The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has called on organised labour to challenge political leaders to ensure that state resources meet the needs of workers and other Nigerians.
Oshiomhole made the call in Abuja at a reception in honour of the Director-General, International Labour Organisation, Mr Guy Ryder. Oshiomhole expressed concern over non chalant attitude of leaders towards improving the lives of Nigerian workers and said the organised labour must adopt aggressive engagements to change the status quo. “We have to do things differently about minimum wage,” he said, noting that whereas prices of goods and services had gone up astronomically in the country, workers wages have remained static.
“So if every other cost is changing, and labour cost is constant…, somebody is being squeezed. “Rising crises, stagnant wages, a very miserable lifestyle, and you have to fight for that. “And we now see in Nigeria the difference between signing an agreement and the challenge of translating those laws, and even the contradiction of signing laws first before getting consultants to tell us how to implement these laws. “Just to tell you that from inside, I am much more convinced that unions should not only exist but should have the capacity and ruthlessly deploy that capacity to ensure that the resources of states are dissipated in favour of working people and working families,” the former NLC president said.
While commending the ILO for its focus on Youth Employment and Social Justice, Oshiomhole said the focus should also be on an ageing population and underemployment of young persons. He said Nigeria ought to do something about its population growth which was at three per cent annually, as against two per cent national economic growth. “With a population at three per cent, poverty must be endemic, it is not rocket science, so we do need to have conversations on various aspects of society, particularly at what we do differently to get the youth busy.” He urged young people to collaborate to fight poverty by pushing those in government to create the environment for them to think and change the narratives.