From EUCHARIA NZEABI, Asaba
WORRIED by tales of collapse of buildings in different parts of the country, the Governor of Delta State, Senator, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has called for legislation to regulate activities of workers in the construction and building industry.
Declaring open the 18th national executive council (NEC) meeting of National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) in Asaba, Governor Okowa observed that investments in the construction and building industry have been undermined by substandard jobs, unethical conduct and sharp practices.
According to him, “it is time to push for appropriate legislation that will regulate the training, licensing, hiring and compensation of workers in the construction and building industry; that is the way to fish our bad eggs, and enthrone standard and excellence in the industry because, the construction and building industry is so strategic that it cannot be left for every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
The Governor described the theme for the meeting, ‘Infrastructure and Policy Development: Panacea for economic growth,’ as apt, stating, “a good economy is built on the ability of the government to improve the welfare of the people by providing basic infrastructure, public amenities and social services.”
“The level of infrastructure in any society has a direct correlation with national development; it is a good indicator of its economic growth and, when the infrastructure is sophisticated in nature, it earns the country a respectable status in the comity of nations,” he added.
While stating that his administration has urban renewal through massive infrastructure development as one of its cardinal programmes, Governor Okowa reiterated, “for Nigeria to become a global economic force, we need to demonstrate resolve and determination, at both federal and state levels to upgrade and modernise our infrastructure; we must not just try to play catch-up with the developed economies of the world, but move to a faster pace than they are moving, because, they are not resting on their oars.”
In his welcome speech, the President-General of NUCECFWW, Comrade Amechi Asugwuni decried the decay in infrastructure in Nigeria noting that it has led to laying off of staff and called for the federal government to take urgent steps to address the situation, especially, in the area of electricity generation, construction of roads, industrialisation and diversification of the economy.
According to Comrade Amechi, “If the quest of Nigeria being among the 20 leading economies in the world soon will be realistic, there is need for the country to device strategies to continually position itself for maximum efficiency in infrastructure and policy development in order to grow the economy”.
Explaining the theme: “Infrastructure and policy Development: Panacea for Economic Growth”, the President-General described it, as germane and timely considering the level of decay in nation’s basic infrastructure, noting that infrastructure development is the fulcrum for economic advancement.
He advocated that infrastructural projects should be given prominence and high priority by government, organizations and individuals to address the challenges and shortfalls.
Amechi noted that government focusing on power sector to set foundation for investment would attract rapid economic growth, adding that power supply will be of advantage to address inefficiency in the area of technology, railway system, and boosting activities in informal sector.
He however, called on the government and security agencies to tackle the reoccurrence of the level of insecurity and challenges facing the members of the union in the performance of their duties and obligation.
Expressing dismay over the continuous drop in oil prices that have been impact negatively on the trade union, Amechi advocated for urgent and serious move by the government to diversify the mono-economy state, while condemning the unequivocal terms and the non-payment of salaries by state governments, as he further stressed that this menace has weakened the economy and brought untold hardships to the workers.
“We refute the refusal of states to practically initiate viable diversification of its economy to guarantee the future survival of the citizens. We therefore call on the National Assembly to facilitate effective mechanism to monitoring the state as well as enact laws that will criminalize non-payment of salaries by employers of labour”, he said.