PDP Rejects Hike In Electricity Tariffs, Asks FG To Rescind ‘Obnoxious Policy’

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday announced its rejection of the increase in electricity tariff by the Federal Government.

The main opposition party in a Tweet on its official handle called on the Federal Government to rescind the policy which it described as obnoxious and injurious to the wellbeing of Nigerians.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Govt Increases Electricity Tariffs

“The PDP rejects, in its entirety, the over 200 percent increase in electricity tariff announced by the APC-led administration, describing it as draconian and completely against the interest and wellbeing of Nigerians.

“The party charges the Federal Government to immediately rescind the obnoxious and provocative policy and consult further with Nigerians before any such tariff hike,” PDP statement on its official handle read in part.

The PDP also described the increase in electricity tariff as a furtherance of the fleecing of Nigerians, ‘who are already overburdened and groaning under the weight of high costs, economic repression and heavy taxes.’

The party said further that, “It is lamentable that Nigerians, who are already suffering the devastating negative impact of the recent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 percent to 7.5 by the APC administration, are now being further suppressed with increased electricity tariff.

“Our party holds that the increase in electricity tariff, under the prevailing harsh economic conditions, is injurious to the wellbeing of Nigerians as it will further stress the productive sector and lead to an upsurge in the cost of regular and essential goods and… services, including food, medicine, housing, education, and other critical needs.”

The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Saturday, approved the immediate review of electricity tariffs across the country.

NERC announced this in a series of documents obtained by Channels Television.

FG’s Obedience To Court Orders Will Boost Investors’ Confidence – Rewane

The CEO of Financial Derivatives Company and a member of the Economic Advisory Council (ECA), Bismarck Rewane, says Federal Government’s obedience to court orders will boost the investors of confidence.

 

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Financial Derivatives Company and a member of the Economic Advisory Council (ECA), Bismarck Rewane, says Federal Government’s obedience to court orders will boost investors’ confidence.

Rewane, stated this on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Business Morning, following the release of the RevolutionNow protest, Mr Omoyele Sowore and a former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki by the Department of State Service (DSS).

“The more liberal, the more tolerant the government is, the more confidence investors will have. It is not the release of people, it’s the obeying of court orders.

READ ALSO: Lagos Is The Second Worst City To Live In – Rewane

“If for example, I take the government to court because my tax liability is higher and the court says go and refund and the court refuses, those are the things investors are looking at.

“If there is a dispute, they need remedies. The government has to be a good example of obedience to the rule of law because they set the law. This move now shows that the government is law-abiding,” he stated.

Speaking about the rate of Nigerians seeking political asylum, the economist said the number has dropped from 60,000 in 2018 to 57,000 currently.

According to him, the decrease in the statistics is as a result of the decline in the misery index which translates to political asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, Rewane also stated that life expectancy in Nigeria is now 56 years compared to 2018 when it was 54 years.

Senate Asks FG, States, LGs To Declare Emergency On Unemployment

A file photo of lawmakers in the Senate Chamber.

 

 

Members of the Senate on Wednesday considered a motion on the ‘escalating rate’ of unemployment in the country.

The motion was sponsored during plenary by the immediate past Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

In their resolution, the lawmakers proferred solutions to the executive arm of the government for adoption and implementation.

READ ALSO: Apapa Gridlock Will Persist Without Alternatives For Trailers, Says Sanwo-Olu

One of these is for the Federal, State and Local Governments to declare emergency on the provision of employment across the country.

The senators also called on the Federal Ministry of National Planning to put the necessary mechanism and programmes in place to achieve this.

They proposed the revitalisation of existing industries and urged the executive arm to initiate sustainable employment fund for the payment of stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secure employment.

 

A Time Bomb

Earlier, Senator Ekweremadu brought the motion to the floor through reliance on Orders 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules.

He decried that high institutions of learning in the country produce a large number of graduates yearly without jobs, describing such a situation as a “time bomb waiting to explode”.

Citing a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2019, Senator Ekweremadu stated that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of the year.

He also raised an alarm that the nation’s unemployment rate would hit 33.5 per cent by 2020 while quoting the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige.

“Any nation with such a number of unemployed but employable youths is only sitting on a keg of gun powder.

“The most pressing demand on the hand of every legislator and public officer is the rising number of curriculum vitae and application for employment from constituent Nigerians,” the lawmaker said.

