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.

PDP Rejects Moves By FG To Return Toll Gates

The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Kola Ologbondiyan.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected plans by the Federal Government to return toll gates on highways in the country.

The party lamented that such an idea, in the midst of excruciating economic hardship and high costs of living is completely ill-conceived and anti-people.

The PDP insisted that at best, such idea amounts to “executive bullying” which cannot be justified under any guise as it will lead to more increase in costs of goods and services across the country.

“Only recently, President Buhari approved the increase of Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.2% despite outcry by Nigerians, who are also being made to pay exorbitant tariffs for electricity and other essential services.

READ ALSO: FG To Bring Back Toll Gates On Federal Roads

“Since President Buhari came into office in 2015, his administration had continued to increase prices and impose all manner of levies on Nigerians which proceeds are being frittered by the cabal in the presidency leading to a bleeding economy and despondency among the citizenry.

“The PDP says that instead of putting more pressure on already impoverished Nigerians by introducing toll gates at this point in time, President Buhari should exert himself, seek ways of creating wealth out of the abundant resources at the disposal of his administration or make haste to surrender the reign of governance to more competent hands,” the PDP stated through its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.

The party further stated that the PDP administration, in keeping with its determination to ensure the wellbeing and economic prosperity of the citizens, dismantled toll gates, cut tax profiles and applied our energies towards wealth creation.

According to the PDP spokesman, if the opposition party were in power then Nigerian would be better catered for.

“It is therefore certain that if our nation were under PDP administration, as desired by Nigerians, competent hands would have been on the deck to proffer ways to create wealth for governance instead of turning our citizens into vassals who are overburdened by heavy taxes.

“The PDP states that it is lamentable that at the time Nigerians ought to be enjoying the benefits of the Atiku Abubakar economic recovery and wealth creation blueprint, they are faced with suppressive policies”.

The party charged President Buhari to immediately rescind the decision to return toll gates on federal highways, stating that such is not in the best interest of Nigerians.

SERAP Urges Buhari To Implement Report On Financial Autonomy For Judiciary

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to use his good offices and leadership position to “urgently publish and fully implement the recommendations of the report on financial autonomy of state legislature and judiciary submitted to you in June 2019.”

SERAP said: “In the context of a growing attack on the country’s judiciary by the authorities and politicians, the full implementation of the report will contribute to improving judicial independence, and respect for constitutional principles of separation of powers and systems of checks and balances designed to prevent political interference and ensure respect for the rule of law.”

In the letter dated 27 September 2019, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Equal treatment before the law is a pillar of democratic societies. But when judicial financial autonomy and by extension, independence and sanctity is undermined, the scales of justice are tipped, and ordinary Nigerians suffer. In fact, when judicial autonomy and independence is under siege, everyone loses, as the voice of the innocent goes unheard, while the guilty continue to act with impunity.”

READ ALSO: Charges Against Sowore, Others A Mockery Of Justice – SERAP

The letter read in part: “The failure to publish the full recommendations of the report and to begin to implement them has continued to undermine the country’s judicial systems, and deny citizens’ access to justice and basic human right to a fair and impartial justice system.”

“Ensuring the financial autonomy and independence of the courts would improve the ability of our judicial systems to deliver justice effectively and efficiently. It would also allow the court to jealously guard the rights of innocent men and women, and ensure that the guilty receive a fair and impartial hearing, as well as remove the dangerous possibility of summary justice.”

“We urge you to ensure full respect for the rule of law and due process in words and actions.”

“A financially autonomous judiciary is crucial for the effectiveness and success of your anti-corruption agenda, and important for the realization of citizens’ human rights. Unless the report is fully implemented, trust in the court’s impartiality and independence will continue to be eroded, and the core judicial functions, access to justice, and the broader accountability function of the judiciary, will continue to be undermined.”

“A weak judiciary would mean that impunity for corrupt officials will remain, as the ability of your government and anti-corruption agencies to prosecute grand corruption, as well as public trust and confidence in institutions of government and public officials, will continue to be undermined.”

“SERAP is extremely concerned about the growing attack on the independence of the judiciary and the sanctity of our justice system, particularly the repeated failures by your government, state governments and politicians to respect and comply with court decisions and orders.”

“SERAP notes that you received in June 2019 the Report of the Abubakar Malami-led Presidential Implementation Committee on Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary. The committee, inaugurated by you on March 22, 2019 was tasked to fashion out strategies and modalities for implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislature and judiciary, in compliance with Section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

“When you received the report, you stated that, ‘I went through a terrible time getting here for the three times I contested elections. That is why I want to stabilise the system so that others will not pass through the same experience.’”

“This worrying situation threatens to undermine the judiciary’s fragile independence, and the sacred constitutional principles of separation of powers and systems of checks and balances.”

“Continuing refusal to respect and obey court decisions and orders if not urgently stopped will lead to increased corruption and impunity. Disobedience of court orders is an implicit interference in the judicial system, and shows a flagrant disregard for Nigeria’s Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international obligations. Persistent disobedience of court orders and decisions threatens any gains in the fight against corruption that your government may have recorded.”

“SERAP is concerned about the growing list of court orders and decisions that have been flagrantly disobeyed by your government, the most recent being the order by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, Federal High Court, Abuja granting bail to the Publisher of SaharaReporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, and the reported attempts by your government to drag Justice Taiwo before National Judicial Council (NJC) on account of his decision to grant bail to Mr Sowore.”

“Other high-profile judgments your government is refusing to obey include at least three judgments obtained by SERAP. The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering the government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered, with details of the amounts recovered. The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris, ordered the government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999.”

“The third judgment, Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, a Professor of Law, ordered the government to publish details of payments to all defaulting and allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies by the governments of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and your government.”

“Another court order that is yet to be complied with is the order for the release of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from unlawful detention, obtained by human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.”

P&ID: ‘Is It Really A Scam?’ – Clarke Questions UK Judgement On Nigeria

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Robert Clarke, has reacted to the recent judgement delivered by a British Court in the case between the Federal Government and the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).

 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Robert Clarke, has reacted to the recent judgement delivered by a British Court in the case between the Federal Government and the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).

Clarke who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday questioned the legality of the verdict that ordered the stay execution of the $9.6bn judgment delivered in favour of Process and Industrial Developments in August this year.

“I think we have to get the judgement set aside. I have not had the opportunity of reading, it calls for arbitration for so many years in international fora and this government was not aware.

“I am too clear that the judgement that was being enforced today has been delivered for some 24 or 30 months ago. And we have been sitting really wrong. Is it really a scam? If it is a scam, God has helped Nigeria a lot. We can use it as a defence,” he stated.

READ ALSO: $9.6bn Fine: FG Pleased With UK Court Stay Of Execution Order

When asked for his legal views on the judgement, Clarke noted that certain questions need to be asked relating to the development.

One of such is to ascertain whether the verdict is a scam aimed at siphoning billions from the coffers of the Nigerian government.

“How long will a judgment against the Nigerian government be? Who are the lawyers representing Nigeria? Did it take a year, two years or three years? All these are very necessary to know whether there is a scam or there is no scam,” he said.

Speaking further, the respected lawyers wondered if Nigeria had foreign lawyers to represent her in the United Kingdom.

His comments come shortly after the Federal Government said it is pleased with the UK Court Stay of Execution Order of the $9.6bn judgment it delivered in favour of Process and Industrial Developments in August.

FG through the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, described the development as a positive resolution which was an important step in the government’s efforts to have the matter resolved.

The British Court had granted Nigeria’s request for leave to appeal, enabling the Federal Government to appeal the Court’s recognition of the UK Arbitration Tribunal.