Carpets Sagay, Odekunle, Owasanoye
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday took a swipe at the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACC) over the disparaging comments by the committee against the inclusion of NLC as members of the think-tank.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said such comments were unwarranted and uncharitable given the strategic role played by organised labour in the fight against corruption.
He said: “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 (TUC) 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 and 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.”
Wabba maintained that “the Nigeria Labour Congress considers 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.”
He argued that “organised labour was in the forefront of supporting president Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign. We organised a nation-wide anti-corruption rally earlier in the life of the administration.
“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.
“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.
Wabba stated that “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.
“As NLC, we had at no time expressed a desire to be a member of this committee. If we wanted to, we know where to channel our request.
“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.”