Organised Labour at the weekend advised the Federal Government to channel more energy into wealth generation rather than refuting controversial reports of the Brookings Report on the poverty level in Nigeria. Recent findings by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organisation based in Washington, DC, United States, indicated that Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018 with six persons becoming poor every minute. But responding to the report after the weekly Federal Executive Council, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, argued that the indices used for the report may have been complied when Nigeria was in recession.
He advised Nigerians not to be worried about the report because the current administration’s infrastructure programmes and enabling environment for businesses would make poverty in the country disappear.
In his reaction to the controversy, Comrade Issa Aremu, NEC member of NLC and general secretary, Textile Workers’ Union, said it was unhelpful agonizing on poverty when what was needed was to organize and banish poverty. According to the labour leader, Brookings Institution’ report was not fundamentally different from the findings of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which last year put unemployment rate at 16.2 per cent from 14.2 per cent in the fourth quarter 2016 with as many as 57 millions officially unemployed adding that the root cause of poverty is due to loss of incomes as a result of unemployment.
Aremu said poverty level denial must give way to sustainable policies to eradicate wants and deprivations in the midsts of abundance for few privileged rich.
He said the Federal Government must initiate a holistic programme of wealth generation and wealth distribution instead of poverty reduction, adding “that the poor know that the key to eradicating poverty is wealth creation. What Nigeria needs is wealth creation, which calls for a halt to existing deindustrialisation.
“We need sustainable job-led growth not the existing jobless growth. Industry must be revived to generate enough goods and services. When supply exceeds demand, price must fall. When people work, they must earn enhanced wages enhancing their purchasing power for produced goods and services. The poor don’t need charity. What they need is value addiction based incomes,” he said.