Hope rises for Africa’s permanent membership of ILO governing council

Sunmonu decries Buhari’s absence at centenary confab 

Africa will soon have permanent member countries in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) governing council.First president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Hassan Sunmonu, disclosed this to The Guardian after the 108th International Labour Conference (ILC) that ended at the weekend in Geneva, Switzerland. 

ILO set the machinery in motion to achieve the feat during the ILC, which President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend.Africa is the only continent that has no member in the ILO permanent governing council.

The 10 countries in the council are often referred to as ‘Countries of Chief Industrial Importance’. They are Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom (UK), and United States of America (U.S.A.).

According to Sunmonu, the international labour watchdog is likely to expand membership of the permanent governing council from 10 to 12 in the next two years, to accommodate two African countries.He said: “Africa has the largest member countries within the ILO with 54 countries. With that large number, it is the only continent that does not have permanent representatives in the governing board of the ILO.

“Out of the 10 countries that are on the governing council, only India and Brazil are from developing countries. Brazil represents Latin America while India represents Asia.“But now, through the work of the committee of the whole, there is a resolution, which has been adopted, that we hope will fast-track Africa’s permanent membership of the ILO governing council in the next one or two years.”

The former general secretary of the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU) also berated the presidency for not ensuring the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari at the centenary conference. Sunmonu argued that Buhari lost the opportunity to showcase Nigeria at the global labour summit. 

“I don’t see why President Muhammadu Buhari should not be at the ILO centenary summit. I am sure his absence is traceable to the inaction or negligence of the immediate past minister of labour and employment (Dr. Chris Ngige), who should have ensured that the president came.

“Look at the platform, the tripartite platform upon which Nigeria should have played. Over 30 heads of states were here. Why should Nigeria’s president not be here?” he added. Sunmonu, who has attended the ILC meeting for about 30 years consistently, urged the ILO to maintain its tripartite composition and resist being hijacked by governments or employers.

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