The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Clerk of the Senate, Chinedu Akubueze were among the few Nigerians conferred with the National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Award.
Others conferred with the prestigious award included Chief Eric Umeofia, President, Erisco Foods Ltd, Matthew Azoji, Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, among others.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said at the 19th National Productivity Day and Conferment of the National Productivity Order Of Merit (NPOM) Award on Thursday in Abuja that the National Productivity Day (NPD) was observed annually to promote productivity culture.
He however, congratulated all the recipients of the award, while noting that it was in recognition of their immense contributions to the growth and development of the country’s economy.
He urged them not to rest on their oars, but to let the award spur them to a greater heights.
“As we celebrate this year’s National Productivity Day, let us resolve to imbibe the tenets of productivity so that the country will be prosperous.
“We must all join hands to fight corruption and insecurity in all nooks and crannies of the country in the bid to sustain growth and development,” he said.
The minister however, said that the overall objective of the NPD was to institutionalise productivity consciousness and excellence in service among workers and organisations in both the public and private sectors of our economy.
”The day is observed to bring together all stakeholders in the productivity movement to discuss contemporary relevant issues bordering on productivity.”
According to him, it is also to recognise and celebrate workers and organisations for hard work, high productivity and breakthroughs.
“The purpose of this event is to celebrate and confer awards on the select few who have excelled in their chosen field of endeavours as individual and corporate bodies for their value addition through hard work, efficiency, discipline, dedication, humility and patriotism,” he said.
On his part, the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Chinedu Akubueze said that he was “greatly honoured by my country for the conferment of this award on me.
”I am very grateful to God for this singular privilege; I’m grateful to my country, Nigeria for this honour,”he said.
He said the award would spur him to be more dedicated in discharging his work at the National Assembly.
Akubueze advised Nigerians to remain steadfast, do their work the way God enabled them to do and surely reward would come, describing the award as “a gift from God; God did it”.
President of Erisco Foods Ltd., Chief Eric Umeofia, expressed regret that Ministries, Departments and Agencies were not doing enough to encourage local production of goods and commodities.
Umeofia said some agencies charged with the responsibilities of enforcing the ban on imported products were not doing their job effectively, lamenting that their inefficiency was sabotaging government’s efforts to encourage local manufacturers.
He called on Nigerians to patronise locally manufactured products, adding that the not doing so would only create jobs for foreigners with consequent use of scarce foreign exchange for importation of products that are being manufactured locally.
He expressed the fears that with the influx of imported goods, like tomato pastes banned several years ago, local manufacturers might be forced to close shops, adding “”this will lead to job loss”.
On the award, the Erisco boss said he was happy with the recognition given to him by the government as it would spur him to do more.
The Managing Director of Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc, Mr Matthew Azoji called on the Federal Government to set up a special intervention fund for manufacturers to enable them access to foreign exchange.
He said the 90 per cent of input materials for manufacturing in the country were imported.
“The challenge we would like government to pay attention is foreign exchange, it is a major issue for us.
”Government should support the pharmaceutical manufacturer to improve access to foreign exchange because it has been a major problem, more than 90 per cent of input materials for manufacturing in Nigeria are imported,” he said.
He called for special intervention from the government to enable local manufacturers, particularly pharmaceutical manufacturers to improve access to medicines for the ordinary Nigerians.
“So, if you have better access to foreign exchange, it will improve the availability of medicines and in a cost effective manner because foreign exchange has become a major cost of increasing cost of pharmaceuticals in Nigeria,” he added.
Azoji commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the award, saying it would spur the company to work harder and pursue excellence for the benefit of Nigerians.
Deserving individuals and organisations were also conferred with different categories of awards for 2019 and 2020 by the President at the event.
The deserving organisations include Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Erisco Food Ltd., Financial Derivatives Limited, Lagos, Crown Flour Mills, Lagos and Tummy Tummy Foods Industry Limited.
Other recipients include the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema and the Chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga Jnr.
Others are the immediate past Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chike Ihekweazu; Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi.
Also, the Chairman and Founder, BUA Group, Abdusamad Rabiu and Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director-General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), among others.
Dr Stella Adadevoh and Mr Babatunde Lawal also received posthumous awards at the 2019/2020 edition of the National Productivity Day.