NASU blames rising poverty on inadequate infrastructure
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU) has blamed the rising poverty among Nigerians on inadequate infrastructure in the country.
The President, NASU, Chris Ani, who stated this at the on-going seventh quadrennial national delegates’ conference of the union in Abuja, berated successive governments for paying lip service to youth employment which has resulted into acute unemployment, increase in the number of working poor and acute underemployment.
His words: “Youth unemployment and underemployment remain one of the greatest challenges facing the country today, to which political office holders continue to pay lip service. We are concerned that the country’s over-reliance on imported goods and services is exacerbating the unemployment situation in the country. Over-reliance on imported goods, has turned the country into a dumping ground for all manner of good, creating jobs for citizens of the exporting countries.
“We are saddened that government officials continue to admonish youths on the need to de-emphasis the reliance on paid jobs, and should embrace entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, these same officials fail to take cognizance of the fact that entrepreneurship can only strive when the government provides an enabling environment. We call on governments at all levels to take note that no nation can develop when its active manpower remains underutilized.”
He identified an acute shortage of power supply as one of the main drivers of deepening poverty.
He submitted that the failure of the power sector to provide adequate electricity supply to domestic households, small businesses and industrial production is a huge contributory factor to more Nigerians migrating into extreme poverty brackets.
“This situation continues to exacerbate the poverty crisis in the country and impede economic development. Unfortunately, as a result of the electricity crisis, citizens and businesses, be they medium, small enterprises and artisans have resorted to the generation of their own electricity through the use of generators, thereby leading to increase the cost of living, production as well as doing business in the country,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government and the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to ensure that GENCOS and DISCOS live up with their mandates by providing regular electricity supply and that the government should begin to look into alternatives supply of energy.
The NASU chief also bemoaned heavy tax regime workers are subjected to, saying, “workers have been consigned by the Federal and State Governments, under the weight of the burdened of over taxation. As if such burdens are not enough, new tax burdens are introduced daily by the present Federal Government.”
Ani flayed the increase in Value Added Tax and the increases in the charges of withdrawals and deposits by the Central Bank of Nigeria as case in point.
He declared that the latest tax regimes are very provocative to a workforce that is already overburden with excessive PAYE tax.
Ani added that the tax system in Nigeria is not a broad base as it is very clear that only workers pay taxes.
“It is unacceptable that the country is ever ready to give tax concessions and tax holidays to business while increasing taxes that affect workers adversely,” he stated.
He submitted that the tax regime in Nigeria are carried out to prove to Bretton Wood Institutions and other foreign lenders, that the country can internally generate sufficient revenue to settle the ever-increasing foreign debts.
Ani urged labour movement in general to rise in unison and challenge the insensitivity of government to the tax burden that is piling more pressure on the limited income of Nigerian workers.
According to him, the present Federal Government has not meaningfully executed the fight against corruption.
“Citizens are beginning to live with the impression that successive governments are only paying lip services to the fight against corruption as it is beginning to look as if successive governments are competing among themselves, to see which one will be more corrupt than the other. It is a matter of great concern to us as a union, that institutions established to fight corruption and other crimes have failed to adequately carry out the assignments for which they were established,” he said.