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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

N400bn Bailout: Recoup the Money From States’ Monthly Allocations TUC Tells Buhari

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has commended the Federal Government for coming to the rescue of state governments by approving the sum of N400bn as a relief loan package for payment of workers’ salaries in states of the federation.  The Congress however advocated that the President Buhari-led government, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, should work out modalities through which the money will be paid back.  The Congress further advised that this be actualised through monthly at-source deductions from Federation Account funds of the affected states.

In a statement jointly signed by TUC President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and Secretary General, Comrade (Barr.) Musa Lawal, the Congress expressed strong reservations about the total liquidation of the Excess Crude Account as reported in some national dailies, emphasizing that it would have kicked against the bailout but for its mindfulness of the pains of millions of workers and their families who would benefit from it. “The move is tantamount to eroding and eating up the future of unborn generations. But we shall allow it because of the innocent workers and their dependants and on the condition that sufficient arrangements are made to guarantee early repayment of the money by the states. How can a governor who is also head of a family owe workers up to ten months salary in a country where there is no price control?  Such laxity is totally unacceptable, a typical example of man’s inhumanity to man,” they lamented.

The Congress however acknowledged contrary reports credited to the presidency and contending that the earlier report on liquidation of the Excess Crude Account is incorrect, and expressed hope that the earlier report is indeed untrue.  The statement warned that the Buhari administration must guard against presence of fifth columnists in its midst so as not to give Nigerians any reason to regret voting it into power. “It appears some people in the administration are only there for themselves, their families and cronies instead of working for the improvement of the lot of the people, stopping the increasing spate of bomb explosions that have claimed hundreds of lives and destroyed much property in the once peaceful North-Eastern part of the country, etc., etc.  Financial waywardness, profligacy, impunity and the awkward belief in business as usual must come to an end,” the statement advised.

The TUC contended that certain cogent questions are yet unanswered irrespective of whether or not the bailout funds are from the Excess Crude Account. They particularly queried the wisdom of the Federal Government’s allocation of money to the state governments twice for the same purpose. “If your rent is N200,000 (two hundred thousand naira) per annum and you pay that amount to your landlord in January, do you still go ahead to pay him in June, July or any other month of the same year? Is it sane or proper to pay twice for the same thing?  These governors must be investigated for their recklessness and monitored to ensure that the bailout money is judiciously applied for the intended purpose.  In line with this, we call on the Federal Government to publish the comprehensive list of the bailout sums of money allocated to each state, for public information and ease of monitoring.”

The labour chiefs charged President Buhari to recall that his election is predicated on his promise to fight the monster of corruption which they identified as the bane of the nation’s development.  According to them, “It is disheartening that our leaders forget that Nigerians lack virtually everything that makes life comfortable in this country.  They collect security votes in billions of naira, yet students are compelled to stay home while schools are shut down for whole academic sessions.  It evidently does not matter to them that our children and wards constitute significant percentage of migrants to Europe in search for greener pastures.  It will definitely be calamitous and a bad precedence if the bailout money is not paid back.”

The labour leaders therefore called on the federal and state legislatures to rise up to the challenge of making good laws and exercising their oversight functions creditably instead of enmeshing themselves in unfruitful intrigues and imbroglio that have engulfed several of them since the advent of the current administrative dispensation.  “We just cannot claim to be fighting corruption while deceitfully and hypocritically aiding or condoning it at the same time.  We must turn a new leaf,” the statement affirmed.

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