By Odimegwu Onwumere
In the labour front something called jobs cut is fetching primacy. It is becoming a phenomenon across the world – from America to Africa and from the United Kingdom to United Arab Emirate – the story is the same. It is hitting Nigeria dangerously due to the economic slump that the country is experiencing. This has pushed the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, to complain.
What Ngige has made Nigerians to understand is that there is dearth of job opportunities in the country no matter the language he had used to qualify this menace. He made this disclosure on January 16 2016 at the investiture ceremony of Otis Anyaeji as the 30th President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), where he was represented by Mr. James Ocholi.
The ball of the game does not actually fall in the hands of organised private sector that Ngige admonished not to cut jobs, but on the fact that Nigeria is not operating a profitable and working system. Everything collapses with any passing and successive governments in Nigeria. If Nigeria was working as a sovereign state in truth and in spirit, Nigerians would not be asking for or cutting jobs indiscriminately.
Imagine that a minimum wage of a worker in the country is N18,000! This worker has to buy food, water, pay school fees, health and sundry issues with this money that cannot even feed a pet in Europe per day. And the Federal Government does not in earnest, provide or contribute to the essential amenities that are basic needs of the citizens. Imagine the state of our interim and highways; they are pit-of-hell. They have collapsed a lot of individual businesses especially in the South-South-East zones, due to their impassability.
It would be pertinent to say that even though that jobs cut is becoming a global phenomenon, governments outside Nigeria are doing their best to keep their citizens cheerful. These countries create jobs in national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands, growing high-tech and services industries. But in Nigeria, it is either you are a politician or forget it.
One thing that the successive governments in the country have not taken cognizance of is their ignorance that the economy in key measures of growth – employment, population, and personal income – are no longer created in the old order, but are today knowledge-based in the apparent civilised and developed world. A country like America is today seen as a place to be. But that did not just happen. The successive American governments worked hard to be where the country is today and did not build America by making verbal pronouncements like Nigerian politicians are wont to doing at every rolling tape.
In a report, “How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage” byHeadwaters Economics, we were meant to understand that in America, “Higher-wage services industries, such as high-tech and health care, are leading the West’s job growth and diversifying the economy; entrepreneurs and talented workers are choosing to work where they can enjoy outdoor recreation and natural landscapes; increasingly, chambers of commerce and economic development associations in every western state are using the region’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to lure companies to relocate; high-wage services industries also are using the West’s national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and other public lands as a tool to recruit and retain innovative, high-performing talent.”
It would be a greedy demand to ask a country like Nigeria that does not even have birth and death rate data what its employment data is in the 21st century. But for-instance, investigations revealed that the West’s employment grew by 152 percent compared to 78 percent for the rest of the country from 1970 to 2010. According to the Headwaters Economics report: “This western job growth was almost entirely in services industries such as health care, real estate, high-tech, and finance and insurance, which created 19.3 million net new jobs, many of them high-paying.”
We were also meant to understand, “Western non-metropolitan counties with more than 30 percent of the county’s land base in federal protected status such as national parks, monuments, wilderness, and other similar designations increased jobs by 345 percent over the last 40 years. By comparison, similar counties with no protected federal public lands increased employment by 83 percent. In 2010, per capita income in western non-metropolitan counties with 100,000 acres of protected public lands is on average $4,360 higher than per capita income in similar counties with no protected public lands.”
This is how a country is run! Not the Nigerian government that is bent on rigmarole. Does the Nigerian government not know, for example, that high quality global journalism requires investment? How much has it invested in this area? Yet, the Ministry of Labour and Employment was calling for a stop in jobs cut, when the government is lackadaisical is providing serious job opportunities. When other countries’ salaries are rising, Nigeria is still battling with jobs cut and whether to pay the minute N18, 000 minimum wage or not.
A proof of global salaries increase was contained in “Global Salaries to Continue to Rise in 2015”, thus, “Employees in Africa are expected to see the highest rate of increase in 2015 at 8.0%, up from 7.4% in 2014.” While Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc, revealed that most employees around the world received pay increases in 2014 and can expect to receive comparable increases in 2015, Nigeria is yet battling on the direction her government was to navigate to, let alone, increasing salaries and creating job opportunities.
Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Global Salary Increase Survey, stated through its Yanina Koliren, global compensation surveys and solutions leader, “This year, improved GDP projections and lower unemployment rates for most countries meant good news for many employees around the world. Employers are competing aggressively for talent, particularly in some regions of the world, and they recognize pay is a key factor in attracting and retaining top employees.”
It would be palpable to notify the government of Nigeria that a country like Gambia as at 2012, was not battling with jobs cut; Gambian workers rather demanded 120 percent salary increment. That was coming when their Nigerian counterparts were suffering from jobs cut and salary reduction. However, Nigerians of goodwill like this writer are of the hope that Dr. Chris Ngige will not fail to drop his footprint in the present ministry he occupies, the same way he developed Anambra State when he was governor.
Ngige should understand that making the ministry formidable cannot be achieved by an accident. He needs researchers, writers and forecasters that will be providing him with the current culture, management concepts and successful businesses in the labour and employment ministries around the world to enable him achieve an all-encompassing labour and employment ministry in the country.