The Federal Government has pledged to create more programmes to tackle unemployment and insecurity in the country.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said this when he receiviced a delegation of the Organisation of the Trade Union of West Africa (OTUWA) in his office on Friday in Abuja.
Ngige said that government would inject more resources to buoy up activities in the informal sector of the economy and further strengthen the production capacity of entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
He said this was part of the multi-pronged strategy of the federal government to create jobs and tackle insecurity.
“In Nigeria, the fatal blow of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt more on earnings and food production. The informal economy is badly hit.
“This is where you have people with no tenured appointment or jobs; the partially employed, the working poor.
“The job losses are huge in this sector. We are therefore committing more efforts to lift millions in this bracket out of poverty. More programmes will be introduced in near future,” he said.
The minister commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for its interventions in the government economic recovery plans, noting particularly the recent one-year moratorium given on interests to entrepreneurs.
He added that “in Nigeria, our Central Bank has been alleviating the pains of workers in the private sector, even employers – the industrialists who, for instance, have been given one-year moratorium on interest on funds sourced through the CBN.
“We are focused on these programmes because we know full well that the consequences of negative turns in the informal economy are at the base of insecurity in the country.
”To the extent there is no zone in Nigeria that is not affected by one insecurity problem or the other.
“So, the theme of the workshop by OTUWA, which was on COVID-19 and the economy of the West Africa sub-region, could not have come at a better time.
”It is a very useful step towards economic recovery and I do hope you make the conclusions from the workshop available to governments in Africa, especially our West Africa in particular, for integration into recovery plans,” he said.
Ngige also urged OTUWA to educate workers on the provisions of the ILO on prohibition of strike during emergencies such as the COVID-19 period.
“The message must be delivered to the employees in the health sector as it is against ILO’s decent work agenda as well as its recommendation on emergencies and natural disasters.
”This is the message we want you to take back to the workers in the health sector all over Africa,” he added.
Ngige further called for support for the Togolese vying for the office of the Director General of the ILO, and who is already selected by the Committee on Executive Selection for ratification by the Heads of State.
“I want to bring to your attention as our sub-regional confederation of trade unions, that Africa having withdrawn support in the next election of the ILO Director General from the South African candidate.
“We expect that all our unions and member countries especially in West Africa, who have graciously and magnanimously made me to represent Nigeria as a full regular member of the governing board, will throw our weight behind our Togolese brother, who is the next African candidate,” he said.
The minister further assured that Nigeria would remain committed to the cause of OTUWA.
Earlier, Mr Mademba Sock, the OTUWA President, commended Nigeria for supporting the confederation over the years.
He sought the assistance of Nigeria towards an accelerated implementation of the decision of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government on OTUWA in July 1986 as well as the fast-forwarding of the headquarters agreement which Nigeria is yet to comply with.
Mademba was accompanied on the visit by John Oda, the Executive Secretary of OTUWA; Max Conte from Sierra Leone, Alain Adikan from Niger and Precious Mbut, among others.