The Federal Government says it is committed to fostering collective approach to build a positive safety and healthy culture at work place that would promote national development.
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, made the call at the commemoration of the 2022 World Day for Safety and Health at work on Thursday in Abuja with the theme: “Act Together To Build A Positive Safety And Health culture’’.
Keyamo, represented by Dr John Magbado, the Director overseeing Office of the Permanent Secretary, said government was taking proactive steps towards achieving a safe and healthy environment at workplace.
According to him, this is through national programmes, legislations and collective agreement on Occupational Safety and Health, in line with the International Labour Organisation(ILO) decent work agenda. .
“Nigeria as a member state of the ILO has since 2004, joined in the annual awareness –raising campaign of safety and health.
“This is intended to focus the attention of the populace on the magnitude of work related accidents, injuries, diseases and deaths.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen that having a strong Occupational Safety and Health system was very apt.
“We saw meaningful participation of government, employers, workers, public health actors, among others that are crucial in protecting working environment and safeguarding the safety and health of workers, ’’he said.
He, however, said there was need for continuous collaboration and co-operation of all stakeholders across all sector to ensure that highest level of safety, health and wellbeing of all workers in the country.
The ILO Country Director to Nigeria, Ms Vanessa Phala, said trhat no fewer than 2.9 million workers died yearly due to occupational accidents and diseases, while 402m people suffer from non-fatal occupational injuries.
Phala, represented by Dr Runo Onosode, also said that the occupational risk factor with the largest number of deaths is attributed to exposure to long working hours following to particular matter, gases and fumes.
According to her, not only do occupational injuries and illness cause immeasurable human suffering to victims and their families, they also entail economic loses.
She added that over the years the ILO has shown its commitment to supporting safe work environment in Nigeria by providing both technical and financial support to the Nigerian government and its social partners.
“The ILO supported the Federal Government develop its first national OSH profile and thereafter supported the government revise its national OSH policy which is been launched today by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“ The ILO also supported a technical dialogue on a number of labour bills currently been developed including the occupational health and safety bill.
“The International Labour Standards along with relevant laws and policies would give impetus to the promotion of safety at work to ensure that workers are adequately protected, ’’she said.
The ILO boss, therefore, called on the government to safeguard the lives of the workers by building better resilient national and state occupational safety and health policies and programmes.
Also, Mrs Lauretta Nneka, Director, Factories of the Federation, Occupational Safety and Health in the ministry, said that safeguarding the occupational safety and health of the national labour force, had been a major statutory responsibility of the ministry.
She said the ministry had continue to discharge its responsibility through vigorous enforcement of factories Act and its subsidiaries regulation, and host of other strategies aimed at promoting safety, health and wellbeing of persons at work.
“The theme of 2022 celebration is apt; at the workplace level, a strong occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to safe and health working environment is valued and promoted by both managers and workers ,’’she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that in raising awareness for the commemoration of the day, a rally and road show as well as medical outreach were held in Kugbo Funiture Market.(
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global health emergency and an economic slowdown, calling for prevention while promoting economic activities. Using the International Labor Organization (ILO) Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) modules for business development, UN agencies, in collaboration with the Nigerian government, jointly implemented a project to enhance the capacity of MSMEs /local manufacturers to produce quality personal protective equipment and accessories. other health-related products. The IMESUN training, implemented jointly by the ILO and UN Women, has trained up to 114 MSMEs from the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
The United Nations System in Nigeria and the Government of Nigeria implemented a project to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs and local manufacturers to produce high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) and healthcare-related products. The project, financed by the United Nations Basket Fund and implemented jointly by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Women, supports the ability of Nigerian MSMEs and manufacturers to meet both internal and external demand.
As the pandemic has disrupted global supply chains, many countries are focusing on meeting their domestic needs. Many MSMEs are switching to PPE production to take advantage of the economic opportunity. Several local factories, industries and manufacturers (including tailors) have changed their production lines to take advantage of this increased demand. However, this rise has not been without challenges ranging from understanding how to build a viable business to producing quality PPE.
Training objectives included the need to: address identified knowledge and skills gaps among business owners, especially those in PPE production; provide quality resources and technical support to help business owners grow and expand their business operations; identify other areas of support required in this area; develop an understanding of gender basics so that you can promote gender mainstreaming practices and human rights-based approaches in your business operations; and monitor, review, and certify Start and Improve Your Business trainers.
