Recession: NLC Takes on Buhari over Buck Passing

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• Calls for thorough investigation of Patience Jonathan, states, LGAs

Paul Obi in Abuja
As economic hardship takes a heavy toll on Nigerians, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday confronted President Muhammadu Buhari over the perennial buck passing and blaming of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for the country’s current woes.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, also spoke on the sidelines of ‘NLC National Youth Conference’ in Abuja, called on Buhari’s government, to stop buck passing and rather put in place workable policies that would halt the dwindling economic fortunes of the country.

Wabba argued that it was a complete disservice for the Buhari’s administration to jettisoned finding practical solutions to the economic crisis, and instead focuse more on blaming previous governments.

Wabba further noted that some of the people in the present regime were part of the previous administrations which were being held responsible for the present economic recession.

He said: “In trying to look at the economic challenges currently bedeviling the nation, some of the commentators, including the governors who were part of the previous administrations, are not ready to take responsibility.

“They take delights in shifting blames. What we are saying is that the issue must be situated within the context of those that are in power.

“It should not be an issue of shifting the goal post when the game is almost over. The issue is about taking responsibility and looking at how best to address the challenges,” Wabba stated.

Meanwhile, the NLC also called for thorough investigation of the $31million allegedly owned by the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, whose case is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

Wabba observed that the blind looting of the nation’s common wealth by the political class across party divides was partly responsible for the economic downturn and the inability of state governments to pay workers’ salaries.

He said: “We have said it over and over again, that NLC is the first organisation that actually supported openly the anti-graft war. We said recover, investigate and prosecute so that it can serve as a deterrent. Our position has been undoubting on the issue of the frozen $31million.

“In this respect, the onus of profe is on the ex-first lady. First, she must inform all of us the sources of the money. She must explain what business she has done to accumulate such wealth .In other climes, people would have forfeited such funds. This is our position and we have always been consistent about it.”

Wabba stressed that the inability of some state governors to meet their financial obligations to workers can be attributed to endemic corruption rather than non-availability of resources.

Wabba urged the anti-graft body to extend the fight against official graft to the states and local governments levels.

“If you look at it critically, that is why we are where we are today. Salaries are not paid in many states not because the resources are not there, but because of the inherent corruption in the system.

“Corruption fight should also be extended to states and local governments. Wherever there is element of corruption, whoever is involved, the law must take it course.
“There should be investigation. There should be fair trial within the confine of the law and whoever is found wanting, those funds should be recovered and prosecution should follow to serve as a deterrent,” he insisted

He called on the youth to begin to take active interest in governance, the NLC boss reminded that they were the worse hit by the current economic downturn.
Wabba referred to International Labour Organisation (ILO) recent statistics, where over 70 per cent Nigerian youths are said to be unemployed.

While providing an insight on the idea behind the establishment of NLC youth structure, Wabba explained that the platform would help to galvanize youths to take interest in issues that affect them politically and economically.

ILO Country Director for Nigeria and ECOWAS, Dennis Zulu, harped on the need for youths to continue to show interest in labour matters, stating that youth participation was critical in industrial harmony.

Zulu argued that “Many youths are working in conditions that do not encourage participation, awareness and interest in union activities.

“In addition, there is a certain mistrust from young people about unions as being organised around the classical proletariat. As such, efforts must be put into working with young people on raising their awareness about union values to increase their support for union movement,” Zulu stated.