He added, “A situation where every school graduate has to queue up for job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of private sector which is the major driver of world economies.”

Senator Ekweremadu stressed that unemployed Nigerian youths with potential talents “lying idle and wasting away are usually misdirected toward many unprofitable and harmful ventures and lifestyles”.

According to him, the most active percentage of Nigeria’s population has been forced to keep away from participating in the economic development of their fatherland and contributing toward the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by unemployment.

The lawmaker also attributed the high level of crime in any society to the high rate of unemployment.

He said, “Unemployment is one of the major causes of upsurge in rural-urban migration which put pressure on facilities at the urban centres.

“Unemployment is one of the major reasons why insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, Cybercrimes and other vices are on the increase.”

In his contribution, Senator Istifanus Gyang described unemployment as a monster that could consume the nation if its people were not careful.

Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, on his part, decried the inability of the private sector to address the escalating rate of unemployment in the country.

The government on the other hand, according to him, lacks the capacity to create jobs as doing so would create an expansion in its fiscal responsibility.

FG Approves 3bn For Construction Of NDIC Office In Bauchi

 

The Federal Executive Council has approved two memorandum each from the ministry of finance, Budget and National Planning and the ministry of Aviation.

The council approved over three billion Naira for the construction of Bauchi Zonal office of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).

READ ALSO: FG Approves N19.18bn Loan For Nine Local Cotton Processors

Other approvals include the construction of perimeter fence and road at the Port Harcour airport.

The ministry of transport is also got approval to procure Security Scanner for installation at the Lagos Port.

Falana Asks FG To Open Borders, Suggests How To Fight Smuggling

 

Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Femi Falana, has asked the Federal Government to open the borders, thereby asking them to urgently dialogue with neighbouring countries to fight the menace of smuggling which necessitated the country’s border to be closed.

Falana said the Federal Government should ignore the endorsement of border closure by the International Monetary Fund because “it is inconsistent with the letter and spirit of ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Residence and Establishment and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The endorsement of the IMF is a deliberate design to weaken ECOWAS regional integration agenda.”

Falana gave the advice while delivering a paper on Rule of Law, Good Governance and Economic Development at the annual conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra, Ghana.

READ ALSO: Fresh Energy Will Be Injected Into Nigeria-Russia Relations – Buhari

Falana’s paper read in part: “The borders should be reopened without any further delay as it cannot be sustained for too long without serious repercussions for the Nigerian economy. The neighbouring countries may retaliate by imposing a ban on goods being exported from Nigeria by air. They may also close down Nigerian banks and other businesses operating in other member states of the ECOWAS.”

“Instead of resorting to the unilateral closure of borders the federal government should drag the Republics of Benin and Niger to the Court of Justice of the ECOWAS for breaching the ECOWAS Protocol by allegedly encouraging the smuggling of petrol, rice and other products. In the alternative, smuggling should be addressed like terrorism which is being jointly combated by Nigeria and her neighbours.”

“Nigeria should stop punishing law-abiding corporate bodies and community citizens because of the criminal activities of a few trans-border smugglers. The Federal Government should expose the smugglers by arresting and prosecuting them. The smugglers in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries are well known by the security agencies. Without official connivance, the crime of smuggling cannot thrive in the region.”

“Apart from monitoring the borders with technology, the Federal Government should take advantage of the ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the Re-exportation within ECOWAS of goods imported from third countries. Under the Protocol Benin, Togo and Ghana are only entitled to charge administrative fees in respect of goods whose destination is Nigeria.”

“I commend the ECOWAS Court for protecting the human rights of community citizens. But member states should desist from disregarding the judgments and orders of the Court. Other leaders should emulate President Nana Akuffo-Addo who has ordered the Attorney- General and Minister of Ghana to ensure compliance with all decisions of the Court. The ECOWAS Commission should ensure that sanctions are imposed on recalcitrant member states in line with the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and the Protocol of the Community Court.”

Minimum Wage: FG, Labour Fail To Reach Agreement

 

The meeting between Organised Labour and the Federal Government again ended without both parties reaching a conclusion.

After several hours of the meeting, which started at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and ended in the early hours of Thursday, both parties failed to reach a resolution in the consequential adjustment of workers’ salaries as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000.

However, both parties agreed to adjourn the meeting until 7:00 pm on Thursday to continue deliberation.

