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Corruption: Jonathan, Labour Leaders Trade Blame

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Thursday, May 02, 2013 | 5/02/2013 09:48:00 am

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday disagreed with the Organised Labour over the increasing cases of corruption in the country.
While the President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Abdulwaheed Omar, and the President-General of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Peter Esele, bemoaned the prevalence of corruption and called on the Federal Government to give its anti-graft war more bite, Jonathan blamed some labour members for sleaze in the polity.

Jonathan, Omar and Esele spoke at a rally to mark the 2013 Workers’ Day in Abuja.
Jonathan attended the event entitled ‘100 years of nationhood: the challenges of national development’ in company with the Labour and Productivity Minister, Chief Emeka Wogu; and the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Chief Jumoke Akinjide, among other government functionaries.
The President said the government would appreciate the cooperation of the labour unions in ending the scourge.
He said, “Labour has been in the forefront of the demand for good governance and increased action against corruption, and these issues are being vigorously tackled on various fronts.
“Prosecutions are being pursued in matters arising from fuel subsidy fraud, embezzlement of pension funds and other serious long standing malpractices have been demystified by this administration. I assure you of accelerated and expanded action against all forms of corruption.
“Given that some of these perpetrators are senior and junior members of labour unions, greater attention to peer review action on the part of labour, will be much appreciated.”
Jonathan noted that since the advent of his administration, his actions and policies focused on the country’s sustainable progress where everyone could better achieve his or her dream.
He said his administration’s transformation agenda was about taking and implementing measures today in order to give Nigerians a brighter tomorrow.
Admitting that trade disputes were inevitable in all societies, the President said with commitment and patriotism, such issues were being quickly resolved in the country in the interest of national development.
Jonathan promised that the Federal Government would continue to associate with labour unions and play its role whenever called upon to do so.
He described Nigerian workers as not only important part of the nation’s history but pivot of the past, present and future.
Omar argued that “monumental corruption” was responsible for the problems of unemployment, insecurity and general underdevelopment in the country.
He described the state pardon Jonathan granted to former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, convicted for corruption, as unfortunate and a major dent on the government’s anti-corruption war.
The NLC boss also frowned on the abandonment of several corruption allegations against some highly placed government officials in courts due to lack of diligent prosecution.
He expressed fears that the more recent cases of oil subsidy fraud would also follow in the same path.
He said, “Corruption remains the most serious factor undermining the realisation of our economic potential.
“Government must not only make commitments to fighting it, government must demonstrate this commitment by its actions, by its style and by its body language.
“In this regard, we find the pardon granted to a former governor who was convicted of corruptly enriching himself as unfortunate and a major dent on the government’s commitment to fighting corruption.
“To reclaim lost ground, government needs to reassure Nigerians that it is still committed to fighting corruption by conclusively dealing with all pending cases of corruption.”
Esele said the country was losing the battle against corruption.

He said the scourge had become so endemic that it had constituted what he called the single most important factor in the nation’s failure to develop appreciably.
Noting that corruption had destroyed various aspects of the country’s life, the TUC boss said the scourge was now threatening, “to kill our government”.
He said Nigerians must consciously uproot corruption in order to have the new, beautiful country of their dream.
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