Even as some states are yet to fully implement the current N18, 000 national minimum wage, Vice-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Isa Aremu has demanded an upward review with immediate effect.
Aremu, who spoke as Guest Speaker at the Third Estate Annual dinner in Ilorin, on the topic: “Some Notes on Human Resource as a Critical Factor in National Development”, said: “To appreciate human resource, we must motivate the labour which constitutes the great resource. We must ensure workers are paid well and on time. It should be noted that delay of salary is the same as wage theft.
“The national minimum wage is due for a review next year. The 2010 National Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage, headed by Justice Belgore GCON, recommended that to avoid ad-hoc approach, the minimum wage is supposed to be reviewed every 5years. It is due this year! Time to review this is NOW!”
He regretted that despite the quantitative strength of Nigeria in human resources, in both policy and governance discourse, the country has almost redefined resources as oil and gas in Nigeria and mineral resources. We have increasingly relegated human resources to the margin in the hierarchy of critical success factors for development, he said.
In that light, Aremu suggested that Nigeria should declare emergency on secondary education with a view to re-motivate school teachers for educational service delivery, arguing that “Nigerian secondary education system is terribly sick and requires an urgent, full-scale diagnosis, and deserving physicians. All state governors should be held accountable for the performance of their students.
“In addition, local government edits and state laws must make primary schooling compulsory. The state laws must also criminalize and penalize parents that do not allow their wards to go schools in the 21st century”, he stated.
Aremu, who is also Secretary -General, Alumni Association of the National Institute lamented that before the current dependence on oil and at a time Nigeria was driven by human resources, Nigeria was a fast developing nation.
“In 1965, for instance, Nigeria’s GDP was $5.8 billion, compared with $3.8 billion for Indonesia, and $3.1 billion for Malaysia. Thirty years later, in 1995, Nigeria’s GDP had increased to $26.8 billion (3.6 fold increase), Malaysia’s to $85 billion (27 fold increase), Indonesia’s to $198 billion (52 fold increase) and Venezuela to $75 billion (20 fold increase).
“The implication is that these countries have left Nigeria far behind in terms of productivity, income generation and general economic development”, and advised that the challenge lies in reinvention of the human resources in Nigeria.
He observed that the human resources and skilled labour in particular are the most critical to manage other resources to improve the quantity and quality of production and quality of life.