NLC, Oxfam task ECOWAS Head of Govt to address inequality gap

The Nigeria Labour Congress g(NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Oxfam have called on all heads of government within the West African region to address the widening inequality gap in the region.

To emphasize their demands and sensitize Nigerians on a study on inequality by Oxfam, the group held a peaceful protest rally to the ECOWAS Secretariat, Asokoro, Abuja.

As a follow-up to the rally, Oxfam also had a public presentation of the Fair Tax Monitor and the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index Reports; to sensitize Nigerians on the issue.

Regrettably, the Oxfam report, stated that the West African governments  are much less committed to reducing inequality than all other regions of the African continent.

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“The Oxfam’s Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRII) regional report, which ranks countries according to their commitment to tackle inequality, reveals that the West African’s government are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, while under-taxing corporations and the wealthy,” the report by Oxfam stated.

The report said in 2018, the region was home to six of the top 10 fastest economies in Africa. However, for the majority of the countries, the benefits of this unprecedented economic growth  went to a tiny few.

The Oxfam report added: “Today, inequality has reached extreme levels in the region. The rich have grown richer while the poor have become poorer. The region has also the least public health care coverage and the least populations with access to water and decent education.”

However, speaking on the negative trend, the NLC focal person on Tax Justice, James Eustace, said the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider on daily basis and requires an urgent need to address it.

According to him, the widening inequality crisis can be seen in the rising insecurity and other social issues within the region, adding that the heads of government within the region should put in place policies to address this and lift the burden off the shoulders of the poor.

He said: “Basically, the report is talking about increase in countries spending on social services. That is, issues around public education, health, social protection, having a decent labour market institution, decent living wages for workers.”