In a recent interview, the president of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Wale Oyerinde, sheds light on concerns and recommendations regarding the increasing trend of multinational divestments from Nigeria. The organization, representing employers in the country, emphasized the critical role played by multinational entities in national development and expressed worry over the negative impacts on investment, employment, and human capital development. The organization’s consistent stance revolves around the belief that the departure of multinationals sends the wrong signal to investors, both foreign and local, and highlights the challenging regulatory and legislative environment for businesses in Nigeria.
While acknowledging the government’s inherited challenges, the association underscores the need for urgent reforms to address issues such as policy inconsistency and regulatory unfriendliness. The departure of multinationals poses multifaceted challenges to the Nigerian economy, ranging from direct job losses to the ripple effects on various sectors. The organization emphasizes the economic impact on individuals and businesses, urging the government to take immediate action to mitigate these consequences. The domino effect on employment is a major concern for NECA, with projections indicating a negative impact on the country’s employment index.
Three-pronged solution proposed as government action.
Citing a recent report from the International Labour Organization, NECA anticipates an increase in unemployment and inequality in 2024 due to global issues. The association emphasizes the urgency for the government to address this situation to prevent potential social unrest. It questions the government’s level of concern over the departure of major multinationals, expressing dissatisfaction with the perceived lack of urgency in addressing the issue. The association dismisses comparisons to other African countries, emphasizing Nigeria’s unique challenges and the need for a more favorable business environment to attract and retain foreign investments.
Proposing solutions, the association recommends a three-pronged approach. Firstly, the government should create a conducive business environment by addressing regulatory and legislative challenges. Secondly, implementing social security schemes can provide support to individuals during periods of unemployment, ensuring economic activity continues. Lastly, a focus on technical and vocational skills development can empower individuals to become entrepreneurs, contributing to national development. NECA actively engages with governmental bodies and policymakers, collaborating on constructive initiatives to address issues affecting both multinational and local investors.
Advocacy for business growth, security measures, and tech adaptation.
The association stresses the importance of fostering a positive business environment, promoting enterprise, and actively influencing policies to encourage national growth. Security implications associated with prolonged unemployment are highlighted by NECA, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to prevent social unrest. The association contends that addressing unemployment is not just an economic concern but a crucial element for national security. Looking towards the future, NECA acknowledges the challenges but expresses hope in the government’s policy reforms. The association believes that ongoing reforms, including those in Customs and monetary schemes, will lead to gradual improvements in the economy by the third quarter of 2024.
On the issue of rising inflation, NECA recognizes the tough situation faced by employers, particularly with high interest rates and increased costs. Despite these challenges, employers are commended for their resilience and efforts to support their workforce within the constraints imposed by economic factors. NECA underscores the importance of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in the Nigerian business environment, emphasizing that businesses and employees need to adapt to the changing landscape. While acknowledging that AI might lead to certain job transformations, the organization believes that staying attuned to evolving needs and acquiring new skills will be crucial.
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As regards collaboration with educational institutions, NECA is actively engaged in discussions to ensure a skilled workforce that meets the evolving needs of corporate organizations. The association emphasizes the ongoing conversations with the Nigerian Universities Commission and various universities to foster collaboration and address skill gaps. As the organization leverages international partnerships and collaborations, the association is set to examine the issues highlighted in a recent report in collaboration with the International Organization of Employers. This proactive approach reflects their commitment to addressing challenges and promoting a conducive environment for businesses in Nigeria.