Falana enjoins Lagos to help Osun over unpaid workers’ salaries

Femi-falana

Falana

Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has appealed to Lagos State government not to keep mum over governor Rauf Aregbesola’s inability to pay salary in Osun, among other unsavory developments in the southwest region.

Falana said the situation, though currently seen as Osun’s problem, would degenerate with enormous effect on Lagos State.

Falana, in an open letter to governor Akinwunmi Ambode, reminded him of an adage that a rich individual among a horde of paupers is the poorest among them, and therefore, “the need for Lagos to champion economic prosperity of the southwest region.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer has also described the call on president Muhammadu Buhari to removal fuel subsidy as a ploy to further punish Nigerian masses.

Falana said notwithstanding the argument that subsidy was a rip-off on the Nigerian system; the actual solution is not to make poor masses pay more for the essential commodity and government’s failure to be creative with the economy.

He told Ambode that Lagos cannot continue to sit in her comfort zone when neighbouring states like Osun is owing about six months salary and spates of kidnapping going on in Ekiti, and poverty in the region.

According to him, “If people cannot be paid salaries in Osun, if there is kidnapping in Ekiti State and if there is poverty in the southwest, Lagos cannot continue to pride self as prosperous.

“I will challenge you sir (Akinwunmi Ambode) that Lagos must join and lift the economic rejuvenation of the Yorubaland, where Obafemi Awolowo was governor that we were all proud of. Lagos must be part of Oodua investment; you cannot stand-alone. Lagos must propel the economy of the southwest and of Nigeria as a whole into something we can all be proud of,” he said.

Falana also challenged the All Progressives Congress-led (APC) Federal Government to begin the recovery processes of national funds in the coffers of multinational oil companies.

He said: “There are pressures on Buhari to inflict more punishment on the Nigerian people in saying ‘remove fuel subsidy’. ‘Let Nigerians sacrifice.’ Who is to sacrifice? Not the ordinary people, but those that have stolen the wealth of the people and they must be made to pay.

“Our government has not paid attention to the diversion of public funds in Nigeria. It was just disclosed some days ago by NEITI, an agency of the Federal Government to monitor the oil industry, that $19.3tr is owed to the Federation Account by all the oil companies. We must take every kobo and cent from them.

“In 2012, $1.2b loan was taken to build the country’s refinery but the fund has been diverted. These are some of the funds Nigeria must recover to change the fortune of common people and not to worsen it,” Falana said.

On the alternatives to jump-start the economy, he advised the government to start considering the use of modular refineries like neighbouring countries are doing.

“Our neighbouring countries – Chad, Niger, Cameroon have modular refineries, each built between $1m to $15m. We must go for modular refineries all over the country, so that you (government) do not inflict punishment on our people,” Falana said.

Meanwhile, the state’s Bureau of Communication and Strategy has explained that Governor Rauf Aregbesola’s determination to wean Osun from the culture of dependence on Federal Allocation was behind the haste with which his administration embarked on key programmes which have been lauded in and outside Nigeria.

The Bureau, through a statement by the Director, Semiu Okanlawon, said the government’s approach to agriculture, industrialisation and tourism and massive infrastructure provision were driven by the clear possibility that the sole reliance on the Federal Government for states’ survival would one day throw the country into an economic quagmire of immense proportion.

Assuring that before the end of June, workers would be paid their salaries, the statement said from the onset, the Aregbesola administration had set out to ensure that it energise the economy in such a way that proceeds from the economic activities and taxes from thriving companies in Osun would drive the economy and not the reliance on allocations from Abuja.

According to the statement, “The dream has not gone awry and it is a clear vision that Osun must be on its feet, self-reliant and be a reference point in Nigeria. The race to ensure development within the first term of Aregbesola was informed by the fear of what is happening now.

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