READ ALSO: FG Gives New Travel Guidelines For Govt Officials

At the end of the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige told journalists that specific jobs had been given to some committees that must be submitted before the negotiation could be deemed completed.

He added that “some progress has been made but we have not been able to conclude and have collective bargaining agreement. Some committees need to do some computation. We have worked up to the early hours of today. That is in the true spirit of collective bargaining. That is what we have to do to get the process concluded and conclude the process.”

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, also at the end of the meeting told journalists that Nigerians would be given details of the negotiation and concessions made after the rescheduled meeting.

“We have adjourned to reconvene by 7:00 pm. At the appropriate time, we should be able to give the details,” he added that “every dispute will be concluded at the roundtable.”

The Workers union had last week threatened the Federal Government to resolve the impasse on or before Wednesday, October 16 or risks industrial disharmony.

A meeting to resolve the impasse on Tuesday ended inconclusive, as both parties agree to reschedule for Wednesday.

One major issue delaying the full implementation of the minimum wage is the percentage of the salary increase for certain categories of workers.

While the organised labour is demanding a 29% salary increase for officers on salary level 07 to 14 and 24% adjustment for officers on salary grade level 15 to 17, the Federal Government had presented a proposal of 11% salary increase for officers on grade level 07 to14 and 6.5% adjustment for workers of grade level 15 to 17.

FG Gives New Travel Guidelines For Govt Officials

 

 President Muhammadu Buhari has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost-saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.

This is in a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of Government.

The Director Information, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey says, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.

“They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters”.

Read Guidelines Below: 

On the Nature and Frequency of Travels, all public-funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence.

In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country. Except with the express approval of Mr. President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.

Also, when a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four (4) including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one (1) Aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three (3).

For Class of Air Travels, the President has approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled, to continue to fly Business Class while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class. Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of Estacode Allowances as the duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.

The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.

 

FG, Labour Leaders Meet Two Days To Minimum Wage Implementation Deadline

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, presides over the meeting between government representatives and labour leaders in Abuja on October 14, 2019.

 

 

Representatives of the Federal Government on Monday met with the leadership of organised labour movement on the implementation of the new N30,000 minimum wage and the consequential adjustment of salaries for civil servants.

The meeting, which began shortly after the arrival of members of the union at the Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja, came two days to the deadline issued by the labour leaders.

In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who presided over the meeting, described it as an information-sharing one which flows from the previous meeting between the government and the labour leaders.

READ ALSOBorder Closure: Customs Save N1.4bn, Arrest Over 460 Smugglers And Migrants

The minister assured the union leaders that he would remain neutral in the whole negotiation.

He, however, appealed to members of the union to show some understanding.

Ngige announced that there would be another meeting with heads of government agencies and parastatals, where their books would be opened for scrutiny to see what amount can actually be paid to workers.

The meeting, according to him, will hold on Tuesday.

Journalists were initially barred from covering the meeting which held behind closed doors but they were later granted access by the minister.

 

Implement Before Deadline

Almost six months since President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act, 2019, Nigerian workers have yet to feel its impact.

This is as a result of the delay in the implementation of the law which pegs the minimum wage for workers in the country at N30,000.

While some states such as Kaduna and Ekiti have announced plans to commence payment of the new minimum wage, the Federal Government has held a series of meetings with members of the organised labour on the same issue.

On July 16, the Presidency said President Buhari has approved the immediate implementation of the new minimum wage for workers earning below N30,000.

It, however, said the commencement of the approved payment would be determined by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Following a meeting between leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the government, the organised labour issued a two-week ultimatum for the government to meet its demands.

The union said it has demonstrated a great deal of restraint, consideration and patience with the government but it offers were not encouraging.

It, therefore, warned that it cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the country if its demands were not met at the close of work on October 16.

The Minimum Wage Repeal and Re-Enactment Act signed by the President in mid-April makes it compulsory for all employers of labour in Nigeria to pay N30,000 to their workers.

This excludes persons who are employing less than 25 workers and those who work in a ship which sails out of the jurisdiction and other persons who are in other kinds of regulated employment which are accepted by the Act.

It also gives workers the right if compelled by any circumstance to accept salary that is less than N30,000 to sue their employer to recover the balance.

Buhari Suspends International Travels For Executive Body Members

 

Sequel to the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate suspension of international travels by all Cabinet Members and Heads of Government Agencies as to enable ministers personally lead the process of budget defence at the National Assembly.

