The director general, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Ilorin, Kwara State, Comrade Issa Aremu has described President Muhammadu Buhari as the most labour friendly president the country has ever produced.
Aremu, who spoke with newsmen in Ilorin, on Saturday, on the occasion of the 80th birthday of the president, listed a number of Buhari’s administration’s giant strides in the labour sector to butteress his point.
He said despite the daunting challenges that the Buhari’s administration met on ground in 2015 as symbolized by insecurity, economic downturn, protracted strikes in key sectors of the economy, non-payment or delayed payment of salaries, especially in the public service and low morale of workers due to low wages at the face of mounting inflation, workers were not made to bear the brunt of the challenges.
“It is most refreshing that after almost seven and a half years in the saddle, President Buhari’s administration has not only surmounted most of these challenges, but also set the Nigerian economy on the part of growth and development.
“Despite two major recessions in 2016 and 2021 occasioned by fall in the prices of fuel and the COVID-19 pandemic respectively, the administration was able to manage the labour and employment affairs of the nation in such a way that there was no lay-off of workers by the federal government of Nigeria.
“The federal government never made staff rationalization a state policy throughout this challenging period. Indeed the federal government had to intervene on many occasions to ensure that the private sector did not embark on indiscriminate retrenchment of workers during the pandemic. This is a clear departure from previous administrations that made staff rationalization, restructuring, casualization and contract staffing a cornerstone of state policy.
“For instance between 2005 and 2007, over 33,000 federal workers were retrenched under various policies of the government in power then”, Aremu stated.
He said Buhari ensured stability in the state workforce by granting bailout to state government to clear arrears of salaries owed workers, adding that,” it is on record that more than 2/3 of the states of the federation were defaulting in one way or the other in paying salary when President Buhari took over power in 2015.”
“To further motivate and boost the morale of Nigerian workers, the federal government negotiated and implemented a new minimum wage in the country. The minimum wage was raised from N18,000 to N30,000. There was also consequential adjustment of salary at all levels.
“The government also made direct intervention to alleviate poverty including provisions of 774,000 direct jobs through the public works programme of the National Directorate of Employment ( NDE) to cushion the effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic on the vulnerable groups. Other intervention includes conditional cash transfer and other youth employment schemes
“There is also improvement in occupational heath and safety measures with increasing health and social insurance coverage such as prompt payment of occupational accident claims by NSITF.
“This government is also embarking on major labour reforms to bring our labour laws in tandem with international standard. Already the Ministry of Labour and its social partners had finalized the review of the labour laws and presently awaiting legislative enactment.
” Nigeria has continued to play a leading role in global labour affairs under this administration. From being a deputy member of the International Labour Organization ( ILO) governing council in 2017, the country is now a titular member( 2021- 2024), providing quality representation to Africa on the Board,” he added.