Payment Of N18, 000 Minimum Wage Is Still Feasible – Peter Esele

Peter_EseleFormer president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Peter Esele, on Tuesday said state governors in Nigeria have no excuse to stop payment of the N18, 000 minimum wage urging them to “sew their coat according their size, not cloth”.

Mr Esele urged the governors to look inwards on what they are spending and reduce the convoys they have, which “costs a lot of money”.

The former TUC president further noted that all state governors have security votes “that are not accounted for” and urged the governors to “sew their coat, not according to their size, but according to their cloth”.

He added that “(David) Cameron in the UK does not have a private jet” alleging that “majority of the governors all fly private aircrafts”.

Speaking during Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, Mr Esele said that while the last negotiations was on going states made submissions based on what they could pay as minimum wage to civil servants above the N18, 000 they pay”.

He said “Abia State’s submission was N42, 000, Nasarawa even went above N18, 000. All these states made submissions based on what they could pay and majority of them came up with figures higher than N18, 000.

“I also remember during the time of the N7,500, that was the same complain, even when the price of crude was still above $100 from the same state governors”, he said.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum had in its meeting in November expressed worry that more states may not be able to pay workers’ salaries if the revenue of the country continues to be on the decline, Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’aziz Yari, said after the meeting.

He said the forum discussed the economy and resolved to look for means to enhance states internally generated revenues as well to cut overhead cost, especially the salaries of political office holders.

“The situation is no longer the same when we are used to pay N18, 000 minimum wage when oil was 126 dollars; now oil price is 41 dollars.

“We are coming together in a roundtable with President Muhammadu Buhari and his team of ministers, technocrats, economic experts to see how we can tackle our situation,’’ he said

Mr. Yari said that the governors had also resolved to hold a roundtable with all stakeholders to articulate a robust strategy to tackle the deplorable economic situation in the country.

He also noted that Nigerian governors will eventually reduce the federal minimum wage of N18,000 or downsize because of the current economic crunch.

Fuel Scarcity Is Consequence Of Proper Process Negligence – Esele

Peter Esele on Fuel Scarcity Weeks of fuel scarcity gradually affecting the Nigerian economy, with individuals losing man hours at service stations, is a consequence of negligence of proper process, a formal official of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said.

Several service stations have closed down, with few selling fuel at very high prices, far more than the 87 Naira official price.

Businesses depending hugely on generating sets as source of electricity are shutting down in the oil-rich nation.

The government says it has paid over 150 billion Naira to marketers of the product but that has not reflected. Markets are insisting that all monies owed must be paid before a new administration takes over by May 29.

Mr Peter Esele who was also the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) told Channels Television that the government was owning the marketers over 356 billion Naira out of which it paid only 156 billion Naira. Over 200 billion Naira is still outstanding, an amount that the marketers are demanding for to make petroleum products available.

Giving his opinion about the fuel scarcity, Mr Esele said the marketers’ fears were that they may not be able to collect their outstanding money when the new government comes in.

“The bottom line is that they are businessmen. There is no way there is no under-the-table deal going on in that sector. So they want to get their money before the new administration,” he said.

The former PENGASSAN President stressed that the major problem in the petroleum sector was poor adherence to proper process, saying there are no records of when the ships come in and how many litres were brought in.

“In 2012 the TUC had made a presentation before the Senate on a lot of sharp practices going on in the subsidy regime.

“When things are allowed to go on in a manner that is not good, we wait for the next time. We are talking about this now because there is scarcity. The process leading to this scarcity that we had overlooked is the consequences of the action we are facing right now.

“It is a huge security risk and the productivity in the economy is being affected, with people wasting man-hours at service stations,” he stated.

Mr Esele also identified poor implementation of laws governing activities in the sector as another factor that had contributed to the fuel scarcity.

“Our institutions are weak. Institutions are weak because people are not respecting the laws that set them up.

“They are more of individuals. And the other part is that so many things exchange hands.

“You can’t call the marketers to order when all your products are imported.

“They have monopoly.

“Until we have refineries here, we do not have so much control over what the marketers do,” he explained.

The former TUC President expressed optimism that the incoming government would be able to tackle the issues in the petroleum sector, bringing serenity to the sector he said had so much sharp practices going on.

“One thing about the President-elect (General Muhammadu Buhari) is that there is a universal agreement that he is not corrupt. That gives him a high moral authority to make everybody fall in line with what he wants to do.”

