Federal Government has been urged to urgently address the issue of workers’ wages in order to ensure improved productivity.
A member of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, made this submission while delivering the first Personality Lecture organised by the Postgraduate Students Association (POGSASS) of the University of Ilorin, stressed that “poorly motivated workers can never be productive and if they are not productive there cannot be production; if there is no production, forget value or growth rate.”
In the lecture, entitled “Scaling the Hurdles of Economic Quagmire”, the veteran trade unionist said, “These salaries… they are not meant for workers. Workers have become working beggars…even to fight corruption, you can’t do so in this economic period because workers can’t do anything because corrupt people will buy them and buy their whistle…”|
He further explained that in addressing the wage issue, “we must also correct inequality …this is a country in which pensioners are owed arrears…approved benefits which have not been paid, pensions are delayed, yet this is the same economy that is paying two-term governors, who are also senators who collect salaries, life pension. We can’t run an economy this way.”
“First, we create the impression that the only way to make money is to be in politics, not to be teachers, doctors, or engineers …no where it is being done in the world, but now, our legislators are also making their job pensionable, jobs that are not supposed to be pensionable, even if they are pensionable …where is their PFA? …we must benefit those who are below so that we can pay them very well, but we must reduce the indulgence of the political class and let me tell you, when you see the lifestyle of the political class, they don’t know recession, its business as usual.”
He noted that it was a collective responsibility for all Nigerians to rise up against political office holders and individuals who siphon the nation’s resources and misappropriated the nation’s commonwealth.
The labour union leader, who specifically commended the Federal Government’s efforts in addressing the insecurity in the Northeast as well its fight against corruption, also welcomed the administration’s economic plan but stressed that there should be a properly articulated vision for development rather than the present vacuum.
In order to rejuvenate the economy, Comrade Aremu emphasised the need to move away from the culture of consumption to that of production, which will guarantee industrialisation, he called on Nigerians to patronize made-in-Nigeria products in order to protect our industries. Rather than directly exporting raw materials, he advocated that such materials should be made into refined products with increased value, which could create jobs for the people.
Bemoaning the high unemployment rate as well as the poor state of power generation in the country, the Guest Speaker pointed out that “we cannot have recovery without electrification,” calling on the Government to institute policies that would generate and protect employment opportunities for Nigerians through investment within the country than outside it.
While enjoining workers across the country to become more productive, the labour leader decried the high number of public holidays observed in Nigeria when other developed nations are at work.
Noting that this hinders competitiveness, Comrade Aremu said, “Work and worship is what will develop Nigeria.”
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