24 March 2014, Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Sunrday asked the federal government to investigate the financial recklessness of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and other public office holders who use private jets.
Reacting to the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the oil minister over her preference for airplane charter, not minding the cost to taxpayers, the NLC, Sunday called on the federal government to probe her and others for profligacy.
It said in a statement by its president, Abdulwaheed Omar, that it was alarmed at the level of waste by public office holders in Nigeria, particularly high profile public officers and their aides who prefer flying with hired private jets.
It added that it was nauseating that the minister, whose ministry supervises the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is involved in financial scandals, would chose to be flying in hired private jets while the petroleum industry is stinking.
The House had last Thursday mandated its Public Account Committee to probe the allegation that the minister, over a two-year period, had squandered N10 billion of public funds on chartered jets for local and international trips for herself and family members.
“Refineries and other infrastructure under her supervision have totally collapsed; management of resources meant to uplift the industry has become the subject and source of several scandals in recent times, while the alleged disappearance of over $20 billion from the accounts of the NNPC is still the subject of probes by both arms of the National Assembly and the public is still groaning under the shortage or complete absence of petroleum products at pump stations,” NLC said.
The minister, it further said, was recently quoted as advocating more hardships for Nigerians through her call for the removal of petroleum subsidy, including that of kerosene.
NLC welcomed the decision by the House to probe the allegation, stressing that “the 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”.
It also criticised governors who often complained of their inability to pay the minimum wage to workers in their respective states under the pretence of paucity of funds, yet they have money to charter jets for their trips.
“In a country in urgent need of development infrastructure that is capable of lifting up our local industries, creating real employment, and delivering 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 the acquisition and hiring of private jets even to destinations conveniently plied by commercial airlines.
“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 the increase in wages while their taste and thirst for high profile lifestyles goes on unabated,” the NLC said.
It emphasised that the probe should equally be extended to the governors and other public office holders involved in the hiring of private aircraft.
“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 thirst 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,” the statement added.
– Linda Elueme, This Day