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Jonathan, at NLC summit, restates pledge to tackle insecurity


Buhari woos labour leaders

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured Nigerians that the government is working hard to ensure that the nation overcome the menace of Boko Haram and other challenges facing the country soon.

 He spoke in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the 11th delegates’ conference of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

  At the event, the All Progressives Congress (APC) alleged that the Federal Government spent about $32.88billion or N5.54 trillion on security in the last five years.

  The APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who lauded the NLC for protecting and promoting workers’ interest, added that most of the monies spent on security was lost to corruption.  

  His words: “Since then, Boko Haram has gained international notoriety and become a major national menace – kidnapping girls from their schools and women from their homes; slaughtering boys in their dormitories and men in their farms; exploding bombs in public and private venues; and taking town after town in the northeast of Nigeria. And, for some reason, our defence forces are unable to cope and unable to defend. Despite the Federal Government’s defence budget that has gulped over $32.88 billion in the past five years. Our security situation in this country has never been so dire.”

   He charged electorates to vote for change saying Nigerians can no longer afford to be passive in the affairs of the nation. 

   Buhari posited that he shares the same history with labour movement in the struggles for the betterment of the commonwealth saying, “As most of you know, I am not a novice when it comes to participating in the struggle to deliver Nigeria from the power of darkness. Many times, my efforts have earned me the wrath and vengeance of crooks and thieves. What I want to assure everyone in this room and across the length and breadth of this vast country is that I will do my best for you.”

   While agreeing with the devaluation of the Naira, Buhari explained that the action has also affected the purchasing power of Nigerian workers. “These actions, while necessary to reduce the slide in our currency, have reduced the amount of goods the ordinary Nigerian can purchase with the money he or she has. We are likely to experience a rise in the prices of all goods, especially fuel, bread and foodstuff. The hard times ahead will affect Nigerians in every part of our country, 67 percent of whom already live on less than N200 per day,” he said.

  The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who represented Jonathan, said he was under instruction by the president to refrain from making political statement. According to him, the president was aware that the audience comprised of workers from federal and state governments who could participate as ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the forthcoming elections.

  He gave assurance that the Boko Haram insurgency which has been agitating the minds of Nigerians would soon be brought under control. Anyim assured the conference that the 2015 elections will be better than that of 2011.

 On the state of the economy, Anyim who declared the event opened on behalf of President Jonathan, noted that the Federal Government is focusing attention on creation of business that could generate employment opportunities for Nigerians.

   In his submission, the Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, condemned the continued importation of refined petroleum products into the country. He declared that it is rather shameful that the nation’s refineries established by the military and were functional then, are not working under democracy.

   Oshiomhole, who is a former President of the NLC, urged workers in the oil sector to look beyond their plum jobs to insist that the crude oil resources are refined in the nation’s refineries.

   The Edo governor said those benefitting from fuel importation do not have factories giving employment opportunities to Nigerians He lamented that in spite of the fact that Nigeria had become the largest economy in Africa, the country is still reputed to be the largest concentration of the unemployed persons on the continent.

 He urged Nigerians to ask questions about the alarming theft of the nation’s oil resources, stressing that there is a link between oil theft and job insecurity or unemployment.

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