The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) wants the Nigerian government to take immediate steps to recover the several billions of dollars in crude oil revenue reported missing by the Nigeria Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative from the sale of crude oil.
Addressing the National Executive Council meeting of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria in Abuja, President of Congress, Comrade Abubakar Wabba said if the missing money can be recovered, the country has no reason to complain of scarce resources or declare recession.
Wabba also raised an alarm of plan by the government to spend about 70 percent of workers money with the National Health Insurance Scheme to build and renovate Primary Health Care Centres across the country, saying if that is found to be true, Nigerian workers will resist such move.
He said the money with the NHIS is meant for the health care need of workers and their families, adding that if the government takes the money and spend it in renovation of primary health care centres, the workers will be left with nothing to take care of their medical needs, saying “sickness does not give notice of when it wants to come”.
Wabba said “recently, a member of the National Assembly shared with me very disturbing information. He said that why in our books, it was recorded that we had zero sale of crude oil at a time, there were actually records which are available to NEITI that crude oil running into several billions of dollars was actually sold.
“When you go out there, because their records are straight forward and you can’t change figures, monumental amount of crude oil was discovered to have been sold and NEITI report has captured that aptly.
“If we are able to recover these loss, we don’t have any reason to say this country is in recession. NEITI report said several billions of dollar in crude oil Resource are missing. But that was the time we were saying there was pipeline vandalism and therefore crude oil was not sold or any other excuse has been given.
“But out there, because you cannot take it out without recording it, you have the records of the actual amount that accrued to the Nigerian government and the banks where the money has been deposited. These people are feasting on the wealth of all of us.
“That is why the issue of inequality will continue to be with us and the issue of poverty will continue to be there if we don’t address this social imbalance where the rich will, continue to be rich. In this country, it is only the poor that respect the rule of law. These are the issues and so, when we say solidarity for ever, we must be ready to follow up the issues and challenge them.”
The NLC President said further: “I was taken aback when I was told that the funds of the National Health Insurance Scheme which is a fund belonging to public service workers to take care of their families which was what we agreed to in 2005 when the then NLC President launched the public health insurance scheme is being deployed to renovate primary health care centres.
“All of us know the situation of the primary health care centres. They are the responsibility of the state and local government. Obasanjo came with the initiative of building primary health care centres in every ward and we know the state of these centres now. I don’t think it is the priority.
“We were informed that a huge chunk of that money is being deployed or has been deployed to the renovation of these centres from the NHIS. I think that will be a jeopardy because if at the time workers and their families wants to attend health care and there will be no money to attend to them, then we will be in for a disaster because that is the time the scheme will collapse.
“That money is meant for health care of workers and not to be used to award contract. Nigerian workers agreed to give up ten percent of their medical allowance to operate the Scheme because the felt it will work since it has worked in other climes.
“But what we are hearing is that 70 percent of the fund that is supposed to be used to provide quality health care for them is being used two other things that are not central to the success of universal health coverage.
“If this is true and we confirm it to be true, we are going to protest against it because it is our money and you cannot use it for anything outside what it is meant for. Sickness does not give notice of when it wants to an if it comes and there is no money for the worker and his family to take care of themselves, that will be disastrous”.
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Author: TONY AKOWE, ABUJA