Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday took a swipe at former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Dr. Doyin Okupe, over calls he made to governors urging them to retrench civil servants in their states as a palliative measure against the current economic crunch.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, accused the former presidential aide of flying a kite that is filled with lies and half-truth, aimed at hoodwinking the governors across the states.
He said: “Ordinarily, we would not have responded to Doyin Okupe, former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan when he urged governors in a statement a few days ago, to retrench civil servants as a panacea to irregular payment of salaries, because we know him.
“In his jaundiced argument, very much unlike one who is truly deserving of his certificate from a Medical School, Okupe said: “Virtually all state governments in the country have over-bloated civil service.”
He explained that, “to underscore this point, between “2008 and 2009, Ogun State received N2 billion monthly from the federation account and paid out N1.8billion as staff salaries, wages and overhead costs” to civil servants not more than 50,000 in a state with a population of 5,000,000.
“In his view therefore it was “an obvious socio-economic absurdity and incongruity, where 10 per cent of the population was consuming 90 per cent of the wealth of the state.”
“Okupe is bandying political statistics and this is neither good for his health nor the health of those with whom he seeks to ingratiate himself. We at the NLC believe in the equitable distribution of the nation’s resources. We will not subscribe to a situation whereby 10 per cent corner 90 per cent of the resources of the state.”
Wabba stated: “It is in furtherance of this that we urge Okupe to do a forensic audit of what Ogun got, what it paid to civil servants, contractors and politicians. And what it used in running the Government House!
“Okupe does not need a soothsayer or an economic guru to tell him the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth. If he falls for statistics like this, he will fall for anything, like he has done all his life.”
He observed that, “at NLC, we do not believe staff salaries and allowances are reason(s) why the economies of the states are in shambles. Unlike Okupe, we do earnestly believe the states are where they are because of serial acts of corruption in the past, failure to save for a rainy day, high cost of governance (via employment of unneeded aides on criminally high salaries), unlawful and equally unacceptable severance packages for ex-governors and their deputies, cost of political expediency, failure to invest, etc. By the way, we would want Okupe to let us know how much his monthly gross was before President Obasanjo showed him the door. He should also be patriotic enough to let us know what he did before his disorderly exit.
“We would want Doyin Okupe to know the following facts: at difficult economic moments like ours, reflatory measures help to stimulate the economy and not deflatory measures which he canvasses. Deflatory measures will only help to deepen the misery of the people and further weaken the economy. Okupe could do well to ask President Obama what he did to restore the ailing American economy.
“Although not justiciable, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that the state shall ensure that “all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment… equal pay for equal work.
“Thus, it is not a favour when the state employs its citizenry; it is merely doing its duty as prescribed by the Constitution. A careful and honest assessment of the overheads of states will reveal that salaries do more good than any other overhead.
“President Muhammadu Buhari in consideration of this, made available to the state governors bail-out funds for payment of salaries and pensions but only a few governors have properly applied these-funds.
He stated that “this elicited a strong displeasure from the President only last week. Thus, instead of calling for the sanction of these governors, who by their conduct have created misery as well as overheated the polity, he is calling for the blood of hapless civil servants.
But we know what Okupe is looking for. The savings from Jonathan’s administration job may have dried up and he needs a job! He is free to look for one but not at the expense of our members, please!,” Wabba concluded