Election Postponement: Issa Aremu Faults INEC As Kaduna PDP Berates APC

Election Postponement: Issa Aremu Faults INEC As Kaduna PDP Berates APC
A file photo of ballot boxes during the 2015 general elections.

 

The postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to generate diverse reactions across the country.

Days after the electoral umpire made the announcement, there has been apprehension about the proposed shift in the date of the polls as various stakeholders warned INEC against not sticking to the new dates set for the elections.

A former vice president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, Mr Hassan Hyet, are among those who reacted to the poll shift.

The presidential and National Assembly elections initially scheduled for Saturday last week have been shifted to February 23.

Similarly, INEC postponed the governorship and House of Assembly elections earlier fixed for March 2 till March 9.

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In his reaction, Aremu described the announcement by INEC just six hours to the elections as gross incompetence and insensitivity on the part of the commission.

He also said it was an insult to Nigerians who had anticipated to participate in the process of choosing their next leaders.

The former NLC vice president condemned the reasons given by the electoral body for the postponement of the election, saying they were illogical.

He questioned why the commission did not communicate to the citizens about its inability to hold the elections weeks before the date.

Aremu added that the shift in the election has brought untold hardship to many eligible voters who had travelled to take part in the exercise.

He, therefore, called on the INEC leadership to issue a formal apology to Nigerians for shifting the dates for the elections.

On his part, the Kaduna PDP chairman said the postponement of the elections was part of the alleged interference of the Federal Government in the affairs of INEC.

He alleged that the government intended to thwart the elections because of the impending defeat starring the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the face.

Mr Hyet also described the postponement of the elections as a huge embarrassment to the nation, saying the entire world had looked up to Nigeria to conduct a hitch-free exercise.

He asked the electoral body to ensure that it addressed all logical challenges and put in place adequate measures that would guarantee smooth and credible elections.

Abacha Loot Should Be Transferred To Poor Nigerians, Not NASS – Issa Aremu

 

A former Vice President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Issa Aremu, has supported the Federal Government’s decision to share the recovered Abacha loot as payouts to poor families, through the conditional cash transfers.

In an interview with Channels Television In Kaduna, Mr Aremu condemned the recent call by members of the House of Representatives to pay the repatriated monies into the consolidated revenue account rather than distribution to the federating units.

The labour leader believes it is wiser for the government to give the poorest Nigerians the recovered cash as a matter of right, rather than what he calls “undignified handouts”.

“I want to support the position of the Federal Government that this money should be distributed directly to the poorest Nigerians.

“It was cash looting, it has to be cash transferred back to the poor people.

“The money should not go to National Assembly because you know the budgeting process in this country – it is a bottomless pit in which few legislators with their MD executives share a lot of these resources between themselves and I think I want to support the social investment programme which is already in place, supported by the world bank,” he said.

The Federal Government had said that the recovered funds would be disbursed to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July as part of its Social Investment Programmes which aim to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

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It also said the payment is expected to be done in installments, to avoid logistic obstacles.

The Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Juliet Nwagwu, had, however, said at a news conference in Abuja that the payments won’t be made in cash.

“Nobody is going to give anybody any cash; it is going to be through an electronic payment system which we want CSOs (civil society organisations) to verify,” she said.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the $322.5 million was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 and in March 2017, the two states signed an agreement on its repatriation.

President Buhari Advised Against Foreign Loans

President Buhari Advised Against Foreign LoansThe World Vice President of Global Industrial Union who is also the former National Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Issa Aremu has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed late Fidel Castro’s advice on the danger of indiscriminate foreign loans and credits.

Fidel Castro, is the iconic Cuban revolutionary leader who presided over the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008.

He died on Friday November 25, 2016 in Havana, Cuba at the age of 90.

Aremu made the call in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital during a press conference on the death of the former Cuban leader and the need for Nigerian leaders to emulate his exemplary leadership style.

“His death is a shock coming just few months after the global progressive forces including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Industrial Global Union marked his 90th birthday.

“Fidel Castro had long in his decade-long battle of developmental ideas made a case for self-reliance. He had compared the debt burden to that torment in Greek mythology in which a man is doomed to push a large stone uphill for all eternity, a stone that always rolls down again before reaching the top. Debtors, he maintained ‘don’t need new loans’.

“Fidel has since been proven right that most debts were unpayable and uncollectible.

“We must credit the series of debt cancellation of the two decades to audacious alternative views of Fidel Castro, not the astuteness of “negotiators” and so called altruism of creditors.

