Striking Doctors Refuse To Sign New MoU With FG After Six-Hour Meeting

Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021.
Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021. Friday Okeregbe/Channels Television

 

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has refused assent to a new memorandum of understanding brokered by the Nigeria Medical Association to end the three weeks old strike that has crippled medical services in government hospitals across the country.

NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, declined his assent owing to an undisclosed clause.

According to Okhuaihesuyi, NARD’s leadership has to consult with members of the association before he appends his signature.

READ ALSO: FG, Striking Doctors Meet Again In Abuja

Addressing journalists after the over six hours closed-door meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said all other unions in the negotiation, including the Nigeria Medical Association and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, signed the new agreement, having agreed on all the issues raised.

Meanwhile, the minister also clarified that the meeting did not discuss the issues of ‘no work, no pay,’ but said all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

The Federal Government had taken the striking doctors to court last week, as it asked the National Industrial Court to mandate the doctors to return to work.

The hearing on the case was adjourned to September 15.

The doctors had embarked on a strike on August 2, citing unpaid benefits and other issues.

While the industrial action lingered, the Federal Government threatened to enforce a ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

President Buhari Initiating Dialogue With South-East Leaders – Ngige

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has affirmed that dialogue is the way to go to resolve the security situation in the south-east.

This is according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, alongside the President’s Chief Of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

Addressing state house correspondents after the meeting, Senator Ngige said the President has also enabled series of dialogues to be held with leaders in the region.

He added that discussions at the meeting equally encapsulated what the south-east is demanding from the Federal Government as well as what the government plans to do for the region to assuage the feelings of the people.

He further disclosed that complaints from the national labour union regarding a breach of agreement had reached the President and they have begun plans to halt any further friction in the midst of the fragile situation within Kaduna State.

 

 

Meanwhile, members of the South East Governors’ Forum have condemned the activities of secessionist groups in the region and other parts of the country.

They distanced themselves from the agitations of such groups and frowned on the violence that ensued which led to the loss of lives and destruction of properties.

In a bid to tackle the security challenges and restore peace in the region, the governors went beyond their political differences and met on Saturday in Enugu State.

“We condemn in totality, the activities of violent secessionist groups in the South East and elsewhere; we firmly proclaim that we do not support them, they do not speak for South East,” said the Chairman of the Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, at the end of the meeting.

Buhari Is A Willing Horse Nigerians Want To Ride To Death – Ngige

 

Minister of Labour and Employment Dr Chris Ngige says President Muhammadu Buhari has tolerated a lot from critics, reiterating that many Nigerians want to stretch him (Buhari) beyond reasonable limits. 

Ngige spoke when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s News Night which aired on Monday, stating that many leaders will not condone the kind of criticisms Buhari faces.

“Can President Obasanjo give you people the latitude?… He will not grant you people that! So, this president (Buhari) is a willing horse and you people (Nigerians) want to ride him to death,” Ngige said during the show.

The former Anambra State governor while stressing that the present government has delivered its promises in many areas, called on critics and members of the public to give kudos to the Buhari government.

“There must be a limit to politicking. If a government has done well, if a person has done well, give him accolades. In the areas he has not done well, point them out and discuss,” he added.

Calls for the presidential seat to be zoned to the southeast region have gathered momentum and sharply divided opinion in Africa’s most populous nation.

But Ngige has concurred with those who see the 2023 election as a time for the Igbos to get the seat.

READ ALSO: Open Grazing: Buhari Threatening To Override State Is Unacceptable – Clark

A Marginalized Region?

Ngige says an Igbo presidency will reduce feelings of marginalization.

 

Ngige believes that tensions in the southeast and the feeling of marginalization by people in the region will be addressed if the nation’s number one position is occupied by an Igbo man.

“The people in the area have perceived that they are marginalized, that they are unappreciated, whether it was done by propaganda and brainwashing or not, that is now immaterial.

“So I agree with that proposal, unfortunately, the Nigerian constitution does not have that. This is where I quarrel with those who authored the 1999 Constitution.

“I still believe today, tomorrow, that the Abacha Constitution of 1995 that espouses rotational presidency into the six zones in Nigeria, a single five-year tenure in order to heal all the wounds; the wounds of civil war, and the wound of June 12.

“Now, that constitution would have been the best constitution for Nigerians to use for the next 30 years by which the six zones would have tested the presidency,” the minister stated.

Igbos Will Feel Less Marginalized If They Produce Next President – Ngige

 

 

Perceived feelings of marginalization in the Southeast will be largely assuaged if the region produces Nigeria’s next president.

This is the view of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

He, however, told Channels Television’s Ladi Akeredolu-Ale on the current affairs programme Newsnight that it is sad there is no provision in the 1999 constitution stating that the next election is to be zoned to the south.

Speaking further, Ngige said this is why he believes that the 1995 constitution produced by the late General Sani Abacha’s administration would have been better suited for Nigeria’s current situation.

READ ALSO: Open Grazing: Buhari Threatening To Override State Is Unacceptable – Clark

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.

