The Federal Government on Thursday convened another meeting with members of the organised labour movement.
This comes after an attempt to resolve the impasse between the government and workers’ unions over the recent hike in the price of petrol and electricity tariff failed on Sunday.
In his opening remarks at Thursday’s meeting in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said Sunday’s event was not a walkout but a recess.
He insisted that both parties – the government and the labour unions – were working for the betterment of the nation.
Ngige stressed that the issues at stake, which included the hike in electricity tariff and the price of petrol, do not only affect the citizens but also those on the government’s side.
He was hopeful that the meeting would produce the results that would be beneficial to both parties.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who was also at the meeting, addressed the labour leaders.
He gave an assurance that the government would ensure that resolutions reached would be for the benefit of the Nigerian people.
Mustapha also thanked the labour leaders for their show of patriotism, stressing that what happened on Sunday was a recess and not a breakdown of discussions.
On his part, TUC President, Peter Esele, stressed the need for sincerity on the part of the government to enable the meeting to arrive at a logical conclusion.
He also appealed to the conveners of the meeting to allow the media stay till the end of the discussion for the purpose of transparency
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, was absent at the meeting, but he was represented by the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero.
Ajaero disagreed with the remarks of the labour minister and the SGF that the last meeting was a recess, insisting that it did not end peacefully.
He also insisted that the agenda for discussion should be presented for adoption before going forward.
After the representatives from both sides made their remarks, the meeting went into a technical session.
Others in attendance include the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Farouk.
The government has continued to engage the labour unions in discussions since October when the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) threatened to embark on a nationwide protest over the increased prices.
On their part, the NLC and TUC have consistently maintained that the government should reverse the prices and provide palliatives to cushion the immediate effects of the hike before it engages them in a dialogue.
A meeting to address the issues on Sunday was stalled after the organised labour movement staged a walkout to protest what they described as government’s breach of agreement.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the prophecy that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its leaders will be stoned for failure has come to pass as Nigerians are already stoning them with the words of their mouths.
In a statement on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party asked the APC leaders to perish the purported plan to change the name of the ruling party.
It stated that such a move would amount to a desperate decoy to exonerate themselves from the failures of the party and the present administration, which it said have led the nation to excruciating hardship.
“Our party is already aware of clandestine meetings being held by APC leaders following their realisation that the APC, as a political party, has failed as a platform for governance and managing of the broad diversity of our nation.
“The APC leaders, who are already troubled by the post-President Buhari’s disastrous tenure in office, are planning to adopt a new name in order to beguile Nigerians once again,” it said.
The PDP accused the APC leadership of deceiving Nigerians with it claims that opposition members were trooping into its fold.
According to it, this will not save the APC from crashing and only those who have lost relevance with the people by betraying their causes will seek accommodation in the ruling party.
“Which patriotic Nigerians would want to join the APC that has wrecked our economy, reneged on all its campaign promises?” the opposition party questioned.
It added, “Which patriotic Nigerian can join the APC that has willfully failed to secure our citizens from marauders, insurgents, and bandits; a party under whose watch, the once happy and prosperous Nigerian citizens can no longer afford basic necessities of life to the extent that they now resort to suicide and slavery mission abroad as options?”
The PDP believes the ruling party is overweighed with the burden of failure and can no longer be a platform for any credible Nigerian who has the intention to serve the people.
It stressed that while the APC leadership was celebrating with lone defectors, a majority of Nigerians have been rallying with the opposition party.
“After all, not a few APC governors as well as ministers in President Buhari’s cabinet and members of the National Assembly are already fed up and have expressed their readiness to join the rescue train, PDP.
“However, what is paramount to our party at this critical time is the wellbeing and security of our citizens, particularly as the APC has shown that it has no capacity for governance and has no iota of regard for the good of Nigerians,” the opposition party said.
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has dismissed the allegations of money laundering levelled against him by a member of the United Kingdom parliament.
The elder statesman condemned the claims in an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, three days after the UK lawmaker, Tom Tugendhat, accused him of looting half of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
He stated that it was disappointing that a British parliamentarian could make such a statement without checking the facts.
“It is certainly surprising, and I am disappointed that a British parliamentarian could make such a statement without checking the facts of what he was saying.
“I honestly was disappointed that such a remark is made,” the former Nigerian leader told Channels Television London correspondent via telephone.
He insisted that there was no time when he was held or questioned for money laundering, stressing that the allegation that he looted the nation’s treasury was false.
