Nigeria to present its issues at the annual global event.

Furthermore, he disclosed that the major discussion at the forthcoming conference would be on the future of Work Report, which would be presented by the ILO Director-General to the plenary.

“You know Nigeria is very important being on the ILO governing body and also Nigeria count significantly with the highest number of workers across the continent of Africa.

“Nigeria is not only the populous country but also it occupied a very important position in the ILO and the first ILO office opened in the continent was in Nigeria, Lagos in 1959.

“In addition, unions across Africa look up to Nigeria to add voice to labour issues that affect workers’ in the work place.

“So, the private sector, which is represented by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), NLC, TUC and government, are very important as they are all sitting on the governing body.

“That is why Nigeria is really the leading voice of the workers’ in the continent and Nigeria have to live up to that especially now that technology is influencing the way we do things and the way we do our work and ultimately it will influence the way trade unions operate in work place. Zulu said

He, therefore, urged participants to ensure that they participate in their large number to influence decisions on child labour, sexual harassment, safety in workplace, and among others that would be beneficial to Nigeria and Africa.

Zulu also said the conference would expect member countries to report on their progress regarding standards and conventions that they have ratified and domesticated into their national laws.

Meanwhile, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this year being a centenary Nigeria delegates were well prepared to participate effectively during the conference.

He noted that the agenda of the conference bothers on the usual committees, especially the committee on the application of standard where over 40 cases will be treated.

“For example, the issue we have been championing here is about social security and all of you knows what the social security in Nigeria is and the fact that it is very low.

“So, we need to prepare our people to know the background knowledge of those committees in place which they can participate in.

“We also have the standard setting initiatives, which deal with the issue of ending sexual harassment and gender based violence. This will be a major discussion at the ILC this year.

“That is why we are going to the ILC with about 50 per cent women, so that we can empower them and also ask them to use the knowledge gained and domesticate same in Nigeria.

“The issue of gender based violence in Nigeria has assumed an alarming proportion in different work places and communities.

‘’We need those women to become the champions of trying to end this issue of gender based violence,’’ he said.

The 108th Session of the ILC will commence from June 10 to June 21 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the theme: “Advancing Social Justice and Promoting Decent Work’’.