 

“The people in the area have perceived that they are marginalized, that they are unappreciated, whether it was done by propaganda and brainwashing or not, that is now immaterial.

“So I agree with that proposal, unfortunately, the Nigerian constitution does not have that. This is where I quarrel with those who authored the 1999 Constitution.

“I still believe today, tomorrow, that the Abacha Constitution of 1995 that espouses rotational presidency into the six zones in Nigeria, a single five-year tenure in order to heal all the wounds; the wounds of civil war, and the wound of June 12.

“Now, that constitution would have been the best constitution for Nigerians to use for the next 30 years by which the six zones would have tested the presidency,” the minister stated.

SSANU, NASU Proposed Strike Is Illegal – Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige says any strike by the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities would be illegal and might prompt the ministry to take legal actions.

Dr Ngige while speaking to State House correspondents after a private meeting with the president in Abuja, said the last conversation the government had with the non-teaching staff ended with a plan by both parties to meet next week to continue negotiations, therefore any planned strike before that will be regarded as a breakdown in negotiations.

He added that if the negotiation and what has been agreed is not obeyed, then the ministry might have to refer the dispute upwards from the industrial arbitration panel to the national industrial court.

Ngige’s comment is coming as the leadership of both SSANU and NASU signed a joint statement declaring both associations will embark on strike beginning from the midnight of February the 5th 2021 to press home their demands which includes inconsistencies in the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System IPPIS and delays in the renegotiation of their 2009 agreement with the federal government.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Foreign Capital Importation Drops To $9.68bn

Addressing the move by for a strike, Ngige said: “We will not claim ignorance of the fact that three unions in the University system, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT had given us notice of strike.

“The first two unions SSANU and NASU did that under the umbrella of Joint Action Committee, JAC, and as government, we have moved to apprehend the strike because we just came out from a strike that lasted for nine months that was executed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

“So in consonance with the labour laws, we have apprehended both strikes. They gave us Trade dispute notice, we scheduled meetings with them after apprehension, we held a meeting with NASU and SSANU last week Tuesday and the government position was explained to them.

“They have a lot of issues mentioned as their grouse, issues like IPPIS. They said IPPIS has amputated some of their allowances, they also have the issue of consequential adjustment that was paid to all civil servants as a result of the new minimum wage of N30,000 for staff above Grade Level One, that is starting from Grade Level two up to level 17.

“Those in the University system have not received their own, that was an inadvertent omission and it was explained to them and even without their prompting, without their trying to go on strike, the government on its own has computed the amount involved up to January with effect from 19th April 2019 when the minimum wage took effect to January 2020, that is the allowance or the consequential amount that was missed in the 2020 budget.

“We explained that government plans to put that in the Supplementary budget of 2021 which will be submitted by the National Assembly as soon as the Minister of Finance resumes from vacation. On the issue of IPPIS, we explained to them that it is something that is of general application, a lot of civil servants, public servants had complained that some of their allowances were omitted in the payment of their emoluments.

“IPPIS office explained that it was work in progress, they are putting back those allowances and they showed evidence that they have put back so many. So these two issues are the cardinal issues in the points they have made.

“So in the main, after conferring with Mr President, we are telling the unions not to carry out the action because that action will run counter to ILO Statute on Social Dialogue and Principles at work because their employers have listened, they have brought them to the table. So for SSANU and NASU, we are imploring them not to carry out their threat which they said will take effect from this midnight.

“Moreso, when the meeting adjourned from their own instance. Just this morning I received a letter from them giving us a new date for the continuation of the dialogue, they proposed a new date of Thursday 11th of February and my office has communicated to the back that we will be ready for them at that time because as they claimed they needed time to consult with their constituency and come back on the fresh issues that have cropped up from the discussion. So I briefed Mr President on that.”

The minister stressed that he is very optimistic that if the unions give the government three months, then their demands will be met appropriately.

It Is Baseless For ASUU To Demand Payment Of Nine Months Salaries, Says FG

A file photo of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige

 

The Federal Government says it is baseless for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to demand the payment of salaries for the entire nine months that the union has been on strike.

Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said this in a statement on Tuesday while reacting to claims by ASUU President Biodun Ogunyemi that the Federal Government has agreed to pay the lecturers all salaries before they return to the classroom.

“Hence, it is baseless for ASUU to claim it cannot go back to school on empty stomach while government has on compassionate grounds, paid five months salaries out of the nine months they have been on strike,” the statement from Ngige’s media office explained.

The statement further noted that “With the lockdown at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister got a special presidential approval to demonstrate good faith to ASUU members that government is not on a vengeful mission or out to starve ASUU to death as some of them are claiming.

“They were subsequently paid for two months of February and March after which it was extended to April, May and June, months they were on strike on compassionate ground, bringing it to five months. This was done because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its deleterious effects on incomes of all workers and their families as government reasoned that ASUU members also have families.”

It also dismissed claims by the varsity lecturers that the Federal Government has not been faithful to agreements reached with the union.