Check My Record
General Gowon, who said he heard about the allegation from social media, insisted that there was nothing to hide and the record was there for the lawmaker and the British authorities to check.
He also called on the UK government to take the necessary step to order, stressing that making an allegation of such was an insult to him and Nigeria as a nation.
Watch the video of the UK parliament’s deliberation to which the Nigerian government is reacting below:
The former Head of State said, “The record of my service to the nation is there for everybody to see and even the British government itself, and I don’t know why somebody got the information to make such a very ridiculous statement.
“I am disappointed with that one and I hope the British authority will do something to rightly bring that parliamentarian to order to check his facts before he makes such allegation because it is more or less an insult to the leadership of Nigeria and certainly an insult to me to say that I did something of the sort to take half of Nigeria’s Central Bank and I must have put it in a British bank.”
“So, he should check all the British banks to see whether any such thing has happened, and he (the UK lawmaker) will be surprised that I was not being held for money laundering,” he added.
General Gowon, 86, served as the Head of State from 1966 to 1975.
Tugendhat had accused General Gowon and some other leaders in Nigeria of robbing the people during a debate on a petition on #EndSARS at the UK parliament.
He also alleged that the leaders ran to London to hide the loots, adding that British banks were used for illegal transfer of assets.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on other political parties to take the place of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the main opposition in Nigeria.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, made the call in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
He said it was not a surprise that those he described as progressive-minded members of the PDP were defecting from the opposition party to the ruling party.
“For a party unable to run its secretariat, pay staff salaries, and its leadership grappling with a crisis of confidence, it will be unfair to expect its progressive-minded members to remain in the PDP which has failed woefully as the supposed ‘main’ opposition party in Nigeria,” he claimed.
The APC spokesman added, “It is disheartening that the PDP is pushing Nigeria into a largely one-party state. As a party that believes in democracy and progressive politics, the APC does not subscribe to this.
“We, therefore, challenge other opposition political parties to take the place of the PDP because even as the governing party, we recognise the importance of rigorous and intelligent interrogation of our policies and programmes by the opposition which the PDP has woefully failed to do.”
Nabena noted the recent defection of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, as well as the lawmaker representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Senator Elisha Abbo, from the PDP to the APC.
According to him, this is in addition to the earlier return of many prominent party members and leaders such as a former PDP National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade; a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and former governorship candidate, Alex Otti, among others.
The APC spokesman stated that the party was delighted with the development, saying the returnees have come to work with the present administration to improve the lives of Nigerians.
He added the effort of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) to reposition the party by accommodating all interests and ensuring peace, unity, fairness, equity, justice, inclusion, and internal democracy was appreciated.
“The Governor Mai Mala Buni-led CECPC is working assiduously and has achieved great success in ensuring that the party is repositioned, united, and conducts the planned membership registration, update, and revalidation exercise to produce a clean, credible and authentic national membership register, ahead of the planned National Convention,” Nabena said.
He alleged, “For now, the PDP and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has begun early 2023 campaign on the PDP’s presidential candidature he is poised to purchase, are engrossed with their Dubai meetings to plot their hallucinatory return to ensure their bid to sell off the remainder of our national assets.
The Nigerian government has received the repatriated Ife terracotta head and other artifacts from the Kingdom of Netherlands.
Mr Lai Mohammed, who is the Minister of Information and Culture, took delivery of the artifacts on Thursday at an event in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Harry Van Dijk, presented the valuable pieces of art to the minister on behalf of the government of the European country.
The terracotta head from Ile-Ife in Osun State, a unique and rare artifact, was intercepted by Dutch Customs at the Schiphol Airport in 2018.
The event was also attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, as well as Professor Abba Tijani.
Professor Tijani, who is the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, stated that the Ife terracotta head was said to be at least 600 years old.
Highlights of the event are captured in the pictures below:
Read the full text of the Minister of Information at the event below:
SPEECH BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, WHILE RECEIVING AN IFE TERRACOTTA ANTIQUITY RETURNED FROM THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS….IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 26 NOV. 2020
It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta, which is dated to be at least 600 years old.
I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities, which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits.
You will recall that at the World Press Conference held for that purpose in Lagos on November 28, 2019, I asserted that Nigeria will work towards the return and restitution of her cultural property wherever they may be in the world.
That assertion was not a fluke, as we have seen today.
