NATIONAL MANPOWER BOARD ACT
Nigeria had been once referred to as the Giant of Africa. The reputation was earned by the substance of our riches in mineral resources, progressive economy, and ebullient manpower with growth in the standard of living of the people. Our national experiences over the years have however witnessed geometric retrogression of the basis upon which the reputation “the Giant of Africa” was earned. It will be self-deceit not to admit the poor state of the nation vis-à-vis our potentials.
Our nation is struggling with poverty, corruption, unemployment, degradation in public properties, ill management of public investments, poor health system, collapse of the education sector, and insecurity among others. While, we struggle with these, it is imperative to know that we also seek solution to redressing our national challenges.
In my last piece titled NATIONAL GROWTH VS. FOREIGN RELATIONS, I did mention that Nigeria has a number of documents that contain auspicious avenues to finding our path back to national greatness but must be worked at. There I mentioned the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategies (NEEDS) which I objectively consider laudable. To access this, I refer us to the NEEDS Nigeria document at http://www.ng.undp.org/documents/NEEDS/NEEDS.pdf
For this piece, I want us to consider the National Manpower Board Act Cap N57, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). This law was promulgated by Decree No. 18 of 1991 on the 30th May, 1991. The law established the National Manpower Board to among other things, determine and advice the Government on the nation’s manpower needs in all occupations. I will only try to state out some of the provisions that I consider essential to note.
Section 1. Establishment of the National Manpower Board etc.
(1) There is hereby established a body to be known as the National Manpower Board (in this Act referred to as “the Board”).
(2) The Board shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.
(3) The Board may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
(4) The Board shall have four operational zonal offices to be located at Owerri, Bauchi, Akure and Minna.
Section 2. Membership of the Board
(1) The Board shall consist of a part-time chairman and the following other members that is-
(a) a representative each of the following Federal Ministries, that is to say-
(iii) Employment, Labour and Productivity;
(b) a representative each of the following Federal establishments or bodies, that is
(i) Federal Civil Service Commission;
(ii) National Universities Commission;
(iii) Federal Office of Statistics;
(iv) Industrial Training Fund;
(v) Employers of Labour;
(vi) Nigeria Labour Congress; and
(c) the Executive Secretary of the Board.
(2) The chairman and other members of the Board shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister.
(3) The Executive Secretary of the Board shall be an ex-officio member of the Board and shall not have the right to vote at meetings of the Board.
(4)The supplementary provisions contained in the Schedule to this Act shall have effect with respect to the proceedings of the Board and other matters contained therein. [Schedule]
Section 5. Functions of the Board
(1) The functions of the Board shall be to-
(a) determine and advice the Government on the nation’s manpower needs in all occupations;
(b) formulate manpower development and utilization policies and programmes in order to ensure optimum implementation of same for the enhancement of the nation’s manpower resources;
(c) co-ordinate manpower policies and programmes of Federal, State and Local Governments;
(d) collect, collate, analyse and publish manpower and employment information and data generated through surveys, studies and enquiries including administrative means.
(2) It shall be the duty of any person so required by the Board to furnish the Board such as the Board may require in the discharge of its functions under this Act.
Section 6. Board to make input in certain matters
Without prejudice to the provisions of Section 5 of this Act the Board shall be consulted and the required to make input on important policies and programmes relating to-
(a) the distribution of scholarships, bursaries, fellowship awards, student loan schemes and employment promotion schemes;
(b) manpower development and utilization for government agencies;
(c) manpower, issues concerning-
(i) the Federal and State Ministries of Education and of Employment, Labour and Productivity;
(ii) the National Board for Technical Education;
(iii) the Industrial Training Fund;
(iv) the Centre for Management Development;
(v) the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria;
(vi) the Management Services Department of the Federal Civil Service Commission;
(vii) the National Universities Commission;
(viii) the National Directorate of Employment;
(ix) the Commissions-in-charge of each level of the Nigerian educational system and all relevant training institutions in the private sector requiring governmental recognition;
(x) the National Productivity Centre;
(xi) the Nigerian Education Bank;
(xii) the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission;
(xiii) the statutory bodies such as councils and institutes controlling the training of professional bodies;
(d) the preparation of periodic master plans for the coordinated development of institutions of higher learning;
(e) the formulation of-
(i) training programmes by all government agencies, including, Ministries, corporations and government-owned companies;
(ii) policies governing scholarships and students’ loans tenable within or outside Nigeria;
(f) matters pertaining to the under-employment in Nigeria of trained manpower;
(g) the formation of employment policies including measures for promoting employment as well as skills development and enhanced productivity of employed persons; and
(h) the implementation of manpower policies and programmes relating to-
(i) expatriate employment;
(ii) the training efforts of private firms; and
(iii) the participation of Nigerians in the management of business activities.
Section 7. Duty to liaise with professional bodies
The Board shall liaise with professional bodies and institutions involved in the development and training of professional manpower for the purpose of identifying the stock flow and distribution of professional manpower in the senior and junior categories.
Let me rest it here for this work.
Beyond what I conceived in my mind in writing this piece, I want every reader to consider how strict adherence to the provisions of this law by the Board would have contributed immensely in building our nation.
It is my culture to search for any material, document or programme on how to move our nation for forward. It is in this spirit that I also recently stumbled on the National Manpower Board Act. I had never heard about the Board functioning bearing in mind that the nation needs an aggressive operation of such a Board at this point in time. I even doubt if the Ministries concerned or the Federal Government establishments are oblivious of this national assignment given to them. It is however not impossible that our national ordeal with the military regime could have beclouded all parties concerned. At such a time as this, what the country really needs is way forward from this state of national retrogression.
This law has established the indispensable role of education in building a formidable manpower to advance our national experience. If we have public leaders that are working hard and deliberate enough to overcome saboteurs of our national growth, our nation would have advanced far beyond our current state. I say this bearing in mind the fact that there is no field of expertise around the globe that a Nigerian is not a part. So if this is, how much more will the nation have advanced with an efficient National Manpower Board. The educational sector is nose-diving because we do not have people thinking and working at it.
It is inconceivable and worrisome that anyone or establishment can think of suspending Part-time programme in our higher institutions. This is a show of ignorance impact of education in national development. Institutions in other nations are working more at a system whereby people can study from home over the internet irrespective of location around the world and some are by implication trying to sabotage our national development. Instead of us working at making education most flexible for more people to access, some people cannot just think right. This suspension will definitely increase the amount of money Nigerians spend on education outside the nation (for those that can afford it). Like the Yorubas say, cutting off the head is not the right prescription for headache. If the products are not efficient enough, we should rather upgrade our system than kill our manpower.
Briefly, one of my reservations to this Act is with respect to the location of the operational zonal offices. It is inconceivable that such offices will function efficiently and effectively in such locations where they are relatively far from essential establishments to relate with in carrying out their responsibilities. Take for example, most of the professional bodies have their headquarters in Lagos State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Most labour force of the nation is in Lagos, F.C.T. Abuja, Port Harcourt and some others than the ones provided for in the Act. Not locating an establishment such as this in some essential places may cause its natural death. This may necessitate a review of the Act for optimal operation.
This is a wakeup call on all parties concerned to rise up to this national responsibility clearly stated in the National Manpower Board Act starting from the President to the Ministries of Finance, Education and Employment, Labour and Productivity among other Federal Government establishments. Part of the solution we seek is not far from us. We however need to get serious and work hard towards building our nation and earn beyond the reputation of being the Giant of Africa, or being becoming one of the BRICS to being one of the top 5 economic powers in the globe.
Olusola Akinyemi Esq.
The Joseph Initiative, Lagos.