Chris Steven, Abuja
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in Algiers, Algeria, on Friday said the Buhari administration is irrevocably committed to growing the economy through strategic initiatives that engage the nation’s huge population as a fulcrum.
He noted that the recently released Medium Term Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP is a paradigm shift in this direction.
“The present administration in Nigeria has demonstrated its capacity to exploit our huge population for wealth creation and economic growth. This explains the capacity shown so far for an early exit from recession. Our shift is the engagement of our large population in well-articulated diversification programme which has shifted attention to agriculture and mining, in a process intended to be driven by diverse skills acquisition and subsequent job creation,” Ngige enthused.
Presenting Nigeria’s position in an address entitled “Investment In Employment and Social security For Harnessing Demographic Dividend” at the on-going 2nd Ordinary Session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment in Algiers, Algeria, Ngige said Nigeria was resolute in exploiting the untapped potentials of huge population to grow the economy through dynamic micro-economic policies.
“The focus of the present administration in Nigeria is to invest in our huge population through massive job creation, youth empowerment, social inclusion and strengthening of our educational and health system so as to achieve macro-economic stability and diversification.
This is a pathway to building a global competitive economy that can stimulate private sector investments, infrastructural renewal, a major pathway to spend out of recession and improved business environment,” Ngige said.
According to him, concerted efforts were being made to increase access to decent work to Nigerians through the implementation of National Policy on Employment whose document was reviewed in 2016 while creating job and skills acquisition centres which targets the 774 Local Government Areas as operational base. He added that 15 obsolete and retrogressive labour laws some of which date back to the colonial era have been sent to the National Assembly for review.
The Minister enumerated other government efforts towards exploiting Nigeria’s huge population for jobs and skills development to include a nation-wide stop-gap jobs for unskilled persons through interventionist schemes in agriculture and mining, skills development and competency upgrade, reduction of miss-match between graduate skills and demands in modern labour market as well as the N-power programme, noting that women constitute a large percent of the beneficiaries of these different programmes.
On Social security, the Minister said that beyond a National Policy on Social Protection and Social Security which was conceived to drive universal human rights, inclusiveness and wealth re-distribution, the National Social Insurance Trust Fund, the National Health Insurance Scheme, Pension Commission and National Social Investment Programmes were core government agencies effectively providing social protection for vulnerable persons within their respective purviews.
Earlier in his address, the Algerian Prime Minister, Abdelmalek Sellal lauded the theme of the conference which he said tallied with the objectives of the Africa Union as well as the aspiration of individual African governments to stimulate the economy of the continent through massive job creation with the youth population as the fulcrum. He said a stable African economy which subsists on diverse and sustainable job opportunities would stem brain drain, illegal migration, criminality and violent crimes, factors he said, impacted negatively on African labour force. He however added that the future of labour in the continent would be brighter should leaders go beyond lip service to tripartite dialogue in labour administration.
Also in her address, the Commissioner in charge of Social Affairs in the Africa Union, Amiral Fadal said the import of social protection in a growing African job and employment market was imperative for fast-tracked development. She urged African governments to give priority to job creation as well as to the protection of the rights of the disabled, the aged, girl child and stand firm against violence on women.
The out-going Chairperson of the Bureau of the Ordinary Session of the Specialized Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Labour, Priscah Mupfurmira thanked the member countries for the opportunity of service and charged them to be alive to their obligations to the Bureau.
The Algerian Minister of Labour and Social Development Mohammed El-Ghazi was elected to lead the Bureau for the next two years.