*Warns Labour against prolonged strike
*Insists World Bank, IMF suggestions counterproductive
By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
While decrying that overnight, the value of wages and incomes have continued to plummet and people increasingly face challenges with regards to feeding and nutrition, personal healthcare costs/financing, school fees, transportation, rent, shelter, and nearly all goods and services, affecting all Nigerians, the Arewa Consultative Forum has said that Northern Nigeria is worst hit by the hardship.
This was expressed in a statement signed by its .National Publicity Secretary, Prof. T. A. Muhammad-Baba, made available yesterday, October 2, 2023, where ACF said that except perhaps the less than top 5% of the population classified as the very rich, with the majority of the population continuing to see significant and alarming declines in the value of incomes and standards of living.
“ACF notes that these negative economic conditions are felt more in the Northern states of Nigeria, being largely the most agrarian segment of the country with the lowest per capita incomes, poor scores in all indices of economic development and standard of living measures, etc.
“For example, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Report, people considered poor in Nigeria numbered 133 million, out of which 86 million, or 65%, live in the North, who suffered over one quarter of all possible deprivations. In contrast, the South housed about 47 million or 35%. Rightly, ACF has been concerned about this alarming sobering state of affairs,” ACF said.
The statement said that against all the above developments, the President Bola A. Tinubu-led Administration continues to insist that its economic and social policies are the right mix of solutions to revamp the economy for better days are ahead.
“For labour, the only reaction to what has been perceived as the insensitivity of the political authorities, was be an indefinite nation-wide strike, starting Tuesday, 3rd October, 2023 to drive home its calls for due attention to the plight of workers and the average Nigerian households.
“While sympathising with organised labour, ACF has been concerned, apprehensive and edgy that a protracted labour strike would amount to a double jeopardy for the people of the North, already disadvantaged as alluded to earlier. A middle ground was clearly indicated,” it said.
The ACF therefore, congratulated the joint teams of the FGN and the NLC/TUC for finding that middle ground which averted the strike, even if for labour, the truce is for a period of four weeks only.
ACF welcomed the truce reached by negotiations between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the nation’s joint umbrella body of labour unions, specifically the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
“ACF is particularly happy that representatives of the labour unions were able to convince the FGN to pay attention to the plight of workers, and everyone one else in the country, arising from the combined deleterious impact, of the withdrawal of subsidy from the price of petroleum products and convergence of the official and parallel foreign exchange markets.
“Both of these policies have compounded and placed in dire straits the far-from-satisfactory daily problems faced by average households in the country,” the statement said.
“ACF appreciates the FGN’s understanding and roll out of measures to cushion the debilitating challenges in the economy. The NLC and TUC teams are also deeply appreciated for their ability to force out the hands of the FGN. It is believed that temporary as the FGN’s measures are, they signal a departure in style from the usual intransigence of Government negotiation teams. It is indeed a happy outcome coming at a time the country is celebrating its 63rd year of independence and amid the plethora of rightly earned congratulatory messages. However, the truce arrived at should be no ground for complacency and non-challance,” it said.
ACF warned that a lot more remains to be done in the administration of economic policies in the country.
” In particular, ACF cautions against the wholesale and unimaginative acceptance of out-of-context and largely discredited public policy solutions being preached by multilateral finance organisations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It should be instructive to our policy makers that Southeast Asian nations pulled themselves out of economic crisis of the 1980s and 1990s by largely ignoring, not by accepting, the policy prescriptions of the multi-lateral agencies.
“Therefore, the FGN and the NLC/TCU should not assume that the country is out of the woods. The negotiations must continue,” ACF said.