In her opening remarks at the event held at the Hotel Valencia on February 28, 2022, the Director of the ILO, Ms. Vanessa Phala, lamented the effect of COVID-19 on the country's economy. Speaking through Dino Corell, she affirmed that the crisis has affected investment, growth and employment while exerting a negative impact on the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises. “The pandemic has an asymmetric impact on small businesses and the workers employed in these units, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic's fallout,” she said. Ms. Vanessa Phala expressed optimism and reiterated that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Nigeria are vital for decent and productive employment, accounting for two-thirds of all jobs globally and creating many new jobs. .
Along the same lines, UN Women National Program Officer, Ms. Patience Ekeoba, who represented the UN Women Country Representative, highlighted that UN Women will pay special attention to improving the marketing capabilities of women-owned MSMEs. for expanding business growth and policy adoption. issues associated with the distribution of products produced by women and young women entrepreneurs and expand gender-responsive procurement principles to ensure that government agencies, development partners and private sector entities prioritize PPE produced by women .
UNIDO's Lead Technical Advisor for the project, Jarl M Hansstein, in his goodwill message noted that a needs analysis was conducted on selected MSMEs to reveal the areas where they needed support and incentives to improve their products and business. He also mentioned that the project aims to help companies improve the quality of their PPE and also target export markets within the ECOWAS region. In addition, UNIDO will build on this important training, helping them to formulate and implement concrete business plans in relation to the specific objectives to be achieved.
The WHO coordinator for the project, Tayo Hamzat, stated that the project will not only contribute to improving Nigeria's health status, but will also help boost the economy by opening Nigerian produce to the international market because the project was designed to produce quality PPE. products in a safe and healthy environment for business. He added that this was a rich project because the selected beneficiaries would have interventions from four Participating United Nations Organizations (PUNO) and urged participants to make sure they seize the opportunity.
In his special remarks, the Honorable Minister of Labor and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, represented by Dr. Martina Nwordu, Director of Tasks and Special Projects, thanked the different struggles that the entrepreneurs went through and applauded the training as strategic. The minister affirmed that "it is, therefore, a good initiative to support these groups of entrepreneurs to access information for the promotion and positioning of young companies in Nigeria, as a good practice". He also pointed out that through the activities of NDE, a parastatal company under the Ministry of Labour, SMEs have benefited as groups and as individuals from business development as a means of job creation. He promised the ministry's willingness to effectively support and participate in the project.
Also speaking during the opening ceremony, the Director of Economic Services of the Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs through the Office of Women's Economic Empowerment Officer, Ms. Joy Obaje, pledged her support for the project. She also pointed to some ministry interventions to support women entrepreneurs, such as access to financial interventions, as well as the 50 Million Women's African Speaking Platform Project (50MAWSP) financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to contribute to the economic and social empowerment of 50 million women in business in 38 African countries.
IMESUN training was one of the intervention areas of the whole project and it started with the training of trainers. The trainers were appointed by ILO and UN Women tripartite partners, including the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA), the Nigerian Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment (FMLE), the Nigerian Congress Nigeria Labor Law (NLC) in addition to those nominated by the Federal Ministry of Women's Affairs (FMWA).
The Training of Entrepreneurs (TOE) using IMESUN modules focuses on starting and improving small businesses as a strategy to create more and better jobs for women and men. The program is made up of a set of interrelated training packages for different levels of business maturity, including Start Your Business; Improve your business; and expand your business. SIYB aims to increase the viability of MSMEs through management principles suitable for the environment of developing economies.
As many as 114 MSMEs (63 women-owned and 51 men-owned businesses) from Nigeria's six geopolitical zones have received training on how to grow their businesses with a gender lens. The trainings were held in three different locations across the country: 64 MSMEs from the northern region (NC, NE and NW) were trained in Abuja from February 28 to March 11; 25 MSMEs from the Southwest region were trained in Lagos from March 14 to 18, and up to 25 MSMEs from the Southeast and South-South regions were trained in Enugu from March 21 to 25. Some of the grantees have provided positive feedback on the quality of the program.
