Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Local Content Agitation : In Support Of Comr Asu Okang's Demand During Flour Mills Visit —By Inyali Peter

Mr Asu Okang, C'River Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development 
13 June 2018 

After years of cries by some Cross River youths for government intervention over the outer disregard of local content law by companies operating in the State, the Youths and Sports Development Commission, Comrade Asu Okang has taken a bold step to challenging the status quo.

Many of us have written countless times questioning why companies operating in the state don't employ our people reasonably even when our agitation is backed by law but both government and the companies have paid deaf ears. Some only paid leap services as they've continued to overlook our qualified indigenes in favour of non-indigenes who are in most cases unqualified.

However, there are signs that finally government has now risen to the occasion to address the menace of serious abuse of local content by organizations.

Recently, Comrade Okang paid what he described as an "unscheduled" visit to one the biggest companies operating in the state,  Niger Mills Ltd (Flour Mills) and blasted them for not giving young Cross Riverians enough opportunities to work in the establishment. He demanded that large percentage of their work force at all levels should be devoted to indigenes inline with the local content law.

This indeed is a step at the right direction and I want to say kudos to the Comrade Commissioner. 

This advocacy is long overdue. It's something that requires all hands to be on deck because government alone can't do it. Community leaders, youths leaders, traditional rulers etc should support this move to ensure that our people take their right place in these companies.

Most times, I've wondered why some companies feel that our youths are not good enough for employment. A few who even choose to engage our people don't recruit them to reasonable positions. They're best placed as causal staff not because they don't have the qualifications and skills but because they don't know anybody at management level.

Specifically, I want to appeal to Governor Ben Ayade through the Commissioner to beam the search light on Lafarge (UNICEM). 

UNICEM is dominated by the Yorubas and other indigenes. Many Cross Riverians are recruited only as causal staff while people from other states who in many cases are not even as skilled or educated as our people are placed in top management positions.

The funniest but most embarrassing thing is that, those who are doing the real job are the casual staff. The "big Ogas" who are mostly non-indigenes don't even know how to on any machine but at the end of every month, they go home with hundred of thousands of naira while the real people sustaining the company go home with peanuts; a take home that can't even take them home.

I know of many trained Engineers who are USED in UNICEM as casual staff and are made to submit to people who don't even have the qualification to be causal staff. 

Even many Banks operating in the state don't give enough opportunities to indigenes. Everywhere you see the Igbos, Yorubas, Akwa Ibomites with just relatively inconsequential number of Cross Riverians.

Last week, the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly passed a bill mandating all companies operating in the state with capacity to employ from 20 persons above to devote more than 60% for indigenes who are to be recruited not just into lower cadre but top management. 

The law also provides that the state will set up a special auditing committee which will from time to time go round to check and ensure that organizations comply.

We need this too in Cross River.

The Cross River State House of Assembly should as a matter of urgency commence working to give us similar law to support the move by the Commissioner.

Emphasis shouldn't just be about engaging our people but meaningfully into meaningful positions. 

We can't have our spoons then continually eat beans with our bare hands. They're here using our raw materials and natural resources but don't want to grow our people.

Enough is enough!

To the Commissioner, the work has just started. The message should not end in Flour Mills. UNICEM, Banks, etc should be pressured too to give qualified Cross Riverians equal or even more opportunities. 

Companies who fail to comply should be sanctioned heavily by government!.

Inyali Peter 
Is a university don 

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