By Abdulwahed Omar
The Nigeria Labour Congress is alarmed at the reported level of waste by public office holders in Nigeria, particularly high profile public officers such as State Governors, Ministers and even their aides in the use of hired private jets.
The allegation that the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke spent the sum of N3.120 billion in two years maintaining a private jet and this will be subject to probe by the House of Representatives, is a welcome development. This probe is timely as it is coming at a time that other public office holders, including state governors had also been alleged to have squandered as much as N130 million monthly to hire and maintain private jets.
In a country in urgent need of development infrastructure that are capable of lifting up our local industries, create real employment, deliver quality social services; it is not only sad that our 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. 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.
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 chose 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 $20billion 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.
This 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.
We support the move by the National Assembly to probe Mrs. Allison-Madueke. 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 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.