•Police, other security personnels blocked entrance to Presidential Villa
•Osinbajo receives 18-points agenda from protesting workers
•Says corruption must be killed for sustainable development
The organised Labour led by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress ( TUC) have demanded for the amputation of treasury looters, especially those whole stole up to N1billion and above.
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, made this call on Thursday, while addressing union members at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, saying that such measures will serve as deterrent to others.
He also led a procession, which started from the Unity Fountain through Federal Secretariat was later stop by the combine team of both Nigerian Police, State Security Service ( DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC) to gain entrance to the Presidential Villa.
However, Wabba who spoke before the protest match, called for good governance and anti corruption, called for the strengthening of ant corruption agencies so as to check corrupt individuals who are moving freely.
He amented over non payment of salaries, gratuity and pensions running into several months.
According to him, workers have always beem at the receiving end as a result of the looting of the treasury by corrupt individuals.
The NLC president, vowed that every corrupt individuals must be named and shamed.
He said the protest rally is a follow up to the one held last year against corruption and bad governance in the country.
He said: “You are aware, On the 10th of September last year, we were here for the same purpose. It is our fundamental human rights to demand for what we want for our our members and for Nigerians.
“We demand that they should be named and shamed, they should also cut off one arm from them. What is someone doing with one billion Naira.”
According to Wabba, workers and Nigerians must unit against corrupt individuals, adding that “if we don’t kill corruption, it would kill us”.
“It is obvious that what we are doing today is in our best collective interest as working class and our families, as Nigerians, we must always let our voice known and heard very clearly. Today, with what is happening in our system, we are at the receiving end because is virtually near absence of good governance, corruption is also fighting back. With what is happening in our system, we are at the receiving end.
“when we canvass for minimum wage, they are paying salaries in percentages. That is why we say that we have been at the receiving end. That is why today, we are marching to canvass for good governance and also to,end our voice to say that the fight against corruption should continue.”
“Let me give us an instance if you look at the NEITTI report, it says unremmitted funds to the tune of 22 billion dollars have been diverted. If we have thus money, I am sure that the challenge we are passing through will not be there. And what happened, few people connived to transfer thus money into personal accounts. We are saying that government must find the will to implement thus report,” he added.
While explaining the initial blockade of the Presidential Villa, Leader of the team, Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP Mohammed Garba, told reporters that it was due to security challenges in he country, but said 20 of the labour leaders were allow into the villa.
According to Garba said presidential villa, all over the world are sensitive areas that must prevent any breach of security.
“You are aware of the security situation in the country. You don’t everybody here and so you can’t allow all to gain entrance into the villa, but ask that 20 labour leaders be allow to go in and present their position to the authority,” he said
Afterwards, the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, was abled to meet with the union leaders at the Villa who handed to him an 18-point agenda which include demands that public office holders forfeit assets that they refused to declare.
In his response, Osinbajo told the union leaders that Muhamnadu Buhar’s administration inherited an economy where 22 states were owing salaries up to six or eight months and had to offer bail out three times at a time it was losing 60 per cent revenue on account of restiveness in the Niger Delta.
The Acting President also commended the labour leaders for taking up the campaign on behalf of Nigerians but said a democratically elected government must constantly report to the people and be accountable to them, hence the reason he was receiving unions, assuring that government will take action on the many demands raised.
According to him, Nigerians must endure the pains of a biting recession if the country would be better as there is no gain without pain.
He disclosed that the government was still consulting with different groups to get input on the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to get the country of the biting economic crisis disclosing that government will soon be meeting with labour union and other critical groups.
“There is so much we can do with the Nigerian economy we are going to be consulting with the labour union and civil societies on our economic recovery and growth plan which we intend to launch this month.
“There is supposed to be a consultation on it so that we can take a look at the issues that are important especially to labour and civil societies and we can incorporate them into the plan” he said.
Speaking further, the Acting President restated that the Buhari’s administration was committed to the wellbeing of its people adding that it has been judiciously managing its lean resources to ensure it keeps up with its responsibilities as the country was operating “at less than 60 per cent of revenues as at 2015 till today”.
Osinbajo decried that some Nigerians were averse to the anti corruption fight which is helping the government save up its resources.
According to him “every time you fight corruption the way we are trying to fight corruption, there is a major fight back, because corruption in this country is wealthy, powerful, influential and it is in every aspect of our lives. It is in practically all institutions including religious institutions
“The social media campaign of bring back corruption is an orchestrated one. Nobody that is suffering can say bring back corruption.”
He however, encouraged Nigerians to speak up against corrupt officials and those who trying to derail the course justice.
On their demand that due process be followed, Osinbajo said the country need an honest leader and had that in Buhari.
He continued: “If the leadership of this country is not honest there is no way this country can survive.
“We will continue to go round the circle. things might be difficult today, but I am completely sure if we stay the course this country will not only get out of recession but always go to the path of sustainable development. If we don’t fight corruption all we are doing is a waste”.
This is another protest by Nigerians this week against what they perceived as insesivity of the government to their plights.
In addition to the current labour protest, there was a huge protest on Monday led by activists and civil societies in major cities of the country, expressing their frustration and anger against who they view as lack of policy direction from the government with the #IStandforNigeria.