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WE ARE DISAPPOINTED:YOU ARE NOT SAINTS! PRESS STATEMENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS
01-Dec-2016


WE ARE DISAPPOINTED:YOU ARE NOT SAINTS! PRESS STATEMENT OF NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS Our attention is drawn to the unwarranted attack launched against Organised labour by some members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) to a harmless observation by the Acting General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress that it would have been good if NLC and TUC were made members of the Committee. Leading the assault, Professor Femi Odekunle said "the labour leaders are corrupt", compromised, no longer trustworthy and cannot protest against acts of corruption. Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, the Executive Secretary of the Committee said the fact that unions do not protest against corruption at the National and State Assemblies while state governors award themselves sickening pensions while workers go without pay, shows that unions are collaborators or beneficiaries of these acts of corruption. Professor Itsay Sagay the chairman of the committee said the inclination of the unions or trade centres to be made members of the Committee is "... a very wrong attitude, very negative attitude". We at the Nigeria Labour Congress consider this posture by the committee to be an unnecessary display of arrogance and self-righteousness, which is most unfortunate. Due to our respect for his record of support for popular struggles before he took the current appointment as chairman of the Advisory committee, we had refrained from responding to an earlier unwarranted attack on Organised labour by Prof. Sagay. For Prof.Odekunle, we know his records from ABU Zaria. It appears his recent trademark is his penchant for flippant and unguarded attacks against Organised labour to draw attention of people in authority for political appointment. The secretary of the advisory committee, Prof. Bolaji Owasanonye in his comments exhibited a total ignorance of our struggles against bad governance and corruption which was shocking. Organised labour was in the forefront of supporting president Buhari's anti-corruption campaign. We organized a nation-wide anti-corruption rally earlier in the life of the administration, and wrote President Buhari and the leadership of the national assembly to strengthen the advisory committee so that it could deliver on it's mandate, and likened the significance of the committee to that of president Yar'Adua setting up of the Electoral Reform Committee, which was also the first major committee of his presidency. Our actions were informed by our conviction that corruption was at the heart of our underdevelopment as a nation. This informed our call for capital punishment for some category of graft during our protest, a call that many of our civil society allies and sections of the NBA were uncomfortable with. Our action against corruption predates this administration. At the beginning of this republic in February 1999,at a presidential parley the NLC Organised at Ladi Kwali hall in Sheraton Hotel Abuja, in which over 1000 workers attended, our panelist Prof. Attahiru Jega asked the PDP candidate, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo what he would do to tackle the issue of corruption in Nigeria. He said he was looking at the example of two countries, India and South Africa. That he would establish an agency to fight corrupt. This was what gave birth to the ICPC. When the national assembly was foot dragging on passing the executive bill, we mobilized to put pressure for the speedy passage. The NLC did a number of other protests against the national assembly, from the furniture allowance of legislators to Etteh must go to cite a few. In the current 8th assembly, we have robustly engaged them and urged urgent disclosures in the opaque remuneration of the national assembly, cut in the expensive wages to meet the realities of our ruined economy etc. We wonder how anyone who has been following events in the country can accuse us of doing nothing when our irresponsible political elites in the states failed to pay workers’ salaries, and fix themselves outrageous pensions. At the last count, two workers of Nasarawa State Government were gunned down in cold blood when they accompanied the NLC leadership to discuss with the state government on it's arbitrary cuts in, and non-payment of wages. The NLC Central Working Committee planned follow up action in Lafia had to be scaled down to avert organised carnage against workers. Perhaps the Bolajis would have preferred a further showdown and the resultant mayhem that was promised! As NLC we had at no time expressed a desire to be a member of this committee. If we wanted to, we knew where to channel our request. As an Institution, we have in participated in countless high powered and sensitive ad hoc and standing committees and commissions of government in our almost four decades of existence. For instance the Justice Uwais' Report on Electoral Reforms is such an important reference point in our national dialogue on elections today partly because of our participation in the work of the committee via our representative on it, and our subsequent popularization of the committee work in our campaign for it around the country. We have no doubt that the observation made by the TUC Acting General Secretary during an interactive session with PACAC in Lagos was in good faith and was intended to broaden the ownership of the war against corruption. And if PACAC members feel that that being appointed into the committee confers on them the status of sainthood, we beg to differ! Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni. President, NLC. .

 

 


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