The Nigerian Union of Mines Workers (NUMW) has congratulated the President of the 9th Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and their Principal Officers on their emergence as leaders of the 9th National Assembly, just as the Union tasked the National Assembly to ensure that its committees execute effective oversight functions that will pave way for the growth and development of the country.
The National President of the Union, Comr Hamza Mohammed, who called for concerted efforts by “both federal and state legislatures,” noted that laws must be enacted to improve the condition of mines and quarry workers in the country, stating that government needs to engage the owners of big mining establishments (who are employers of mine workers) with labour laws that will be more favorable to workers in the country.
While saying that government must take advantage of the potentials of the mining sector to create large scale employment opportunities, Hamza tasked the Buhari administration to exercise the political will needed to kickstart production works at Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASCO) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, stating that “Nigerian can no longer afford the huge losses and capital flights caused by importation of steel product at the expense of under-developing the Nigerian steel sector.”
“As a strong union of mines workers affiliated to the Nigeria Labour Congress, we are interested in the formulation of policies that will create more jobs for more Nigerians,” he said, adding that “for every day that ASCO stays inoperative, the country loses job opportunities as well as opportunities for national industrial development, revenue generation from the steel sector as well as opportunities for national economic diversification through the steel sector.”
While he described ASCO and NIOMCO as the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation, the Union Leader said the establishments hold so much in store for the economic diversification and development of Nigeria.
“In making policy decisions for ASCO, Ajaokuta and NIOMCO, Itakpe, we want the government to make policies that will promote the growth of indigenous investors, as well as the Nigerian economy.”
“Singapore is a clear example of a nation that is able to encourage young citizens to tow the path of solid minerals,” adding that as a matter of policy, government mandates leaders to nurture young Singaporeans in a manner that promotes their interest in solid minerals.
“Early enough in life, young Singaporeans are made to realise the benefits of the solid mineral sector to the economic advancement of Singapore,” he said, adding that the policy goes a long way in making them interested in the sector.
“The situation is not the case in Nigeria, because even graduates who are not geologists hardly know the mineral wealth of their country,” he added.
“We call on the 9th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to set in motion a regulatory framework that will ensure due compensation of mine workers in cases of industrial accidents among other hazards that could befall quarry workers,” he said.
“Government must move to ensure that both local and foreign operators in the mining sector adhere strictly safety rules governing mining operations.”
While commending the Buhari administration for efforts made to develop the country, Comr Hamza tasked the 9th National Assembly to ensure that Nigeria is compliant to the United Nations conventions on labour law as it concerns the mining sector.
Hamza said: “The 9th Assembly must carry out effective oversight functions that will not only sustain the achievements of first tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, but that will to also ensure the enactment of laws that will engender the development of the sector as well as accelerate national economic diversification through the mines and steel sector.”
“We hereby state unequivocally that the Nigerian Union of Mines Workers is a Registered Trade Union and affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, it is not a political party. We however have confidence in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as a result of the genuine achievements recorded during the first tenure.”
He further said it is as a result of the genuine commitment of government to the development of the mining sector that the union threw its weight in favour of the reelection of President Buhari. “It is on record that across the federation, members of the NUMW worked for the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari,” he added.
Comr Hamza said the NUMW has expectations from government and that the union is willing to ensure the success of the administration that it worked hard to install, stating that government needs to carry the union along in its activities.