President, TUC, Peter Esele
By Linda Eroke
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has called on the Federal Government to critically take bold steps to grapple with the crisis in the productive sector, stating that the decay in the nation’s industrial capacity had made it nearly impossible to create new jobs.
President General of the Congress, Comrade Peter Esele, who made the call, said the policies must clearly involve deliberate efforts at revamping the ailing sectors, adding that the results of the different intervention funds are yet to be felt in the sectors concerned.
Esele, who spoke in Abuja, stressed the need for government to dismantle all bottlenecks that have made it difficult for operators to access the funds so that the funds make the expected impact.
According to him, manufacturing companies are shutting down from one region to another while the textile sector is largely gone despite being in a position to offer direct employment to hundreds of thousands of Nigerians with about 93 per cent of installed capacity remaining unutilised.
He revealed that over 90 per cent of the number of operators have abandoned the sector and has since gone into importation rather than production.
“The nation which remains one of the largest producers and exporters of crude oil the world over exporting around 2.4 million barrels daily has unfortunately not been able to translate this into greater economic benefits for its citizenry. The Pharmaceutical and Chemical sector have been in a decline comparatively for a long time while the Aviation sector has been in the doldrums gasping for breath.
“The financial sector has witnessed the greatest meltdown with the banks leading the rush into oblivion. Agriculture has largely remained comatose with only lip service paid to its revival.
“While there is a recent mad rush to bring in the land grabbers from the West in the guise of foreign investors to farm our lands while whole communities are threatened with dislocation to make way for this land hungry investors that have plundered every clime where their claws have traversed.
“We therefore call on our policy makers to critically take bold steps to grapple with the crisis in our productive sectors. Labour intensive manufacturing must be consciously pursued while MSMs must be encouraged.
“We must seek ways of dealing with the continued decline of the naira despite huge foreign exchange earnings from Oil and Gas exports. That factor that has continued to create excess liquidity poisoning our system in the process must be identified and eliminated,” Esele said.
Speaking further, the TUC president expressed concern over the nation’s educational system noting that sector has not only become moribund both in terms of physical infrastructure and equipment but has consistently delivered obsolete and poor curriculum contents to the citizenry.
He explained that there may be a deliberate and conscious effort by the nation’s ruling elite to use the educational system as a weapon of perpetuating inequality and exploitation in the country.
He added that “there is no other way of explaining the present system that guarantees high quality tuition to the children of the elite whose parents can afford the high cost of tuition in such schools while at the same time offering poverty inducing and deprivation creating tuition to the children of the poor via the public schools or the various emergency private school operators”.
He maintained that the creation and deepening of the class differences and the sharpening of the divides through the educational system does not portray Nigeria as a nation desirous of becoming a developed nation where equity and fair play will prevail.
“It portrays us a nation that is in a hurry to sow seeds of discord that will be costly to nation building and overall economic development. A nation that is serious about playing in the big league of the Industrialised nations in a few years time but does not take the creation of adequate human capacities and capabilities to drive the push is not serious,” he noted.
He therefore urged government at all levels to accord national priority to the sector by taking urgent steps to revive the nation’s educational system. This, he stated is the greatest legacy that the present leadership can bestow upon this nation.
“It can be done with the desired determination especially if we can see the peril that would befall this nation in the near future if we allow the present rot to continue without being interrogated and halted,” Esele added.