This is according to a communique by Willie Bassey, director of information, office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

READ ALSO: #SexForGrades: Report Cases Of Abuse, Buhari Urges Victims

Mr Bassey notes that the suspension of such travels will enable Functionaries and Agencies of the Executive Arm to provide the required cooperation with the Legislature in order to ensure timely passage of the Appropriation Bill.

“Honourable Ministers who have already secured approval to travel are by this directive, required to revalidate such approvals with Mr. President after confirming the Schedule of Appearances with the relevant Committees of the National Assembly.

“Furthermore, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been directed to liaise with the relevant committees of the National Assembly for their Schedules of Budget defence,” the statement read.

Minimum Wage: FG, Labour In Closed-Door Meeting

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has commenced dialogue with Labour Unions again in Abuja on Wednesday as time runs out on a deadline issued by the unions for the payment of the thirty thousand naira minimum wage.

According to a press statement signed by the Director public relations unit of the ministry of labour, the meeting is part of the federal government efforts to prevent the industrial action which the workers have planned to embark upon by mid October.

READ ALSO: There Cannot Be A Decent Work Without Wages – NLC

The communique notes that both The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council are participating in the latest meeting with The minister Of Labour.

Labour leaders had issued a joint communique on October the seventh, warning that they can not guarantee industrial harmony by October the sixteenth, if the Federal Government fail to reconvene a meeting of the committee on consequential adjustments.

Border Closure: There Is Organised Pressure To Blackmail FG – Oshiomhole

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomhole, speaks when visiting the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (retired) at the service headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

 

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Adams Oshiomhole, says there is an organized pressure to blackmail the Federal Government following the closure of the nation’s borders.

Oshiomhole stated this on Thursday when he visited the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (retired) at the service headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“I see that there is also some organize pressure to blackmail the administration to review. We therefore felt that we should stand by the government, stand by you to sustain this policy,” he said.

He however explained that the nation is benefiting immensely from the closure of the border by the Federal Government.

While assuring the Customs boss of his party’s support of the policy, he added: “The closure of the border, I think we are beginning to count the benefits accruing from that.”

Reacting to the implications of the border on the nation’s economy, the APC Chairman explained that the Federal Government cannot endanger the lives of Nigerians through the importation of poisonous food items at affordable cost.

“People have pointed at the fact that prices are going up, particularly food. Our national policy cannot be formed by gaining cheap food through smuggling of poisonous food,” he said.

On his part, the Customs boss said the level of crime rates ranging from banditry and importation of arms has reduced.

“The rate of banditry has come down drastically. The import of arms and ammunition has now been curtailed. So even if the bandits are within Nigeria, they don’t have ammunition to anymore to operate. Therefore, with a bunch of rifle,  they can only do more harm at a time,” he said.

Xenophobia: You Cannot Control South African Mindset – APC Chieftain

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Sunny Moniedafe, reacts to President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks in the country.

 

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Sunny Moniedafe says it is difficult to control the mindset of South Africans regarding how they treat Nigerians and other foreigners living and doing business in their country.

Moniedafe stated this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Lunchtime Politics.

“You cannot control every single South African thinking or mindset, it cannot be done. All you have to do is to advise Nigerians to make sure they live within the laws of those areas,” he said.

His comments follow the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to South Africa following the recent wave of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the country.

When asked if President Buhari’s meeting with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, will end the attacks on foreigners, Moniedafe replied in the affirmative.

READ ALSO: Buhari, Ramaphosa Vow To ‘Take All Necessary Measures’ Against Xenophobia

He said: “I think so. Nobody is happy to have the kind of situation we’ve had in the past. Yes, there are South Africans who are very discomforted and uncomfortable with Nigerians there and they overreacted.”

The APC chieftain who described Nigerians’ attitude as ‘domineering’ also appealed to the citizens residing and businesses in South Africa to be moderate in their lifestyle.

He also wants the Federal Government to ensure that the Nigerian Consulate in South Africa to be “up and doing” by avoiding a reoccurrence of such attacks in the nearest future.

Speaking further on the loss of lives from an avoidable attack, Moniedafe asked the Federal Government and those in government at all level not to joke with the lives of Nigerians.

“I want to appeal to those in government in the various embassies and consulates all over the world to ensure that they don’t joke with the lives of Nigerians. Attacking one with no response leads to these xenophobic attacks,” he said.