28 September 2015, Lagos – The Trade Union Congress has faulted the position of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on the state of the nation’s economy.
Emefiele had warned that the economy was at risk of sliding into recession in 2016, adding that the implementation of the Treasury Single Account might affect the country’s economic growth.
However, the Rivers State Chairman of the TUC, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, on Saturday dismissed the CBN governor’s claim and declared that the nation’s economy had since gone into recession.
Speaking with our correspondent in a telephone interview, Onuegbu explained that with the decline in oil price and the inability of state governments to pay workers’ salaries, it was obvious that the nation’s economy had already gone into recession.
The TUC chairman also identified the continued job losses in the private sector as one of the signs that the economy was already down.
Onuegbu added, “When I say the economy of the country has already gone into recession, it is because there has been a steady decline in the revenue accruing to the country and you are a witness to the fact that at a point, workers were being owed salaries.
“Apart from that, we can see that Nigerians have been experiencing job losses, especially in the private sector. If not for the rigidity in engagement of public sector employees, we would have seen job losses in that sector too.
“The economy is rather struggling. Let us be frank, a year ago, the naira went for a little over N160 to a dollar. Today, it is about N220. I have heard that the CBN is saying that the economy may go into recession.
“Basically, the truth is that the economy is already in recession. But the CBN will not come out and tell anybody that the economy is in recession because it may mean pressing the panic button.”
Listing oil theft as one of the challenges affecting the nation’s economy, the TUC chairman lamented that government at all levels had not been able to cut down on their expenses.
He said, “The economy was already in bad shape before the fall in oil price. But the fall in oil price and the massive amount of crude oil theft contributed majorly to the nation’s poor economy.
“We started complaining in 2013 that the way things were going, workers’ salaries might not be paid. Unfortunately, politicians have not been able to cut down on their expenses because the citizens have allowed them to be profligate.
“They (politicians) see Nigerians as the masses that have been conquered. Again, we have not been able to fight this situation because we as labour have not been united. We need 100 per cent unity to be able tackle the issue.”