Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said on Saturday, that despite the economic crisis bedevilling the nation with at least 27 states unable to pay salaries to their workers, there was no evidence that any tier of government was cutting down the cost of governance.
Falana said this in a paper he presented on Saturday in Abuja at a symposium organized by the Nigerian Labour Congress as part of its activities marking this year’s Workers’ Day.
According to Falana, profligacy remains the order of the day in government circles at all levels.
He said, “With the profligacy in government there is no sign that we are going through tough times.
“Our public officers are paid the highest traveling allowances or estacode while our legislators are the highest paid in the world.
“After collecting wardrobe, housing and vehicle allowances of billions of Naira the federal legislators have placed orders for the purchase of exotic cars which they approved for themselves.
“The payment of the illegal security votes by the federal, state and local governments has not ceased.”
He said there were still 11 planes in the presidential fleet, over 70 per cent of the budget still goes into “servicing of parasitic bureaucracy” while governors still travel so regularly to Abuja and other places in hired jets.
He added that “no government has reviewed projects that constitute a drain on public treasury” while public officers were still moving around in long convoys.
He also said jobs, which could be handled by civil servants, were still being given out to contractors at skyrocketing prices.
The lawyer added that majority of state governments had refused to adopt the Treasury Single Account to eliminate the diversion of public funds.
He said while the Federal Government was making attempt to fight corruption, “it has remained business as usual in the states and local government councils.”
The senior advocate said, “Some ministers, senators and other public officers earn double salaries while no state government has reduced the scandalous pension package for ex-governors in terms of salaries for life, houses in the state capitals plus Abuja, medical, vehicle and other allowances etc.
“Some officers serve for four or five years and retire at less than 50 years of age only to be paid an exit package of not less than N500m.”
His lecture was entitled, ‘The working class and the marginalized group and the quest for socio-economic rights in Nigeria in the context of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution.’
In his paper, Falana also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to take responsibility for the unlawful killings going on in many parts of the country.
He said, “Although the unlawful killing of unarmed citizens did not start under the current administration, it has a duty to ensure that the life of every person living in Nigeria is respected at all times.
“Having undertaken to end impunity and the egregious violations of human rights the Buhari administration should bear responsibility for the unlawful killing of citizens by security forces and other armed gangs.”
He said government had failed in its obligation under section 17 of the Constitution which mandates it to provide for a living national minimum wage and make conditions of work just and humane.
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