Abuja- The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on Wednesday said that the organised labour would sponsor a bill to establish the principles of local content in the construction industry.
Peter Esele, TUC’s President, told the 2013 May Day celebration in Abuja that the move would reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.
The theme of the celebration was ``100 Years of Nationhood: The Challenges of National Development’’.
``Our hope and desire for the industry is that Nigerians shall be trained to take over the jobs of the expatriates after they have understudied the expatriates,’’ Esele said.
He said that the government must adopt the Nigerian local content principle in the construction industry, as was done in the oil and gas sector.
He said that a good look at expatriate quota showed that it had contributed to high level of unemployment in the country.
He condemned the kidnapping and killing of workers in the construction company, noting that it had created a state of uncertainty for the workers and stakeholders.
`` For a country whose major agenda is the development of infrastructure, this situation is definitely unhealthy and unacceptable.
``We call on all levels of government to ensure early resolution of this issue before it renders thousands of workers unemployed,’’ Esele said.
He advised the government to fix infrastructure, give bailout funds to improve ailing industries, and facilitate the growth of agriculture to generate raw materials for industries.
``The government must also enter into viable public-private partnerships than before, as well as improve power supply to revive industries,’’ he said.
The TUC boss said that the government should also attract companies that had divested from the Nigerian economy to help develop it.
``We are making this appeal because the Central Bank of Nigeria said that Nigeria’s nominal Gross Domestic Product would soon reach 300 billion dollars within the year, with an annual GDP growth rate of 7.03 per cent driven by the non-oil sector.
``Which are the non oil sectors that have contributed to the economy and when shall we attract them back? Government should do something in that direction''.
He said that many industries and business enterprises were still struggling to rise because of the problem of poor power supply, exorbitant demurrage, transportation, multiple taxation and high exchange of the Naira.
He further said that agriculture had the capacity to provide employment for 70 per cent of the population and regain its position in the nation’s economy.
``Agriculture can also provide raw materials for our industries, for domestic consumption and for export that will earn the country foreign exchange''.
Esele, said, however, that among the challenges were substantial non-mechanisation of agriculture, inadequate funding and inadequate irrigation facilities.
Others he said were poor transportation and the native land tenure system that placed several limitations on access to land by those who want to be farmers.
On education, he said it was regrettable that the annual budget on education was below the UN’s stipulation.
He said that funds to carry out research projects were inadequate, while the libraries were ill equipped or empty.
He said that the last National Examination Council (NECO) results released showed that the education sector needed to be revived for the country to attain vision 20:2020.
On the judiciary, he urged the government and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to be more vigilant in dealing with erring judicial officers.
He commended the NJC for the suspension of Justice Abubakar Muhmud Talba, but said he would have been made to face trial.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the May Day celebration was held in conjunction with the TUC and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
NAN reports that The Eagle Square-- venue of the celebration-- recorded high patronage on the sale of food, drinks and clothing items.
NAN reports that traders were seen outside the square displaying items for sale.
Mr Abu Isa, who sells canned drinks and bottled water, said he had good sales.
``The sale I have made at the Workers’ Day celebration this year is more than last year because almost all the drinks that I brought here today are finished.
``Am happy that I came here today; I've made enough profit, more than normal day,’’ he said.
Miss Folashade Ahmed, another dealer at the square, said sales was good.
Miss Joy Okoro, a pastry seller, said she made good sales because of the celebration.
``I brought chin-chin worth N30 000 here today and I know I will not go back with any because people are buying them,’’ Okoro said.
Obi Tochukwu , said the celebration and the hot Abuja weather had helped the vendors to make good sales.
``The weather in the FCT is very hot, that is why people are buying cold drinks to quench their thirst.’’