Buhari seeks workers’ support as Labour Union marches against corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday stated that the resolution of workers nationwide to align with his government’s fight against corrupt practices in Nigeria’s national life was indicative that the government’s anti-corruption crusade would be successful.

Buhari spoke through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, when he received Nigerian workers from across all sectors of the economy who were led by the nation’s central labour unions – the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) – in a national mass protest against corrupt practices in the country.

The protest marches, which were replicated in several states of the federation, was kicked off in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at about 8 am from the Unity Fountain in the Central Business District of the city and was led by the Presidents of NLC and TUC, Ayuba Wabba and Bobboi Kaigama.

It moved from there to the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Assembly and then the office of the SGF where the unions’ adopted position on the government’s fight against corruption was presented respectively to the institutions.

Also on the protest train were the pioneer president of the NLC, Alhaji Hassan Sunmonu; former Deputy President of NLC, Isah Aremu; and General Secretaries of the NLC and TUC, Peter Ozo-Eson and Musa Lawal, amongst other top leaders of the various unions.

Buhari at the office of the SGF reiterated his commitment to the fight against corruption in the country. He also stated his delight with the commitment of Nigerian workers to the fight against graft.

According to him, Nigerian workers and the labour unions would play significant roles in implementing the policies he intends to deploy to fight corruption in government businesses and by extension the national life.

He said with the workers’ support for his plans, his fight against corruption would be a success.

“Buhari considers labour as a critical part of the war against corruption because Nigerian workers are the foot soldiers as they implement policies made by government,” Lawal said on behalf of the president.

He further stated: “As you know, corruption has two participants: the giver and the taker. Nigerian workers are on the other side, but if Nigerian workers have fallen in line with the intentions of the government against corruption, the war is already won.

“If workers are by the side of the government in its anti-corruption crusade, then where will corruption come from?”

While restating the commitment of the government to ensure fair treatment of workers in the country, the president added: “This administration will not disappoint Nigerians. Labour should continue to partner with government because we don’t see them as adversaries.”

A letter containing the demands of the workers to the president was handed over to Lawal for onward transmission to him.

Earlier at the headquarters of the EFCC, the union leaders told the Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, that they would in support of the job of the commission picket and close down any law court as well as confront judges who grant perpetual injunctions against the trial and prosecution of suspects of corrupt practices.

Wabba added that instances of such court orders were hampering the efficiency of the EFCC, hence the decision of the union to move against such legal bottlenecks against the fight against corruption in the country.

“We must as a people continue to take our destinies in our hands. Gone are the days when we allowed situations to degenerate and continue to lament; the era of lamentation is over.

“It is now the era of taking our destinies in our own hands, our political leaders must always represent our interest, not the interest of a few. Not the interest of themselves,” he said.

Continuing, he added: “We must be able to put food on the table of ordinary Nigerians, our youths must be employed after graduation, this is what we stand for, we stand for social justice, we stand for equality, we stand for shared prosperity.

“EFCC should not only bark, it should now bite because that’s the position of the government in place, and therefore we are saying whoever has helped himself misappropriate our commonwealth, that person should not only be tried but the person must be prosecuted, we cannot allow corruption to continue to linger.

“The battle line has been drawn, gone are the days when people that are corrupt will get perpetual injunctions restraining EFCC from prosecuting them. If we have such cases, Nigerian workers are ready to go to their residence and take them to the court.

“Our judiciary must sign up, the laws must be reviewed, it must include capital punishment. This is our demand, we must ensure that this is done. Any court that gives perpetual injunction frustrating the fight against corruption will be invaded.

“Our laws are very weak and even generations unborn will suffer the consequences of corruption if we refuse to stand up against it now.”

In his response, Lamorde said the government had made its intentions on corruption clear to the commission and that the unions’ support was an added incentive to it.

“I want to assure you that with this your hand of cooperation, we will do our best not to disappoint you; ‎we will continue to do what we are doing, we will go home and be very comfortable that the NLC and all the affiliate unions are solidly behind us.

“This is the time for all Nigerians to speak with one voice, the cost of doing business in Nigeria is the most expensive throughout the world, so I think that this movement by the NLC has come at the right time.

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