FG Validates National Employment Policy

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US applauds Nigeria on efforts against child labour
Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government yesterday validated the National Employment Policy  (NEP) as part of the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari to job creation and provision of decent employment opportunities for Nigerians within the productive age.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, speaking at a workshop on the review of NEP stressed that the current high unemployment rate is unacceptable, as no nation can develop by leaving out a vast percentage of its productive human capacity.

The event which was organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment with active support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), other social partners: Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congres (TUC), seeks to streamline job creation as the centre piece policy of the administration.

According to Ngige, “There is urgent need to engage a larger percentage of the productive age in decent, fairly remunerated and sustainable means of livelihood either as wage earners or self-employed, while preserving existing gainful employments.”

Speaking further, Ngige disclosed that towards ensuring inclusive national employment policy, the revised NEP addresses concerns such as employment of the physically challenged, international labour migration, decent work components, and higher education for employability including green jobs amongst others.

On efforts to surmount the current challenges facing Nigeria, he advocated objective and assiduous cooperation of all stakeholders and the entire citizens to the development of the country.
Ngige, explained that “the country is currently facing difficult times in the annals of its history requiring understanding and cooperation of employers, workers and other stakeholders.

“In proposing strategies to overcome the current challenges, stakeholders must objectively and conscientiously be willing to make necessary trade-offs in the overall interest of the society.”

The Director, ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liason Office of ECOWAS, Mr. Dennis Zulu, expressed confidence that the reviewed employment policy will enhance coherent, integrated and sustainable multi-sectorial response to combat the challenges of unemployment.

Zulu appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria to ratify the ILO convention 122 saying that the reviewed national employment policy is already in line with the objectives of the conventions.

In their various presentations, the representatives of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NLC and TUC appreciated the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for spearheading the review of the national employment policy in line with international standards that promote decent work agenda with emphasis on respect for labour and human rights.

Speaking, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr. Clement Iloh, said that the reviewed National Employment Policy is an off-shoot of the first National Policy on Employment approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2002, with the objective of promoting job creation as a priority in national, economic and social policy, safeguard the basic rights and interest of workers, stimulate economic growth and development as well as eradicate poverty and improve the living standards of citizens.

Meanwhile, the United States Department of Labour (USDOL) has commended Nigeria for making significant progress in stemming the scourge of Child Labour and Human Trafficking.

In its 2015 Child Labour Report, which the Representative of the Department of Labour, Marlin Hardinger, presented to the Minster of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in Abuja, Nigeria was commended for strengthening the framework that checkmate child labour and trafficking.
According to him, the reports reviewed Child Labour developments in 142 countries and found “moderate advancement” in Nigeria’s efforts to tackle child labour.

“Significant update on the report covering 142 countries listed Nigeria as combating child labour and most of the efforts have to do with the good work Nigeria has made on legislations that work against child labour. This report has been applauded by policy makers all over the world,” Hardinger said.

Ngige commended the  findings on Nigeria but disagreed on the accuracy, of some of its conclusions. The Minister emphatically rejected the aspect of the report that blacklisted Nigeria as engaging in “child soldiering,” attributing the incident to the desperate activities of the Boko Haram insurgents who are terrorists and which cannot in any way be linked to the government of Nigeria.

Reacting further to other sectors such as agriculture, gold mining, construction as well as social malaise of begging and scavenging where the reports gave a thumbs-down to Nigeria, the minister restated that the involvement of children in these low occupation apart from arising partly from cultural practices is majorly the consequence of poverty and poor education which African countries are grappling with.