For the umpteenth time, President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Peoples Democratic Party-led government should explain to the nation what it did with oil revenue accruals from 1999 to 2014.
He also stated that some militants were unleashed on the administration to disrupt oil production, a development the president said crashed daily crude oil production from 2.1million barrel daily to half a million.
President Buhari stated this Thursday while receiving in audience the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress at the State House, Abuja.
He said: “During your negotiation with the minister of labour and when he briefed us in council on N30,000 minimum, I gave an analogy of a woman who went to fetch firewood but then she realised it was too heavy for her to carry, instead of reducing it, she added more.
“You knew what this country earned between 2009 and 2015; you knew the state of infrastructure when we came in. God gave them 16 years of unprecedented earnings. Multiply 2.1 million by $100 by 16 years. I don’t think the PDP has been able to successfully explain to Nigerians what they did with that money.
“Because some of the roads, especially the main ones, from here to Onitsha, to Port Harcourt since PTF days not to talk of new ones. Monies they earned from petroleum in 16 years. You know the rail was virtually gone and power, I asked where is the power? They spent $16billion on power and Nigerians are asking, where is the power? The irresponsible expenditure of that period has not been explained, and Nigerians deserve an answer on that terrible mismanagement of the country. So unprecedented, irresponsible expenditure.
“Oil Production from 2.1million barrels per day went down to half a million. The militants were unleashed on this administration, and yet as confirmed by your leader, we had to ensure pensioners, who were dying, collect their entitlements. So really, there were terrible management of this country in the last 16 years and we are just trying to make up.”
The president thanked organised labour “for the support and patriotism you have shown during the presidential election, especially after the unexpected postponement.
“You and your members stepped in to support willing Nigerians to exercise their civic and patriotic rights to vote. You intervened as patriots, and not for political, religious or tribal purposes. You simply did the right thing during a difficult period for many of us.”
On what Nigerians can look forward to in the next lap of the journey, the president said he would continue pushing the change agenda, “and remain focused on our core pillars of security, economy, and fight against corruption.”
He said organised labour should partner with the government to make the country peaceful, prosperous, and corruption-free.
Earlier, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, lauded the president for being worker-friendly, as exemplified in the granting of bailout funds to state governments to pay backlog of salaries and pensions.
“We all remember the special bailout and budget support you introduced to support state governments during the recession. Your directive during this intervention was that state governments must offset accumulated arrears of salaries and pension liabilities.
‘I remember you publicly asked state governors, ‘how do you manage to sleep at night when the salaries of workers in your state are not paid?’ For us, that was one of the finest moments we have had with any president in this country…I can stand here today and say your intervention was the difference between life and death for many workers,” he said.
He appealed to the National Assembly to earnestly pass the National Minimum Wage Act Amendment Bill for presidential assent.
He said the organised labour remains a “veritable partner in progress with government,” and called on the president to continue to “make the Nigerian people, especially the poor, the centre-piece of your policy initiatives and actions.”
…Cautioned on bad advisers
Meanwhile, civil servants under the auspices of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) have said President Buhari should be wary of mischievous individuals and failed experts bent on derailing his administration but pretending to wish him well.
They said this Thursday in a statement by the Secretary-General of the association, Comrade Alade Bashir Lawal in Abuja.
“Thus, as you begin your second term in office Mr. President, we will not be surprised if this retinue of sycophants starts again to beat their war drums against civil servants and the civil service claiming as usual that the civil service is over-bloated while civil servants are corrupt all in an attempt to pitch your regime against public service employees.
“What these pseudo experts do not seem to understand is that there is a marked difference between the civil service made up of line ministries and their departments and other agencies of government,” the union stated.
They said the civil service, a sub-set of the entire public service, “is made up of line ministries such as ministries of agriculture, budget and national planning, communication, defence, education, environment, Federal Capital Territory, environment, finance, foreign affairs, health, information, interior, justice, labour and employment.
“Other ministries are Niger Delta, petroleum, power, works and housing, science and technology, solid minerals, trade, investment and industry, transportation, water resources, women affairs, youth and sports, etc.”
The association further said: “The public service is made up of the civil service as outlined above and other government agencies including but not limited to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Armed Forces and the Police, Department of Customs Service, Immigration and the Prisons.
“Other agencies in the public service are Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), political office holders including members of the National Assembly and their plethora of senior and special advisers and assistants, etc.
“By the time the emoluments of employees in the core civil service and these other segments of the public service are reflected in the annual budget, those who do not know the difference between the public service and the civil service invariably come to the wrong conclusion that the civil service gulps about 70% of government expenditure.
“Besides, it must be emphasised that the staff strength of the core civil service is about 80,000 and if you juxtaposed this figure against 200 million population of the country, it will become ridiculous to continue to claim that the civil service is over-bloated. It is necessary to add that the population of the entire public service is about 960,000.”
The ASCSN said civil servants were the least paid when compared to emoluments of employees in the other segments of the public service.
“We also urge the president to restore tenure policy in the civil service for permanent secretaries and directors and reverse the practice of recruiting permanent secretaries from outside the civil service because both policies have continued to demoralise senior civil servants who have devoted their entire productive years serving their fatherland only to be denied the opportunity to reach the peak of their career.
“It must also be emphasised that constant threats to sack civil servants, who are the engine room of government, is counterproductive since it can lead to loss of faith in the system and low productivity as well.”