President Muhammadu Buhari today appealed to members of the organised private sector to reinvest their profits on creation and retention of jobs.
Buhari made the appeal in a goodwill message to the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) at the maiden Nigeria Employers’ Summit holding in Abuja.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, noted that the private sector could become the engine of growth in Nigeria by creating jobs, paying requisite taxes, as well as financing works and services.
He enjoined the private sector to give justifiable consideration to decent work agenda and maintain social protection floor by adopting redundancy as the last option in personnel management, bearing in mind the policy of the Federal Government against retrenchment.
The President described the theme of the summit, “The Private Sector – An Engine for National Development”, as very apt, considering the challenges facing the country in terms of job creation and empowerment.
According to him, in attaining the goal of development, the private sector, in tune with the theme of this summit, could become the engine of growth in Nigeria in many ways.
He said, “While the government works with the trade unions to ensure sustainability of the enterprise by building and protecting a sound National Industrial Relations System, on the other hand, businesses are also protected and enabled to succeed.
“They are consequently expected to drive growth, create jobs and pay the requisite taxes that would boost investments, finance works and services to improve the social welfare of the people in the field of education, provision of basic facilities, portable water, transportation, care of the aged and other forms of horizontal and vertical social protection/social security that includes the empowerment of the less privileged and the vulnerable in the society.
“In this regard, I am glad that the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC), of which NECA is a member, has commenced the consideration of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No. 102 on Social Security (Minimum Standards), encompassing nine thematic areas or branches for ratification by Nigeria, though being considered in stages due to the enormity of coverage provided by the Convention. When this feat is accomplished, the role of the private sector in national development, would be highlighted.”
Buhari further noted the areas of Public Private Partnership with NECA, such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Industrial Training Fund (ITF).
He said government expects more of such partnership both with (NECA), as an umbrella employer-body, and companies, including multinationals in their individual rights and capacities.
According to him, such partnerships would enable and create more opportunities for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by those companies in tune with the principles contained in the ILO instrument, “Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.”
He said the instrument provides direct guidance to enterprises on social policy and inclusive responsible, as well as sustainable workplace practices.
“We hope to walk and work in the footpath of our words as we deliberate on the private sector as the engine of national development. The advent of COVID-19 and it’s aftermath have given rise to areas of global socio-economic interventions and models of development.
“As we review the principles of just transition and the outcome of deliberations by the recently concluded International Labour Conference in Geneva on Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy, let us step this terminologies down to our basics and derive the best from them for our people.”
“As we make profits, let us plough back such profits and create and retain jobs. As the cost of production rises and consequently causing a rise in cost of goods and services, a justifiable consideration should be equally given to the Decent Work Agenda and ensure that the Social Protection Floor is not compromised by imbibing the business principle of adopting redundancy as the last option in personnel management and bearing in mind that the prevalent Federal Government policy is against retrenchment of workers.”
Country Director of the ILO Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Vanessa Phala, expressed her wish that “the Summit will contribute to further advancing the decent work Agenda with concrete steps towards an improved business environment for the Nigerian private sector.”
Earlier in a welcome address, the President and Chairman of Council, NECA, Taiwo Adeniyi said though the private sector has an important role in the realisation of national development plan, they were inhibited by challenges such as policy inconsistency, overbearing regulatory frameworks, multiplicity of taxes, inadequate infrastructure and insecurity.
Adeniyi said it was gratifying to note that businesses had exhibited resilience and doggedness in keeping the wheel of the economy rolling.
He stated that the Summit was focused on promoting enterprise development as a major source of national growth.