“ I, therefore, state without equivocation that every offer with timeline has been faithfully fulfilled as promised by the government,” the minister noted, adding that the union had agreed to end their strike on Wednesday, December 9th, 2020.

READ FULL STATEMENT 

WE HAVE KEPT OUR PROMISES TO ASUU -FG

The Federal Government has faulted claims by the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ( ASUU) Biodun Ogunyemi that it has failed to deliver on the timelines on offers made to the union and that University teachers cannot return to classes on “ empty stomach.”

Dismissing the claims by ASUU, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige said that while it is true that some of the offers made to ASUU have timelines, the same timelines have faithfully been complied with.

“For instance, the Federal Government promised to constitute a Negotiation Committee for the 2009 Agreement and has fulfilled it with the last week’s inauguration of the committee that has Prof. Muzali as chairman.

“The N40b Earned Academic Allowances/ Earned Allowances have also been processed just as the N30b revitalization Fund, bringing it to a total of N70b.

“Likewise, the Visitation Panels for the Universities have been approved by the President but the panel cannot perform its responsibilities until the shut universities are re-opened. The gazzeting is also being rounded off at the Office of Attorney General of the Federation while the Ministry of Education is ready to inaugurate the various visitation panels.

“Similarly, Government agreed to pay salaries, allowances of Earned Academic Allowances/ Earned Allowances with a hybrid platform that is not hundred per cent IPPIS as requested by ASUU while UTAS is undergoing usability and integrity test at National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as demanded by ASUU

“ I, therefore, state without equivocation that every offer with timeline has been faithfully fulfilled as promised by government.”

The Minister noted that it is false and discomforting for ASUU to wrongly inform the general public that the Federal Government agreed to pay all withheld salaries before it will resume work.

“The truth of the matter is that a ‘Gentleman Agreement’ was reached at the last meeting in which ASUU agreed to call off the strike before December 9, 2020, and the Minister, in turn, agreed that once the strike is called off, he would get a presidential waiver for ASSU to be paid the remainder of their salaries on or before December 9, 2020.

Part of the proposal ASUU took back on November 27, 2020, reads, “ the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment informed that he had consulted with the Hon Minister of Education on getting a waiver on the issue of No Work, No Pay as stipulated in Sec. 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria( LFN )2004, but a reservation has been made concerning this request because of the ongoing strike by ASUU. The HML&E, therefore, agreed to work on this to be actualized before Wednesday, December 9, 2020.”

“ For the avoidance of doubt and for clarity, it should be stated that ASUU began warning strike on March 9, 2020, and went into full-blown industrial action on the 23rdof the same month over IPPIS payment platform.

“ With the lockdown at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister got a special presidential approval to demonstrate good faith to ASUU members that government is not on a vengeful mission or out to starve ASUU to death as some of them are claiming. They were subsequently paid for two months of February and March after which it was extended to April, May and June, months they were on strike on compassionate ground, bringing it to five months. This was done because of the Covid-19 pandemic and its deleterious effects on incomes of all workers and their families as government reasoned that ASUU members also have families.

“The Minister later invited ASUU to a virtual conciliatory meeting which they turned down. He further requested them to show good faith over the five months salaries government made to them by returning to the classroom and start virtual and online teaching as being done by private universities, while government sorts out the rest of their requests, they also refused.

“ It is therefore unbelievable that ASUU President claimed that government agreed to pay outright, the entire money of the period of the strike to them, even for staying at home and refusing to do either virtual teaching or research.

“ I wish to emphasize further that the outstanding salaries to ASUU is for the month of July, August, September and October as no federal public servant has been paid for November 2020. Hence, it is baseless for ASUU to claim it cannot go back to school on empty stomach while government has on compassionate grounds, paid five months salaries out of the nine months they have been on strike.

“ ASUU is fully aware of the principle of No Work, No Pay of the Sec. 43 of the Trade Disputes Act under which many unions like National Association of Residents Doctors( NARD) in 2017 and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in 2018 among others have lost salaries as a result of the strike.

“ It is consequently important to inform Nigerians, especially parents that Federal Government is asking ASUU to go back to work and when they do, the Ministers of Labour, Finance and Education will put up a memo to deal with the outstanding four months of salaries. Asking the government to pay these four months before it goes back to work, means ASUU is placing itself above the law of the land and no government will encourage, it as it is a recipe for chaos in the labour milieu .”

“ Finally, the Federal Government will continue to engage ASUU in the spirit of social dialogue which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has been encouraging based on the ILO Principle on decent work.”

SEN. CHRIS NGIGE MEDIA OFFICE
08/12/2020

 

 

ASUU Strike: We Are Going Back To The Negotiation Table, Says Ngige

Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige.

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, says he will be going back to the negotiation table with leaders of the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) and other stakeholders in the education sector to ensure that the current impasse is resolved. 

Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Senator Ngige said he is optimistic that the disagreement with the lecturers will be resolved.

“Even if countries go to war, at the end of the day you come back to the negotiation table,” the minister said.

