By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Daniel Emeribe
TRADE Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), yesterday said Nigerians had little or nothing to celebrate for the past 49 years of nationhood, lamenting that instead of surging forward and competing with her peers in the comity of nations, she is retrogressing.
The umbrella body for senior staff associations in the country, posited that despite abundance human resources in the country, the nation leaders had failed the nation in all spheres of human endeavours because of endemic corruption and crass personal aggrandisement.
TUC in a statement by its Secretary General, Chief John Kolawole, entitled â€œNigeria at 49; journey so farâ€, argued thatÂ a year away from the golden age of 50,Â citizens were yet to derive benefits accruable from it despite our huge deposits in human and material resources and declared that it was disturbing that at 49, Nigeria was still seen as a toddler whose perceived inadequacies should not be excused.
It charged the government to address economy, powerÂ corruption, electoral reform, insecurity, poverty, unemployment,Â education, health, roads and other decayed infrastructures across the country. According to TUC â€œ in attempting to implement our economic reform program called the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) whose purpose is to raise the countryâ€™s standard of living through a variety of reforms, including macroeconomic stability, deregulation, liberalization, privatization, transparency, and accountability.
The NEEDS programme we were told is meant to address basic deficiencies, such as the lack of freshwater for household use and irrigation, unreliable power supplies, decaying infrastructure, impediments to private enterprise, and corruption. The government hopes that NEEDS will create 7 million new jobs, diversify the economy, boost non-energy exports, increase industrial capacity utilization, and improve agricultural productivity.
A related initiative on the state level is the State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS). But how far have these been archived. Corruption; this is our greatest challenge.Â As a major oil producer we are also raven by corruption and other social vices.
It our submission therefore that President Musa YarAdua, should immediately re- launch an extensive campaign to restore the country to the path of success by repositioning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to rid Nigeria of all forms of corruption.
The index released by Transparency International suggests that the anti-corruption crusade of the administration is yielding results. As we have moved down the ladder of the worldâ€™s most corrupt countries by 27 places this year, but if going by the views of US Secretary of States, Hilary Clinton during her recent visits to the country, then EFCC needs a rebirth.â€
â€œCredible Elections; probably we are where we today because our electoral process is flawed. A flawed electoral process will definitely produced never-do-wells in government. Even President Yar Adua admitted that the election that brought to power was marred with irregularities.Â We therefore demand a return to the Option A4 and implement the Justice Mohammed Uwais report on Electoral Reforms.
Housing; this is one of the basic human needs which is also vital for growth and development. Over the years the issues of affordable houses have suddenly disappeared from our government lexicon. Today it cost between N500, 000 to N1.5million to rent a three bedroom apartment in cities such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. We demand that instead of establishing micro-finance banks, government should encourage the floating of Mortgage Institutions with flexible loans for the citizens.
Health; presently our health institutions is nothing to be proud of. Dozens of citizens are dying every day from illnesses that should have been prevented. While the rich takes their cases abroad for proper medication. Our demand therefore is that before we mark 50 years next year, Federal government must have built hospitals of international standards in each states of the federation.â€