Nigeria has an alarmingly poor track record in upholding workers’ rights. Workers are often trapped in precarious working conditions including a constant battle with job insecurity. The Nigerian constitution establishes that no person shall be subjected to degrading treatment. The unjustified dismissal of thousands of Nigerian workers, however, strikes contrary to this.
In June of 2017, the House of Representative Committee on Telecommunications summoned the CEOs of prominent service providers to address the issue of mass termination of appointments in that sector. Like many other sectors, the telecoms sector laid off hundreds of employees at a time without prior notice or justification. Furthermore, according to a study by the African Sociological Review, reforms in the Nigerian banking sector have made declining job insecurity inevitable.
Mass employee termination has several implications and consequences for both the individual and the economy. According to Francis Green, job insecurity has a causal relationship with poor workers’ health. It can also become especially widespread in times of recession. The unconstitutional treatment of workers illustrates several issues with human development in this country. The federal government has a responsibility to safeguard the treatment of Nigerian citizens, particularly those employed in the private sector.
The Nigerian government has shown a failure to actively engage in the protection of human rights. The largely inactive National Human Rights Commission established in 1995 was not amended until 2010, prompted by a United Nations resolution.
Research suggests that facilitating fair procedures in organizations and social support for employees may mitigate the negative effects of job insecurity. In order to achieve this, the Nigerian government must do more to enforce the rights of workers that are nominally established under the constitution and labour law.
There is a need for a worker protection force based on internal policing similar to the successful whistleblowing policy used in the last year. The establishment of the NHRC was albeit vague, a step in the right direction, leaving the gap for more to be done. One day, workers’ rights in Nigeria will be protected as much in practice as in theory. It is up to government to lead us towards that final outcome. May God bless our country, Nigeria.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom.