Federal Government has made a case for a waiver on global intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccine production to enable developing countries to effectively check the wave of the pandemic.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this while welcoming the new ILO country director for Nigeria and English-speaking West Africa, who is also the ILO liaison for ECOWAS, Miss Vanessa Phala, in his office on Friday.
“Nigeria is in the league of countries who want the intellectual property rights as it relates to COVID-19 vaccines to be waived so that developing countries can manufacture them to fight the pandemic,” Ngige said.
The minister who traced the history of Nigeria as a pioneer member state of the ILO, with country office opened in Lagos in 1956, also commended the ILO Africa regional team, especially the immediate past country director, Mr. Dennis Zulu, for the efforts towards the emergence of Nigeria as a regular member of the ILO Governing Board on June 11, 2021.
“We want to put on record the assistance and the working relationship we enjoyed with your predecessor, the director-general and the regional director for Africa. Their unceasing support all through the years was instrumental to the election of Nigeria into the Governing Board of the ILO.” He said, “It is quite heartwarming that, after nearly seven years’ absence, we came back to the Governing Board as a titular in 2017 under my tenure. While serving as titular, they found us worthy to be the president of the Government Group of the ILO Governing Board. And now this year, barely a fortnight ago, we were voted in again, this time, to the highest membership of the Governing Board as a Regular.”
The minister also informed the ILO team that Nigeria is adapting to the changing dynamics in the world of work, being the reason the country domesticated the ILO conventions and repealed some of the obsolete labour laws currently undergoing review.
He requested for the technical assistance towards legal finesse and early completion of the amendment.
He said, “We have moved from retreat held in Lagos, where the tripartite partners participated and now further working on the outcome of that retreat and harmonizing in-house, before transmitting to the Federal Executive Council and, finally, to the National Assembly.
“We have got everybody, the lawmakers, on board after initial setback through adequate liaison with the National Assembly Committee on Labour. We are hopeful that after the recess of the National Assembly, final legislative work on the review will commence.”
Ngige further said the National Labour Advisory Council previously dogged by budget constraints has been successfully inaugurated, with its first sitting already held, adding that the body would sit twice yearly.
Ngige further called for specific assistance of the ILO towards creation of jobs to curb rising unemployment in the country.
Earlier, Phala said her mission was to familiarize with the internal workings and challenges of the ministry, which she said was cardinal to the ILO: “Over the years, the ILO has enjoyed quite a favourable working relationship and collaboration with the ministry and it is my intention to maintain such. The purpose of our visit, beyond courtesy call, is to touch base on a number of issues so that we will be able to respond accordingly to the technical requirement of the ministry.”