PRINCE NED NWOKO: THE STORY OF A PATRIOT
By Frank Iroroh
Last Tuesday, May 1, workers across the globe observed the annual ritual of Labour Day Celebration. In Nigeria, the celebration was first of such after the country “technically” emerged out of recession.
As expected, the occasion was marked by strong words from labour leaders, with hype on increased monthly emolument for workers, and other welfare packages, to which Government responded with the usual promises, hardly implemented.
The day’s address on both divide fall short of expectations, for the simple reasons that none of the parties deemed it necessary to reflect on the pains workers went through during the recession and none acknowledged the heroic efforts of a patriotic Nigerian, Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko, the man that made it possible for Nigeria to survive the economic quagmire.
The entire scenario of the labour day in Nigeria could be likened to a child always demanding for food from the father, not minding how and where the father gets the food and the father who feels so proud to admit to his son that the meal served all along was as a result of the handiwork of a benevolent patriot.
So, that notable day workers and government remained indifferent as to how the country survived economic meltdown. Regrettably, thank you to Prince Ned Nwoko for ingenuity, foresight, doggedness, efforts and patriotism in securing the Refunds, was never said.
But, it is a fact that late 2015 to 2016, and early 2017, was intolerable hell for workers as most States and Local Governments were owing workers 15 months upwards in salaries.
The situation was so bad that States like Imo implemented three work days for workers, to give them two days off, out of 5 work days, to find other means of making ends meet, since salaries are no longer guaranteed.
Some States embarked on staff auditing and downsizing of staff strength.
Local Government staff became worse hit; some had to contend with 15 months without pay. And to ensure equitable distribution of available allocation, Councils resorted to paying percentages of whatever they received as allocation. Sometimes, Council workers get as low as 10% of monthly pay. To worsen their problems, these little percentages hardly came as and when due.
This serious economic downturn was widespread around the country. It came as a result of long years of mismanagement of the nation’s resources, which was further exacerbated by low revenue from oil, from which the country derived 90% of revenue, which is shared monthly by the three tiers of Government.
The country was groaning under this economic predicament, when from nowhere the news of States and Local Governments receiving bailout funds, later called “Paris Club Refunds” became real.
The Refunds helped States and Local Governments clear backlogs of workers salaries, pay pensioners and local contractors.
The Refunds which runs into hundreds of billions of US dollars, helped to pump cash into the economy and stabilized the country.
The Paris Club Refunds, virtually saved Nigeria from imminent depression with its attendant socioeconomic consequences.
The Refunds came about due to the heroic efforts of Prince Ned Nwoko, who devoted legal expertise, resources and precious time to go for the Refunds, at a time nobody knew such funds existed.
There has been much talk about the Refunds. Some persons still do not believe such huge task was accomplished by Prince Ned Nwoko.
Some say if he was the one that performed the feat, he would have been conferred with a national merit award.
To complicate matters, some unscrupulous gold diggers did cash in to lay claims to his singular initiatives.
Based on disbelief and misconceptions about the Refunds, it becomes necessary to give more details on the fund.
What we generally refer to as Paris Club Refunds was handled by Prince Ned Nwoko in two dimensions.
The first was battle with multilateral lenders, this resulted in the OBJ much touted debt cancelation and Refunds of loan overpayments – over deductions, to Nigeria by multilateral lenders; and the second was, The Refunds of loan repayments, wrongfully deducted from States’ and Local Governments’ allocations by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, in all heroic efforts, Prince Nwoko remained thankless by the Nigerian State, and direct beneficiaries, workers!
Whatever happened, Ned Nwoko is a patriot of all seasons; he stepped out again to render selfless service to Nigeria, to help reposition the country on the part of total economic recovery and accelerated development.
Ned has proven to be a modern philosopher; as in the words of ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, “until philosophers are kings, cities will never have rest from evil.”
To be continued.
Support Prince Ned Nwoko for Senate 2019, for better days to come