By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS — THE Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, weekend in Lagos, urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to be deterred by the fight back of corrupt persons but extend probe into road contract awards in the country.
According to the NLC, most of the road networks are death traps, causing wanton destruction of lives and property.
In a communiqué at the end of its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, Ayuba Wabba faction of the labour union, called on all elder statesmen linked to the $2.1 billion arms scandal to apologize to Nigerians for their shameful act and return the money, instead of trying to rationalize their involvement.
The communiqué, signed by Ayuba Wabba and Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson , read in part: “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.
“Congress observes that the list of the corrupt as expressed in the $2.1 billion arms contract scandal underscores the extent of the rot in the system. Congress notes that this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Accordingly, Congress resolved that those on the list of $2.1 billion scandal should apologize to Nigerians for their shameful act.
“In spite of 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. Congress also resolved that government should beam its searchlight on other sectors of the economy such as road contracts etc., with a view to recovering every kobo not accounted for.”
“Congress resolved that state governments and local governments should join the war on corruption. On their volition, they should demonstrate requisite interest and commitment to this war. Congress resolved that corruption laws should be strengthened and corruption cases speedily dispensed with as is the case with election petition cases.
On the economy, the communiqué said “Congress notes that 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. Inflation is needling double digit. 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 program 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 IMF, World Bank and neo-liberal Economists are putting pressure on the government to further devalue the Naira as well as raise the VAT. Governors and some private-sector employers on their part are considering mass retrenchment with Imo state leading the negative way.
“Congress believes that neither non-payment of salaries nor mass retrenchment is an acceptable option in the circumstance. Congress holds the view that at difficult moments like this, reflationary measures should be adopted to empower workers and stimulate the economy. Congress 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.”