Economic meltdown: Don't sack workers now, FG begs private sector

By The Citizen

The Federal Government on Saturday begged investors in the private sector to desist from sacking workers at the moment, stressing that the country's economy is in a critical stage.

According to the government, the sack of any employee will have serious negative effect not just on the retrenched employee but on the larger economy.

The Minister Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said this at the investiture ceremony of Engr. Otis Anyaeji as the 30th President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers in Abuja.

Ngige, who was represented by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. James Ocholi, said the role of engineers in job creation could not be over-emphasised, adding that the provision of employment was one of the cardinal objectives of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The minister urged the large turnout of private sector operators at the gathering to always seek ways of managing their workforce without necessarily increasing the number of unemployed persons in Nigeria through sacking of staff.

He said, 'Engineers are too critical to the nation and this is because they create jobs. We all know that one of the President's key priorities is job creation. But without engineers this cannot be achieved. So engineers are of great significance to our country, especially with respect to job creation.

'I think it is important to state that we should not lay off staff at this critical stage, because if we do, we will be creating more problems. You should try to micro-manage and retain the staff that you have now, because no matter how much we accommodate, government alone cannot be the largest employer of labour. The largest employer of labour is, of course, the private sector.'

In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party has criticised President Buhari for the dwindling performance of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Nigeria had reportedly lost N1.2tn in the first eight trading days of the year to become the third worst performing exchange globally, behind only China and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking in a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, the PDP Vice Chairman (South-West), Makanjuola Ogundipe, said Buhari's government must create an enabling environment in order for people to have confidence in the government.

He said, 'Nobody wants to put their money in a government that is proving to be too autocratic. So far, the President has given us a doubting impression about his ability to manage the economy, the anti-corruption war without bias; his ability to make sure that laws and rules are obeyed accordingly.

'For example, look at the petroleum problem. As I speak, Ekiti people are buying (fuel) at N130 and N140 (per litre) and this is a government that has given instructions that Premium Motor Spirit should sell at N86.50. So, who is giving the instruction and who is not obeying? And if somebody is not obeying, what do you do.'

'The dollar is selling at N305 today. We have never seen it happen in the history of this country. It means that if you want to send your children to school, you will have to pay through the nose. It would take a lot to place confidence in this government. If the international community had confidence in this government, it would not worry about losing its investment in the country.'