Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, yesterday, raised the alarm that the economy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, was facing serious threat as a result of its monolithic nature.
The minister called on the Organisation of Trade Union of West Africa, OTUWA, to champion diversification of economy in the region in view of the adverse effect of the global economic downturn. Senator Ngige, who spoke at the opening of the three-day OTUWA’s workshop in Abuja, said the mono-economic base of West African countries was largely responsible for their current economic woes.
According to him, “there is a big threat to the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region because of our largely mono-economic base.
I am happy that your organisation has been able to weather its challenges. The revived OTUWA must, therefore, help the governments and employers in the sub-region to look elsewhere. “In Nigeria, we must look for other sources of revenue and the most easily identifiable one is agriculture and, of course, mining. We are also diversifying in trade and services.
“And because of the availability of fertile land in West Africa, the same thing goes to sister countries. OTUWA, which is our regional component of the World Union of Trade Unions, must henceforth, lead this campaign for the diversification of the West African economy.”
He further urged the union to help governments in the region develop the required skills for the full maximization of the utility of their cash crops by enhancing local processing of the raw forms into finished products.
The minister, in a statement by Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director, Press, in the ministry, told OTUWA to be “the catalysts in entrenching decent work environment in line with the ILO convention, which we all are signatory to.”