Members of the organized labour in Enugu State, on Thursday 11th February 2021, raised alarm over the widening level of corruption in Nigeria.
They spoke in Enugu at a roundtable dialogue tagged: “Situating the Unions to Redefine Public Service Sector for Improved Efficiency, Transparency and Accountability”, organized by Say No Campaign, Nigeria.
Say No Campaign is an Abuja based Civil Rights Group which best describes itself as a platform of Nigerians committed to fighting corruption, impunity, poverty, violence and other governance challenges in the country.
The labour unions at the dialogue included the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, and their allied bodies.
The leaders said by all indications, corruption had crippled every system in Nigeria, with the private sector not exempted, stressing that it was even dealing a deadly blow on the country more than cancer and pandemics.
Chairman of the NLC in Enugu State, Comrade Benjamin Nwobodo, who spoke first said the situation in Nigeria was getting worse despite the promises by the present government.
Nwobodo said, “critical looks show that corruption is the bane of all the challenges bedevilling the country, be it insecurity, poverty and all that. I have looked at it and discovered that if we do not deal with corruption, we are going nowhere.
“It has permeated every facet of our country’s life- be it the public and private service, MDAs; there is a need for a turn around, everybody must say no to corruption.
“If you keep quiet because you are in office and you are a beneficiary of the system, one day you will leave office and you will suffer the consequence. Even the labour is quiet and that is why people are even feeling that we have been compromised.
“Corruption is like a monster; if we keep quiet and watch it, it will deal with us.”
Speaking on a similar note, the TUC Chairman in Enugu State, Comrade Ben Asogwa described the dialogue as timely.
He said, “every indicator, every fact used to measure corruption shows that corruption indices are going up instead of coming down. Even the Transparency International report recently shows how bad corruption has got in this nation.
“Every administration that comes, including the present one, promises to fight corruption, but we can see what is happening.
“The only way we can be serious about the anti-corruption is when we do so irrespective of tribal inclinations, religious relationships and political affiliations.”
While affirming the readiness and commitment of the labour unions in Enugu State towards anti-corruption, Asogwa said there should be assaurances that “the fight will not be manipulated or turned into business.”
In his remarks, the Deputy Country Director of the MacArthur Foundation, Dayo Olaide stressed that corruption was taking a dangerous dimension in Nigeria.
He said despite steady rise in budgetary allocation from billions of naira in the early years of Nigeria’s democracy to trillions of naira in later years, no commensurate development had been witnessed.
“We should ask ourselves- how have we fared in terms of democracy dividends? The problem is corruption, it is a threat to democracy. The budget has risen to trillions of naira, the question is in terms of measurable development index, have we been able to reduce child mortality, reduce the number of children on the streets, have we been able to create jobs, have we been able to improve education standards?
“The level of corruption is worrisome; unless we deal with this challenge that has been described as cancerous and as a pandemic, we will go nowhere. Every one of us should be able to say no to corruption,” he declared.
Earlier in his remarks, the convener of Say No Campaign, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagwu said lack of transparency had resulted in wanton poverty “that we are currently witnessing. Trillions of naira gets budgeted yearly with no significant changes.”
He said it had become necessary that citizens began to closely monitor the activities of government and hold them to account.
The 2-day citizen engagement campaign in Enugu which commenced on Wednesday 10th February 2020 climaxed today as the participating labour leaders were also empowered to carry on the anti corruption crusade into the different sectors of the society, especially government institutions demanding for answers on the level of implementation of projects featured in the yearly projects and as well initiate channels to make demands over immediate pressing issue of the community.