The chairman of Industrial Global Union Africa Region, Comrade Issa Aremu, has said that with the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29 after his victory, it was now time for the current administration to start work.
The union leader who is also an ex-vice president of the Nigerian Labour Congress said that the president needs to hit the ground running and fix the economy through revival of moribund industries stressing that the Buhari’s honeymoon was over.
He stated this in Kaduna shortly after he was conferred with a fellowship award by the Association of Textile Technologists of Nigeria (ATTN) upon the basis of also being the general secretary of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN).
According to Leadership, Comrade Aremu said that with the best of marriage, 5 months honeymoon is more than enough.
Aremu noted that having taken an oath in May as the fourth democratically elected president in this dispensation, the honey moon for President Buhari was over with respect of revival of industry stressing that this administration would be judged by how many new industries were established in the country and the sustenance of existing ones.
In his words, “So far President Buhari has done well on halting criminal theft of commonwealth through corruption. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau in particular have been actively enforcing accountability. Beyond these anti-corruption agencies, Nigeria will watch with keen interest the performance of the incoming Ministers of Power and Industry, transport, and agriculture.
“The incoming Ministers must hit the ground running and support the current administration to realize its three-point agenda namely anti-corruption, security and economy. President Muhammed Buhari in the next few months will be judged on account of how new industries are established in the country and how they protect the existing ones from total collapse.”
Comrade Aremu noted that the importance of industry cannot be overemphasised and that the key to real transformation and economic recovery was dependent on manufacturing. He added that oil and gas, and the new entrants, solid minerals are exhaustible resources.
The labour leader said that what Nigeria needed was to turn abundant raw materials into finished goods for the huge domestic market and export just as China, Singapore (countries without Oil and Gas) have done.
Aremu said: “The vision of the founding fathers of Nigeria was that of a producing economy that creates millions of decent jobs for the citizens not of a consumer of imported smuggled goods.
“Europe and America developed on the tripod of agriculture, construction and textile. Even after they have moved to high-tech industry, Europe and America still jealously hold on to their primary industries through protective measures of different dimensions because they are also central to employment creation and security.”
The former NLC leader noted that the way forward was for the new ministers to visit the closed and surviving factories and see internally abandoned factories (IAFs).
He added that Nigeria must urgently first reopen the existing closed factories noting that it must start with direct factory visit.
Aremu said: “November 20th is Africa industrialization Day as declared by United Nations Industrial Development Organization, UNIDO. It is a day to raise awareness about the need for Africa to produce what it consumes through industrialization.
“I suggest that as part of the activities in Nigeria this year all state governors, the president and the vice president, ministers, all 500 plus legislators must be encouraged to visit closed factories with the pledge to reopen them.
“The bane of the industry is unfair competition from China. Nigeria’s smuggling is made possible by 152 land smuggling routes (Customs says it is actually 149 routes as at 2002).
“The new Comptroller General of Customer, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) must justify the popular confidence reposed him by commencing a total war against smuggling.”
He said that the government must equip the custom and provide generous incentives to motivate confiscation of the contraband.
Aremu concluded that Nigeria must treat smugglers as insurgents who are destroying thousands of life.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has been unanimously chosen by the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC) to lead in the fight against corruption in the whole of Africa.