Ngige further stated that he will be inviting ASUU in the coming week, adding that there have been government side meetings where collations are being made to ensure that all pertinent data and pending issues are brought to the place of negotiation.

The minister said he is very optimistic that with the myriads of options available, the matter will be resolved next week.

READ ALSO: The Issue Of ASUU Will Soon Come To An End – Ngige

Ngige’s comments come a day after the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) have kicked against the payment system proposed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU had asked the Federal Government to adopt the University Transparency Account System (UTAS), rather than the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), for the payment of lecturers’ salaries and allowances.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed the position of NASU and SSANU to reporters on Thursday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“There are other unions in the university system that are saying they will develop their own system, and that they are not going to go on to UTAS – Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), … ASUU is not the only union in the university,” he told journalists after defending the budget of his ministry in the Senate.

Ngige stated that the government was making effort to meet up with ASUU’s demands but warned against the use of different payment platforms in Nigerian universities.

He stressed that it was important for the government to ensure that the concerns of SSANU, NASU, NAAT, and others were addressed while working to ensure the return of the lecturers to the classroom.

The minister, however, hinted that the payment system proposed by ASUU had been forwarded to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for assessment.

He said, “If we ignore those people and what they are saying, even if ASUU calls off the strike, they will close the lecture halls, they will close the laboratories, they will close even the gates.

“It has happened before, entry gates into the universities; we don’t want that to happen. That is why we are taking them holistically and going in measure steps to be sure that we carry everybody along.”

ASUU has been on strike for nearly seven months and one of the union’s demands is to have its own payment system separate from the government’s IPPIS.

Several meetings between the union and the government have ended without a definite conclusion, raising concerns on the part of students who have been out of the classroom since March.

Labour Suspends Planned Strike, FG To Put Electricity Tariff Hike On Hold

 

 

The organised labour has suspended its strike scheduled for today (Monday) after a meeting between labour leaders and the Federal Government.

This was contained in a communique read by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, after a technical session that started late on Sunday and lasted till the early hours of Monday morning.

The decision to suspend the strike followed an agreement reached between both parties and averts a nationwide strike which would have grounded economic activities in the country.

Organized labour, however, stressed that the strike was suspended not called off and it could be recalled if the government doesn’t hold up its end of the deal made at this meeting in the next two weeks.

As part of the agreement, the Federal Government will suspend the electricity price tariff hike and has set up a committee to look into what the labour minister described as conflicting field reports justifying the hike in electricity tariff.

The suspension of the electricity tariff hike will be for a two-week period during which the committee will conduct its investigations and submit its report.

The committee is to be headed by Dr Ngige, but he will be represented by the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo.

Based on the agreement, the new price of fuel will, however, remain in place but the government promised to do more to improve local refining capacity, rehabilitate Nigeria’s refineries and pursue the CNG alternative aggressively by for instance providing CNG mass transit buses across the country.

Dr Ngige decried the stifled growth in Nigeria’s downstream sector and the dire circumstances faced by the government which he claims is the justification for fuel subsidy removal.

Below is a communique containing the agreements reached the meeting which began by 7 pm on Sunday and lasted till the early hours of Monday, September 28.



On his part, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba welcomed the dialogue with the government and the resolutions reached.

He confirmed that the planned strike has been suspended and is looking forward to the palliatives promised by the government to Nigerians during the meeting.

The palliatives are meant to cushion the effect of the fuel price increase.

Sunday’s meeting was held in the banquet hall of State House in Abuja.

It was attended by the NLC President Ayuba Wabba, President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Quadri Olaleye and other members of organised labour, while the government’s team included the Minister of Labour Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of State for Labour Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Silva, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.

The minister of State for Power Mr Jeddy Agba was also in attendance.

 

FG’s policies bringing hardship to Nigerian

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Sunday insisted that it will carry on with its proposed strike action, arguing that the increase in electricity tariff and removal of petrol subsidy is bringing hardship on Nigerians.

This resolve was taken following a closed-door meeting between the NLC and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

Mr Gbajabiamila had met with representatives of Organised Labour at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, in an attempt to mediate and broker an amicable solution to the impasse between Organised Labour and the Federal Government (FG).

Briefing journalists after the meeting, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the proposed strike by the union will proceed unless the FG addresses the issues.

Reacting to the court order restraining the NLC from downing tools, Mr Wabba said the organization has not been served with the order and cannot speak on it.

He, however, noted that there is a judgement of a Federal High court stopping the increase of electricity tariff which the FG has refused to obey.

According to the NLC President, the proposed strike would only fail to hold if the govt makes a u-turn before 12 midnight on Sunday.

Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience

At the brief before the closed-door meeting on Sunday, Mr Gbajabiamila said Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience as the consequences will be dire on Nigerians who will feel the hardship caused by the industrial action.

He stated that the House of Representatives shares the same thoughts and philosophy with the NLC as regards the plight of workers and the House of Reps championed the cause of free electricity and had advised that the hike in tariff be put in effect from 2021.

