ILO Sets Agenda for Incoming Buhari’s Cabinet  

President Buhari and some of his cabinet members at the swearing in ceremony
  • Urges FG to constitute labour advisory council

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

As President Muhammadu Buhari prepares to inaugurate his ministers, the United Nations agency on labour, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has advised the incoming cabinet to concentrate on implementing existing policies and plans rather than rushing to draw up new ones.

Although the body said it does not want to meddle in the lingering negotiation for the implementation of the new minimum wage, it advised the federal government to try and establish a national advisory council on labour in order to ease tension and build better understanding among the bodies in labour administration.

The Director-General of ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder, who stated this at a press conference to mark the end of a three-day Global Youth Employment Forum held in Abuja, said a lot depends on the ability of the incoming ministers and the level of political will by the government leadership to execute right policies needed to generate employment and create peaceful labour relations.

Speaking on policy direction with regard to labour issues and job creation, he said it was true that ILO had collaborated with the federal government in putting in place plans for that.

“Over the years, the ILO has helped to put in place a large part of government plans. There is a national employment plan; migration plan and safety at workplace. There is also a draft plan on youth employment. The important thing now is not to draw up new plans, rather, to see to the implementation of the existing plans,” he said.

Ryder said ILO believes strongly that the successful implementation of these plans require the political will from the government leaders.

“I think it requires both the political attention on the part the ministers; those in government and a certain degree of investment to make things work out effectively,” he said.

Speaking further on how to improve on youth employment drive, the DG said the government must do something about the standard of the basic education in the country.

According to Ryder, despite the growing interest and attention on the acquisition of new technologies and digitalisation, ensuring that students get good basic education is a starting point to helping them develop employable skills.

He said most of the problems associated with lack of capacity and employable skills that deny the access to good jobs can be traced to poor educational standards starting from the basic educational level.

Ryder also offered advice to the government on the issue of privatisation which often trigger resistance from labour, saying honesty and sincerity should guide the parties in arriving at modalities for its implementation.

On the issue of setting up a Labour Advisory Council by the federal government, he said the council, when put in place, can help in advising the government on job creation strategies, better workers’ welfare scheme and in rebuilding confidence among different segments of the tripartite body, namely: government, workers and private employers.

The director general, who earlier met with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Council (NECA), said he believed that by reactivating the labour advisory council, the government would be able to reenergise the confidence so that things can move in positive direction.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. William Alo, had in a speech read on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening of the youth employment forum requested for assistance of the ILO to raise the status of its Country Office to a regional technical training centre.

Alo also requested ILO’s assistance in strengthening the Labour Inspectorate system in the country by providing technical assistance for the review of labour bills which were withdrawn from the National Assembly in 2017.