NLC writes Buhari over alleged unremitted N35b pension funds
• Seeks special courts for corruption casaes •Restates opposition to subsidy removal
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged non-remittance of N35 billion pension funds by various government parastatals.
President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who disclosed this yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State, at the opening session of the national leadership retreat of the congress, explained that the money was deducted from workers’ salaries by the affected agencies but was not remitted to the various Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs). He said the situation is currently threatening the wellbeing of pensioners.
Also, at the event, Wabba called on President Buhari to establish special courts to try cases of corruption, saying any action to the contrary will truncate the renewed fight against graft in the country. The NLC restated its opposition to the removal of fuel subsidy.
Wabba said: “Eleven years into the operations of this new scheme, and with last year’s review of the Pension Reform Act, it has recently come to our attention that even the Federal Government is not keeping to the letters of this contributory pension scheme, as it has so far failed to remit the contributions of both itself as an employer and the deductions from employees’ salaries – both totalling N35 billion- to the respective PFAs. We have written to President Buhari to draw his attention to this illegality and requested him to direct the affected ministries, agencies and parastatals to immediately remit these funds without delay to the respective PFAs.”
The NLC chief also hinted that mobilisation of workers is currently on in the states to ensure remittance of deducted pension funds by state governments.
While calling for establishment of special courts to try cases of corruption, Wabba noted that cases of unproven corruption went for decades due to technicalities that are often brought to bear in the determination of such cases.
“Just like we have election tribunals, we do not see why for instance, the Chief Justice of the Federation cannot work out the modalities and establish these special courts and ensure that they are not bugged down by technicalities, which is the case with our regular courts at the moment. The maxim that justice delayed is justice denied is applicable in this dragging out of anti-corruption prosecutions.”
Wabba, who flayed the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emma Kachikwu, for advocating removal of fuel subsidy, said the NNPC chief must operate on the same wavelength with President Buhari who reportedly said he has not found enough reason (s) to justify subsidy removal.
“If he (Kachikwu) cannot come up with a doable plan for the Buhari presidency to establish new refineries to cater for the shortfall in our domestic petroleum products needs; if he cannot articulate a plan for us to establish refineries within and outside of our immediate borders that will be refining crude oil for export, adding value, creating jobs and making more revenue for the country, then he is the wrong man at this point in time to man the NNPC,” Wabba said.
According to the NLC helmsman, Kachikwu must first uncover what constitutes the subsidy he wishes to be removed; how much is the subsidy on daily, weekly and monthly basses and what will happen in the event that Naira depreciates further?
“It is clear that all those campaigning for withdrawal of fuel subsidy as a pre-condition for investment in the downstream sector of the oil industry are not friends of our country. For us as organised labour, we will continue to resolutely oppose any plans to withdraw the subsidy and will mobilize Nigerians in their millions to join us in this struggle,” Wabba said.
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