The President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Mr. Quadri Olaleye, has advised the federal government to fix the infrastructure deficit facing the country in order to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Olaleye, who disclosed this recently in Lagos at a media briefing, said if government was committed to recording remarkable success in the agreement, it must get its acts right.
He stated that the TUC has personal concerns such as power which he said remains critical to the manufacturing sector, adding that the country has the population, but lacks the basic infrastructure capable of making industries thrive.
“While we commend federal government for signing the AfCFTA, it is also important to state here without any ambiguity that no serious country signs such agreement and goes to sleep.
“To benefit from the treaty, we must get our acts right. The reason for the debate (whether to join or not) was on for over a year because we are deficient in infrastructure. Secondly, we are a consuming country,” he noted.
Olaleye, further stated that the agreement might affect the economy negatively, it remains a consuming nation. He, therefore, called government to intensify efforts in ensuring effective trading of goods and services across the border.
The TUC boss urged President Muhammadu Buhari to improve productivity in the energy sector, lower cost of production, and source raw materials locally, saying, “we must make free trade agreement serve our interest.”
Continuing, he added: “We are disturbed that the enthusiasm that greeted the signing into law of the new National minimum wage of N30, 000 per month is fast turning into a nightmare.
“From the look of things, it appears the federal government is not committed to implementing the new minimum wage arrangement, going by the way its representatives in the committee set up to negotiate the consequential adjustment arising from the new minimum wage is handling the negotiation. To say the least, the entire process is not transparent.
“The organised labour has been considerate by lowering its initial demand of increasing the salaries of officers on Grade Level 07 to 17 by 66.66 per cent as the rate at which the minimum wage was increased, yet the government side is only offering 9.5 percent for Grade Level 07-14 officers and five per cent to those on Grade Level 15-17.
“We had thought that the issue of consequential adjustment will be negotiated openly and in the spirit of collective bargaining which unfortunately has not been the case.”