By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The organised labour in Nigeria has decried the current calls for restructuring of the country, insisting that what the country needs urgently is political and economic transformation and indeed a revolution rooted in value addition, massive industrialisation, equal wealth distribution, poverty eradication, mass and full employment and productivity.
Speaking at the weekend in Port Harcourt at an interactive economic session organised by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Vice President of Industrial Global Union, Issa Aremu, warned that Nigeria was fast degenerating into what he called â€œ…a perpetual debating society like the ancient Athenian societies instead of modern 21st productive economies such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa.â€
He said the current debate on restructuring is â€œdiversionaryâ€ as it prevents genuine and legitimate attempts at holding the elected officials accountable for the mandate freely given to them on their electoral promises of uninterrupted power supply, job creation, fight against corruption and poverty alleviation.
He admonished those calling for restructuring to seek election in 2019 over the issue instead of diverting attention from an objective assessment of the current elected government at all levels.
On monetary policies, the labour leader hailed the CBN under Mr. Godwin Emefiele for â€œthe interventionist effortsâ€ which he observed had stabilised the exchange rate to ensure macro-economic stability.â€
According to him, it was remarkable that CBNâ€™s interventionist measures had closed the wide gap between the official and the so-called black market rates of the Naira at N350 as against N500 which he alleged those who favoured massive devaluation preferred.
He therefore urged the CBN to continue the policies which he said had led to progressive appreciation of the Naira adding thatÂ a developing economy like Nigeriaâ€™s needs creative monetary policies that reflect its needs and challenges such as â€œInvestorsâ€™ & Exportersâ€™ FX Windowâ€ thatÂ have stimulated domestic production, putting a stop to factory closures and creating new jobs.
Aremu however said the monetary policies of the CBN must be complimented by fiscal and industrial policies to â€œreinvent Nigerian economyâ€ adding that â€œwhat Nigeria needs is not unhelpful debates over so-called restructuring by the same corrupt cake sharing elite.â€
While observing that federal government has commendably shown great commitment to revamp the economy through the successful launch of its economic recovery and growth plan, Aremu, who is also the General Secretary of the textile workers union, noted that Nigeria needed a bold development agenda and long term Vision like Kenya, China, Rwanda, saying a Vision of development for Nigeria in the next 50 years â€˜should be the basis of political parties manifestos.â€
While decrying the non-improvement in electricity supply in the past 30 years, Aremu said: â€œThere can be no industry without electricity,â€ adding that it was time to put an end to the â€œpresent criminal anti-development repeated power/energy failure.â€
The labour leader also observed that there can be no recovery or development for Nigeria â€œwithout well paid motivated working classâ€ adding that despite the efforts of CBN to stabilise naira, at the current Naira rate to dollar, â€œminimum wage and minimum pension had collapsed.â€
He therefore called on the federal government to immediately constitute the national minimum wage committee to increase both the existing minimum wage and minimum pension.