By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-The Acting President Yemi Osinbaj has said that corruption in Nigeria is wealthy, powerful, influential.
Osinbajo made this known during the protest rally by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) targeted at harsh the economic realities and the unprecedented hardship in the land in Abuja on Thursday.
Though the protesters, many of whom were workers led by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba and President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Boboi Kaigama were not allowed entry into the Presidential Villa, Abuja as they were blocked by the security operatives at the Federal Secretariat, but the doors of the State House were however opened for their leaders to meet with Osinbajo in his office at the Villa.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) February 9, 2017
Speeches during the meeting at the Conference room of the Acting President were majorly centered on corruption and its effect on the economy.
TUC President, Kaigama later to declare their solidarity to the government on the anti-corruption war.
Speaking Osinbajo reiterated the determination of the present administration to wrestle and win the war against corruption.
He said that corruption was wealthy and influential, permeating all the strata of the Nigerian society.
He said: “We commend you for taking this laudable campaign to the villa on behalf of the Nigerian people.
“For a democratically elected government, we must constantly report to the people and we must show that we are accountable to the people.
“That is why positions like yours have to be received properly and we must find ways to positively take action on the many demands that were raised.
“Every time you fight corruption the way we are trying to fight corruption, there is a major fight back, because corruption in this country is wealthy, powerful, influential and it is in every aspect of our lives.
“It is in, practically, all institutions including religious institutions.
“The social media campaign of bring back corruption is an orchestrated one. Nobody that is suffering can say bring back corruption.
“Attempts by those who are being tried for corruption to delay trials is also part of the orchestrated campaign. If we don’t speak up against corrupt officials who make it look as if there is a witch-hunt, then we will not succeed in the fight.
“Government needs everybody to speak up. We have a serious battle in our hands and if we don’t win that battle, this country will never get to the path of sustainable development.
“The major problem that this country has suffered so far is the looting of its resources. We must fight corruption hard. It is a tough one but we must fight it.
“If we don’t fight corruption, all we are doing is a waste. If a few can pillage the resources of the nation and get away with it, then we will just continue to go around with it.”
The Acting President also underscored the need for prudent management of scarce resources, stressing that everyone must be held accountable.
He said that the government was operating at less than 60% of revenues as at 2015.
He said:”Management of resources is critical especially when those resources are as small as what we are witnessing today. We want to ensure that everyone is held to account.
“If resources were not efficiently managed, we will not be able to do even the things we are doing now because we are operating at less than 60% of revenues as at 2015, today.”
Osinbajo also promised to include the labour leaders in the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) expected to be launched at end of this month.
He said: “There is so much we can do with the Nigerian economy. We are gong to be consulting with the labour union and civil societies on our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which we intend to launch this month.
“There is supposed to be a consultation on it so that we can take a look at the issues that are important especially to labour and civil societies and we can incorporate them into the plan”, he said.
Earlier, the NLC President, Wabba said that as part of their 18-point demands, workers yearned for a nation where public office holders would be made to forfeit their assets should they refuse to declare them.
He also said that seeing the anti-corruption war permeate all levels of government would be a source of joy for the people.
He lamented the practice of owing workers their salaries by State government, saying, “all these must stop.”
He added: “Public office holders must provide dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people”.
Also, the TUC President, Kaigama said they were in the Villa to show solidarity on the anti-corrupt war of the federal government
“It is a fight every Nigerian must be part of. Government at all levels and arms should abide with rule of law, corruption should not be tolerated. We are here to identify with government in his resolve to fight corruption,” he said.