By Olusola Adeoye
Nigeria has reiterated the need to upgrade the International Labour Organisation (ILO) country office in Abuja, which also covers Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Gambia, to the status of a decent work sub-regional office to serve the English-speaking countries of West Africa.
The permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, William Alo, made the call in his address at the just concluded 108th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to the permanent secretary, “This is because it has become clear that the office in Senegal can no longer effectively serve our technical assistance requirements of the sub-region.
“In the same vein, we renew our demand for the employment of more Nigerian professionals into the office in order to bridge the under-representation of Nigeria in the ILO workforce, bearing in mind Nigeria’s status and contributions to the organisation”.
Alo further said, “As we prepare to adopt a new Centenary Declaration based on social justice and inclusiveness, Nigeria restates that the ILO should correct the international arrangement of reserving permanent seats for countries of chief industrial importance”.
He also informed the plenary session that the Nigerian government was one of the countries that had convened a National Dialogue on the Future of Work, implementing many of the initiatives as well as the recommendations of the National Dialogue.
“The government of Nigeria inaugurated and launched the 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Strategy and Implementation Plan for the purpose of improving and developing capacity in the public sector towards advancing the nation’s economy. Presently, there is concerted effort to create an efficient, productive, incorruptible and citizen-centred workforce anchored on four pillars, namely: professionalism, enterprise content management system, entrepreneurship culture and enhanced welfare package for employees.
“The Nigerian government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has keyed into these ideals by signing into law a new National Minimum Wage Act, which increased the national minimum wage by 66 per cent, and this has consequential wage adjustment for all workers and translates into enhanced purchasing power of the Nigerian workers.
“One other aspect of Future of Work Initiative that is close to the heart of the Nigerian government is the provision of social protection schemes, including social insurance schemes for workers and the vulnerable segment of the society. It is worth noting that, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, the present administration’s social investment programme stands out clearly as the largest and most effective social investment programme in Africa.
“It involves Home-Grown School Feeding Programme for over nine million pupils, Conditional Cash Transfer to almost 300,000 Nigerians, and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), which financially empowers small and medium-scale businesses,” Alo said.