Contrary to the position of the Minister of Labour and Employment for state, Festus Keyamo (SAN) and the Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Adamu Mohammad Bulkachuwa on some existing laws, the Journalists International Forum For Migration (JIFORM), has called for a effective legislation to aid migration and its benefits to Nigeria.
Speaking in Calabar, at the Cross River State Migration summit with the theme: Utilizing The Gains Of Migration To Advance Economic Development In Nigeria on April 22, Ajibola Abayomi, the President of JIFORM comprising over 300 journalists across the continents argued that the existing laws in the country had failed to protect the rights to dignity of labour for Nigerians both within and outside the country.
According to the Minister, Nigeria had adopted a National Policy on Labour Migration (NPLM) on October 15, 2014 and the International Convention on Protection of all migrants with members of their families, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 97 leading to labour migration governance which guarantee decent jobs opportunities for the Nigerian men and women.
While calling for proper documentation of all labour migrants in the country especially those in the property and construction sectors, Keyamo, although admitted that Nigeria must fully be committed to quality live for labour workers, he admonished the Cross River State Migration Control Service Agency, workers and agencies to key into the effective labour migration governance by getting a valid recruitment license from the ministry of Labour and Employment before they could operate because migration was on the exclusive as listed in the constitution.
Senator Bulkachuwa, arguably the most experienced legislator since 1999 posited that the JIFORM President applauded by the audience was drifting towards sensationalism as many Nigerians held in captive in the Middle East and elsewhere based on his experience as diplomat were found wanting and there was need for all to embrace regulated migration.
However buttressing his point the JIFORM President pointed out that: “We need not to continue to deceive ourselves that there are existing laws protecting the rights of labour workers both within and outside Nigeria. Where were the diplomats when Nigerians were beheaded in the Saudi Arabia for things they knew nothing about? When migration is regular, it is already regulated. What more? Apart from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) helping through Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration scheme, the returnees Nigerians have been totally abandoned.
“JIFORM commends President Muhammadu Buhari, for rescuing thousands of Nigerians from Labanon, Oman, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia of late. The ladies were raped, many denied their wages and were randomly abused, yet we claim we have the laws. What effort have made as a nation to reintegrate them into the system? Our people are not criminals, they had only gone to make a trial, that they did not succeed is not a reason to abandon them. Every Nigerian outside the shore of the country should be the business of the diplomats and the ambassadors. I am not satisfied with their performance, they need to do more.
“There is a readymade solution as contained in the template of a member of the African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committee, Dr Princess Ocansey from Ghana. We should engage her and grab the remedy from deadly work to decent jobs for our people.
“Nigeria needs over six million annual jobs for the youths alone. Government cannot do it alone therefore the environment must conducive for the private sector to create additional employments as well. This country must humble herself by negotiating decent work with the leaders in the Middle East for many of our ladies. Call it housemaid job or whatever; there must be dignity of labour backed by the government for the interest of Nigerians in the Middle East and elsewhere to be guaranteed.
“The fact is that the laws are not working for our benefits therefore there is need to put in place effective legislature to save our people and help our country. Labour migration is profitable. In 2019, Nigeria alone got $25 billion out of the $46 billion that came into Sub-Saharan African as remittances; we need to more to get more by protecting the jobs of our people abroad” he said.