“President Buhari should emulate the selfless leadership of Fidel Castro because no country can develop through loans and credit. He must work his talk, if he is truly paying tribute to Castro and must withdraw his application for loan to the National Assembly.

“Buhari should not take us back to indebtedness and should be selfless. Buhari and his cabinet members should set example by using the state house hospital,” Aremu said.

The labour leader also berated what he called the western media’s posthumous distortion of history which presented Fidel as a rebel and strong man who with iron hands muzzled the people of Cuban Island.

He called on African leaders to ‎know their history and remember Castro’s contribution to Africa.

‎He also called on Nigerian leaders from federal to state level to emulated Castro’s selfless nature, especially the two-termed state governors, to stop collecting outrageous pensions allocated to them by the state house of assembly.

‎According to him, “the outrageous pension given to two-term governors call for concern because they are under-developing states.

“Comrade Adams Oshiomole as a comrade governor, with his remarkable achievements having beaten other governors, should not join them because the money is unnecessary.

“If he does so, it will amount to the saying that ‘if you can’t beat them, you join them’ but he has beaten them with his achievements as governor.

“State houses of assembly should make laws for public good not for executive benefit‎. The danger of the pension law is that it is now getting addictive and spreading like wild fire to other states of the federation and to me it is pure legal robbing.”

Arrested Judges Should Prove Their Innocence – Issa Aremu

Issa Aremu, Judges' ArrestA former Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, has thrown his weight behind the recent arrests of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).

He described the arrests as a sign of crisis of confidence on the image of the judicial officers.

In a chat with Channels Television in Kaduna on Thursday, Mr Aremu faulted those condemning the invasion and arrest of the judges.

He challenged those criticizing the DSS action, to also look at the merit of the corruption allegations leveled against the senior judicial officers, rather than focusing more on the method by which they were arrested.

According to him, by the actions of some corrupt judicial officers across the country over the years are largely responsible for the nation’s socio-economic and political challenges.

The Labour leader also called on the affected judges to step aside for trial as it is being done in other countries of the world.

He stressed that they have a moral burden to establish their innocence before members of the general public.

He also advocated the strengthening of disciplinary mechanism to enhance transparency in judicial service.

Labour Union Kicks Against Proposed Sale Of Some National Assess

Issa Aremu on sale of National AssetsA National Executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Issa Aremu, has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to sell some national assets to finance the country out of economic recession.

Mr Aremu, in a press statement on Monday, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against what he called “feverish prescriptions of few economic hit men”.

He claimed that the ‘hit men’, contrary to the spirit and content of the 1999 constitution, deliberately undermine national development through recommendations that would strip the nation of its critical assets.

The labour leader argued that Nigeria was not short of resources, but only lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels that were committed to nation building.

Mr Aremu pointed out that the country would further slide into underdevelopment if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company which paid the sum of $1.289 billion as dividends for 2013 was sold to the highest bidder for another easy money.

He also commended the economic patriotism of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) for rising in defence of retention of critical national assets such as NLNG.

While calling on the nation’s ruling and economic elite to enunciate big development plans and think outside the box of easy monies to spend, Mr Aremu, however, advocated a bipartisan approach on the economy to include labour and industry.

A leading union of oil workers had on Sunday threatened to shut down the country if the Federal Government carries out the plan to sell some national assets as a way out of the current economic recession.

The oil workers under the aegis of The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), described the plan to sell the national assets as a self-destructive move.

In a statement, PENGASSAN said that the plan, which would solve short term financial obligations, was really aimed at handing over Nigeria’s collective common wealth to a few individuals.

Fiscal Stimulus Plan

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said that the primary objective of government’s fiscal stimulus plan was not to sell off all major critical national assets but to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.

Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.

He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.

According to him,  the government needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.

Senator Udoma further explained that Nigeria had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.

“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.

“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.

“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.

Nigeria Is In Depression, Not Just Recession – Issa Aremu

Issa AremuA member of the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Issa Aremu, on Wednesday disagreed with latest report on NIgeria’s GDP that showed the nation’s economy is in recession.

He says Nigeria’s economy is in state of depression not just recession, hinging his claims on long outstanding payment of salaries.

“The minimum wage of 18,000 Naira was less than $45. Inflation has gone up and the minimum wage has collapsed,” Mr Aremu pointed out.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Mr Aremu urged the Federal Government to reform the economy.

The labour union member believes that one of the key areas in which the economy could be reformed was through data gathering and planning which, in his opinion, was missing.

