The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has assured members of the organised private sector (OPS) that it would put the Federal Government on track in the area of infrastructural development to ensure that Nigeria fully reaps the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) deal.
TUC president, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, on Friday in Lagos at a media chart promised that the congress would engage Federal Government on infrastructural development, noting that infrastructure holds the key to the nation’s manufacturing sector’s participation in free trade.
Olaleye explained that the arguments on whether Nigeria should sign the trade deal went on for over a year purely on account of the poor infrastructure in the country.
“Besides, we are a consuming country.
As a congress, we personally have our concerns. Power is critical to manufacturing. We have population, but lack the basic infrastructure that is capable of making our industry thrive,” he said.
The TUC president stressed that the agreement would further kill the economy, if Nigeria remained a consuming nation.
“Our gains essentially depend on our ability to push our goods across borders and that is the only way the agreement can be fair to us. The energy sector has to be improved upon to boost productivity and lower cost of production, and also source raw materials locally. We must make free the trade agreement serve our interest,” he added.
Olaleye said it had become imperative for Nigeria to expand its productive base and make efforts to create an environment that would support productive activities within the economy.
On increasing the membership base of the TUC, which he said was one of his agendas, Olaleye promised to focus more on the informal sector and ensure that contract staff have standard arrangements with their employers.
He said, “A very dangerous trend in our industries today, especially the private sector, is casualisation of workers, while the public sectors are fond of being guilty of outsourcing.
“A process where a business or government contracts a portion of its business or functions to a third party is not ideal for our fragile economy. The third party is typically a specialist in a particular field and based locally or in the country.
“We have noted that outsourcing by various MDAs is simply a medium to siphon funds. Often, we noticed that fake expatriates are brought in with little or no capacity and yet were awarded contracts worth huge sums, even when (Nigerian) workers could conveniently perform a similar task and even better.”
He said the TUC would demand equitable laws, vigilant enforcement and ensure access to justice for workers in the country.