Labour, Oxfam lament inequality crisis in West Africa, seeks increase in social spending

Labour and civil society group Thursday said inequality crisis in the West Africa sub region has gotten to an alarming rate, calling on government of the sub region to put in place policies to address the situation.

Speaking during a sensitisation/roadshow at the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) secretariat in Abuja, Comrade James Eustace of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged government of the region to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

He said inequality is a serious security threat which if not tackled would lead to break down of law and order.

“We are talking about inequality in West Africa, which is the gap between the rich and the poor. The truth is that the gap is becoming wider by the day, while few are getting richer, many are becoming poorer.

“Statistics has shown that 99 percent of resources is in the hands of just one percent of the population, while the 99 percent others are left with just one percent of the resources. And this is getting to crisis that is why today, the situation in West Africa is alarming going by the crisis you see in those countries.”

On the way out of the alarming situation, Comrade Eustace said the report of a research conducted by Oxfam advice the West African countries to increase social spending in social security protection.

This, according to him, include education, public health, social protection, decent wage for Workers and other safety net for the citizens.

Also the report recommend for a progressive taxation where people are ensure to pay according to their earning rather than a situation where the burden is on the poor.

Also speaking, one of the researchers, Professor Godfred Alufar from the University of Ghana said it is not the will of God that people should be poor, but was due to policy choice of government, adding that government through same policies choice should address the menace.

“The states must put in place policies to address the issue of inequality; because we are looking for a just society we are not instigating the poor against the rich. The essence of the report is to say that inequality is a threat to the security of the rich and the poor.

“The level of inequality in West Africa is not sustainable; something has to be done because there are millions of young people mostly girls who don’t have access to education and is not a good thing for all of us.

“Also we want to forestall social cohesion where the rich and the poor can leave together in a society that is just and sustainable. So the rich in the society should contribute more in the revenue envelope so that government can spend in areas that affect the pot in our society”.

The director of human resources at the ECOWAS Secretariat who received the report on behalf of the president, Mrs Amelie Silviane Kone, commended the group and pledge to transmit same to the president of the commission.

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