.Assures workers of better life despite COVID-19 economic challenges
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has expressed commitment of his administration to create at least 395,000 jobs in the next few months, with an average monthly wage of N55,000 above N30,000 National Minimum wage.
Sanwo-Olu also assured that his administration will proactively manage and adapt resources to further ensure the work of making life better for all of the workers and the people of Lagos state continues irrespective of COVID-19 economic challenges.
Sanwo-Olu, who stated these on Saturday, at the commemoration of the Year 2021 International Workers’ Day, held at Mobolaji Johnson Stadium, Onikan, Lagos, explained how his administration managed the COVID-19 challenges effectively in the last one year.
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Speaking on the theme of the celebration, “COVID-19 pandemic, social and economic challenges for jobs, social protection and people’s welfare,” Sanwo-Olu, said his administration had to look inwards to sustain the economy and keep workers gainfully employed.
According to him, “As you are all aware, the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted heavily on the finances of the State. We are of course not alone in this, no economy in the world, national or subnational, has been left untouched by the impact of COVID-19.
“The pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities as social players; we had to look inwards on how to sustain our economy and keep our workers gainfully employed.
“We were able to proactively manage and adapt our resources to ensure that the work of making life better for all of the workers and the people of Lagos state continues.
“One of the major steps we took was the revision of the 2020 budget to accommodate the social and economic impact of COVID-19, and to prioritise spending and investment that fulfilled the two primary goals of keeping our people alive and helping sustain their livelihoods.
“As responsible decision-makers, we have respected and faithfully upheld the guidelines of the International Labour Organization on preserving the livelihood of workers, during the pandemic, by enacting human-centered polices to keep our people at work, and empowered.
“Another important step we took at the beginning of the pandemic was to ask most of our civil servants to stay at home and work from there.
“I am proud to say that we did not lay off workers despite the economic recession that accompanied the pandemic and the downward review of the State’s 2020 Budget.
“In the last one year, we have also strengthened our social safety net to prevent a widespread loss of jobs, which would have led to a reversal of the progress we have made in the reduction of poverty.
“We set up more than 200 food distribution centres across the 20 Local Government Areas of Lagos State, delivering food to more than 37,000 households, while also feeding over 100,000 indigent youth through the daily food kitchen program. We also partnered with the Federal Government to facilitate conditional cash transfers to
“For small businesses we took definite protective steps like offering tax breaks, and other incentives like the MSMEs Low Interest Loan Programme, which have all helped to keep our people employed and also guarantee the survival of their small businesses.
“By supporting and enabling the private sector we can ensure the creation of several multiples of what the public sector can directly absorb.
“Our goal is to create at least 395,000 jobs in the next few months, with an average monthly wage of N55,000, in the sectors and industries that have high demand for labour, like agriculture, construction and services.
“For our workers, we have been investing considerably in the completion of affordable public housing schemes in different parts of
our State, including the proposed Workers Village Scheme, Ipaja. In March, we also launched the Learning Management System for our teeming public service personnel to drive human capital and capacity development.”
Sanwo-Olu, added, “Job creation is a cornerstone of our Greater Lagos Vision, indeed, one of the primary goals of our THEMES agenda is the creation of new and sustainable jobs, and not just public sector jobs but even more importantly private sector employment.
“We are equally doing our best to give our young people the foundation for their future working lives. I am pleased to note that the crippling effect of the pandemic did not deter us from starting the paid internship program, which gives 4,000 young graduates the opportunity to get work experience.
“I therefore, urge the entire workforce, indeed all Lagosians, to endeavour to stay abreast of all the initiatives of our administration, not only to cushion the effects of the pandemic, but also to deliver fully on the dividends of democracy and the promises we made when you overwhelmingly gave us the mandate of leadership.
“Every program and initiative that we launch comes laden with opportunities for the populace to key into.
“As a government, we will do everything in our power to fast-track this new normal. We are laying 3,000 kilometers of fibre optic cables across the State, to provide high-speed internet access to our schools, hospitals, offices and homes.
“As smarter, technology�enabled ways of working gain ground, we will see the beneficial Impact in multiple aspects of our lives, from the traffic on our roads to the incidence of stress-related illnesses in our hospitals.
“The task ahead is to secure our common resilience and protect the welfare of our people through continuous investment in the labour force, adequate compensation for work and the consistent empowerment of our people.
“This task we shall continue to deliver on with the greatest possible dedication and commitment. All of us have a shared responsibility of accelerating our socio�economic recovery from COVID-19 by helping Lagos to build back better, like other megacities. We can do it. I urge you to play your part by extending the solidarity that permeates our labour unions to the larger society because we all share a common destiny: social protection and the people’s welfare are to a large extent hinged on our ability to mutually build a just and inclusive society.”
Sanwo-Olu, also announced the donation of 10 hectares of land to both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Nigeria Trade Union Congress (TUC)for housing projects.
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