The organized labour movement in the country has agreed with the remark made by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo made at the recently held conference on corruption that corruption is a crime against humanity. Labour also called on all Nigerians and friends of the country to identify corruption and join the fight against it.
Labour's endorsement of Mr. Osinbajo's view on the devastating effect of corruption was given by Comrade Issa Aremu, newly elected Vice President of Industrial Global Union, while he hosted Mr Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), at the Textile Labour House in Kaduna on Monday.
Comrade Aremu, who is also the General Secretary of the Textile Workers' Union, said there is a connection between the collapse of many industries in the country and endemic corruption. The unionist described the "addictive waivers" granted by some corrupt ministry officials in recent past as economic crimes. Such waivers, he argued, fuelled mass importation of substandard textile products at relatively cheap prices and undermined local competitiveness, resulting in factory closures and massive job losses.
Comrade Aremu also blamed the inability of most state governments to pay salaries on corruption. He observed that despite the slide in global crude oil price to $50 per barrel, Nigeria will remain rich, only if corruption is tamed.
He urged the media to set an appropriate agenda for the anti-corruption discourse and flayed the prejudiced and hysterical reportage of the recent arrest of judges.
Comrade Aremu said even if the freedom to form trade unions, as contained in the country's labour laws, has been repeatedly violated by some employers who procure judgements against unionisation and decent work, especially in the private sector, the organised labour will remain totally committed to the fight against graft.
He commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for mainstreaming the anti-graft war, despite its imperfections. Comrade Aremu, however, called for the evolution of a national strategy to take on the malaise of corruption. He noted that graft is already killing the culture of industry, enterprise and labour productivity in the country.
He also called on President Buhari to revisit the 2014 National Conference Report and implement some of its recommendations on corruption, as such will deepen the current war against the malaise.
The recommendations, observed the unionist, include the need for anti-corruption agencies, (ACAs), particularly the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ( ICPC), to be proactive in tackling any corruption case that is in the public domain or has come to their knowledge without waiting for a petition. He added that the 2014 confab had recommended that it "shall constitute an act of misconduct, criminal negligence or dereliction of duty, with appropriate sanctions for the ACAs to refuse to act on any corruption case that has come to their knowledge".
The ACAs, he added, should be empowered to invite anyone living above their means to explain their source of wealth and such people fail to provide satisfactory explanations, they should be charged to court and if convicted, forfeit the entire proceeds from corruption.
The labour leader also suggested that a special account should be opened and designated as Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) into which all recovered proceeds of corruption shall be paid into.
Responding, the EFCC Chairman said the country's hope in curtailing corruption has been rekindled through President Buhari's demonstration of political will to kill corruption before it kills Nigeria.