Tuesday, 12 June 2012

NLC Press Statement: Stop the Diversions: Implement the Oil Subsidy Report, Now!

                                                                                            June 12, 2012


The ongoing accusations and counter accusations between the Chairman of the Adhoc Committee of the House of Representatives on petroleum subsidy, Honourable Farouk Lawal and the Chairman of Zenon Petroleum, Mr. Femi Otedola over allegations of bribery involving the sum of $600,000, as serious as it is, should not be used to divert attention on the implementation of the report of the committee.

For us, we believe that Nigerians should not be overburdened with an issue that should strictly be the burden of appropriate security agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Whether or not the Chairman or the entire members of the Adhoc committee solicited for and received gratifications to compromise the outcome of the committee’s investigations though quite disturbing, the final report of the committee still contains names and details enough for thorough and transparent investigation. The report, which has been submitted to the executive arm, must be subjected to proper investigation and prosecution of all those indicted.

We saw in the report a confirmation of our position. We have, since the mid eighties, insisted that subsidy do not exist in the petroleum sector, rather it has always been a conduit for a few cronies of successive governments with interest in the petroleum sector to siphon public funds for their private businesses.

For us, we believe criminal matters as serious as bribery should be what the police or EFCC should take very serious interest in and not politicize the issue through unnecessary diversionary tactics. We therefore urge the EFCC to implement the report of the committee, which President Jonathan was reported to have forwarded to the agency NOW.

Kiri Mohammed
Acting President

Sunday, 10 June 2012


June 10, 2012
As Edo state prepares for its gubernatorial elections on July 14, 2012, we   have watched with keen interest some very disturbing political developments in the state , and  feel concerned  as these developments portends dangerous signals to our young democracy.
While decent leaders continue to echo the need for our politicians and their political structures to adjust to fair play in political activities, including elections, some prominent politicians have continued to perpetrate actions that are clearly adverse to democratic norms.
One of the contestants, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who is the sitting governor of the state, has publicly complained at various times about sinister plans by some politicians to manipulate the elections, while a staff of the Edo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was apprehended by vigilant youths in Benin City. The fears expressed by the Edo state governor are yet to be fully investigated to douse apprehension in the state.
Some weeks back, some politicians from the state led by the leader of a major opposition party in the state were reported by the media to have had a meeting with the Presidency to perfect plans for the manipulation of the election. We are still worried that the Presidency has not found it expedient to deny holding such meeting for this purpose till date.
On our part, we wish to reassure the entire Nigerian people of the strong commitment of the labour movement to free and fair elections everywhere in Nigeria, including Edo state,   and will join other patriotic Nigerians to continue to promote and defend these ideals for sustenance of democracy in our country.
While we reaffirm our confidence in the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, we strongly advice its Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega to be extra vigilant and careful in the handling of the July 14th election in Edo State. He must not allow anyone, including INEC staff or commissioners to compromise his credibility. Every registered voter must be allowed to freely vote without intimidation. And all the votes must count.
INEC must not submit to the pressure coming from certain political quarters that federal civil servants should be used as adhoc staff for the election instead of members of the National Youth Service Corps. While the federal civil servants certainly have a role to play in electoral administration, the corps members have proved their capacity for neutrality and willingness to work for free and fair elections as was underscored in the last general elections in the country.
We call on all domestic and international election monitoring groups to gear up preparations for observing the elections in Edo state to ensure records of transparency and accountability of the electoral process at the elections.
We also urge the Inspector General of Police IGP to come out strong in reassuring the nation that all security agencies that will be drafted for the election in Edo state will be fully prepared, and to remember that they were recruited to protect lives and properties without bias.
We call on all political parties and their candidates to demonstrate their commitment and resolve   to deepening democracy by accepting to play by the rules and avoid the consequences of being held responsible for the ultimate damage any negative actions will have on our democracy and national image as a country.

Kiri Mohammed
Acting President, NLC 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Crash of Dana Aircraft and The Trouble With the Nigerian Aviation Industry

