Some leaders of organised labour on Wednesday called on the Federal Government to declare a national emergency in the power sector to enhance production of goods and services in the country.
The labour leaders expressed made the call at the 40th anniversary and the 30th Education Conference of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in Lagos.
The conference has as its theme: “NUTGTWN at 40: Repositioning Labour and Industry for the Next 40 Years.”
The General Secretary of NUTGTWN, Issa Aremu, urged the federal government to come up with workable policies to ensure adequate supply of electricity in the country.
According to him, poor electricity supply has contributed to the destruction of industries in Nigeria, which in turn, encourages smuggling.
”In 1983, Nigeria became the largest employer in West Africa with over 200 textile companies. But today, many factories have closed with less than 40 in operation.
”Before now, the industry employed more than 500,000 direct workers, but today it has less than 60,000 workers.
“Necessary infrastructure must therefore work at its optimum to revive the textile industry,” he said.
The labour leader said that after the establishment of the country’s first textile company, Kaduna Textile Mill in 1957, other state governments started creating their own companies to boost development.
He called on government to reduce the price of gas to lessen the cost generating electricity they use and encourage closed ones to reopen to enable them to compete with foreign companies.
In a goodwill message, Hassan Sumonu, former President of the NLC, said it would be difficult for the country to industrialise if it continued to produce only about 7000 megawatts of electricity.
Sumonu urged political leaders to be more nationalistic and strive to develop the country, pointing out that it was blessed with both human and natural resources.
Also, Segun Oshinowo, Director General, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), said that it was only good governance that could address poverty in Nigeria, and not collective bargaining.
Oshinowo said that employers alone would not tackle economic challenges without good governance that would help rebuild industries and reduce poverty level.