TUC, organised labour and the fight against graft

For Nigeria, now seems to be the era for the exposure of grand corruption in what can be described as Grade-A public agencies.

First to grab the headline, for the wrong reason, was the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with the arrest and detention of its acting chairman Mr Ibrahim Magu for allegedly involving in corrupt practices. Magu’s case is what beautifully qualifies as a story of the hunter becoming the hunted.

That unfortunate episode was quickly followed by the exposures of monumental theft in the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the big, corrupt Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

For President Muhammadu Buhari, now is the time to show to Nigerians, once again, his zeal to wrestle corruption to the ground and how swift the present administration can be in tackling the menace.

Of course, the president has never left anyone in doubt of his determination and readiness to fight corruption. It is on this note, therefore, that the Presidency, this week, called on the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria to partner with the president on the fight against corruption.

The TUC, the Presidency said, should not stampede the president into taking action on the current probe of the officials of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission and the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said the reported plan by the TUC to embark on a nationwide protest over the president’s alleged “inaction over the high-level of corruption” is ill-advised and uncalled for.

The statement said that the action intended to be taken by the Trade Union Congress to go on a nationwide protest over an alleged Buhari’s “inaction over the high-level of corruption uncovered at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)” is ill advised and totally uncalled for.

It reminded the labour union that investigations, spearheaded by both the executive and legislative arms on the alledged cases of corruption in the agencies are ongoing.

And, in fact, investigations are ongoing. The investigations can, however, be said to be slowly undertaken. But that is how things work under democracy, which wheels are usually slow.

In all circumstances, under democracy, the principle of the Rule of Law, which guarantees equality before the law and assumption of innocence until proven guilty by a competent court, must be respected.

Under democracy, there are rules and processes that must be allowed to run their full courses. As the Presidency said, it is against the norm in a democratic society and the natural laws of justice to seek punishment against offenders before proper investigation, trial and conviction.

The Buhari-led administration should, ideally, strengthen not weaken democracy through showing disrespect to the course of natural justice. The administration is, obviously, committed to promoting tenets of democracy and organisations like the TUC should support it.

To do anything that could seem averse to the principle of the Rule of Law and natural justice is to move further away from the type of society and democracy we all aspire to build.

For now, the president should, ideally, be commended for making it clear that the allegations that have surfaced against some people in the EFCC, NSITF and NDDC clearly “constitute a breach of trust.”

And with the investigations ongoing, the TUC and Nigerians should wait patiently, hope and pray that the allegations would not go the way of others before them.

Of course, this government should be commended for bringing the issue of corruption, which has retarded the country’s development, to the front burner, as far as governance is concerned.

On the other hand, the TUC, CSOs and Nigerians should be praised for collectively joining the government in its avowed task to rid the country of the menace of corruption.

As Buhari overhauls security architecture…

This week, President Muhammadu Buhari revealed his plan to overhaul the country’s security architecture to address the worsening security situation in the country.

The president has good reasons, of course, because in Nigeria today, the security situation is deplorable, and it appears that not much is being done by the authorities to better it.

On the other hand, huge amount of resources are being spent by the Buhari-led administration on the military to fight crime and criminals, especially Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in the northern part of the country.

Rightly so, too, in order to stress readiness of his administration to improve the situation of security, the president, for the second time in about a month, spoke through the National Security Adviser (NSA) Mr Babagana Monguno, soon after a meeting he had with members of the National Security Council.

Monguno said the president directed heads of security agencies to rejig their strategies thus: “The president emphasised to the security chiefs that their best is not good enough for the country and its people. You are doing your best, as far as I am concerned, but there is still a lot more to be done. I am more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus…we must rejig our strategies, both in terms of operations and intelligence, we must rejig our strategy to prevent further catastrophe.”

Without mincing of words, he told the service chiefs that they must bear in mind that the present administrations owes Nigerians a duty to secure the country and its people. Though the administration is committed to battling corruption and improving the economy, particularly in this COVID-19 pandemic era, the president said these objectives would remain unrealised without, first, securing the nation.

The importance of security to the economic well-being of a country and its citizens was, in fact, amply highlighted by a former American secretary of defence, Robert McNamara, when he stated that security is development and development is security. This means without security there cannot be any development.

Hence, on that note, the president cannot be more assertive. Security is an encompassing phenomenon that is paramount to individuals, entities, communities and even countries. Security deals with self-preservation which is the first law of existence.

Security implies a stable, relatively predicable environment in which individuals or group of individuals may pursue their objectives without disruption, harm or danger and without fear of disturbance or injury.

Rightly, too, security is the aggregation of the security interest of all individuals, communities, ethnic groups, political entities and institutions which inhabit the territory of Nigeria.

Therefore, these are the constituencies that the president referred to when he said he owes an obligation to safeguard the country. Indeed, it is gratifying to observe that the president attaches paramount importance to safety, security and the prosperity of individuals and institutions within Nigeria.

However, inspite of the urgent need to improve the country’s security, it should be agreed by all that no matter how endowed and organised a country is militarily, it impossible for it to be totally free of security challenges.

In fact, to a very large extent, the security challenges countries contend with are inextricably linked with their history, culture, social structure and economic conditions.

Hence, in order to tackle the country’s security challenges, Nigerians should appreciate the fact that security agencies alone cannot engender, protect, promote and project the peace needed by the country.

Everybody has a role to play to enhance national security, and security is, and it should be, everybody’s business. We all should redouble our efforts at nation-building, take a hard look at the root causes of the current problems in order to find lasting solutions.

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