Human resources experts have urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts in increasing multilateral and national actions to achieve decent work for all.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, the Head of Human Resources at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mr Tolu Adedayo, said, there had been some progress on the part of the government in achieving “Decent Work for All” but there were a lot of challenges that Nigeria needed to overcome.

He advised the government to increase its efforts and create realistic frameworks and policies to ensure that “Decent Work for All” is achieved.

“If we look at the indicators as far as decent work for all is concerned, we will look at the unemployment rate. The National Bureau of Statistics has made a few adjustments to its methodology. Before now, the unemployment rate was 33.3 per cent but with the new methodology, it is now declining and pegged at 4.1 per cent. Which indicates a decline in the unemployment rate which means Nigeria is making progress,” Adedayo stated.

According to him, decent work means jobs that provide people with the means to support themselves and their families, which also contributes to social stability.

He mentioned that if unemployment was declining, the poverty rate which was also high should also be declining.

“But unfortunately, with the recent removal of fuel subsidies, the poverty level has increased again because the disposal income of workers has been drastically affected by the hike in petrol price and inflation, especially on food items and transportation,” he remarked.

Adedayo also decried the low social protection for workers in the country, adding that a report stated that only 10 per cent of Nigeria’s population was covered by any form of social protection.

He argued that social protection only covered the formal sector despite the recent NBS report saying over 92 per cent of Nigeria’s population was in the informal sector without any form of social protection.

According to Adedayo, Nigeria’s population is growing astrologically, and some projections are saying that its population of over 210 million is expected to increase to 400 million by 2050.

“Therefore, this is going to put a strain on the labour market and make it difficult to create jobs,” he added.

Also, another HR expert, Victor Oyesina, noted that the country was doing little about creating decent work.

He said, “Looking at the increasing unemployment rate between 2020 and 2023, it is safe to say that just a few Nigerian workers have access to do meaningful and rewarding work, while many who have jobs have found themselves in jobs that cannot cater to their basic needs.”

“A strong movement towards the achievement of decent work has been the emergence of many Edtech companies, whose goal has been to empower many youths with technology skills that can help them leverage the global digital market.”

He added that those companies also provide internships and job placements that allow people to create value, do meaningful work, and make an impact.

Also, the General Secretary of the Federation of Informal Workers Organisation of Nigeria, Gbenga Komolafe, said, it was not only SDG 8 (Decent Work for All) but inclusive of all the 17 SDG goals which Nigeria was seriously falling behind.

Komolafe said, “The overhyping umbrella goal of the entire SDGs is to reduce and alleviate poverty, but we have seen a situation where government policies are promoting poverty, and the statistics bear that fact out.”

He noted that the NBS recently released a report showed that informality in the workplace had grown in recent years.

“The proportion of Nigerians working in the informal economy is now over 90 per cent and we all know that informality is a sprinter of backwardness of people having to operate in less than decent work environment or people working without any form of social protection, people having to work without regard to basic standards and people also been subjected to very arbitrary policy changes on the part of government,” Komolafe said.

According to him, having a huge percentage of people in the informal sector itself is a major indicator of the degradation of labour and the degeneration of the working conditions in the country in the past few decades.

He added that there had been greater inequality and increasing marginalisation of workers and deteriorating working conditions.

Recently, the International Labour Organisation said the world was “well off track” towards achieving Decent Work for All (SDG 8).

It recommended that there was still much to be done particularly on social and environmental issues, and offered policy recommendations to speed up progress.

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