Stories by UFOMBA UZUEGBU, Asst News Editor
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has called on the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to intensify their investigations into how state governments utilised the bailout funds they received to offset workers’ outstanding salaries and allowances and the pensions of retirees.
The Congress also expressed worry over the unbridled greed and quest for materialism demonstrated by most governors and politicians, especially at this time when the country is experiencing major economic crunch and workers are being owed their entitlements, saying It is criminal for governors to play politics with workers’ welfare.
A statement signed by Comrades Bobboi Bala Kaigama and (Barr) Simeso Amachree, TUC’s President and Acting Secretary-General,respectively, said : “ The Congress is unimpressed by the porous explanations in the national dailies by some governors and their commissioners for information on how the monies were spent.
“As a labour centre we get first-hand information from our members in all the states of the federation. We therefore know that some state governments are being economical with the truth when they make statements purporting to have settled all their indebtedness to their workers.
“Even where a particular state government pays some of the outstanding entitlements, does that automatically translate to a liquidation of the entire debt? Indeed officers of the ICPC and EFCC should beware of this mischievous posturing in relevant bank transfer documents presented by the state governments.
“It is simply inexcusable for any governor to neglect payment of workers and divert the funds. Weighing such actions against the backdrop of the recent happenings in the Senate evokes serious concern about the integrity of our current crop of politicians.”The Congress appealed to both the ICPC and EFCC to remain steadfast and not allow them to be cowed by any individual or group in their fight against corruption.
“As a labour centre, the fight against corruption and its effects on the growth and development of our nation is of very special interest to us, as indeed it is to all other patriotic Nigerians.
“The success of that crusade is the insurance that most of us have to decent living, and the only guarantee that our nation will stand strong and take its place among the leading nations of the world.
“The upsurge of corruption in Nigeria in recent times is particularly disturbing. Indeed statistics reveal that Nigeria is 163rd out of 172 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, with its annual corruption level in recent years averaging $5 billion.
“It has done unquantifiable damage to the national life. For instance, the menace of corruption leads to slow movement of files in offices, fuels police extortion, accentuates traffic jams, port congestion, queues at passport offices and petrol stations, ghost-workers syndrome, election irregularities, inflation of budgets and contract fees, among others.”, the statement added.
It called the President Buhari-led administration to do a major vetting and sanitization of the Nigerian judiciary to sanction and weed out all judges who have sold their consciences for the porridge of illegal gratification.