John Shiklam in Kaduna
A former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has urged labour unions to demand for good governance and provision of basic infrastructure rather than asking for the monetisation of everything.
Makarfi, who is also a former governor of Kaduna State, also disclosed that when the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) was working out packages for political office holders, he advised them against the financial and economic consequences of the packages, but the commission ignored his advised.
The former PDP national chairman was contributing to discussions on a paper presented during the 36 Plenary and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Unity Schools Old Students Association (USOSA) held at the Federal Government College in Kaduna, on Saturday.
In her paper entitled: “the Role of USOSA in Enthroning Good Governance for National Development,” the Permanent Secretary, Ecologically Fund Office, Dr. Habiba Lawal, stressed the need for members of the association to build synergy and support the government with creative and innovative ideas that could significantly contribute to national development.
She called on members of the association to engage governments at all levels and the private sector in constructive, positive advocacy, actions and initiatives geared towards revamping educational standards across our public schools.
Makarfi, however, while making his comments noted that Nigeria operates in such a manner that government has been freed from so many responsibilities because Nigerians prefer to take care of such responsibilities.
He said: “I had challenged, even before I became a governor, the labour leaders I knew that time that you people begin to talk of money, money, money, you will end up with money that is not going to be useful. Rather, I challenged them then to hold government accountable; demand for good governance; demand for infrastructure; demand for security; demand for a lot of things that are expected from government, and a living wage which will be minimal.
“But if you are always asking for money, somebody gives you N10 and takes away N30 for example, how do you benefit?
“We operate in a manner that I should provide for free education, water, security, roads, everything, instead of government to provide for those. That is a major mistake. We must stop monetisation of everything in this country, for us to begin a path to greatness.
“When you hear of wage increase in serious economies, it is by 1 or 2 or 2.3 per cent because it is not about the money, it is about what government should provide. But, here we are in Nigeria, we have freed government from providing those basic amenities. We often rather say I can provide for myself when it is not possible for us to provide all for ourselves.”
Speaking further, he said “when I was a governor, when RMAFC was about to come out with packages for political office holders and they were consulting us, I looked at it and told them that I am a political office holder, this thing you are proposing is going to lead Nigeria to serious financial and economic situation. I told the RMAFC officials that they should take a second look at the matter. The RMAFC leaders said Nigeria can afford it. The question now is: can we afford it now? We must stop over-monetisation of our society.”
Earlier in his address, USOSA President General, Lawrence Wilbert, lamented that political corruption continues to constitute the greatest image challenge to Nigeria in the comity of nations.
He said questions are increasingly being posed about freedom of speech and other constitutionally guaranteed human rights, while various sections of the country are engulfed in various forms of agitation bordering on perceptions of absence of equity in the federation.
“As if these are not enough, poverty appears to have resulted in an escalation of violent crimes across the country and wanton attacks on our educational institutions,” he said.