Oshiomhole, NLC urge Kukah, others not to obstruct loot recovery
•‘NPA generated N162b, spent N160b’
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) earned N162 billion and spent N160 billion in one year, a governor alleged yesterday.
Another revenue generating agency failed to remit a dime to the Federation Account from the taxes it collected, claiming that what it generated was not enough to fund its operations, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole said.
He spoke at the eighth quadrennial delegates conference of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Abuja.
Also at the occasion, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba cautioned members of the National Peace Committee not to be an obstacle to the fight against corruption and recovery of stolen funds from former public officers.
Oshiomhole, who is the Chairman of the committee set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) to investigate revenue generating agencies, also hit at members of the National Peace Committee and other Nigerians for asking President Muhammadu Buhari not to investigate former President Goodluck Jonathan because he conceded defeat and handed over power.
He said: “Last week, somebody told us and this was an official report, that in one federal agency, the Nigeria Port Authority, admitted to collecting N162 billion in one year and spent N160 billion, remitting only N2 billion to the Federation Account.
“Is that Justice? Can you have peace in the face of this kind of abuse? We listened to some others and they have huge number as to what they earned, but how much of this did you remit?
“In Europe and other places, government is run on taxes, but when the tax collector consumes what he collects, will there be peace? Some of those who want to maintain the peace must ensure that peace is a product of justice. The real victims when power is abused are the ordinary people.
“This is the time for the NLC to initiate policies and suggestions to the Federal government on how to ensure that government policies are job-based and job-driven, that Nigeria’s economic growth is job-led growth and not jobless growth”.
He told the delegates and guests including President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) Waheed Odusile that: “Buhari is resolved that by whatever guise anybody will come, he is going to fight on the popular mandate that Nigeria conferred on him. Organised labour must be clear.
“We must not amplify the fact that the other man handed over and has saved the nation from crisis. Yes, he did, but are we actually saying that the power to vacate does not rest on the Nigeria voters and that if the man said he was not going to go, he had a choice to stay. That was not a choice. The choice he had was between leaving the way he left or ending up like former Ivoirien President Laurent Gbabo in the Hague.
“The world has changed that no dictator today can claim to be too powerful and hold his nation to ransom. When you overpower your nation, you cannot over power the international community.
“So, those who want Nigerians to go on their knees thanking President Jonathan for conceding defeat are over dramatising it because he is not the founder of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a beneficiary.
“He is not a traditional ruler and did not become a king by reason of his birth. If those who were military government who took power by force of arms were forced to vacate, how can we talk of a man who was a product of our laws.
“I want to appeal to those who are exaggerating this point, that we went through an election and the man who lost conceded defeat, We refuse to shut up. If they ask you to shut up, you should refuse to shut up.
“When workers were sacked because they turned the searchlight on you, saying the problem isn’t the civil service, you now know that the dollars picketed by one person is far much more than the total wage bill of all the workers working for the Federal, government and the 36 states of the federation. So, labour cannot afford to be silent.
“All of a sudden, I hear people talking about witch hunting. Where I come from, when a witch is alleged to have killed somebody, in a typical rural Nigeria, the villagers go after the witch.
“So, what is wrong in going after the witch if it has actually caused a problem for the community? So, witches are meant to be hunted and not to be celebrated. So, people should stop trying to confuse the President and make it look as if he is the problem when he is just trying to lay a foundation.
“We should advise members of the National Peace Committee to include justice because peace is a product of justice. So, for us to have peace there must be justice otherwise, we are going to have grave yard peace and there can be no justice if one person can pocket $6billion.
Some members of the committee are: Former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, John Cardinal Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) President Ayo Oritsejafor
“The time to engage is now. There is the talk of the delay in appointing minister. If rushing to make decisions deliver nation states, Nigeria would have been like heaven. What matters is not the haste with which you make decisions, but the quality of the decision you eventually arrive at. It is the quality of your cook that determines the quality of your soup.
“So, if you rush to hire your cook because you are hungry, don’t complain when he gives you erosion pot in the name of soup. Let it be clear especially in the trade union movement that ministers are not the heart of governance.
“What is the heart of governance is the civil service. If the civil service is competent and productive, with initiative, the fact that there is no minister in the ministry does not mean the ministry is grounded.
“As you can see under two months, without minister of energy, power has stabilised. The only thing Buhari has invested is the power of integrity. Is it minister we need or action? The merchants of confusion who benefit from crisis appeared to have hijacked the debate.”
The NLC president said the Congress will stand solidly behind the President in his quest to recover all stolen monies and prosecute all those found to have stolen such monies.
“Those stolen monies must be retrieved and offenders prosecuted and punished for their crimes against the Nigerian people”