He, however, warned that the whole of 2015 would be a tough year. “The price of crude has come down, workers’ salaries are delayed and 80 per cent revenue for the federation comes from crude oil sales. But if the incoming government could overcome the challenges he will be a hero.

“We must have to adjust to the current reality and the incoming administration should set a goal to stop importation of the product.

“If the process to remove subsidy is right with specific amount removed every year and people are seeing the benefit from the removal, it will go down well.

“The government should give Dangote the support he needs to make sure that his refinery comes up,” he stressed.

INEC Not Ready For Elections As Claimed – Esele

Peter-Esele on INEC's readiness for ElectionThe claims by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria that it is ready for the elections has been dismissed by a member of the Post-Election Violence Committee set up by the President after the 2011 elections, Peter Esele.

Mr Esele told Channels Television on Tuesday that the insecurity in the north-east was not enough reason to postpone the elections, insisting that the issue of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) distribution and other logistic challenges were enough to cause a shift in the date of the elections.

The INEC had told reporters on Saturday, after series of meetings with stakeholders in the political sector, that the commission was advised by security operatives to postpone the elections, as they could not guaranty the security of lives and property in the north-east region during the elections.

Inadequate Training

The elections were rescheduled to hold on March 28 and April 11.

“I was surprised that the reason given to the postponement of the election was security situation. I think in Iraq, they still go ahead and conduct elections.

“But if you ask me, I think that INEC was not ready,” he said.

Mr Esele also cited the inadequate training of INEC ad-hoc staff as another key factor that showed the electoral body’s unpreparedness.

“You have 120,000 polling units and you need eight persons to man each of the polling unit because of the new technology that they will be using.

“Multiply that by 120,000 polling units you have 960,000 persons that you need to train. Have they been trained? No!” he stressed.

Pushing his claims further, Mr Esele said that the entire number of PVCs expected are yet to be delivered to the INEC.

“Seventy million PVCs expected in the country are not all in the country. INEC said most of the cards are in the country, but as at yesterday they still received some cards.

“The dictionary definition of ready is completion. What we should have been doing four weeks to the election is trial-runs. We have not had any trial runs.

“Has INEC come around on television to show Nigerians how things work?” He questioned.

According to him, handling the process adequately and efficiently would help guard against violence.

Build Strong Institutions

He expressed optimism that the INEC should be able to sort out all challenges before the end of the six weeks.

“I have confidence that at the end of the six weeks the materials needed for the elections will be here.

“Nothing stops the INEC from doing a weekly briefing about the developments as they progress.

“They need to build the confidence of the people that nobody is trying to use INEC to scuttle this election.

“To guard against violence again we must look at the process and make people see that the system is foolproof and that the election cannot be rigged,” he emphasised.

Mr Esele further stressed the need for Institutions in Nigeria to be strengthened, saying that strong Institutions would guarantee continuity and would make it impossible for powerful men to interfere with their activities.

“In whatever way we can, we should ensure that our institutions are strengthened,” he added.

INEC Was Ready

The INEC, however, said Mr Esele’s claims were not true, emphasising that the commission was ready for the election if it had not been advised to postpone the elections.

Osun Election_Kayode Idowu2
The spokesman for the INEC chairman, Mr Kayode Idowu, said INEC was ready for the election.

The spokesman for the INEC chairman, Mr Kayode Idowu, said “the INEC does not need 900,000 workers to work at the polling units”.

“For the presidential election, INEC needs 716,054 ad-hoc workers at the polling units and for the state elections, INEC needs 716592 workers and these workers are being trained.

“The issue of materials coming, the presidential ballot papers for presidential elections are already in the Central Bank box and they have been there for some time,” he said.

Mr idowu said it would not be late to bring in the ballot papers for state elections few days  to the election.

“There are costs for warehousing the materials and it should not be warehoused for a long time,” he said.

The spokesman for INEC’s chairman, however, said some voter cards came in very late, but that had been made clare by the Chairman.

He also accepted that the commission was not 100 per cent ready, pointing out that because of the nature of the process, there could be a change in the arrangement.

Contrary to Mr Esele’s claims that the some PVCs were delivered to the INEC on Monday, mr Idowu said “all the PVCs had come in and had been delivered to the states”.

Unionist X-rays Challenges Of Labour Unions In Nigeria

Peter EseleFor 6 years, Peter Esele was the President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, the body set up to organise and unite all registered senior staff associations in Nigeria into a single entity.

