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50th Independence Anniversary: N10 Billion Budget Wasteful – NLC

Source: EWACHE AJEFU, ABUJA BUREAU CHIEF - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, June 08, (THEWILL) - The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has frowned at the apparent signs of insensitivity on the part of our political leadership, stating that the N10 Billion supplementary budget submitted to the National Assembly for the celebration of the country’s 50th Independence anniversary was wasteful.

The NLC said that the details of the over N10 billion independence anniversary expenditure in the supplementary appropriation bill submitted by the President to the National Assembly contain very frivolous and extravagant items in the context of the mass misery and poverty in the land particularly under the prevailing cash squeeze due to the global economic crisis which government uses to deny labouring citizens their legitimate rights.

"While we acknowledge that 50 years of existence as a politically independent nation ought to naturally demand of us as a people some degree of jubilation, we in the NLC, however, believe that given the popular national gloom due obviously to our stunted growth in many aspects of our political economy, our leaders ought to use the 50th independence anniversary as a genuine platform for deeper self-examination and commitment to the structural and institutional development of our nation," the statement signed by the Acting Head of Information and Public Relations of the NLC, Comrade Onah Iduh read in part.

The NLC further said it is of the conviction that any genuine celebration must begin by our leaders taking conscious steps to reform themselves and engage in projects that will connect our society to current global development trends. Our leaders must realise that the logic, essence and philosophy of nationhood is purely the welfare and security of citizens through humanitarian, progressive and egalitarian ideals enforced through the instrumentality of government. These are fundamental obligations that the Nigerian political leadership has abdicated in the past 50 years.

"It would be unwise for us to spend over N10 billion celebrating independence when working people are not earning decent wages, when majority of our people are at the fringes of existence, when unemployment is at all time high, when our educational institutions are in coma, when our industries are dead and when we import everything including petroleum products."

We strongly feel that our political leadership should instead direct their energies and national resources towards entrenching democratic cultures and values in the hearts of our people and in our institutions in order to redeem our lost glory and dignity. Though we may have operated civilian government since 1999, we would be deluding ourselves if we classify the current dispensation to be democratic because it lacks the basic character of freedom of choice which is the hallmark of democracy.

The NLC believes that jamborees as the independence anniversary are fraught with inflated and spurious allocations. This is even more common as elections are by the corner and the ruling PDP as well as many of our political elite often seek for avenues and events to fleece public treasury. This way, huge contract sums that are never executed or kept being reviewed, become the norm and huge constituency allowances collected by our lawmakers are never seen to be used to fund any constituency projects.

"If we must celebrate our fifty years of political independence, let it not be in this extravagant manner. What we must do at the moment is to recapture the hearts of our people especially the younger generation, working people and all those who out of despondence and suffering no longer think of Nigeria in patriotic terms or as a national entity but more from the prism of ethnicity.

"We must use this 50th anniversary to recreate or carve in their hearts the space for the Nigerian State so that we turn them into avatars for progressive activism and patriots of national development. Only then can our leaders have the moral justification to spend billions to celebrate our freedom. We are still in bondage and our people are not happy and secure and cannot celebrate anything."