“In my five years running this business, I never thought about expanding, because I always had the belief that it's scary. This training made me realize that it is due to some bad business practices that I have advocated. For example, I have operated with the mindset that trading capital is mine and as such I must use it in any way I choose. My Ahaa moment came during the module on financial planning. I learned in detail the financial implications of every aspect of my business, as well as how to separate business money from personal money. In fact, if I had continued to run my business as I did before the training, especially financially, I would never have scaled up” Rashidat, a PPE entrepreneur from Kogi “The trainers showed a very high level of having been properly trained before training us. They were approachable, emotionally intelligent in managing the adult classes, and had a good grounding in business development SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). They did everything possible so that the students reached a high level of satisfaction. The cartoon-level simplification and street-level clarity of the training manual, which is also adaptable to the Nigerian context, is something I have yet to see in any business development training. The naughty subject of cash flow has been stripped down to such basics that even a five-year college program can't pull it off. Simply put, the training manual is excellent for its intended purpose.” Muhammad Kachalla, PPE entrepreneur from Maiduguri.
In his remarks, one of the IMESUN trainers from the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association, Odunayo Balogun, thanked the funders and PUNOs of the project and described it as timely and asked MSMEs not to joke about the opportunity.
By Joan Nwagwu
The Organization of West African Trade Unions (OTUWA) says the West African region faces a chronic lack of resources needed to mitigate the excruciating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OTUWA President Mademba Sock said this during the opening session of a two-day sub-regional workshop on COVID-19 and post-containment socio-economic recovery in Africa. 'West Monday in Abuja.
“In our sub-region, we face a chronic lack of resources to revive the civil service at a time of pandemic when needed for the type of direct cash transfers that we have seen in developed western countries.
“We have seen how billions of dollars have been deployed by developed Western countries to purchase and store hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This leaves hundreds of millions of people in developing countries with virtually none of these vaccines.
“Not only are these vaccines not available to our people, they are also expensive and our government has relied heavily on donations from a central pool called the Covax Initiative. "he said.
He said the workshop would review the efforts made in the sub-region by ECOWAS and each national government to make the vaccine available to tens of millions of ECOWAS citizens.
He said the workshop would review the economic measures put in place by various governments in the sub-region to stimulate investment in the economy of countries in large, small and medium enterprises.
Ms. Vanessa Phala, International Labor Organization (ILO), Country Director for Nigeria, noted that COVID-19 has wreaked unprecedented havoc on health, economic and social life in almost every country in the world, including including the rich industrialized countries.
Phala said there was a need for a strong tripartite response to the COVID-19 pandemic "and its impact on the world of work is the global call adopted by the ILO."
“The global appeal that emphasizes the need to support a people-centered recovery. It also highlights the policies needed to shape a global response to the pandemic that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
"It calls for international cooperation and urgent solidarity to deploy vaccines and provide adequate financial support, including debt relief, to counter the impact of the crisis on jobs and strengthen social protection," she declared.
Phala therefore called on policymakers to strive to support a strong and broad recovery, focusing on jobs, incomes, workers' rights and social dialogue.
She said policymakers should consider, among other issues, policies to ensure that hard-hit groups, including young people, women, low-paid and low-skilled workers, are supported to find decent work opportunities and that they do not suffer long - term "scar effects".
"It is the role of OTUWA and its affiliates to ensure that recovery strategies are based on social dialogue, which promote a transition to a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world of work," he said. she declared.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, President of Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC), stressed the need for the government to invest heavily in protecting jobs, providing effective and efficient health care due to the contrary situation of the pandemic of COVID-19.
Wabba, represented by its chief information officer by Mr. Benson Upah, urged governments and the organized private sector to explore strategic partnership options to revive struggling businesses to restore jobs and preserve common heritage.
“We call on the appropriate governments at all levels to reduce corruption in the system and the costs of governance. We cannot pretend that things are always what they were.
“Nevertheless, we consider it necessary to say that the time has come for the populations of the sub-region to take questions of governance and accountability in democracies more seriously.
“We are not armchair critics, nor are we agents of doom. We have made our modest contributions during the COVID lockdown, and even until this afternoon.
“We have had a strong advocacy campaign on the dangers of the COVID virus, the dangers of the COVID virus to the economy and how to preserve jobs during the COVID lockdown and its aftermath.
“We have issued statements and we have written to the relevant authorities on the need to stratify the interventions in such a way that at the end of the day we have a win-win situation, among others,” he said.