Recently, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) embarked on a march they described as a ‘national protest against corruption in the country’. The march which was evidently hypocritical, in our view, kicked off in the nation’s capital, Abuja and was replicated in the states. The crowd marched to the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation and to the National Assembly.
It is, indeed, interesting that Labour, which also includes the civil and public services, is marching against corruption. In the country today, it is an open secret that workers especially those in the civil and public services, are the cesspool of corruption. So, we are not amused when that same set of people began to pretend to be partners with President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against corruption. We are also glad and immensely gratified that the President himself is not amused when he told them to their face that they are corrupt. He made them realise that corruption has two participants: the giver and the taker. Buhari admirably clinched it when he told the marchers that they are the takers. And we dare to add that they don’t just take, they demand and make it a condition for anything to be done. They delay the movement of files and even deliberately misplace them to coerce the uncooperative members of the public to play ball by their rules. Unfortunately, they get away with murder because the civil service rules insist on the permanency of their employment.
The just introduced Treasury Single Account (TSA) has revealed how the civil service fleeces the national purse through multiple accounts in conniving banks. Soon, the nation will get to know the details of how civil servants teach politicians how to inflate contracts and delay the payment for such contracts by placing the money in banks to serve their own pecuniary interests. The president himself has observed that civil servants have an unfair share of real estate in the federal capital, for instance, acquired through the abuse and misuse of official positions they occupy. We are by no means arguing that government workers should acquire poverty while in office. We are against this dubious attempt to hoodwink or even soften the president’s resolve to fumigate the civil service stench.
In our opinion, labour fighting corruption is like satan fighting sin. It is not conceivable and that is why we urge President Buhari to put on his thinking cap and never drop his guard for one moment. In this calculated onslaught against sleaze that has ripped the nation open, the civil service is one area that the president has vowed to cleanse for obvious reasons that policies and projects of government are the mercy of the workers. To this extent, therefore, we suggest that Buhari views this unsolicited support by labour as a Greek gift that must be accepted, if at all, with circumspection.