Nigeria wants Otuwa to lead campaign on diversification

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

The Nigerian government has urged the Organisation of Trade Union of West Africa (Otuwa) to lead the campaign for the diversification of the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige made the call in Abuja when he declared open a three-day workshop of Otuwa .

Dr Ngige said the diversification of the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region was imperative, because of the adverse effects of the global economic downturn.

Economic woes
He said that the mono-economic bases of West African countries were 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 organisation 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,” the Minister said.

The Minister emphasized that, “we must look for other sources of revenue in Nigeria 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.”

He called on the union to help the governments in the region develop the requisite skills for the full maximization of the utility of their cash crops, saying this will enhance local processing of the raw forms into finished products.

President of Otuwa, Mr Mademba Sock listed challenges facing labour in the sub-region and said the organisation was “revived to fight the cause of the workers.”

Also, Mr Dennis Zulu, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Director in Nigeria, said ILO had asked member States to organise national dialogues to come up with suggestions that would be useful for its development initiatives.

Zulu stressed that the initiatives would focus on work and society, decent jobs, the organisation of work and production, as well as governance of work.

He called on social partners in the respective countries to contribute to the ILO “Future of Work Initiative.”