By Nuel Suji
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has challenged Nigerian workers to play their part in the war against corruption to which the present administration in the country has committed itself.
Saraki while addressing the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) lead by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who visited him in Abuja, said the Senate under his leadership was ready to work for Nigerians despite the erroneous impression being currently propagated by some persons outside the Senate.
He said it was time for workers to help the government succeed in decisively and successfully tackling the corruption menace once and for all.
He noted that while the Senate has interacted with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), it also intends to engage the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to look at the areas where the National Assembly can assist to ensure that the fight against corruption is efficiently prosecuted with positive results that will be glaring for to see.
Saraki said past excuses will no longer be tolerated since the country now has the right leadership with avowed political will to fight corruption.
He said: “We in the Eight Senate have said there will be zero tolerance for the issue of corruption. Corruption is one issue slowing down development and some of the problems we are embarking on – whether you talk about our refineries not working, you talk of the issue of fuel subsidy, you talk about the high cost of governance, everything you talked about comes back to this issue of corruption and I think it is time for all of us, those of us in the National Assembly, the Executive and the workers to show serious commitment.
“This should not be aheadline-grabbing approach because at the end of the day, you are workers, when you talk about oil theft, we have Nigerian workers at the terminals who surely must know when this thing is going on. Every where that there is corruption, some workers are there either participating or observing. We now have a great opportunity to win the war against corruption because we have a leadership led by President Muhammadu Buhari that we believe has the political will to do the right thing”, he said.
He added that people use to give excuses that when they blow the whistle on corrupt practices nothing was done because the system is corrupt right from the top but that such excuse was no longer tenable.
“We are assuring you that at the executive side, we have elected the President that will do it well. I am making the commitment on behalf of the National Assembly and myself that we are committed to fighting corruption. If you remember, I was the one that single-handedly in 2011 opened the lid on the fuel subsidy scam that everybody is talking about now.
“But at the end of the day, who are those people working in these places. They are Nigerian workers. They are not workers from anywhere else. So, I think I will also throw the challenge, now that we are getting the message that the political leadership is ready to take on this thing called corruption. I think we need the cooperation of our workers who know it all. They see it happen and when you look at the anti-corruption agencies, with all due respect, you will find out that 80 per cent of some of the cases are cases at the state level.
“You hardly see where people who are the real engine room which is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation or where most of these corruption cases on oil are being put on trial”, he said.n
Saraki said that the internal challenges confronting the 8th Senate are being addressed and would be resolved soon and that the Senate under his leadership would not abandon its constitutional mandate on the altar of personal ambitions.
Saraki said: “You talked about the internal challenges that the NLC leadership is facing. I think I want to say the challenges are similar to ours. People contested elections, some will win and of course, some will lose but at the end of the day we all win when we all leave our personal interest and look at the interest of Nigeria. I want to assure you and Nigerians, we in the Senate are ready to work for you. We are committed to the work we are elected to do. I think there are more of the noise outside the Senate than in the Senate. We are committed and we want our actions and our words to speak for us.”, he said.
He said he Senate leadership will continue to toe the path of dialogue to resolve all challenges.
Earlier in his remarks, the National President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said that Nigerians are confident that the 8th Senate led by Saraki will impact positively on their lives.
He said that the organized labour believe that Saraki’s experience as governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has adequately prepared him to give quality leadership to the Senate.
Wabba said: “We recall that as a Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ forum, your intervention helped to resolve the protracted teachers strike over their negotiated 27.5% teaching allowance. Similarly, not long ago, we had cause to condemn the ‘passing of 47 bills in 10 minutes’, by the 7th Senate on the twilight of its lifespan. We note that though you were a member of the 7th Senate, you were one of the few who felt honour-bound to publicly distance yourself from that regrettable incidence.
“Therein lies the source of our hope that the 8th Senate under your watch will be less opaque, less secretive, and will witness more transparency, more responsiveness to the yearnings and aspirations of the Nigerian people”, he said.
Wabba said that the leadership of the NLC is ready to partner with the 8th National Assembly, especially the 8th Senate, “so that together we will work to transform our country from a country that is perpetually tall on ‘potentials’ to a truly great nation with solid democratic foundation, sound democratic principles and dependable public institutions.”
The NLC President urged the Senate to work towards consolidating democracy, reducing poverty, bringing down the cost of governance, making National Assembly’s finances open, prevent the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, halt the sliding of the value of NAIRA and work with the executives to create jobs.