It is not enough banning Dana Airline from further operations in Nigeria. This has happened before; all airlines whose aircrafts have had fatal accidents in the past were banned from further operations in Nigeria and that would be the end of government action until the next crash.
I think what is required should be a more drastic action that will sanitize the entire aviation industry. The revelations following the Dana air crash exposed the rot in the industry where operators seem to have unanimously agreed to place profit above safety and compromise the lives of air travelers.
There were claims even by staff of Dana Airline that the management of the airline was aware the aircraft that crashed was not airworthy and yet it was cleared for the ill fated flight.
There were also disclosures that the aircraft was old and lacked proper maintenance. Indeed, the aircraft was reported to have been bought from Alaska Airline in the United States. Alaska sold off all their aircrafts in the category of the crashed Dana plane because it was prone to accidents as passengers were saved by the whiskers on several occasions from losing their lives in crashes that could have involved several passengers.
Indeed, the incompetence of Dana Airlines management became even more obvious in the post crash information management. They muddled up the names of passengers and released the names of all those who bought tickets for the ill fated flight, not minding if they were all checked in for boarding. Consequently, at least five passengers whose names appeared on the manifest had to publicly refute the claim that they boarded the crashed aircraft. As a regular traveler, I know you can only have your name on the manifest if you were checked in and given a boarding pass. I’m indeed a regular on Dana Airline flights, particularly on the Abuja – Lagos – Abuja route. I was actually meant to travel on Sunday to Lagos for an official assignment but when I tried to book ahead, I was told there was no seat left on that flight, so I settled for Aero, which has lately joined the league of airlines with penchant for flight cancellations, rescheduling or delays. Although, I prefer delays, rescheduling or even cancellations than rush to crash.
So, even now, we are not sure how many people were on board the crashed plane since some people have openly said they were not on the plane and therefore their names should be removed from the manifest released to the public.
Now, I believe Dana Airline should not be the only one responsible for the crash. There must have been an agency involved in inspecting and clearing aircrafts brought into Nigeria by the airlines; there must have been an agency involved in clearing aircrafts for flights; there must have been an agency involved in conducting periodic checks on aircrafts to determine their airworthiness. I know these agencies exist and they are within the domain of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). So, NCAA should rise up now and tell the public when last they checked this aircraft and why was the aircraft cleared for the flight?
I strongly believe that the entire aviation industry in Nigeria needs URGENT repositioning. Incompetent people should be excused from managing the sector; otherwise they will kill more travelers. Whatever caused this crash can still cause another crash, if the issue is about the airworthiness of the aircraft involved in last Sunday crash.
In addition to all these, Nigeria’s search and rescue profile is appalling and something urgent need to be done on that too. Even the President is not safe because no one is free from the consequences of negligence in this sector. If the search and rescue team had been timely at the scene of the crash, some of the passengers may have been rescued. The media reported some residents around the scene said they heard some passengers crying for help even after the crash.
If our hospitals have been turned into mere consulting clinics while the rich flies to Europe for medical attention, none of them can avoid the calamity that awaits all categories of air travelers if urgent steps are not taken to fix the aviation industry.
Above all, the Nigerian system has the blame for the crash. All sectors of the Nigerian system is either being mismanaged or have totally collapsed and those driving the system seem to be looking the other way.
Our roads have totally collapsed; our hospitals are not just mere consulting clinics but mortuaries; while other countries are reporting their employment growth, we are releasing unreliable statistics on unemployment with the near total collapse of industries resulting from lack of electricity and cost of fueling production and service delivery.
For years running, the media occasionally report incidents of power outage in our airports, including the biggest in the west coast, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
I believe we deserve better than what we have in Nigeria, a country where reports of theft of several billions of naira from the public treasury is as constant as the northern star without corresponding punishment.
For now, the sitting government needs to declare a state of emergency in the aviation industry. And this is very urgent.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Overhaul the Air Travel Industry Now !

June 4, 2012
                        Press Statement:
         Overhaul the Air Travel Industry Now !
On behalf of Nigerian workers, we condole with the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the air crash involving Dana Airline yesterday, Sunday 3rd June in Lagos.

From reports, it is apparent that the crash could have been averted if the appropriate regulatory agencies were effective in their responsibilities.

The airplane involved was alleged to have been faulty and this is said to have been to the knowledge of the management of the airline.

We urge the Federal Government to urgently overhaul the aviation industry, review the licenses of all airlines operating in Nigeria, including foreign airlines, conduct proper checks on the airworthiness of all the aircrafts before renewing the licenses of all the airlines. Federal Government should also put in place a policy of pegging the age of aircrafts operating in Nigerian airspace.

We believe the safety of all air travelers in Nigeria should be paramount to the regulatory agencies as well as the airlines that seem to have placed their priority only on profit and not safety.

specifically urge the government to do a thorough, transparent and far reaching investigation of this particular crash.

We believe the government should not wait for a repeat of this monumental disaster to reoccur before taking steps to protect the lives of all categories of air travelers within the Nigerian airspace as it is obvious that no one is excluded from the dangers the air industry obviously portend.

We pray that God should give the families and friends of all those who lost their lives in the crash the fortitude to bear this grave national loss.

Abdulwahed Omar


                                                                                                June 3,  2012
The Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) wishes  to commend  Governor Babatunde  Fashola of Lagos State for  recalling   the sacked  788 medical doctors, and the decision of the Nigerian Medical Association to suspend the strike action, not only in Lagos,  but the threat to escalate the action nationwide.
We are specifically appreciative of the receptiveness of the State Governor to  our intervention,  and his frankness and commitment to improve health services in the state, during our meeting with him on Wednesday, 30th May 2012 in Lagos.
Congress also wishes to commend the leadership of the Nigerian Medical Association ( NMA), at its meeting with the leadership of the NLC,  for its remarkable forthrightness on the issues in contention  and passion for  a virile medical profession and sustainable health  delivery system in Lagos State.
We appreciate the roles played by prominent individuals and organisations within and outside Lagos state as well as the global unions and civil society groups in the course of the crisis. Without their support  and interventions, both parties may not have achieved this resounding feat. This positive disposition of the state governor,  we believe,  has added to the good governance profile of the  state.
We urge both parties in the spirit of this significant  truce  to return to further dialogue as soon as practicable  to ensure that all  contentious issues are resolved across the table without further acrimony. The process of collective bargaining for mutual outcomes in the interest of  the people  remains a major tool that ensures industrial peace and harmony.
Abdulwahed I. Omar
President, NLC