By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Former Vice-President and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has identified creation of jobs and the development of the economy
as the way to end the violence, extremism, and terrorism that have gripped the nation.
This is even as the former Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007 described the minimum wage of ₦18,000 per month, as is currently obtained in the country, as not only ill-motivating but embarrassing.
Alhaji Abubakar said these in his message to the Nigerian workers tagged, “Workers’ Day: Tapping into our greatest weapon”, issued yesterday in Abuja.
The PDP presidential aspirant maintained strongly that creation of jobs and development of the nation’s economy would go a long way to address the needs of all Nigerians and end the violence, extremism and terrorism that have gripped the country..
He explained that having been in government at a high level and being a private sector player with thousands of Nigerians on the payroll of his companies, “mean that I have seen first-hand the needs of workers both in the private and public sectors and the importance of the labour movement”.
According yo him, “if we truly wish to address the needs of all Nigerians, If we wish to end the violence, extremism, and terrorism that grip our nation, If we wish to create a nation where we can see and hug our children and grandchildren every day and not only see them when they return from foreign lands where they have a better quality of life, We must create jobs and develop an economy that unites us and gives all of us a common purpose of building this great nation into what it truly can be.
“The weapon to fix this great nation is not one purchased from a foreign government, but one that is found within each and every one of us – the weapon of pride and an unyielding desire to work and succeed.
“If we allow this weapon to reach its maximum potential by empowering our labour force then we would have set the standard for a rebirth that will unite us, protect us, and get Nigeria working again”, he declared.
On the issue of minimum wage:, Alhaji Abubakar expressed the firm belief that whoever works should be adequately rewarded.
He stressed further that the reward of a service well rendered is a reasonable wage that can keep the earner sensibly motivated to put in his best.
His words, “Minimum wage: It is my firm belief that whoever works should be adequately rewarded. The reward of a service well rendered is a reasonable wage that can keep the earner sensibly motivated to put in his best.
“The minimum wage of 18,000 per month (less than $50), as is currently obtained in the country, considering the current economic reality is not only ill-motivating but embarrassing.
“While it is adequate that the federal government can set the standard for the national minimum wage, such a national minimum should however not be interpreted by respective state governments (especially the rich states) as being the maximum wage they should pay to their workers but simply the baseline for them to build on”.
The former Vice President bemoaned the continuing rate of de-industrialization in our economy, describing it as a matter of grave concern.
His words, “The continuing rate of de-industrialization in our economy is of grave concern. Particularly our manufacturing sector, which is supposed to create jobs for our productive youths, has continued to face decline as a result of unfavourable conditions imposed by the challenges of epileptic power supply, high cost of credit, and multiple exchange rate regime and in extreme case inadequate foreign exchange supply and depreciating value of the naira.
“This trend must be reversed. Ability to broker the required synergy with international partners and the private sector in key sectors of the economy such as automobile, textiles, agro allied petrochemicals, fertilizers and pharmaceutical industries, building materials, milling, paper and paper products, solid minerals, iron and steel, etc., should be the basis for the 2019 engagement with the organized labour and the Nigerian people.
Alhaji Abubakar lamented that the nation’s educational sector has continued to suffer decline, noting that agreements freely entered into by the Unions and the government have experienced serious setbacks as a result of the authorities’ penchants for reneging.
According to him, “This has persistently left us with a demotivated academic and non-academic Unions in the higher institution whose understandable resort to incessant strikes have rendered our institutions of higher learning comatose and pushed a substantial number of our youths out of the shores of the country in search of a more stable academic calendar and quality scholarship.
“This has exerted tremendous pressure on the foreign exchange of the country aided capital flight.
“Funding for the educational sector has remained decimally low. The country has over the years, performed far below the international standard in terms of annual appropriation to the education sector. This problem cuts across all tiers of government.
“As we speak today, the Central Bank of Nigeria is in custody of billions of Naira, funds representing the Federal Government’s share of the Universal Basic Education Fund, which state governments are expected to draw from by paying their own counterpart funding. “Majority of the states have failed to benefit from this fund because they have not provided the required matching funds.
“I am a firm believer in our youths and the height at which they can take this country if accorded quality and affordable education. “We have seen what investment in education has done to the economies of the Asian countries.
“Nigeria has a better potential if a little more attention is accorded to developing our human resources through the education of our youth and adult population”, he said