Nevertheless, the Speaker said he worries about the consequences of the strike and what will be achieved at the end.

Do not join Labour strike

On Saturday, September 26, the Federal Government warned civil servants against participating in the planned nationwide strike called by the organised Labour.

In a statement, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, asked civil servants to be at work, saying the government is engaging with the union officials over the issue.

“Accordingly, all officers on grade level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.

“Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers are, therefore, enjoined to bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all concerned officers and ensure strict compliance,” the statement partly read.

This communique comes a day after the FG obtained a fresh order barring the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike scheduled to commence on Monday.

Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja issued the restraining order following an ex-parte application by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

Though a court order was granted against its industrial action, the NLC went on to ask its members across the nation to come out in large numbers to protest.

In a communique by its General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja, the NLC asked all National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja to mobilise at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.

Also, affiliates are expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7 am also.

Ahead of the threat by the NLC to resort to an industrial action to force the Federal Government to rescind its decision to hike oil and electricity prices in the country, the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held an emergency meeting.

Arising from the meeting, the governors cautioned the NLC against the planned strike, arguing that any plan to down tools will worsen the currently deteriorating economic situation of the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why threats of a strike?

The NLC’s threat to go on a strike is hinged on seven pertinent issues, including, the recent hike in fuel price, increase in electricity tariff, non-implementation of the N30,000 new minimum wage, alleged corruption in government agencies, loss of jobs across industries, high cost of living and, businesses not booming in the light of the effects of COVID-19.

In March 2020, Nigerians were somewhat elated when a crash in crude oil prices within the international market saw the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) move from N145 to about N125 per litre.

There was more joy when in May, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced a new pump price band to between N121.50 to N123.50 per litre for petrol.

However, this joy was shortlived as towards the end of May and tapering into September, the price for fuel began to rise drastically until it ended up becoming 151.56 Naira per litre, though there are several reports that Nigerians are in various states are paying as much as 161 Naira per litre.

In a similar vein, Nigerians in September began to pay new electricity tariffs with more than a hundred per cent increase.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) suddenly increased electricity tariff from 30.23 Naira for one kwh (kilowatt unit of energy per hour) to as much as 62.33 Naira per kwh.

NERC said the new electricity charges ‘Service Reflective Tariff’ would work in such a way that people pay more for the more hours they enjoy power supply.

According to the regulatory body, with this new tariff plan, people who use light for 12 hours and above get to pay between 80% and over 100% more but the increase will not affect the poor who use light for fewer hours.

It is with regards to these new policies and other pressing economic issues that the NLC threatened to carry out a nationwide strike.

The government, however, says that the recent increase in electricity and fuel prices will benefit ordinary Nigerians in the long-run.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, argues that despite the increase, Nigerians still pay less for fuel, compared to neighbouring countries.

He further notes that the hike in electricity tariffs will lead to increased quality in the supply of power, adding that the government cannot sustain its subsidy to both sectors.

FG Meets With Labour Unions

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

 

The Federal Government on Sunday met with Labour Unions to avert the planned strike billed for Monday, September 28. 

A statement signed by Charles Akpan, the spokesman of the Labour and Employment Ministry, noted that the meeting was to commence at 7:00 pm.

According to the communique, the Honorable Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige was to meet with the Organized Labour at the Presidential Villa Banquet Hall.

As of the time of writing this report, the closed-door meeting was still ongoing and the outcome remains unknown.

Earlier on Sunday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) insisted that it will carry on with its proposed strike action with regards to the recent increase in electricity tariff and the removal of petrol subsidy.

This resolve was taken following a closed-door meeting between the NLC and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

Mr Gbajabiamila met with representatives of NLC, at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, in an attempt to mediate and broker an amicable solution to the impasse between Organised Labour and the Federal Government (FG).

Briefing journalists after the meeting, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said the proposed strike by the union will proceed unless the FG addresses the issues.

Reacting to the court order restraining the NLC from downing tools, Mr Wabba said the organization has not been served with the order and cannot speak on it.

He, however, noted that there is a judgement of a Federal High court stopping the increase of electricity tariff which the FG has refused to obey.

According to the NLC President, the proposed strike will only fail to hold if the govt makes a u-turn before 12 midnight today.

Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience

At the brief before the closed-door meeting on Sunday, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila said Labour cannot go on a strike in good conscience as the consequences will be dire on Nigerians who will feel the hardship caused by the industrial action.

He stated that the House of Representatives shares the same thoughts and philosophy with the NLC as regards the plight of workers and the House of Reps championed the cause of free electricity and had advised that the hike in tariff be put in effect from 2021.

Nevertheless, the Speaker said he worries about the consequences of the strike and what will be achieved at the end.

In reply to the Speaker’s comments, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba argued that the increase in electricity tariff and removal of petrol subsidy is bringing hardship on Nigerians, stressing that the organization is asking the FG to reverse the policy decisions.

