— Senator Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, has asked African leaders to rise up and take drastic measures to fiercely tackle the myraids of teething problems of underdevelopment bedevilling the country if the continent is to get out of the wood.
— He also charged all African leaders to rise to the occasion of making Africa great, by developing key sectors in the continent.
Ngige said this while speaking at the 3rd Biannual Special Technical Committee on Social Development, Labour and Employment under the auspices of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He said that if African leaders refuse to rise to the occasion, Africans will remain hewers of wood and fetchers of water, declaring that President Muhammadu Buhari has already taken the lead in this direction.
Ngige stressed that the Buhari’s administration has made serious efforts in the last four years to chart a new course for Nigeria with the results of that giant strides made manifest in core sectors of agriculture, anti-corruption , employment generation, infrastructural development and war on insurgency.
He also disclosed that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the Buhari administration which is the economic development agenda of the Buhari administration was tailored towards a concurrent growth of the three-tier federal structures of national, states and local governments in line with the diversity of the nation.
He said the battered economy which the administration met in 2015, slipped into recession in the first and second quarter of 2016, prompting an aggressive economic recovery plan with big emphasis on agriculture and food security.
In his words, “the effects were dramatic. We boosted agriculture and raised the capacity of the nation to feed herself, to the extent that importation of rice for example, dropped by 95%. The same goes for sorghum. This decisive inward look was pivoted on the elastic efforts of government which the Central Bank of Nigeria piloted through the Anchor Borrowers Programme in agriculture.”
Speaking on the government’s social investments, Ngige said the Home Grown School Feeding Programme has been complementing the free education policy at the primary, and junior secondary school levels while stemming the incidence of school dropout which he identified as precursor to child labour. The programme he added has captured about N10 million school children in 25 states of the federation.
He Identified poverty, disease and ignorance as an evil triad that must be fought together, and gave insight into other social investment programmes such as the N-Power under which the Federal Government has employed 500,000 graduates, the N-Build where 50,000 are engaged, the N-Agro, N-Knowledge, N-Health, and N-Build where hundreds of thousands are also employed.
He also spoke about the Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme which makes interest-free loans available to small businesses as well as the National Cash Transfer programme (Conditional and Unconditional) to over 1million vulnerable and poor Nigerians, besides the thousands already benefitting from similar programmes by the National Directorate of Employment, NDE.
According to the minister, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan would have been impossible without the anti-corruption measures such as the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the whistle blowing policy which government put in place, thus, shutting down leakages and easing the recovery of stolen funds as well as the efforts of the anti-corruption agencies primed for zero-corruption agenda of the government.
Mugo further said Africa can leapfrog from its present commodity dependency if each of the fifty-four countries is able to concentrate on the production of a single product and achieve an optimal international competitive advantage. “You can imagine what it means to have over fifty products from Africa,” arguing it was the route the Asians took.
Meanwhile the Ministers nominated Nigeria as one of the Titulars members for Africa in the Governing Board of the International Labour Organization when the next election will be held in June 2020.
Nigeria emerged from West Africa due to her performance since 2017 when Africa put her forward as a Deputy Titular. The Ministers further took particular note of the leading voice which Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment has given to Africa, the very fact that made the ILO elevate him to head government side of the Tripartite even as a Deputy.