Described as a fire brand unionist and a tough negotiator, Peter Esele finished his 2-term reign as the TUC President in June 2013 and has since gone back to his job in an oil firm.

Esele is our guest on this edition of ‘View From The Top’.

FG To Sack Lecturers Who Don’t Resume By December 4th

The federal government has directed all vice-chancellors of federal universities currently on strike to immediately re-open for academic activities as directed by their vice-chancellors.
The Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike who gave the directive also asked the vice-chancellors to ensure that lecturers who resume for work are provided with the enabling environment to carry out academic activities.

He said any lecturer who failed to resume on the 4th of December automatically ceases to be a staff of the institution and that vice-chancellors are allowed to advertise vacancies for their positions

The minister said the federal government has exhausted all available avenues to end the impasse hence the decision.
The president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Peter Esele has however called on the government to rescind the decision describing it as military.

With a December 4th deadline by the federal government for the lecturers to resume work, it remains to be seen who blinks first.

TUC President Decries Some Northern Governors For Not Paying Minimum Wage

President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Peter Esele, has criticized some northern governors for not implementing the N18,000 agreed minimum wage. This he claimed has been responsible for loss of manpower during strike.

Esele while speaking at a workshop and Labour Day awards organized by Daily Independent Newspaper in Ilorin, noted that no labour union in the world likes organizing strike to make demands adding that the requirement to organise such industrial action are too stressful.

He claimed that only two-third of Governors have implemented the agreed minimum wage with some governors in the north still adamant on not paying the money.

Mr emphasised that the Governor of Plateau state, led the pack in the north.

The labour leader added that if governments at all levels do the right thing by respecting and implementing agreements reached with labour unions, there will be harmony in labour circles.

The Kwara state governor represented by his Special Assistant on Media, Dr Muideen Akorede at the occasion assured of the readiness of the state government to sustain industrial harmony adding that Kwara is one of the first to implement the minimum wage in the country.

FG agrees to pay electricity workers accrued pension

The prolonged labour crises between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Federal Government which began since 2010 has finally been resolved as both parties agreed that total accrued pension as at June 30, 2007 shall be paid.

PHCN employees protest over pension

The payment was agreed to be in accordance with the 2010 conditions of service of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

The resolution meeting which took place at the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government agreed that 25 per cent of the accrued pension will be paid to existing PHCN staff while 75 per cent will be paid into the retirement savings accounts.

Other agreements reached were that severance allowance which shall be paid at 20 per cent of total accrued benefits among others.

Present at the meeting were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Minister of Labour; Chief Emeka Wogu, Minister of State for Power; Hajiya Zainab Kuchi, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC); Peter Esele, Secretary General of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) among others.

The Agreement was signed on behalf of the Federal Government by Senator Anyim, while Mr Esele and Ajearo signed on behalf of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Governors should also give more powers to local government – Peter Esele

The president of the Trade union Congress (TUC) has urged the state governors to support the push for local government autonomy as they (the governors) are as well demanding for more power from the Federal Government.

Mr Esele, made the plea on our breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily in Port Harcourt, where he noted that to make the local governments functional, “there must be a law to make the local governments independent and functional.”

F.G. plans to increase workforce, not sack –Labour minister

In reaction to the call by the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for the Federal Government to lay off half of its workforce, the Minister of Labour Emeka Wogu has assured Nigerian workers not to panic as the Federal Government does not intend to sack but to retain and increase its workforce.

The minister gave this assurance in Ilorin at the 8th National Labour Summit organized by Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies.

“I speak authoritatively and I want to be quoted. Both the TUC and the NLC should not be agitated on the issue because the Federal Government is committed to protecting and creating more jobs in the country,”

The main auditorium of the institute was filled to capacity by different categories of people who came from far and near to participate in the summit.

The President of the Trade Union Congress Peter Esele and the vice president of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Issa Aremu threw shots at the CBN Governor, as they both condemned Sanusi’s call for the Federal Government to reduce its workforce by half.

The labour leaders concluded that Nigeria could move forward if government revived the real sector of the economy – manufacturing, transportation, textile, food drinks and beverages and other key sectors of the economy, adding that government should enhance the labour force with intervention fund to achieve more for the country.

Allaying the fears of the workers, the minister of labour, Emeka Wogu highlighted several methods of the government to maintain and create new jobs and called on Nigerian workers not to be disturbed by the outburst of the Central Bank Governor.

