Oshiomhole’s attack on agitators sparks anger

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Oshiomhole’s attack on agitators sparks anger

Oshiomhole’s attack on agitators sparks anger
August 24
07:54 2017

For about five minutes, proceedings were held up and tempers flared yesterday at the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)-organised colloquium on restructuring.

Shocked dignitaries watched as former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole was heckled. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, was among the eminent guests.

Oshiomhole’s claim that those agitating for restructuring were those who lost out in the 2015 election sparked the outrage, which was eventually stopped by NLC President Ayuba Wabba.

Some of those at the event were shouting “no, no!”, but Wabba intervened to calm frayed nerves.

The one-day Colloquium had the theme: “The Labour movement and the future of united Nigeria: What role for restructuring.”

Oshiomhole advocated the review of the revenue allocation formula in favour of states and local governments, saying the provision had not been reviewed in the past 18 years in contravention of the law that it should be reviewed every five years.

Oshiomhole argued that most of the wealth worked for by the working class had been annexed by the political class.

In his view, the federal system in terms of structure and revenue sharing formula can not lead to even development.

Shrugging off the opposition to his view, Oshiomhole told the gathering: “I am not here to do anybody’s job. I just want to share my thoughts with you. And I will be surprised if any one of you will agree with what I want to say. I want to plead with you, allow me to state my position; then you can disagree.

“That is the tradition of organised labour. And, of course, if there are some people who have other issues; …I just want to plead with you that what is at stake; is not me. What is at stake is our country. And the country is yours. The country is mine. The country is ours.”

He continued: “I believe in the unity of Nigeria. I have said, and I am not saying it for the first time, the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Just like the unity of the NLC is not negotiable. But, the governance of our country, the quality of leadership, we must continue to review it and continue to engage it.

“I said to you when I was president of the NLC, and I repeated it when I was governor, that we need active citizenry; citizens that can interrogate their leaders. With some of these revelations, I am sure nobody is disturbed…

“If we all continue to lament; I think this is the area we have to say something. Every person is capable of doing good and also capable of doing bad. From what we have seen in America, when institutions are strong and people are active, people are ready to come out, not sponsored by political opponents, but sponsored by your own conscience and we have robust engagement. I believe things will change.

“I ask us to recognise that no structure will be permanent, or will be perfect. We will have to do devolution of power; we must also do review of our attitudes, our characters and joining forces to fight corruption, because what has been taken from a few will not be available for the rest. I do hope that NLC has started this today, you will sustain it.”

The former governor also drew attention to the activities of former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, insisting that an active citizenry would checkmate corruption and profligacy in the system.

He said: “Look at yesterday’s pictures. Over the last few days, they have been mind boggling. If those ethnic champions, when they steal the money, they do not invest the money in their states. How did she get the money that built how many storey buildings in Banana Island? And just before I entered a lady was interrogating me about women.

“When they say whatever a man can do, women can do better. We have seen it; both the good and the bad. Never in our history have we had a minister, who has taken as much as a woman minister took from NNPC. So we must speak to character.”

On revenue allocation, the former governor said: “We do need to stick to specific, which is already in the Nigerian constitution, namely, the dynamic allocation formula that is supposed to be reviewed every five years. We are now 17 years in democracy, and for almost over 18 years and that formula has yet to be reviewed.

“So if they review it, which indeed is the competence of the President to ask the National Assembly to do, it will ensure that resources are transferred to the local government.

“Also, resources are transferred to each of the 36 states of the federation, those who want to grow can continue to grow, while those who want to sleep and go slowly, let them do so. And those who want to run as fast as a lion should not be charged, but they should be allowed to run, that could lead to the needed for competition that we should have.

“So there are lot of things we can do in the devolution of power and what I believe that we must do is that we can mobilise to the National Assembly and tell them they must do devolution of power.”

Oshiomhole was also of the view that many of the states in the country are at present not viable, pointing out that only 10 of the 36 states generate revenue.

He maintained that states should have the constirutional backing to define their tax base strictly on the peculiarity of each state and advocated the removal of bureaucracy in the power sector to make Nigeria more productive.

According to Oshiomhole, the money that accrued to each of the states within the Southsouth in the past 10 years is more than what accrued to five states in other geopolitical zones. He argued that the political leaders failed to properly utilise the resources for the well-being of the people by using the wealth for personal purposes.

He also noted that there was no need for federal roads, construction of health centres through the zonal intervention/constituency projects being imolemented through the National Assembly, as such responsibility should be shared by the state and local governments.

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