Our resolve to seek the repatriation of our timeless and priceless artifacts was strengthened by Mr President’s marching order for Nigeria to tap into tourism and other fields, where Nigeria has comparative advantages, in order to generate income for the nation and secure jobs for our youths.
One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee-paying audience, on the basis of proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us.
But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others, who describe them as their properties.
Today’s event marks a new beginning. Our antiquities must work for our progress. Apart from the pecuniary benefits, these priceless objects wrought by our forebears are unifying factors.
It is heart-warming to note that the leadership of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments is showing renewed efforts at repatriation.
Regarding the antiquity that is being handed over to us today, the smuggler had obtained forged documents purported to be from a former Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
The smuggler ultimately passed through the airport in Ghana before getting to Europe in 2019.
The Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport suspected that the object might be illicitly imported and alerted the antiquity protection office known as the Inspectie, which is the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, to give an opinion.
The Inspectie invited Nigeria to prove her case against the suspected smuggler. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) acted swiftly by dispatching its lawyer, Mr Babatunde Adebiyi, who is with us here today, to present evidence and argue for the return of the object.
Nigeria was successful in this and the claim was determined in favour of Nigeria.
After all internal procedures, including the right of appeal, were exhausted, the Government of the Netherlands – at a very elaborate event – handed over the object to the Nigerian Embassy in the Hague on November 2, 2020.
The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, made all possible arrangements to ensure the return of the antiquity to Nigeria.
He directed the Charge d’Affaires of our Embassy in the Netherlands, Mr Kabiru Musa, to bring back the antiquity, which we are receiving today.
We want to most sincerely thank the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and his staff, both at home and in the Netherlands.
We also thank His Excellency Harry van Dijk, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria.
Our gratitude also goes to the Director and officials of the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, officials of the Customs of the Netherlands as well as the National Museum of the Netherlands for rendering preservation and conservation assistance while the adjudication of the claim lasted.
The Inspectie, that is the Information and Heritage Inspectorate of the Netherlands, and the National Commission for Museums and
Monuments of Nigeria have agreed to make a joint presentation of this issue to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris, so that other nations may
take a cue from this in finding rapprochement and common ground concerning the issue of return of antiquities
Let me state here that Nigeria believes in joint international efforts to put a stop to illicit export and import of cultural goods.
The issue of cultural property should not be a ground of rancour and discord among nations. That is if nations choose to tow the path which the Kingdom of The Netherlands has chosen by insisting on justice, fairness and amity.
President Muhammadu Buhari has stressed the importance of peace, tranquillity, and security in all countries across the African continent.
He made the remark on Thursday when he received a special envoy of the Algerian President, who is also the country’s Foreign Minister, Mr Sabri Boukadoum, at Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“Unless you secure your environment, you can’t manage it well,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
He added, “We should all secure our countries, because if we don’t, what do we then bequeath to the next generation? We can’t grow or develop in an insecure environment.”
President Buhari assured the special envoy that Nigeria would encourage and support every move that would enhance economic cooperation between the West African country and the Republic of Algeria.
He stated that projects like the Trans-Sahara road, international gas pipelines, and other areas of economic cooperation would be given adequate attention for the good of the people of the two countries.
The special envoy, on his part, described Nigeria as the pillar of Africa.
He also told the President that he had brought messages from his President, “so that we consult, and see what we can do together.”
President Buhari met with the Algerian minister, in company with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and other top government officials.
Police have arrested one Cephas Iliya for the death of Martins Omeri, an auditor with the Federal Government.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Nasarawa State, Ramhan Nansel, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.
He noted Omeri was a deputy chief auditor at the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation in Abuja, but he resided at the Navy Estate in Karshi in Karu Local Government Area (LGA) of Nasarawa State.
Nansel explained that Iliya, a former house help of the late auditor, was intercepted on Tuesday night by police personnel attached to Karshi Division at the Arab area in the nation’s capital.
According to him, the security operatives arrested the 27-year-old suspect who hails from Kaduna State based on credible intelligence.
“A coordinated and diligent search was conducted in his (the suspect’s) apartment where the following items belonging to the deceased were recovered as exhibit – one Infinix phone, laptop, clothing, pair of shoes, clipper, beddings, and a few other properties,” the police command spokesman said.
He added, “The suspect confessed that he sneaked into the house of the deceased at the dead of the night on November 17, 2020, while he was asleep and killed him using a log of wood while, his dead body was discovered on November 19, 2020.”
