By Victor Ahiuma-Young
AS Nigeria today joins the recent of the World to mark the Public Service Day, PSD, Organised Labour has called to both the federal and state government to halt further privatization of public enterprises, saying privatization of public enterprises has worsened the nation’s socio-economic woes.
Speaking through Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, led by Ayuba Wabba, labour lamented that increasing Value Added Tax, VAT, pump price of petroleum products, devaluing the Naira among others, have been punishing the poor and exacerbating the hardship and miseries of indigent Nigerians.
While commending public servants in Nigeria for their commitment, devotion and sacrifice over the years, Wabba said: “The Public Service is the infrastructure for service-delivery, and accordingly is the soul, the conscience, the memory, the unseen force in the projection of national sovereignty and power and the preserver and furtherer of core national values and interests. In order for it to deliver on its mandate, we need a strong and professional Public Service, fully equipped and alive to its responsibilities.
The commemoration of Public Service avails us the opportunity of re-stating that one of the effective and genuine ways of tackling poverty, inequality, want, deprivation and misery in Africa is to consciously and consistently implement state-driven public services delivery programmes and not to privatize them.
“We call on the Nigeria government to scale down, halt and reverse where possible, the decision to privatize public services. According to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the state still remains the driver of the commanding heights of the economy, and the provider of jobs and services. Congress holds the strong view that aggressive privatization should not be an excuse for failing to stem illicit financial flows (IFF) from Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. The case for serious, aggressive, brave and sustainable inward looking cannot be more urgent now that the country is confronted by near-unprecedented economic challenges to the extent that the performance of basic and fundamental state duties such as payment of salaries and pension as when due is under real threat.”
He lamented that 16 months after the African Union-Economic Commission for Africa, AU-ECA, report on Illicit-Financial Flows, IFF, from Africa was adopted by the AU Heads of State in Addis Ababa, no action has been taken by the Africa Heads of State even when the report pointedly said $50billion is lost to Africa annually through IFF activities. The report had noted that IFF activities in Nigeria, especially in the oil sector is “humongus and ravenous”.
”The need for action is underscored by the increasing poverty and social discontent in the land. Congress is concerned that little or no progress has been made with regard to the implementation of the recommendations in the Mbeki Panel Report.
”The recent Panama Papers leak further exposes the depth of the financial hemorrhage to which Africa is exposed as asset theft and tax evasion schemes and activities go unchecked.
Congress is not in doubt that these lost revenues would boost and complement finances necessary for achieving the roll-out of social services that could considerably alter the quality of life of the citizenry.
”Rather than commit the same zeal and attention to dealing with these criminalities and their perpetrators for which Congress will ever be ready to support the government, we are not amused that government has chosen to pursue tax policies such as increasing Value Added Tax, raise the pump price of petroleum products, devalue the Naira and other policies that will punish the poor and exacerbate the hardship and miseries of indigent households.”