The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has urged the Organisation of Trade Union of West Africa (OTUWA) to lead the vanguard for the diversification of the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region in view of the adverse effects of the global economic downturn.
Sen. Ngige who spoke at the opening of the three-day Workshop of OTUWA, which opened today in Abuja, said the mono-economic base of the West African countries is largely responsible for their current economic woes.
“ There is a big threat to the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region because of our largely mono-economic base. I am happy that your organization has been able to live down its challenges. The revived OTUWA must therefore help the governments and employers in the sub-region to look elsewhere.”
“ In Nigeria, we must look for other sources of revenue and the most easily identifiable one is agriculture and of course, mining. We are also diversifying in trade and services. And because of the availability of fertile land in West Africa, the same thing goes to sister countries. OTUWA which is our regional component of the World Union of Trade Unions must hence, lead this campaign for the diversification of the West African economy.”
The Minister further urged the union to help the governments in the region develop the request skills for the full maximization of the utility of their cash crops by enhancing local processing of the raw forms into finished products.
“ I want this workshop to be the starting point of this line of thought by getting our people move from the area of white collar jobs to the blue collar jobs in agriculture and mining,” Ngige added, asking OTUWA to be “ the catalysts in entrenching decent work environment in line with the ILO convention which we all are signatory to.”
Earlier in his address of welcome, the President of OTUWA, Comrade Mademba Sock decried the numerous challenges facing labour in the sub-region and said the organization was revived to fight the cause of the workers.
In his goodwill message, the ILO Country Director to Nigeria, Ghana , Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Officer for ECOWAS, Dr. Dennis Zule said the ILo has asked member states to organize national dialogues with all stakeholders in order to come up with suggestions that will be useful for its development initiatives . He added that the initiatives have focus on work and society, decent jobs, the orgnisation of work and production as well as governance of work. He additionally called on social partners in the respective countries to contribute the ILO Future of Work Initiative.
Deputy Director, (Press)