Federal Govt Approves Additional N8.9bn For June COVID-19 Hazard Allowance

 

 

An additional N8.9 billion has been approved by the Federal Government to pay up a large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Health Workers across the nation.

This was revealed by Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the end of the meeting between the Federal Government and the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Ngige stated that the implementation of the payment of the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance has been concluded, stressing that this has been cash-backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from September 9.

According to him, this will bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.

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On Wednesday, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Federal Government reached an agreement in a bid to end the ongoing strike by health workers.

At the meeting that lasted almost the entire day, the association said it will consult its executive council within the next 24 hours, with a view to calling off the strike by Thursday.

Both parties had been locked in negotiations to resolve issues that led to the declaration of a nationwide strike on Monday.

Some of the issues revolved around the provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers, payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State, immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance.

But the Federal Government noted that eight of the demands made by NARD had been addressed and the remaining two were in different stages of being resolved.

After extensive deliberations, however, both parties reached several agreements.

They agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

They also agreed that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9.3billion) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for health workers.

On the implementation of the payment of the special hazard/inducement allowance, the doctors said they were satisfied that the N20 billion already appropriated in the 2020 COVID-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19 billion and therefore, praised the Federal Government and the President for approving an additional (N8,901,231,773.55) to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers.

Among several other agreements, it was also agreed upon that nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action.

See the full list of deliberations below.

UNDERSTANDING REACHED AT THE END OF THE MEETING BETWEEN THE LEADERSHIP OF THE NIGERIAN ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS (NARD) AND FEDERAL MINISTRIES OF HEALTH, FINANCE, BUDGET AND NATIONAL PLANNING, AND NATIONAL SALARIES, INCOME AND WAGES COMMISSION (NSIWC) AT THE INSTANCE OF THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT ON SEPTEMBER 9, 202O.

On September 7, 2020, the members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on a total and an indefinite strike in all Federal and State hospitals in Nigeria over the following demands:
i. The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries.
ii. Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State.
iii. Immediate review of the Hazard Allowance of Health Care Workers and payment of the Covid-19 Inducement Allowance as agreed during the stakeholders’ meeting.
iv. Immediate release of funds for Medical Residency Training for 2020 as captured in the revised Appropriation Bill.
v. Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions.

In line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP T.8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment held a conciliation meeting with the leadership of NARD and relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to address the demands and resolve the trade dispute.

The meeting noted that the Federal Government had earlier addressed most of the original eight (8) demands made by NARD and the remaining two (2) were in different stages of being resolved.

After extensive deliberations, the following understandings were reached on each of the demands:

1) Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
NARD agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient PPE

2) The provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries:

The meeting noted that the Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9B,3) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for Health Workers.

Enrollment was by the submission of nominal rolls by the various Health Institutions which NARD had been mandated at a previous meeting to accomplish. The meeting further noted that claims had to be made before the Insurance benefits could be realised.

It was decided that NARD should submit copies of claims already made to the Insurance Companies through the Hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that would ensure that the Insurance Companies pay the claims. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should be copied.

3) Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals
Noting that the 2020 Appropriation Act was revised due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Four Billion Naira (N4B) appropriated for Residency Training under a wrong heading for Medical Residency Training is to be vired before expenditure. The process of amendment is therefore ongoing and is expected that this process and cash backing will be through in two (2) weeks.

4) Payment of outstanding 2014, 2015, and 2016 arrears:
The meeting recalled that it had been agreed that the issue would be further discussed post Covid-19. Therefore, no agreement was breached.

5) Implementation of the Payment of the Special Hazard/Inducement Allowance

Meeting was satisfied that the N20B already appropriated in 2020 Covid-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19B and praised the Federal Government and Mr. President for approving additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers. This has been cash backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from today September 9, 2020. This would bring the total disbursement to about N28B.

6) Permanent New Rate Of Hazard Allowance:

Discussions for review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for all Health Workers will commence as soon as possible after consultations by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment with all Stakeholders in the Health Sector. Based on the principles of ability to pay, this will cover all Health Workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Meeting will be convened as soon as possible in that regard.

7) Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members, and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions:

It was noted that those affected were the Youth Corp Members and House Officers who are regarded as ad hoc staff. For State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive. It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

8) Domestication of the Residency Training Act by State Governments:

Recognizing the Autonomy of States within the Federation, the meeting agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the States to domesticate the Act.

9) Health Workers in the Medical Centers attached to Universities:

The meeting agreed that these workers had been tied with the ongoing strike by ASUU and negotiations concerning them would be on a different platform involving Federal Ministry of Education.

In view of these Understandings, NARD will consult with her Executive Council within the next 24hrs with a view to calling off the strike by tomorrow, September 10, 2020.

Nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action

……………………………….. ………………………………
Dr. Sokomba Aliyu Dr. Bilqis Muhammad
President, NARD Sec. Gen., NARD

………………………………… ………………………………….
Dr. Ekpe Philips Uche Ahmed Idris , FCNA
Secretary General, NMA Accountant General of the Federation

…………………………………………….. …………………………………
A. M. Abdullahi Dr. Yerima P. Tarfa
PS, Health PS, Labour & Employment

………………………………. …………………………
Sen. (Dr.) A. O. Mamora Barr. Festus Keyamo, SAN
HMS, Health HMS, Labour & Employment
………………………………………..
Senator (Dr,) Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON
Honourable Minister, Labour & Employment

Suspension Of NSITF Board: Ngige Insists On Acting Within Presidential Directives

The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has maintained that he acted within presidential directives on the suspension of top management and executive committee members of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

The Minister stated this in his submission at the Investigative hearing by the House of Representatives’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Arbitrary Breach of Presidential Directive on the Suspension of Management and Executive Members of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and Other Government Agencies by Ministers.

Ngige stated that he did not go contrary to presidential directives, emphasising that the suspension also followed procedural compliance to the relevant authorities (Constitution, Public Service Rules, NSITF Act, Presidential Directives).

The Minister restated that the suspension of the officials was hinged on issues bordering on Financial and Procurement infractions, as well as acts of serious of misconduct.

He disclosed that the Auditor General’s Specific Periodic Report check into the affairs of the organisation from 2013 to early 2018 showed evidence of infractions to Financial Regulations and Procurement Act involving the past Acting Managing Director, as well as the new Managing Director/Chief Executive and Executive Directors and some General Managers.

Ngige said that in the face of such observed infractions, and acting in the best interest of the nation, he made recommendations and got Mr President’s approval for the suspension of the affected personnel.

“By letter dated 30th June 2020, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) conveyed Mr President’s approval to all the recommendations submitted by my office in respect of issues bordering on the Financial and Procurement infractions and acts of serious of misconduct and referred to the guidance on implementation to a letter from the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) and further requested the Minister to avail his office with records of the implementation of Mr. President’s approval, especially in the areas of personnel charges.”

He pointed out that upon the suspension, a Presidential Joint Board Committee, comprising members from the office of Head of Service (OHOSF), Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Accountant General of the Federation (AcGF) and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, with Chairman NSITF Board Audit Committee as Chair, was inaugurated to look into the breaches and issues of serious misconduct involving those officials.

Ngige also stated that staff members in the General Manager cadre, heading departments and who were preliminarily established to have a case to answer were also suspended.

The Minister noted that although, as the supervising Minister to the Agency, he did not need to wait for a petition from the Management Board of the Fund before he could act, he, however, had letters by the Chairman of the Board “on issues of approvals for funds above his threshold and complaints about non-compliance with due procurement processes.”

According to him, “the Finance and Account Department of the Ministry had countlessly informed the NSITF MD about flouting of Section 30 of the Financial Regulations which stipulates that Parastatals, whether Treasury funded or self-funding shall give an income v expenditure to the Supervising Ministry monthly.”

Ngige further said that since the NSITF had also failed to submit Annual Audited Accounts to the Minister to assist in preparing annual reports to Mr President.

He noted that the infractions, involving lots of procurement anomalies, the irregular award of contracts, and irregular payments involving huge amounts of money include: Foreign International Travels without approvals; Non-submission of Internal Audit reports to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation; Contract payment without evidence of performance; Unauthorized Foreign Travels – sponsorship of Executive Directors and their spouses to overseas countries for Annual Leave; Procurement – conversion of contract from the supply of toners to the supply of Toyota Prado Jeep without approval; and Irregular payment on QS Consultancy fees for claims evaluations/Failed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) M/S D&B Ltd, among other infractions to Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.

The Minister emphasised that in the exercise of his supervisory function, he also took cognizance of SGF Circular REF:SGF/OP/1.S.3/T/163 dated 19 May 2020, as ” even after the Presidential assent for disciplinary action against the MD and these Officers for these financial breaches, the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) still communicated the SGF because of the new circular and the SGF still subjected the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to submit the prima facie infractions and serious misconduct in view of circular above.

The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment complied and submitted the copy of the report and alleged gross misconduct again by letter dated 23 June 2020.”

The Minister noted that the act of suspension is not dismissal, but a stage in disciplinary procedures in the Public Service, emphasising that the Presidential Joint Board Committee was set up to afford the suspended officials the opportunity to clear themselves.

He pointed out that upon the suspension, a Presidential Joint Board Committee, comprising members from the office of Head of Service (OHOSF), Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Accountant General of the Federation (AcGF) and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, with Chairman NSITF Board Audit Committee as Chair, was inaugurated to look into the breaches and issues of serious misconduct involving those officials.

Ngige also stated that staff members in the General Manager cadre, heading departments and who were preliminarily established to have case to answer were also suspended.

The Minister noted that although, as the supervising Minister to the Agency, he did not need to wait for a petition from the Management Board of the Fund before he could act, he, however, had letters by the Chairman of the Board “on issues of approvals for funds above his threshold and complaints about non-compliance with due procurement processes.”