He also sought a return of the Ministry of Planning, saying that “it is the first step in getting out of recession”.

Balarabe Musa Urges Buhari To Form Government of National Unity

Balarabe Musa, Immunity ClauseA former Governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa has urged President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to emulate Nelson Mandela by forming a government of national unity.

He also called on the President to initiate a national reconciliation mechanism that would address all the grievances that are being expressed from different ethnic nationalities.

He made this statement at the third annual memorial Nelson Mandela lecture in Kaduna.

Mr Musa expressed sadness over how Nigerian leaders corruptly enrich themselves at the detriment of socio-economic development of the nation.

He specifically maintained that Nelson Mandela’s selfless service to his people stands in sharp contrast to the leadership style of the Buhari-led administration, who he accused of making lopsided appointments and unequal distribution of resources and developments in the country.

He also urged the president to dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the Niger Delta region, and at the same time initiate a reconciliatory mechanism to unite all warring ethnic nationalities.

Meanwhile, former Vice-President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Issa Aremu, commended the federal government’s anti-corruption fight, which he said has led to the recovery of mind boggling amount of money from corrupt politicians.

He, however, noted that the fight should be all encompassing without bias for it to gain the confidence of the citizens, while at the same time asking President Buhari to be proactive in addressing emerging conflicts across the country.

Participants at the lecture opined that Nigeria could still have its place high in the comity of nations if political leaders would emulate the qualities of the former anti-apartheid leader.

Nelson Mandela led a team of other South Africans to earn the country its independence.

He died on December 5, 2013 at the age of 95, 23 years after his release from prison in 1990.

N56,000 Minimum Wage Demand Long Overdue – Issa Aremu

minimum wageThe leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress believe that the demand for a new minimum wage of 56,000 Naira by Nigerian workers is long overdue.

Speaking on our breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Vice President of the NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu, said that too many years have passed since salaries were reviewed and 18,000 Naira is no longer realistic for today’s economic realities.

He said that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years and the proposed 56,000 Naira is subject to negotiation.

Matter of the Law

There have been worries that many states are not able to pay an even lower current minimum wage of 18,000 Naira but Mr Aremu says Labour is not unaware of this.

The former NLC President said that it was a matter of right and the law for the Labour Union to demand an increase because its agreement while accepting 18,000 in the year 2010 was that the minimum wage would be reviewed after five years.

He said that the NLC was not ignorant of the situation across the states but that it was necessary to demand the review to avoid too much delay after the due time.

“We don’t want a situation in which we allow the time of review to be too long and then you’re going to have a dramtic review of 100% or 200% as the case may be.

“Don’t forget it was year 2000 that we had the 5,500 minimum wage and we did not review until ten years after. So all the stakeholders; federal government, state governments, organised private sector and labour, agreed that we have to be doing 5-year periodic review,” he explained.

Mr Aremu said that their request should not be seen as strange because it goes along with international standards which sees some countries reviewing their minimum wage annually.

Lack of Will

He insisted further that the current N18,000 minimum wage had become too small over the years as the current situation of the economy has turned the working class to beggers.

“18,000 Naira; you can’t drive this economy with this kind of miserable pay,” he said.

Mr Aremu also argued that some governors’ inability to pay salaries is borne out of the lack of will by the state governors.

“Governors need to know that they are also employers of labour and they must make sure they pay workers that work for them,” he said, adding that there must be a reason why some governors in spite of the claimed difficulties are able to pay their workers.

He explained that many issues that would have empowered the states to take care of their responsibilities have been ignored over the years and a demand like the new minimum wage would ensure that the government does the right thing.

He cited blocking leakages, promoting internally generated revenue as some of the factors that state governments have not taken seriously but which they now must as Labour would insist on the implementation of the salary review.

“Don’t also forget that many of these governors are meeting some of their lousy obligations. Have you heard any of these governors who has not been paid? Some of them are even paying their predecessors.

“So it’s not lack of resources, it is the lack of the will. You have to prioritise your needs and I think the greatest resource Nigeria has, beyond oil and gas, is the human resource.”

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.Civil servants in Kaduna State have shunned their offices in protest against the new verification exercise introduced by the state government mandating them to indicate if they want to be part of a labour union or not.

In their hundreds, they converged on the state NLC secretariat on Wednesday with representatives of affiliate unions and civil society organisations to hold a mini rally in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.

They condemned what they described as the deliberate attempt by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to enslave them and destabilise unionism in the state public service.

The workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) alleged that most of them had not been paid salaries for about eight months.

Speaking in company of the TUC President, Bobbi Kaigama, and a rights activist, Festus Okoye; the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that one of the columns in the form required workers to indicate whether they wanted to belong to a union or not.

He added that the new directive was strange to them.

“It contravenes the labour laws concerning to employees/employers condition of service,” he said.

Also at the rally was the former NLC Vice President, Issa Aremu, who said that the organised labour would use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that the new policy does not stand, maintaining that the governor had no right to meddle into labour affairs.

Reacting to the protest, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Finance, Suleiman Kwari, said that the exercise was aimed at ascertaining the true number of its workforce and not targeted to destabilise the unions.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with the government asking the workers to indicate if they wanted to belong to a union or not since it was optional to do so.

The commissioner also disclosed that those who were being owed salaries had issues with their documentation.

The Kaduna State has given the workers till Monday, March 28, to fill and return the forms and has vowed to apply sanctions against defaulters.

Issa Aremu Says ‘Budget Insufficiency’ Is Affecting Nigeria’s Economy

Issa Aremu on budgetThe former Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has linked Nigeria’s plunging economy to the ‘insufficiency of the budget’.

He decried the plans of the Federal Government to have a budget of eight trillion Naira and later came to the floor of the House to announce a budget of 6.3 trillion Naira.

“I think there were lots of excitements that the country would have an expanded budget – a budget that would be big enough to drive recovery.

“The Vice President (Yemi Osinbajo) also said that the budget would be between the range of eight trillion Naira, but when it was formerly announced by the President (Muhammadu Buhari) to the National Assembly, it was about 6.3 trillion Naira which is an improvement from where we are coming from.

“But honestly speaking, I would commend the National Assembly for the excitement to debate the budget”, Mr Issa Aremu said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

The former Vice President of the NLC said: “If you ask me what they are debating – 6.3 trillion Naira is extremely very token for the recovery of 197 million people”.

Giving suggestions on how the government could  make the budget bigger, Mr Aremu was of the opinion that the debate should be taken outside the box of sharing something which was far from being enough and thinking of how to grow the base.

“I find the budget is quite exciting, the President spoke of job creation, growing the economy among others, but honestly, I haven’t seen practical policies that will drive this.

“I think President Buahri should call a stakeholders’ meeting for the manufacturers,” he said.

He stressed that the government could help key sectors that would drive the recovery of the economy and support the budget with a practical force.

“I look forward to seeing the practical effects to be reflected in the budget.

“The government needs to focus on key ministries that must drive recovery – Ministry of Trade, Investment and Industry, and Ministry of Labour,” he stressed.

Textile Workers Criticise 18,000 Naira Minimum Wage Reduction

TextileA body of textile workers has kicked against the reduction of the 18,000 Naira minimum wage by some state governors in Nigera.

The governors’ plan, which was as a result of lack of funds, was criticised by the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria on Wednesday in Kadanu State.

Speaking after the group’s Central Working Committee meeting, the General Secretary of the union, Issa Aremu, questioned why the State governments could not pay workers’ salaries while past governors left office with huge severance packages and pensions.

Commending President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention in ensuring that workers’ salaries across the states were paid, the textile workers maintained that any governor that was not willing to pay the 18,000 Naira minimum wage had no business to remain in office since the paramount responsibility of any leader was to serve the people effectively.

They also urged President Buhari to embrace holistic implementation of the Textile Policy, as contained in the National Industrial Revolution Plan, stating that the textile industry remains a critical plank for addressing the current unemployment challenge in Nigeria.

While calling on the government to create enabling environment for the survival of the manufacturing sector, the union stressed the need for proper integration of sustainable industrial policy development for policy coherence between the different arms of government.

They urged the State governments to compliment the Federal Government’s efforts by initiating bold industrial policies such as provision of infrastructure, granting of genuine tax incentives and patronage of ‘made in Nigeria’ products to revive closed factories within their localities .

Pay Salaries Or Resign, Aremu Tells Governors

NLC-Issa-aremuFormer Vice President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, has asked state governors that are unable to pay their workers’ salaries to immediately resign from office.

He added that any governor who could not pay workers their monthly salary as and when due had no moral right to remain in office.

Genocide And Deliberate

Aremu, while speaking with journalists, wondered how and why state governors could not learn from President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been blocking loopholes and fighting corruption.

He described the non-payment of salaries as genocide and deliberate strangulation of the working people through a denial of wage income that had led to the deaths of many workers.