…As ICPC alleges diversion of IDPs’ relief materials in Adamawa, reads ‘Riot Act’ to culprits***
Participants at the 62nd Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) Tuesday shared tales of woe in Lagos, anchored to how unemployment surged from 9.0 per cent in 2015 to 23.1 per cent in third quarter of 2018, exacerbated by poor port’s infrastructure and gridlock, through which the country has already lost about N6 trillion across the different sectors.
Subsequently, the Organized Private Sector (OPS) under the aegis of the NECA, called for urgent policy reform if businesses will operate optimally, particularly reforms that can ensure urgent infrastructure development at the Lagos ports.
The OPS described the nightmare called gridlock, and its poor management as the major culprit.
Mr Mauricio Alarcon, the Second Vice President of NECA painfully noted that the operational hiccups being experienced at the port had remained, even after one year of the Presidential Executive Order to promote transparency and efficiency on operation.
”Survey by the OPS shows that Nigeria lost about N3.06 trillion on non-oil export and about N2.5 trillion earnings annually across the different sectors due to the Apapa gridlock,” he said.
Alarcon said that the Federal Government should look at reforms that would significantly impact on the economy now that the elections were over.
“There is the need to fast-track infrastructural development at the Lagos Port, diversification programme, a market-driven foreign exchange management, sustain and significant reduction in the cost of governance.
“Government should also fast-track the passage of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, a market driven electricity supply and billing system.”
Alarcon urged the government to reform the oil and gas sector, by removing subsidy on the sale of petrol, which he said, gulped about one trillion naira annually.
He equally expressed concern on the state of security, stressing that government must urgently tackle insecurity that had already increased unemployment and poverty in the country.
“Unemployment surged from 9.0 per cent in 2015 to 23.1 per cent in third quarter of 2018, while inflation remains high in spite of tight monetary policy conditions.
“There is also spread of poverty. The economy needs to recover,” he said.
To support business, Alarcon called on the government to ensure the patronage of made-in-Nigeria goods at all levels through standardisation and certification; and called for friendly regulatory regime businesses, rather than crippling them and enforcement of harmonised taxes and levies by the Joint Tax Board.
Mr Uche Ekwe, the Chairman, International Relations Unit of the NLC, in a good will message, said that there was the need for labour and NECA to collaborate to tackle economic challenges.
Ekwe, who represented NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said that it was critical to create wealth for the nation, but noted that wealth creation might not necessarily reduce poverty because of increase in population.
Mr Quadri Olaleye, TUC President, said that the government must create means of employment to tackle poverty, insecurity and other challenges bedeviling the nation.
In the meantime, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) in Adamawa, has alleged diversion of relief materials and agriculture input meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state, warning that henceforth, his commission would arrest and prosecute culprits.
Raising the issue during a town-hall meeting in Yola North Local Government Area on Tuesday, ICPC Commissioner in the state, Mr. Idris Bakori said the commission would not hesitate in arresting and prosecuting any government official or private organisation found diverting the relief and intervention materials.
“The reports of diverting relief materials and agricultural intervention inputs is too much in the state and we cannot turn our face.
“We are appealing to people of the state that anybody with facts should report the matter to the commission.
“The commission will take decisive action to arrest and prosecute any person or group of people involved in the sharp practices,’’ Bakori warned.
He said that the aim of the town hall meeting was to educate people on the activities of the commission and the need to support it.
The commissioner said about 30 anti-corruption platforms had been established in some secondary schools in the state with the aim of sensitising the younger generation on the dangers of corruption.
It was instructive, that during the meeting, a female farmer, Fatima Abubakar from Numan Local Government Area narrated how they were defrauded by an organization, alleging that in 2018, a government organisation (name withheld ) collected N7, 500 each from many farmers, including herself.
Abubakar said that this was done with the promise that they would be given agricultural inputs free.
“They collected N7, 500 each from many of us in 2018; they told us that the money was for registration and after the registration, we are going to receive free agricultural inputs.
“Since then, we never heard from them and our money had not been refunded,” she alleged.