It is heartwarming that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) heeded the rational admonition of the Labour Minister, Senator Chris Ngige, to call off their strike before government would resume discussion with it.
It is unfortunate that the two umbrella labour bodies, NLC and TUC fell apart on the option of strike action but this time they should stream line their perspectives and reach a reasonable consensus with the government on how to ameliorate the pangs of the increase in petroleum prices.
The most important thing is to prevail on the federal government to immediately review revenue allocation so that more money will go to the states to enable them implement the inevitable new minimum wage. It amounts to an illusion to expect the states to pay the envisaged new minimum wage with the subsisting revenue allocation.
The pervasive unemployment situation in Nigeria calls for creative ways by the Labour Ministry to solve the problem. This is because the ministry occupies a strategic position with enormous challenges to live up to one of the cardinal election manifestoes of the APC-led Federal Government.
It is the expectation of Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari will manifestly be committed to ensuring that every facet of the Nigerian economy is resuscitated to impact positively on the lives of the downtrodden.
Therefore, economic diversification must be seen as a desideratum and it calls for immediate amendment of the laws that prevent state governments from exploring and exploiting the natural and mineral resources in their domains.
According to Buhari, one of the main thrusts of his government is to create the enabling environment to position the private sector to create jobs. The Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige in a forum expressed the readiness of the ministry to synergise with public and organised private sectors to create the institutional frameworks for job creation and good welfare packages for the employed. It has become imperative that jobs have to be created to absorb the ever-growing army of productive individuals yearning to contribute to national development.
It is pertinent to note that the untimely demise of the Minister of State in the ministry Barr. James Ocholi on March 6 2016 in a ghastly road mishap robbed the administration of a resourceful personality. In his tribute, vice president, Yemi Osinbajo said that within government and the party, Ocholi was highly regarded. “We have lost someone we held in high esteem”.
Recalling some of the official engagements of Ocholi, it became obvious that he and the substantive minister were selected as if by premonition of the President.
The late Ocholi intervened to avert industrial action in the health sector. He prevailed on the aggrieved workers to sheath their swords, which enabled him to study the antecedents, which at the end of the day enabled the President to proffer lasting solution to the protracted industrial unrest.
The point being made is that Buhari should be meticulous in appointing a credible successor to replace late Ocholi.
The Labour ministry has a lot on its hands and needs surgical operation to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the unemployed youths. The ministry has to be repositioned to create the enabling environment for employment generation.
At a recent forum, Ngige said “The ministry of has capable departments to promote good labour administration, promote decent jobs for the unemployed Nigerians and provide occupational safety and health protection services. “We are determined to turn things around and ensure the ministry perform its role as the focal agency of government in charge of employment generation as well as ensure workers safety and health at work places”. Speaking at the Enugu State International Investment Summit, he said “the federal government has elaborate plans to reactivate the moribund skills acquisition centre in the state to mop up the army of unemployed youths in the south-east geo-political zone”
There is no gainsaying the fact that the primary purpose of government is the welfare of the people. Thus, it is expected that the ministry of labour and employment will synergise with sundry public and private organisations for job creation, workers protection and maintenance of industrial peace and harmony in the country. During his visit to the minister, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole explained that the ministry in the past years was noted for registration and placement of unemployed Nigerians in various job centres across the country; thereby generating reliable data of unemployed youths as well as carry out regular trade test, do proper grading of skilled and semi-skilled and produce competent manpower through vocational training without necessarily attending higher institution.
Mr. Onwubiko, a public affairs commentator wrote from Awka.