Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has cautioned governors agitating for the 2023 presidency to focus on the current insecurity situation in the country rather than fight over which region will produce the next president of the country.
NLC president, Ayuba Wabba while speaking at a roundtable discussion on social protection cover yesterday in Abuja said lack of social protection for poor and unemployed Nigerians is fuelling insecurity.
The NLC president said at the last NLC peace security summit, the point was adequately made that bullets and bombs will not resolve the ongoing war against terrorism, armed insurgency and violent crimes in Nigeria.
He said, “The children of the poor that we failed to educate yesterday and even today have become and will become the nightmare of the children we are training. The frustrations of our fellow compatriots who are illiterate, unskilled, jobless, and devoid of the shock absorber of social protection will ultimately be the graveyard of not only peace in our country but also civilization as we know it today. This is not alarmist!”
He cautioned that the 2023 election should not be used as an excuse to unleash fresh dimensions of insecurity.
Wabba said, “It is indeed sad and unfortunate that our politicians find the time and nerve to discuss 2023 when 2021 presents a foreboding cloud of insecurity, social tensions and general despondency manifest in our empty kitchens, unsafe streets and overflowing IDPs Camps. We warn that such statements show utter disregard for the cruel predicament and sufferings of ordinary Nigerians and workers struggling with the pains of broken politics and governance dysfunction in our country.
“The 2023 elections must not be used as an excuse to unleash fresh dimensions of intractable and internecine security crises in Nigeria. Therefore, it is important that the political class must mind what they say. Suffice it to say that visionary leaders think of the next generation while dysfunctional leaders think of the next elections.”
The NLC president said the lack of social protection for millions of unemployed Nigerians is fuelling the insecurity in the country.
Wabba, said social protection is a fundamental human right intended to set minimum social security floor, alleviate poverty and provide economic security for all.
He said there was the need to build social protection coverage to avert more people going into robbery, banditry, prostitution and kidnapping for ransom.
He said, “Tragically, most of the unemployed and under-employed in Nigeria are caught in the web of perpetual misery as they lack the basic skills and training to break forth from the stranglehold of poverty. In the absence of any modicum of sustained social protection cover, the only available alternative is to resort to a life of crime. This is the reason many of young people are being attracted to terrorism, kidnap-for-ransom, rural cum urban banditry, armed robbery, militancy, prostitution, thuggery, and other forms of violent crime.”
The NLC president called for the federal government to establish a new universal social protection coverage in the country as a targeted effort to closing the widening inequality gap and ameliorate the excruciating suffering of Nigerians.
He noted that social protection coverage was essential for human security and social justice; and was the foundation for peaceful societies.
Earlier, the speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabimila, said; “Social protection is one of the most important responsibilities of the government. It is how we live up to the constitutional obligations to ensure that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and the unemployment, sick persons and welfare of the disabled are provided for.
“It is how we ensure that the people born in the territory of Nigeria can live life of accomplishments and contribute to the society meaningfully all through their life.”
In her remarks, Hajiya Aisha Dahiru-Umar, Director-General, Pension Commission (PENCOM) said that Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) promotes social protection in Nigeria. According to Dahiru-Umar, CPS promotes accountability, transparency and sustainability but that the major challenge in establishing its coverage is constitutional.
She further noted that many states are not adopting CPS and some private employers are not remitting fund which had contributed to the challenges faced by the scheme.