THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday asked the Federal Government to cut off the hands of those found to have stolen public funds.
It urged government to name and shame those involved to serve as a deterrent to others.
Addressing a protest rally for good governance at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said it was unfortunate a few individuals stole the nation’s common wealth and nothing had been done to bring them to book.
Wabba said government must prove to the world it was serious about winning the fight against corruption and recovering stolen money as well as the alleged $22 billion not remitted to the Federation Account from sale of oil and gas.
He said when the hands of such people are amputated, Nigerians would be able to identify them as those who stole public funds and who were responsible for the country’s recession.
He said: “We must not allow a situation where few, because of their interest, will hold the system to ransom. We are demanding increase in electricity supply and they are saying add more tariff, we are demanding increase in minimum wage and they say they are going to be paying in percentage. We should not be tired.
“Why should somebody steal one billion naira and walk the street free. We are demanding that they should be named and shamed. We are also demanding that one of their hands be cut off so that when we see them, we will know that they are people that have stolen our money.
“So, let us not be tired. Not to pay salaries and pensions is criminal. Not to increase our wages in this condition is corruption and so, we must demand good governance and support the fight against corruption.”
President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, said efforts must be made to end corruption in the country.
He said: “We must end corruption in this country and support good governance. It is only in Nigerian that corrupt people are being celebrated.
“We want to tell the world that we are insisting that corruption must be fought to a standstill. Those people who are aiding and abating corruption should be prepared for the wrath of Nigerians. If you escort criminals to court, we will follow you there and disgrace you.
“Today, we have to show our displeasure because it is only in Nigeria. Workers and the downtrodden are suffering. Their pay is not increased, while we have daily increase in inflation and recession because of the stolen wealth that has not been redistributed to Nigerians.
“We have so much corruption in the states and local governments to the extent that bailout fund given to them will be diverted. We are going to follow them with EFCC and ICPC to make sure that those diverting our bailout fund meant for the payment of salaries, pension and arrears of promotion must be dealt with.”
Security operatives yesterday prevented the protesting workers from the Presidential Villa to deliver their protest message to Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The letter demanded good governance and sustained fight against corruption.
The workers, led by Wabba and Bobboi Kaigama, who were matching to the Presidential Villa from the Unity Fountain, were stopped at the Federal Secretariat by armed security operatives at 11.05 am.
They were, however, asked to send a delegation of their leaders to take their message to the Villa, a request which they initially turned down, insisting the Acting President either send a representative to receive their message or they be allowed to enter the Villa to deliver the message.
However, 20 representatives of the workers were later selected to take their message to the Acting President while the rest waited for their leaders.
They were entertained by the music of legendary Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, the late Bob Marley, among others.
Traffic on the busy Shehu Shagari Way was diverted as the workers partially blocked the road waiting for a response from the Villa.
The placard-carrying workers were, among other things, demanding good governance, accountability and sustained fight against corruption.
Some of the placards read: “Make payment of salaries a priority”; “Our salaries can’t take us home again”; “Electricity tariff hike in the face of darkness is the height of wickedness”; “Building infrastructure without payment of salaries is corruption”; “Owing workers’ salaries is an act of corruption”; “No electricity, no industrialisation”; “Replace importation with production” and “Non-payment of pension is bad governance” and others.
About two hours later, the leaders emerged from the Presidential Villa to inform the workers that they were well-received by the Acting President in company of some cabinet ministers and given the assurance that their demands will be looked into by the government.
Also, human rights lawyer Mr. Femi Falana yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to prosecute those, who diverted the money meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
He spoke at Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’ office when organised labour made a peaceful protest to his office.
Falana, while appreciating labour, said: “President Buhari should flush out corrupt officials out of his government and those involved in the diversion of IDPs money should be prosecuted.”
The lawyer urged states to join the fight against corruption.
His word: “In spite of the promises made by this government to make life good for the people, pensioners are dying; things are getting difficult every day.
“I urged organised labour to ensure payment of pensions and salaries of workers. Despite recession, convoys of governors are still very long and they still purchase cars.”
According to him, Buhari government should know that “the honeymoon is over”.
Falana, who wished Buhari speedy recovery, condemned officials of government who travel abroad for medical treatments.
“It is a shame that our governors and President still travel abroad for medical treatment”, he said.
Commissioner for Establishment Akintola Benson promised to deliver the message to the governor.