Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Rivers State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi on Thursday lampooned labour unions in the country, accusing them of refusing to take any action.
The suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Malam Sanusi Lamido had alleged that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had withheld the sum of $20 billion accruing to the Federation Account, a charge the state-owned oil company denies.
But Gov. Amaechi, who spoke during the May Day celebration in Port Harcourt yesterday, expressed angst that rather than call workers to the streets in protest over the missing funds, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, were busy fraternizing and junketing with politicians.
The NGF Chairman noted that though labour was aware of the problems bedeviling the country, it decided to remain passive despite knowing the solution to the nation’s challenges.
Gov. Amaechi explained that the missing $20 billion, which he put at N8 trillion, could pay for the construction of hospitals, schools and engage unemployed Nigerians, lamenting that student unions, NLC and TUC had rather turned a blind eye to the issue.
He said, “The fact that a few people are stealing the money in itself is social, economic and political violence. From the speech made by the state TUC chairman, I asked; if TUC and NLC knew all these, what have they done?
“The chairman of TUC took me back to my school days. He was able to analyse the problems of Nigeria. It was typical of TUC and NLC in Nigeria; they know the problem and the solution, but they don’t want to go for the solution. I don’t know why and I don’t know if they have compromised.
“If it is true that you heard that $20bn was missing from our purse or $49.8bn, either way; if you know how many hospitals, how many schools we will build! If you know how many workers we will employ with N8tn, then by now, both students and labour unions will be on the street.
“I remember when I was a student leader; you could not arrest a student union leader without schools closing all over Nigeria. You could not steal that kind of money that is being stolen in Nigeria without all the universities going on demonstration. Schools all over the country would be closed.
“You could not do that without labour union coming out to the streets. Today, all of us, who are labour leaders, are junketing and enjoying with politicians. So, the poor masses are suffering because they have nobody to speak for them. They (poor masses) are voiceless and there is no leader to lead the voiceless. They are hungry and there is nobody to address their hunger”.
Recalling the roles played by the NLC and the TUC during the military dictatorship of late General Sani Abacha, Amaechi expressed sadness that few Nigerians were frittering the commonwealth of the country and allowing majority to die of hunger.
He stated that the prevalence of hunger was responsible for the existence of Boko Haram and other forms of violence in Nigeria, adding that not much has been done to ensure that school girls abducted by the insurgents were rescued.
“There has never been any successful democracy in Nigeria without the contribution of the NLC and the TUC. You remember the Abacha struggle; you remember the roles played by the NLC and the TUC”, he said.