The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday lent its support to the House of Representatives planned probe of allegation of profligacy against Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
The minister was alleged by member of the House, Samuel Adejare, to have spent N3.120 billion to charter aircraft and another N10 billion for maintenance of a private plane, a Challenger 850 Aircraft and its crew, in the last two years.
In supporting the House probe, the NLC stressed that other public office holders in Nigeria, particularly the state Governors, ministers and even their aides in the use of hired private jets should be similarly probed.
The Labour Centre in a statement by its President, Abdulwaheed Omar, also stated that the probe was timely, as it is coming at a time that other public office holders, including Governors have also been alleged to have squandered as much as N130 million monthly to hire and maintain private jets.
“We support the move by the National Assembly to probe Mrs. Allison-Madueke and the probe should equally be extended to the Governors and other public office holders involved in this national shame.
“Indeed, what is further required is a holistic, transparent and result-driven probe of the entire financial recklessness of public resources on adventures that contribute nothing to the development of our country,” the statement added.
According to Omar, “the lifestyles and greedy thirsts of our public officers are completely deceptive and inconsistent with our collective reality as a country with a non-performing economy, high unemployment rate, mass poverty and near total infrastructural collapse.
“It is nauseating that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, whose ministry supervises the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has become the most prominent in financial scandals involving public institutions in Nigeria, will choose to be flying in hired private jets while the petroleum industry is sliding in stinking rots.
“Refineries and other infrastructures under her supervision have totally collapsed; management of resources meant to uplift the industry has become subjects and sources of several scandals in recent times.
“While the alleged disappearance of over $20 billion from the accounts of the NNPC is still a subject of probes by both arms of the National Assembly, the public is still groaning under shortages or complete absence of petroleum products at pump stations,” Omar said.
He noted that the same minister was recently quoted as advocating further excruciating hardships for Nigerians through complete removal of petroleum subsidy, including kerosene, which the poor and the working class depend on.
Arguing that in a country in urgent need of development infrastructure that are capable of lifting up the local industries, create real employment, deliver quality social services, the labour leader said it is sad that public officers are “shamelessly enmeshed in financial recklessness”.
“It is equally condemnable that so much public funds are being expended on acquisition and hiring of private jets even to destinations conveniently plied by commercial airlines.
“It is abhorring that state Governors who have always complained of inability to pay the minimum wage to public servants in their states under the pretense of paucity of funds could embark on such wastage at the expense of the sweat and sacrifice of workers and to the detriment of the development of their states.
“The Governors, in particular, have collectively made attempts to sponsor bills at the National Assembly to undermine workers interests, particularly on the minimum wage as each time issues of wages come up, they are the first violators, insisting often times that their states lack the resources to accommodate increase in wages while their tastes and thirsts for high profile life styles goes on unabated,” Omar said.
In a related development, Rivers State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) on Sunday raised an alarm over the rising tide of corruption in the country, saying it is capable of running the economy aground if nothing was not urgently done to address the situation.
In a statement, Senior Special Assistant to the state chairman of the party, Eze Chukwuemeka, said corruption has reached a monumental peak, “especially under the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration”.
He also alleged that the President has refused to take any concrete action to reverse the trend.
Citing examples to back his claim, Chukwuemeka listed the alleged $29 billion unremitted fund by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), missing N24 billion Police Pension Fund, fuel subsidy scam, and the N13 billion allegedly wasted by Minister of Petroleum for the maintenance of her aircraft.
“The APC Rivers State chapter wishes to alert Nigerians to the great danger that lies ahead as a result of the rising tide of corruption under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and the government’s refusal or failure to take concrete measures to reverse the trend.
“Going by the rate of looting currently going on at the centre, Nigerians should not be surprised if the present administration completely runs the economy aground before leaving office after the 2015 elections.
“With no trace of the whopping sum of $29 billion which the NNPC – which has become a conduit pipe and the ATM Card of key actors of this administration – failed to remit to the Federation Account, no trace of the N24 billion Police Pension Fund and the inability of the Head of Service of the Federation to count for N340 million.
“The fuel subsidy scam revealed by the defunct Faruk Lawan’s Committee, the non-remittance of billions of naira that accrued to NLNG Bonny to the Federation Account from 2004 till date that has badly affected all critical sectors of the Nigerian economy and constitute an economic crime; N10 billion allegedly wasted by Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Allison-Madueke for maintenance of an aircraft, a Challenger 850 Aircraft and its crew in the last two years while millions of Nigerians go about without employment or means of livelihood, it is safe to conclude that this administration will make the infamous administration of late Gen. Sani Abacha a saint, after all,” APC added.