Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has said that recruitment of 500,000 teachers by the federal government and other employment programmes promised by the government will begin in July, 2016.
While speaking at the 105th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, the minister said the government will soon open a portal for interested Nigerians to apply, pointing out that qualified Nigerians will be screened, while those successful will be subjected to special training before being deployed to schools to teach.
According to Ngige, there was the need for state government across the country to cue into the programme since the schools are located in the states.
The Minister also laid to rest speculations that the various poverty alleviation programmes put in place by the Buhari administration were aimed at compensating loyalists of the APC who contributed to the success of the party in the 2015 general election.
He said: “the programmes will take off immediately the cash backing is released. We have agreed that the first cash backing will be for the capital development especially in areas like construction because they are the ones we expect to bring back the workers they have either laid off or stood up when they were being owed so that they can bring back their workers to site.
“We also need to do the railways like the Lagos/Calabar and Lagos/Kano rail project so that people will go and work there. After that has been done, the cash backing for the programmes I have mentioned will be made. But the enrolment for the graduates will take off by next month when the portals will be opened for people to register.
“After that, they will be screened and the successful one will be invited for interview and a special educational programme will be conducted for them and deployed to schools. The schools are located in the states and so, the state government need to cue into the programme.
“The programmes is not for APC loyalists. If you are an APC loyalist and don’t have a degree in geology, Agriculture, English or political science as the case may be, how can the programme be for you?
The programmes are for Nigerians who are qualified and this qualification has no barrier. The person can be the son or a PDP chieftain or an APGA chieftain. There is no political coloration to this”.
The Minister asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to consider the peculiar challenges facing African countries in putting together their policies and programmes and appealed to them to also consider giving special grant to Nigeria to take care of the Internally Displaced People in the country.
He said: “You know that in Africa, the problem has always been poverty. That is why they name Africa the dark continent. Poverty is a major scourge on the African continent. In realisation of the fight against poverty decided to start the fight against corruption because corruption breed poverty.
That is why the government has enunciated six pillars with a view to eradicating poverty in the country. We say we have to increase employment.
“The government intends to use the school feeding problem to decapitate school dropout syndrome which in the south east is male drop out.
We will also do a micro credit scheme for women in particular, especially market women who did not complete secondary education. T
hey will be encouraged to go into entrepreneurship where necessary in a loan revolving scheme.
“All we are saying is that the while enunciating their policies, the ILO should take into consideration that all fingers are not equal. We have our own economic challenges and these challenges is due to the fact that African countries based all their earning in a mono economy.
“For example, Nigeria based all their planning on earning from oil and right now, oil prices have crashed. Zambia based all their earning on copper which is from mining and Ghana has cocoa. We are saying that the local circumstances must be taken into account by the ILO in this our fight against poverty.
“So, we have asked them to do two things for us. First, give us technical assistance especially those who will help us diversify our economy and put in place job creation policies for us. They have the technical assistance to give us. We are also asking them for grants where necessary.
“We have Internally Displaced persons programme and there is a humanitarian arm of the ILO and the United Nations. Let them also take into account that we have clear circumstances which are hindrances to the realisation of the theme of this conference”.
Senator Ngige emphasised the need for the international community to properly situate the objectives of the 2030 Agenda of the ILO aimed at sustainable global Development, pointing out that the promotion of sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent jobs for all will help to improve societal security.
He maintained that “in the race for development, the developing countries have peculiar historical and developmental challenges. There is therefore an urgent need to take cognizance of these characteristics in combating poverty and insecurity.
“Notably, most of these countries are mono product economies that are constantly and negatively exposed to the vagaries and shocks of the international market.
The poor implementation of the ILO Decent Work Agenda in these economies is no doubt attributed to this ever increasing phenomenon and largely accounts for their inability to compete in the process of globalisation.
“The ILO therefore needs to put these factors into consideration in assessing among others the responsibilities and opportunities associated with the implementation of the future of work initiative, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the projected assistance to its constituents in the realization of its agenda.
“Furthermore, the multi-ethnic and cultural diversities including different political structures and systems of member states should be acknowledged in the development of policies, projects and programmes aimed at addressing the attainment of the sustainable development goals.
“Nigeria is not insulated from these challenges which are daily manifesting in the socio-economic crises of today. The current challenges in the country are not unconnected with the historical neglect of past administrations to address the consequences of a mono-product economy that have so far depended on revenue from crude oil.
“Prominent among the socio-economic and political conflagration of the present administration are pervasive poverty, insurgency, mass unemployment, under employment, insecurity and high level of corruption. In recognition of these monumental hindrances, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, in May, 2015 adopted various strategic policies and programmes.
“These policy thrusts are based on six (6) pillars of restoring security, tackling corruption, restructuring the economy, good governance and infrastructural rehabilitation, employment generation and establishment of social safety nets for the vulnerable”
They include Job creation opportunity for 500,000 University graduates in different fields to be converted to Teachers; training of over 100,000 apprentices and artisans in vocational skills development; establishment of School Feeding Programmes for 5.5 million children in primary schools to enrich enrolment and reduce dropout rates.
Others are institutionalization of Conditional Cash Transfer for over 1Million vulnerable to escape from abject poverty; establishment of Micro credit and Enterprise development for women and educational grant schemes for students in science, engineering and human capital development.