Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and General Secretary of Textile Workers’ Union, Comrade Issa Aremu has disagreed vehemently with Dr Oby Ezekwesili over her prayers that Nigeria’s oil should dry up.”Ezekwesili is wrong” Aremu said in Abuja at a Roundtable and Presentation of Research Report with the theme:”Accelerating Industrialization for Boosting Intra-African Trade” at Chelsea Hotel,Wuse 2.
Aremu said Ezekwesili could also be accused of being part of those that failed to diversify Nigeria’s economy having served as a minister, and being part of ( former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s )Economic team.More fundamentally, the General secretary of textile workers’ union said crude oil or natural gas should not necessarily be seen as a curse.He believes Nigeria should be emphasizing using the resources to develop petrochemical and allied industries.He cited the examples of China, Venezuela ,Norway and even the UK that are making strategic choices with respect to oil.
The NLC chief believes Nigeria should be making strategic investments too.’We should not lazily keep on praying that oil and gas should dry up’, Aremu said.He spoke while giving his remarks at the Roundtable organized by the Labour unions with the support of Friederich Ebert Stiftung .Aremus used the occasion to call on government to fix the nation’s refineries and halt importation of fuel.He hinted that the unions would henceforth intensify their advocacy.
The event was part of the programmes to mark Tuesday’s Africa Industrialization Day.Though the two -decade long event has been marked regularly, the labour unionist noted that Africa remains sadly backward.Despite the awareness about the industrialization day Aremu remains sad that 30 out of the world’s least industrialized countries are in Africa with Nigeria being part of them. He also recalled that in IMF’s list of 24 countries categorized as emerging, only South Africa is the African country on the list.He admonished Nigeria to learn from China to leapfrog into the industrial age.
Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna state who was represented by Mohammed Yusuf Lere, his special adviser used the occasion to adumbrate some the reforms in the state toward attracting investments.Especially he said , there is renewed interest in the development of solar powered electricity in conjunction with some German firms; infrastructural facilities such as road are being developed and access to land is being made alot easier.He urged investors to also take advantage of Kaduna’s proximity to Abuja.
Mr Thomas Maettig,Resident Representative of FES -who received great accolades from Aremu earlier because of his consistent partnership with key stakeholders- also noted that Nigeria was once an industrial hopeful.He observed that Nigeria is presently an economy that is falling behind while also suggesting among others, that agriculture should be given adequate impetus.Maettig said FES is supporting labour movement on these critical issues bordering industrialization to strengthen policy dialogue.He said there is no doubt that Nigeria can become an industrial power house.
Representatives of MAN,UNIDO and BOI also gave their solidarity messages.Senator Walid Jibrin, a textile industry insider also gave his insight into the challenges facing industries in Nigeria.The research titled:Industrial Development in Nigeria:Performance,Policy Issues, Constraints and Prospects was authored by Professor E. Olawale Ogunkola ,department of Economics, University of Ibadan.