FG set to resolve fuel, PHCN, labour crisis this week-Okupe

The Federal Government has made clear its intention to resolve the lingering crises with the different union of workers threatening to embark on industrial action, before the week ends.

Abuja is already witnessing days of fuel scarcity with residents now resorting to black market.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), is leading the threat to embark on a nationwide strike over the severance package of Nigerian Union of Electrical Employees (NUEE) with the on-going privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. The electricity workers threatened to shut down the nation’s power grid in their protest.

Also the union of oil marketers and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) are also on the brink of ceasing the supply of fuel to the nation’s economy over the delay in payment of fuel subsidies. The Federal Capital territory is already witnessing days of fuel scarcity with residents now resorting to black market.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Dr Doyin Okupe on Monday, stated that the Federal Government “is making serious and intense efforts at averting what may seem to be a looming industrial crises involving NUPENG, oil marketers, PHCN staff and the NLC.”

According to Dr. Okupe, “The approach taken by government at resolving this crisis is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional.”

He further explained that the Ministers of Labour, Power, and other Federal Government officials met with the aggrieved PHCN workers and “virtually all their demands have been agreed upon except for the issue of severance benefits of workers” he claimed.

He however noted that “While the workers (PHCN) insist on their terms of employment, government’s proposition is based on the Pension Act of 2004. However, this matter will most probably be resolved favourably within the coming week by the Presidency.”

Dr. Okupe also stated that, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance minister, Dr. Ngozi  Okonjo – Iweala has shifted  her base temporarily to Lagos, in spite of the Sallah holidays, where she has been engaged intensively also with the aggrieved oil marketers , union members and other stakeholders in the downstream sector.

“All indications are to the effect that favourable resolutions are being reached and all matters are likely to be resolved within this week” he stated.

Dr Okupe on behalf of the Federal Government, therefore “Urged Nigerians to be calm, as all hands are on deck to ensure that normalcy returns soonest”.

House gives Jonathan 60 days to curb excessive borrowing

The House of Representatives has given President Goodluck Jonathan 60 days to implement Section 42 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 which stipulates a debt ceiling for government’s borrowing and foreign debt.

The House on Tuesday, unanimously adopted the motion moved by the Minority leader of the house, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

The members however failed to state if there will be  any reprimand, if the president does not uphold the warning.

Leading the debate, Honourable Gbajabiamila noted that since the Act came into effect, the president had not complied with the provision of Section 42 of the Act.

“The non-implementation of Section 42 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 is capable of encouraging imprudence and recklessness in government borrowings and improper utilization of borrowed funds to the detriment of our economic growth” he said.

Section 42 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act provides for the president to set overall limits or debt ceilings for the amount of consolidated debt of the federal and state governments, subject to approval of the national assembly.

The lawmakers, supporting the motion said the national assembly must ensure that the Act was obeyed and a ceiling for borrowing is established.

As of December 31, 2011, Nigeria’s external debt which was wiped clean by the Paris club in 2004, stood at US$ 5.7 billion, from US$ 4.5 billion in 2010 and U$ 3.9 billion in 2009, according to the Debt Management Office.

The Paris club cancelled $18 billion debt for the nation in 2004 under the influence of the coordinating Minister of the economy and finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The lawmakers gave Mr. Jonathan 60 days to implement the Act, and announce a debt ceiling.