By ADEWALE SANYAOLU
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has faulted both President Goodluck Jonathan and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) over their claim that the industrial sector had witnessed remarkable growth, thus translating to massive job creation.
The union equally dismissed claim by the President in his Independence Day address to the nation that Nigeria was one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.1 per cent.
Speaking on a live programme monitored by Daily Sun on Channels Television, the National Vice president of the NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, challenged Jonathan to present Nigerians with the key growth drivers of the current GDP growth rate.
Aremu also faulted Jonathan in his address on October 1, 2012, that MAN had registered more members in recent time, an indication that the industrial sector had witnessed tremendous growth with more companies opening and moribund ones being injected with fresh capital.
Aremu said: “I can tell you that this is not true because at the moment, Nigeria is a ‘controller’ economy, meaning that we import virtually everything we need. And sadly too, majority of these commodities are second hand products.
“The whole gamut is not about more members for MAN but rather, more factories reopening. You can actually have members joining an association without carrying out serious production. The question I would like to ask Mr. President is: who are these manufacturers and where are they? Because we are not seeing them or their productive activities translate to massive job creation and industrial growth.”
Aremu lamented that more firms have closed shops in recent times, leaving the youths, who should be actively engaged in the factories, take to ‘okada’ business, crime, touting and other forms of social vices, which has made their life meaningless.
The NLC boss disclosed that the 50 per cent open unemployment level currently being witnessed in the country remained unacceptable, just as he said the 2,000 to 3,000 jobs created by the You Win initiative of the Federal Government, targeted at arresting youth unemployment across the country, remained grossly inadequate.
Aremu, however, gave kudos to the Federal Government for its effort aimed at reviving the textile sector through the injection of bailout funds, which, he said is currently helping to reshape and refocus the sector back to the good old days when it used to be the highest employer of labour in the country.
He said the long term revival fund has helped companies such as United Textile Mills in Kaduna, which shut down its operations in 2007 but reopened in 2010, to commence production with direct jobs for 1,500 workers, adding that at full production, the factory was capable of offering jobs to 10,000 workers.
The labour leader advised Jonathan to complement the bailout fund with uninterrupted power supply so as to enable other factories that have gone moribund to come on stream.
He said without power, the gains of the fund can be further eroded because alternative sources of power derivable from generating sets, would have taken a larger chunk of the profit margin.