COVID-19:Falana,Aborisade,NLC,Others Warn Against Sacking of Workers
COVID-19: Falana, Aborisade,NLC, others warn against sacking of workers
…As Falana calls for stoppage security vote,sales of NLNG, pensions for ex-govs
Some members of human right community have warned against sacking of workers in the country as a result of ravaging coronavirus.
The human right activists which include Femi Falana, Femi Aborisade, Oyo State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC),Adebayo Titilola-Sodo, Dr. Adenike Ogunshe and others, under the aegis of Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 And Beyond (ASCAB) gave the warning during a Webinar organized by the Oyo State chapter of
ASCAB in Ibadan.
The webinar had the theme:”COVID-19 and Challenges of Safeguarding Workers and the Poor”.
Speaking, Falana (SAN),who is the interim National Chairman of ASCAB said governments are ready to reduce workforce and the federal government has brought out the Steve Oronsaye Report which would lead to downsizing in the civil service .
According to Falana, there is no basis for downsizing. There is poverty in the country. We can cut down the waste in government such as illegal payments to political officeholders like security vote, humongous pensions to former governors,
The fiery lawyer also warned against the sales of nation’s assets.
He therefore stressed the need make civil servants productive rather than sacking them.
He said: “Currently Governors got their Houses of Assembly to approve scandalous pensions for them. (Senator Bola) Tinubu and others started it. Someone who has done four years who may even retire at the age of 40 or 45 as a Governor ,he may live up to 90. He will have one house in Abuja and another one at the state capital. Those two will not be less than one billion naira. In the case of Akwa Ibom,he will be entitled to N200 million while leaving. He will have medical facilities for himself and his wife for life. He will have security; for instance in Lagos State,eight policemen and three State Security Service officers for former governors for life. It you quantify it,it will amount to around N500 million per annum.
“They are not the only ones earning security vote but all public officers now. If former governors are collecting pension,whereas what the Constitution provides for,in the case of retired President, section 84 , he will earn the salary of a sitting President for life. Not all these frivolous benefits, for the president. We budget for police,army, navy and air Force,what other security are they talking about? Governors in Nigeria earn between N300 million and N1.2 billion per month as security vote. In Rivers State, Rotimi Ameachi collected N98 billion in eight years as security vote. Some public officers in the agencies of the Federal Government as completing four years as Board members, will award terminal benefits to themselves. They will go away with about N500 million. No law approves it. That is where money goes. That is why I’m saying that is where the problem is. Not in paying N30,000 or N50,000 to civil servants.
In governors’ convoy, about 30 vehicles will be in the entourage of the Governor. Nowhere that is done in the world. If the British Prime Minister is going to office,one or two dispatch riders will follow him. He doesn’t have jets or aircraft. He boards British Airways anytime he is traveling. But our President has 11 aircraft. To maintain the aircraft costs money. That is where nation’s money goes. Some Presidents drive themselves. In Namibia, the President has cancelled the purchase of cars for the next five years.
“When we were young, government was the one carrying out public works like road construction, not contractors. It’s Public Works Department (PWD) that is responsible for the maintenance of roads. But today, it is contractors that do the works. Meanwhile,these contractors are not engineers but politicians. The contractors usually want to make maximum profit,they will therefore do shody and substandard job. That is why we have government buildings collapsing. But in those days, Ministries Works and Housing would build the houses and roads.
“We used to have Nigeria Airways. It’s a national carrier that has property in Lagos,London,New York and other places. It They sold it to themselves. We couldn’t see the airline nor the money. The same thing with Daily Times,a leading newspaper in Nigeria,founded by Adeyemo Alakija in 1926. Obasanjo Government took over it. Daily Times is nowhere to be found as well as its proceed of sales. The same thing with the Sketch. We used to have Daily Sketch in Ibadan. They sold Ajaokuta ,Oshogbo Rolling Mill and others. We didn’t gain anything from it. Nigeria invested about $100 billion in those assets. After Obasanjo and Babangida sold them, we couldn’t realize one billion dollar. In fact, Obasanjo sold some to himself.
“Why are you selling Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited? If you are a businessman that wants to do business with government ,bring your own money to the table and partner with the government. The Federal Government has 49 per cent stakes in NLNG while other shareholders have 51 per cent stakes. In the last 15 years, NLNG has paid $18 billion as dividend to the Federal Government and $7 billion tax. No agency of government has made such huge amount of money,not even the NNPC. How can you say you want to sell such a company? They wanted to sell it in 2016 when the country was experiencing recession. They are planning it now but we won’t accept that.
“The country is not broke but leaders made it broke. Anybody that says Nigeria is poor, I am ready to debate with him/her. It is not about poverty but management of resources.
“Even in the public service, don’t sack civil servants but make them productive. The Ministry of Agriculture,go have have an extension farm. Let them be working there as was the case in the past. All the nurses in Ibadan, let them be transferred to rural areas like Okeho, Oke-Ogun and others. Those who are not ready to go there should resign. Let Ministry of Works go and fix roads. Our local engineers can carry out road contruction and rehabilitation.
“When you sack more workers ,there will be unemployment and crime rate will soar”.
On his part, Femi Aborisade submitted that the government has a responsibility to guarantee minimum income for the vulnerable,adding that it is constitutional mandated for the government to provide food. He urged the government to intervene directly in agriculture.
Titilola-Sodo who is the Oyo State Chairman of ASCAB said there would not be food crisis as predicted.
Another speaker and founder, Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, Mr. Danny Millum said COVID-19 poses a great challenge.
Steve Aborisade said labour should ensure that the environment is safe for workers to work in. He pointed out that a lot of health have suffered and they are still suffering.
Rotimi Olatunji, Professor of Public Relations and Advertising,said the government needed to be involved in social investment.
It was moderated by Mr. Edmund Obilo.