He said that a committee has been set up to create more jobs in multi sectors of the nation, saying the committee would commence work next week, as the President is bent on implementing job creation policies, particularly in sectors like agriculture, construction, ICT, and tourism, among others.

Though, he contended that job creation was mostly driven by the private sector, he, however, said that the government was creating enabling environment for the private sector to thrive, adding that government owed the society the responsibility to do just that.

While the Kwara state government also explained various methods put in place to create jobs in order to reduce youth restiveness, the Director General of Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Niyi Olarewaju noted that the need to give serious attention to social protection informs the summit and called on government at all levels to tackle unemployment.

Some notable Nigerians including former labour leaders were given awards for their contribution to labour development in the country.

PHCN strike: Talks between FG and labour union postponed

The negotiation between the Federal Government and the employee’s union of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has been postponed till next week Tuesday.

Briefing journalists after a closed door meeting chaired by the Secretary General of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Peter Esele said the government continues to insist that the labour union is mis-informed.

“Our position on the matter is clear. We are not telling the government not to privatise or carry out the reform it wants to carry out in the power sector. Our position is, for you to do this, the severance package as enshrined in the condition of service is followed to the letter,” Mr Esele said.

“If government does that, then there will be no problem at all,” he added

The labour activist therefore disclosed that a full representation of all parties will meet on 28 August to find a middle ground and iron out the issues once and for all.

Meanwhile, the employees of the PHCN continue to maintain that the Federal Government must pay its workers the 25 percent demanded for their pension before privatizing the power sector.

FG/Labour talks over PHCN workers stalled

The proposed plan to talk over the settlement of electricity workers may have hit a brick wall as representatives of the organised labour insisted they will not enter negotiations without full representation from the government and withdrawal of soldiers from Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) offices.

A meeting was convened to open talks over the matter following threats by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a nationwide strike if the demands of the PHCN workers are not met.

They lamented the absence of the Minister of Power, Bureau for Public Enterprise and other key government players apart from the Minister of Labour.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, in an in interview with Channels Television however explained that negotiations were to commence with the Labour Minister after which other top government representatives will be invited.

He also said that the federal government has bent over backwards to meet the demands of the union. He said “a nationwide strike to disrupt activities is not in the best interest of the country”.

Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu appealed to the unions present to be genuine in their presentations as it concerns national and industrial peace.

The meeting was held at the Ministry of Labour with representatives of the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC), affiliate labour unions and government officials.

 

 

 

We will resist any attempt to shield subsidy fraud suspects – Labour union

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has said that they will resist any form of attempt by the Federal Government to cover up oil marketers indicted in the various committee reports on the oil subsidy fraud.

The congress rejected the withdrawal of charges against some of the oil subsidy fraud suspects by the government saying only the courts had the exclusive power to make such decisions.

The president of TUC, Peter Esele, told journalists that the Union is not pleased with the government’s  sudden decision to withdraw the charges against some suspects despite the fact that they were indicated by the various committees reports.

“Congress is worried about the withdrawal of the charges against some of the oil subsidy fraud suspects by the federal government and would want to know what has made this action very urgent now. We had felt that this would have been left for the courts to decide,” he said.

He argued that the persons presently standing trial over the fuel subsidy fraud “does not represent the quantity and quality of the persons indicted by both the Federal House of representatives and the Aig-Imokhuede Panel”.

He noted that it was a plot for the government, to prosecute these persons and use it as a cover to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that it was prosecuting perpetrators of the alleged scam.

He therefore called on the government to be transparent in the trial of all the fuel subsidy suspects so that all the funds allegedly looted from the national coffers would be recovered and returned to the national treasury.

“It should be noted that the amount of money involved in the subsidy fraud runs into trillions of naira but the amount allegedly stolen by those standing trial are presently about N304billion. We then ask what about those who have cornered the other trillions? When will they be brought to trial to face justice?

“If this is an attempt to try these persons and use it as a cover to hoodwink the people of this nation, we want to warn that we shall resist it and it must fail,”

Mr Esele said that they are in support of the budget implementation by the House of Reps but the issue of impeachment is another distraction for the country.

He further added,”Thus while supporting that federal government should pursue budget implementation tenaciously, the congress also added that impeachment proceedings will be a distraction from the myriad of pressing issues confronting both the nation and its teeming population that have presently left the masses in the morass of uncontrolled hunger and deprivation,”