International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day or May Day) is observed on 1st May every year. It is celebrated across the world to promote and encourage the international labour associations while honouring the struggles of the working class and efforts of labour unions. The theme for this year’s Workers’ Day is “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement”.
In commemoration of this year’s Workers’ Day, NOIPolls presents a 4-year average (2016-2019) on public opinion polls on issues facing Nigerians. Findings revealed that employment remains among the top three areas Nigerians expected the government to focus its attention on over the period in view: Security (29 per cent), Employment (28 per cent) and the economy (21 per cent).
Although the issue of unemployment is second on the list, this area has been one of the greatest challenges crippling the Nigerian economy as it has maintained an upward trend within the years in view. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the unemployment rate in the country increased from 22.70 per cent in the 2nd quarter of 2018 to 23.10 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2018.
In view of the Workers’ Day celebration, the onus is on the government and other stakeholders to create jobs for Nigerians especially through creating an enabling environment for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to thrive. This will go a long way in ensuring that Nigerians explore various opportunities in tackling the issue of unemployment. Also, it is vital to reflect on workers’ welfare specifically on the issue of the minimum wage as it plays an important role in income distribution as well as the poverty rate. Although the minimum wage in Nigeria has recently been increased from ₦18,000 to ₦30,000, this amount may be negligible in raising the standard of living of the beneficiaries considering the economic situation of the country. For instance, a public opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls on workers’ welfare in 2011 revealed that Nigerians believed that the minimum wage of ₦18,000 was inadequate, hence they clamoured for an upward review to ₦56,000 as at 2011. Again, while the Federal Government has signed the new minimum wage of ₦30,000 into law, it is important for an urgent implementation process.
In summary, as Nigerians join the world in celebrating Workers’ day, it is pertinent for the government to address issues pertaining to job creation and the welfare of Nigerian workers. Job creation challenge in Nigeria can be effectively tackled through strict adherence to and execution of the different strategies and policy framework that have been put in place to move the employment drive in the country forward. Some of these strategies and policy documents include the National Employment Policy (NEP) of 2002, the National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC), National Youth Policy (NYP) of 2009 as well as the National Policy on Education (NPE)