According to him, “the Finance and Account Department of the Ministry had countlessly informed the NSITF MD about flouting of Section 30 of the Financial Regulations which stipulates that Parastatals, whether Treasury funded or self-funding shall give an income v expenditure to the Supervising Ministry monthly.”

Ngige further said that since the NSITF had also failed to submit Annual Audited Accounts to the Minister to assist in preparing annual reports to Mr President.

He noted that the infractions, involving lots of procurement anomalies, the irregular award of contracts, and irregular payments involving huge amounts of money include: Foreign International Travels without approvals; Non-submission of Internal Audit reports to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation; Contract payment without evidence of performance; Unauthorized Foreign Travels – sponsorship of Executive Directors and their spouses to overseas countries for Annual Leave; Procurement – conversion of contract from the supply of toners to the supply of Toyota Prado Jeep without approval; and Irregular payment on QS Consultancy fees for claims evaluations/Failed Public-Private Partnership (PPP) M/S D&B Ltd, among other infractions to Financial Regulation and Procurement Act.

The Minister emphasised that in the exercise of his supervisory function, he also took cognizance of SGF Circular REF:SGF/OP/1.S.3/T/163 dated 19 May 2020, as ” even after the Presidential assent for disciplinary action against the MD and these Officers for these financial breaches, the Chief of Staff to the President (CoSP) still communicated the SGF because of the new circular and the SGF still subjected the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to submit the prima facie infractions and serious misconduct in view of circular above.

“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment complied and submitted the copy of the report and alleged gross misconduct again by letter dated 23 June 2020.”

The Minister noted that the act of suspension is not dismissal, but a stage in disciplinary procedures in the Public Service, emphasising that the Presidential Joint Board Committee was set up to afford the suspended officials the opportunity to clear themselves.

Ngige Threatens Legal Action Against Faleke Over NSITF Comments

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and James Faleke

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has threatened legal action against a member of the House of Representatives, James Faleke.

Mr Ngige issued the threat on Tuesday during the hearing of the Adhoc Committee of the House which is investigating an alleged breach of a presidential directive by him.

The Labour Minister is alleged to have suspended top management and executive committee members of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, (NSITF), although the presidential directive bars ministers from sacking heads of agencies.

The minister had asked Mr Faleke to recuse himself from the hearing since he had already passed judgement on him (Ngige) through his statements on the floor of the House when the motion for the investigation was raised on July 7, 2020.

Mr. Faleke in his response accused Ngige of passing judgment on the board of the NSITF without proper investigation, a statement which infuriated Mr. Ngige who vowed to go to court.

Mr. Faleke had accused Ngige of hijacking the budget of the NSITF and removing the board to cover his tracks.

James Faleke has argued that the Minister of Labour and Employment did not follow due process in suspending members of the NSITF Board

 

 

The minister defended his decision to suspend the board, informing the committee that it was based on a report from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission which uncovered financial fraud in the NSITF.

Dr Ngige added that the suspension of the board was approved by the President.

A lawmaker, Sada Soli, however, questioned the authenticity of the document of approval as claimed by the minister.

Soli out that there were misspelled words and imposition in the photocopy which the minister presented.

He also questioned why the chairman of the board was not affected by the suspension.

The lawmakers are accusing Ngige of nepotism, saying he gave employment to 97 indigenes of Anambra State while the entire North-East got 86.

In his response to the letter’s grammar composition, Ngige said he corrects spelling mistakes daily and the errors in the letter from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, authorizing the suspension, are not major.

He also presented the original document, suggesting that the photocopy is authentic.

However, he refused to submit the letter to the committee, promising to make it available later.

Meanwhile, a legal adviser in the OSGF, Emmanuel Akisa, confirmed that the letter from the minister requesting the suspension was received.

He also added that the OSGF received a communication from the President directing the immediate suspension of the NSITF management team, pending the outcome of investigations into their actions.

Suspension Of NSITF Boss, 11 Others

On July 2, 2020, the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, revealed that the President had approved the immediate, compulsory, and indefinite suspension of Mr Adebayo Somefun, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the NSITF.

In a statement, Mr Akpan said the President also okayed the suspension of 11 top officials of the agency.

Some members of the House’s Adhoc Committee do not believe that the President Buhari (pictured) okayed the suspensions at NSITF.

 

Those suspended are Jasper Azuatalam (Executive Director, Finance and Investment), Olukemi Nelson (Executive Director, Operations), and Tijani Sulaiman (Executive Director, Administration).

Others are Olusegun Bashorun (General Manager, Administration/Human Resources/Maintenance), Lawan Tahir (General Manager, Finance), Chris Esedebe (General Manager, Claims and Compensation), Olodotun Adegbite (Deputy General Manager, Investment and Treasury Management), and Emmanuel Sike (Deputy General Manager, Finance and Accounts).

Also affected by the suspension are Olutoyin Arokoyo (Deputy General Manager/Acting Head, Legal), Dorathy Tukura (Deputy General Manager, Administration), and Victoria Ayantuga (Assistant General Manager, Internal Audit).