In his reaction, the Commissioner of Police in Nasarawa, Bola Longe, directed that the case be transferred to the State Criminal and Investigation Department in Lafia for an exhaustive investigation after which the suspect should be arraigned in court.
He called on residents of the state to thoroughly screen and get to know the family of those they intend to employ as house help before doing so.
Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has appealed to the National Assembly to pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill latest by the first quarter of 2021.
He made the appeal on Thursday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on INEC at the National Assembly complex in Abuja.
Professor Yakubu appeared for his screening by the lawmakers following his reappointment as INEC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He informed the senators that passing the piece of legislation within the timeframe recommended was critical for the success of the 2023 general elections.
The former INEC chief noted that the nation’s electoral body had submitted several areas for amendments in the Electoral Act.
He stressed that it was extremely important for the electoral legal framework to be finalised in due time, saying INEC cannot conduct elections under uncertainty.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has raised concern over the increasing cases of rape and gender violence in Niger State.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, NHRC Coordinator in Niger, Nuhu Mohammed, noted that at least 60 cases were reported to the commission annually.
Mohammed, who led a rally in Minna to mark this year’s 16 Days of Activism, stated that the figure could be higher if victims of rape and gender violence were reporting to relevant authorities.
He decried that despite the awareness in place, people still prefer to settle rape cases at home instead of seeking legal redress, a development which he said gave reason for perpetrators to continue to carry out the heinous crime.
“We have received a number of cases. The last submission we submitted to our national office was 20 cases of rape and domestic violence,” the NHRC coordinator said.
He added, “We don’t receive less than five cases on a monthly basis; those are the ones reported, some don’t like to report.
“But even those who report, by the time we want to take the necessary action before you know the victims would go behind the back door and ask for a withdrawal of their case. This is a major setback to the fight against rape and gender violence.”
Mohammed, however, gave an assurance that the NHRC would use the occasion to raise more awareness and pay advocacy visits to relevant bodies that would help in the fight against rape.
He explained that the march was organised to create more awareness for residents to see rape as a crime against the state and should not be settled at home.
“Families need to know that hiding a case of rape is an act of wickedness, especially to the victim who will continue to die in silence.
“But if the perpetrator is exposed and justice is sought for the victim, it will encourage more victims to speak up when they are violated,” the NHRC coordinator said.
On her part, the chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in Niger, Christiana Barau, commended the Federal Government for signing into law the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Act.
She believes the VAP law will further strengthen the fight against rape and other gender violence offences and stressed the need for enforcement of all the relevant laws against rape.
Barau said, “The VAP law is a right step in the right direction. It has further expanded the issue of rape and gender violence to cover not just females but all persons.
“The VAP law has also expanded the definition of rape, which means that even penetration with finger and any object is recognised as rape.”
“So, the law is a welcome development as far as FIDA is concerned. We only hope that the VAP law and all the relevant laws that are in place to fight rape are adequately enforced and that offenders are handed due punishment to serve as a deterrent to the entire society,” she added.
The Director-General of the Niger State Child’s Rights Agency, Maryam Kolo, who represented the governor’s wife, Dr Amina Abubakar, and representatives of some civil society organisations in the state participated in the march.
Professor Yakubu stated that INEC would continue to deepen the use of technology for elections and explore other ways in which the electoral process could benefit from technology.
He disclosed that the electoral umpire was working to ensure that materials needed for the elections were procured well ahead of time.
The screening of the former INEC boss comes a day after members of the red chamber considered the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the reappointment of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as the chairman of the nation’s electoral umpire.
They later referred the President’s request to the Senate Committee on INEC for further legislative action and asked the lawmakers to report back on Tuesday next week.
The Presidency announced Professor Yakubu’s reappointment as INEC chairman for another five-year term on October 27.
His reappointment is, however, subject to approval by the Senate.
Following the completion of his first term, Professor Yakubu handed over the leadership of INEC to Air Vice Marshal Ahmed Muazu who has been acting as chairman of the commission since November 9.
He was first appointed by President Buhari to oversee the activities of the electoral umpire in November 2015, six months after the Nigerian leader assumed office.
Professor Yakubu, who took over from Professor Attahiru Jega, was first appointed into office by President Buhari in November 2015.
Under him, INEC conducted many elections, including the 2019 polls which saw the President extending his stay in office for another four years.