Chris Steven, Abuja
The leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has expressed disappointment over the response of the members of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) to an observation by the Acting General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress that it would have been good if NLC and TUC were made members of the Committee.
The Congress, in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its General Secretary, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson described responses by members of the Committee as trenchant, libellous and condemnatory.
According to the statement, members of the Committee had poured venom at the TUC Secretary’s observation noting that Professor Femi Odekunle said “the labour leaders are corrupt”, compromised, no longer trustworthy and cannot protest against acts of corruption.”
“Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, the Executive Secretary of the Committee said the fact that unions do not protest against corruption at the National and State Assemblies as state governors award themselves sickening pensions while workers go without pay, is evidence that unions are collaborators or beneficiaries of these acts of corruption.
Professor Etannibi Alemika said he is disappointed by the request of the Organised Labour to be on the Committee.
Professor Itsay Sagay averred that the inclination of the unions or trade centres to be on the committee is “… a very wrong attitude, very negative attitude”. It added
NLC said it considered the comments of the PACAC members to be the height of conceit, arrogance and self-righteousness.
While acknowledging that there are bad eggs in the labour movement as indeed in other sectors of the society including the academia and the legal profession, the Congress said it was no justification for dismissing the entire Labour with such disdain or casualness.
Reacting to allegations that the Labour Movement has failed to organise rally against government bad policies, it said PACAC members must have been suffering from selective amnesia not to have remembered the protest rallies across the states against the criminal pensions of retiring governors and non payment of salaries and pensions for which not a few workers were shot and killed.
“How could they have forgotten our visit to the Senate during which a blistering address was delivered against the life style of Parliamentarians.
How could they have waved aside so easily the numerous protest rallies to the National Assembly on sundry issues.
How could they have chosen to forget that the Nigeria Labour Congress early in the life of the Buhari administration, long before the PACAC members were invited to ” come and chop”, organised a massive nation-wide rally against corruption.
From then on, in present statements, at press conferences and indeed, at every opportunity, Labour has been consistent, coming out very strongly against corruption, prescribing very stiff penalties including capital punishment for offences of corruption.” It said
NLC further warned that PACAC members should resist the temptation to see their job as a secret cult into which there can be no new devotees or initiates arguing that they should not fall into the illusion that they were invited to serve because they were without sin as such is delusional!
“There is no member of PACAC we do not know. Grandstanding or playing to the gallery will not help any of them or the work they have been called upon to do.
In fact, without cooperation from the larger society or critical organisations, we do not see how they can break a twig, even if they were generalissimos of the Roman Empire.
We insist that this assignment is not an excuse for assassinating characters, denigrating people or organizations without justification. Let them remember that those who throw stones around should be prepared to be pelted.
We find it intriguing that PACAC members only see corruption in the national and state houses of assembly and no where else.
We understand and sympathise with them!
For their information, the Nigeria Labour Congress is not anxious to be a member of this committee. If it were, it knew where to direct its request. But certainly not to the PACAC members who are themselves jobbers.
We have no doubt that the observation made by the TUC Acting General Secretary during an interactive session with PACAC in Lagos was in good faith and was intended to broaden the ownership of the war against corruption.
And if PACAC members were not disposed to it, even though it is not within their powers to determine the membership of PACAC, they could have found a way of saying so without impeaching the character of everyone in the labour movement.
We make bold to say that a certain level of sophistication or polish is expected of the PACAC members.
Their imperfections notwithstanding, the NLC and TUC are pan-Nigerian organisations with an illustrious history of protest. In the case of the NLC which is the older of the two, the history of Nigeria’s decolonisation and return to democracy from military dictatorship cannot be complete without mention of its role.
It therefore amounts to wishful thinking on the part of the PACAC members to think they could consign into the dustbin of history these organisations with derisive their comments.
We however, shall consider it a tragedy of indescribable proportion if this is all PACAC members, the superior, sinless pack can offer” it said