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NLC charges govt on anti-corruption drive

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Wabba

Wabba

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Federal Government to beam its corruption searchlight on other sectors of the nation’s economy.

Besides, the union said various contracts carried out in the past, especially road contracts must be investigated to ensure that funds were not mismanaged.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Lagos at the weekend, NLC emphasised need for the Federal Government to recover “every kobo” not accounted for.

It urged state governments and local governments to join the war on corruption on their volition, “they should demonstrate requisite interest and commitment to this war”.

It called for the strengthening of the corruption laws, adding that, corruption cases be speedily dispensed with, “as is the case with election petition cases”.

A communique issued at the end of the meeting said: “The Congress continues to express its strong and unalloyed support for government’s war on corruption. Corruption is not just a national malaise that afflicts virtually every fabric of our national life, it has all but crippled the nation and accordingly requires a national action”.

It added: “Congress observes that the list of the corrupt as expressed in the $2.1 arms contract scandal underscores the extent of the rot in the system. Congress notes that this could just be the tip of the iceberg”.

Besides, it opined that all moneys recovered from looters of the national treasury should be invested in building new refineries and revamping the existing ones

According to the Communique signed by NLC President, Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, NLC said those on the list of the $2.1 billion scandal should apologize to Nigerians for their shameful act.

It reiterates that despite, “the fact that corruption is fighting back, government should explore all lawful means to ensure that the looted funds are recovered and the culprits prosecuted in accordance with the law”.

Making reference to the national economy, the union said, “a combination of the after-effect of years of fiscal indiscipline, mismanagement of resources, unacceptable electioneering spending, corruption, policy reversals, unproductive borrowing, falling crude oil prices and serious issues of internal security has dealt a blow to the economy.

“The Naira has collapsed against the major international currencies. As an import-dependent country, the implications for the ordinary Nigerian are enormous. The cost of living has risen, the purchasing power has dropped and jobs are being lost.

“Congress observed that in most states, salaries and pensions are not being paid regularly in spite of the well-thought-out bail-out fund programme by the Federal Government. This has thrown workers and their families into great hardship and embarrassment.

“Congress noted that as a response to this economic downturn, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and neo-liberal Economists are putting pressure on the government to further devalue the Naira as well as raise the Value Added
Tax (VAT). Governors and some private-sector employers on their part are considering mass retrenchment with Imo state leading the negative way”.

According to the communique, NLC said neither non-payment of salaries nor mass retrenchment is an acceptable option in the circumstance, adding that, “at difficult moments like this, reflationary measures should be adopted to empower workers and stimulate the economy”.

It urged government to take measures that will stimulate production, develop infrastructure and boost aggregate demand, “Congress urged government to take urgent steps to diversify the economy with an emphasis on agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing”.

Part of the communique reads: “Congress is worried that Governors are singling out workers for punishment in the circumstance of economic downturn while it is rewarding political appointees even when the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission has declared such payments as illegal.

“Accordingly, Congress urged Governors and private sector employers to toe the path of honour and not retrench workers. It urged governors to do all that is necessary to pay salaries and pensions regularly as non-payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities will be catastrophic not just for workers and their families but the entire country.

“Congress resolved that any state Governor who violates the sacred duty of regular payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions will incur the wrath of workers.

“Congress also resolved to mobilize to any state that retrenches workers because workers should not be made the scape goats of the downturn in the economy. “

The benefits of political employees are not touched. The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission pay them regularly huge sums that are not even approved.

“In line with the Congress’ philosophy of an injury to one is an injury to all, Congress also resolved to mobilize to Imo state to shut it down as a response to Governor Okorocha’s consistent anti-labour policies, impunity and retrenchment of workers, in spite of his promises to the leadership of the Congress that he would not take such decisions. Congress also resolved to take a national action in respect of Imo if necessary”.

On fuel subsidy removal, Congress observed that in spite of Government’s promise to Nigerians that it would not remove subsidy on petroleum products, “if any at all, government is attempting to remove subsidy through the back doors in the form of price modulation”.

The Congress also opposed attempts to remove subsidy on petroleum product, noting that it is illegal and unjustifiable, as due process is not being followed.

Congress said subsidy removal will not add any value to the economy. Rather, it will create more hardship for Nigerians, especially the poor and the weak.

Accordingly, Congress resolved as follows:
•All moneys recovered from looters of our national treasury should be invested in building new refineries and revamping the existing ones;
•Our refineries must be made to work to optimal capacity in order to meet local need;
•Nigerians should not be made to suffer for the sins of those who mismanaged the economy by way of imposing higher prices through subsidy withdrawal and other anti-people policies;
•To embark on an immediate programme of sensitization and mobilization of Nigerians across the country for a better Nigeria;
•To work with and engage in struggle in partnership with all the stakeholders, particularly the Civil Society allies and
•To engage government based on the information availed to it on this subject matter.
The Central labour body also described as illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a further exploitation of the already exploited Nigerians, the 45 per cent increase in electricity.
NLC rejected the increase on the following grounds:
•Due process in the extant law for such increment was not followed in consonance with Section 76of the Power Sector Reform;
•There has been no significant improvement in service delivery;
•Most consumers are not metered in line with the signed Privatisation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metred;
•There is a subsisting court order dated May 28, 2015 by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC and others and
•The increment compounds the present economic recession.



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