Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The presidency Monday criticised the planned strike action by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over perceived tolerance of corruption by President Muhammadu Buhari, describing the TUC’s proposal as ill-advised and unnecessary.
Specifically, the TUC had issued a threat to embark on a nationwide industrial action to protest Buhari’s “inaction over the high-level of corruption uncovered at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).”
The three agencies of the federal government had been enmeshed in crisis of confidence in recent times over corruption scandals rocking the organisations without any decisive action taken against alleged perpetrators of such monumental fraud involving billions of naira.
But the presidency in a swift reaction to the plan, said since investigations into the alleged cases of corruption were still ongoing, a proposed industrial action was ill-conceived and uncalled for.
A statement by Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said the ongoing investigative processes must be allowed to proceed to its logical conclusion.
According to him, it is wrong of the union to expect the president to expedite action against people who are still being investigated, moreso that the president had also stated that such cases of corruption underscore a breach of trust by individuals given responsibilities.
The statement also said the TUC as a group of enlightened individuals should have rather openly expressed its displeasure against such cases of corruption.
“The reported plan by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on a nationwide protest over the alleged President Buhari’s is ill advised and totally uncalled for, considering that there are ongoing investigations in the cases by both the Executive and Legislative arms of government.
“These processes must be allowed to run their full courses. It is against the norm in a democratic society as well as the natural laws of justice to seek ‘action,’ meaning punishment against offenders before proper investigation, trial and conviction.
“The President has made it clear that the allegations that have surfaced clearly “constitute a breach of trust” and as the investigations take hold and close out, all those found wanting will face the wrath of the law.
“The TUC, as an enlightened group of labour unionists, should indeed voice their indignation whenever such acts are being unearthed,” the statement said.
According to the statement, what is expected of TUC is to spearhead a debate on the effects of such monumental fraud on job creation, job retention, investment attraction, living conditions of Nigerians and factors undermining gains made by the government in other areas.
Furthermore, Shehu who highlighted the effects of COVID-19 on global economy and human health, said Nigeria had had its own share of the pandemic, and hands needed to be joined together to contain it.
Shehu noted that while the administration of Buhari had shown commitment to the fight against COVID-19, TUC should join the fight in the overall interest of the country.
The statement added: “However the expectation will be for it to also raise the bar higher, in terms of the debate concerning the impact of such allegations on our ability, to create and retain employment, attract investment, improve the living conditions of its members and citizens, and how a preponderance of these heinous crimes decimates any gains being made in other spheres.
“The world is confronted with a global public health crisis, decline in economic growth, and expanding areas of conflict by non-state actors.
“All these ills in their singular or combined form are consuming every nation. Nigeria is no exception; we must hold the line and lock arms that way we rid ourselves of these existential issues whilst we grapple with those that are our own homegrown problems.
“This administration is committed to doing just that, and organizations like the TUC should be extending a hand in supporting such a fight that is in our collective interest,” he said.