MINISTER of state for labour and employment Festus Keyamo has used the occasion of May Day to assure Nigerian workers that the federal government will do its best to keep job losses brought about by the coronavirus crisis to the bare minimum.
Today, May 1, is International Workers Day, which has historically been celebrated with marches, parades and rallies, during which demands are made for better working conditions. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic shutdown, no parades have taken place this year.
Issuing a statement to mark the day, Mr Keyamo said the federal government is working hard to minimise job losses in Nigeria as a result of the crisis. He used his address to commend Nigerian workers, especially those faced by challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Keyamo said: “On this auspicious occasion of International Workers’ Day, 2020, I wish to praise the resilience and patriotism of Nigerian workers in the face of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are working hard to ensure we minimise the negative impact of the pandemic on jobs.”
Already, there are widespread fears of imminent job cuts in the Nigerian public sector after President Muhammadu Buhari approved the implementation of a report submitted by the Stephen Oransaye Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies. Known as the Oronsaye report, the 800-page document had recommended the abolition and merger of 102 government agencies and parastatals among others, to drastically cut the cost of governance.
Finance minister Zainab Ahmed, said: “The president has approved that this administration should implement the Oransaye report and that the president’s approval had been forwarded to the head of service and secretary to the government of the federation. It has reviewed the whole of the size of government and has made very significant recommendations in terms of reducing the number of agencies and that would mean merging some agencies.
“This is a report that has been in place for a long time and there hasn’t been implementation but the president has approved that this should be implemented and we have conveyed Mr President’s approval to the arms of government that are responsible for this and that will be the office of the secretary of the government and the head of civil service of the federation.”
Nigeria’s Labour Congress , which said it would issue a detailed reaction later, noted that the merger of agencies is welcome if it does not include job losses. An NLC spokesman added that of the government really wants to reduce the cost of governance, there must be a conscious effort targeting at the political structure, the bogus political appointees and their huge pay packages.
He said: “Do we really need the Senate and the House of Representatives at the same time? this is debatable. What about the bogus political appointees by the president, the governors, the ministers, the commissioners and the rest? These are what are bleeding the economy.”