The Nigerian government has asked all Government Offices and Schools in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, except those on essential services, not to open from May 7 to 9, as part of arrangements for the successful hosting of the World Economic Forum on Africa.
President Goodluck Jonathan gave the directive on Friday, five days to the commencement of the forum.
In a statement by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Ayim, the government also said private organisations with large number of staff may also wish to close down.
Mr Ayim said that the decision was aimed at easing the flow of traffic within the city and enable participants carry out their assigned roles and participate actively at the World Economic Forum on Africa.
It is the first time that the forum is being hosted by a West African country and the Nigerian government is doing its best to ensure that the forum was a success.
The theme for the 24th edition of the forum is ‘Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs’.
It will attract participants, including Heads of Governments and Statesmen, CEOs of global firms, leading financiers and policy and development technocrats, from over 80 countries, providing Nigeria with an immense and unique opportunity for economic and cultural diplomacy.
The president had assured the international community of adequate security.
President Jonathan gave the assurance on Friday a day after a bomb blast in Nyanya killed at list 19 persons and left over 60 injured.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, has argued that the idea of a National Conference is the best for the country.
Anyim, who spoke to Channels Television correspondent, Lanre Lasisi in Abuja, advised Nigerians to take the advantage this conference provides, by bringing up all issues that have slowed down the development and consolidation of democracy in Nigeria.
He began by speaking on the referendum and the role the National Assembly will be playing in the entire process.
He noted that there are only few places where the constitution provided for referendum; like creation of new states and boundary adjustment issues, but the Government was not interested with that part of the constitution.
He explained that the Federal Government is concerned about making sure that it implements the recommendations of the National Conference as legally permitted under the laws of the country.
“There is a constitution in place, there is sovereignty in place, there is a parliament in place, and there is government in place. All these are established under a constitution and the only provision made by that constitution is for amendments.
“Even if you want to replace the existing constitution with a new one, the National Assembly still needs to meet to put one sentence – we hereby amend this constitution by replacing it with this one. There is no running away from it,” he said.
While assuring Nigerians on the genuiness of the rationale behind the convening of the National Conference, he said that the purpose for the conference was not to create chaos, or to overrule the existing order, but to strengthen it.
Possible Clash With Political Activities
Questions have been raised about the timing of the conference, and how the 3 months planned for it would be accommodated as it coincides with the heavy political activities leading up to the 2015 general elections.
Mr Anyim explained that the election timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC had been well considered by the government and from all indications, the plan is on track.
He assured that the government is poised to make sure that the conference rounds off before the commencement of election activities.
He, however, added that the composition of participants at the National Conference would be Nigerians from all walks of life that are well aware of the Nigerian challenges and it will therefore not be a problem articulating what the problems are, as agreeing on a way forward is the most important thing, and this can be achieved within the planned 3 months.
He also assured Nigerians that every stage in the process will be transparent and will be people driven.
“Nigerians are at liberty actually to decide the pace to go, the direction to go and how to do that. I want to believe that the sincerity on the side of the government, you can go to bed with, the commitment on the side of government, you can take for granted. For us there is nothing too peculiar or personal for anybody in government” he assured.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called off its planned protest and industrial action which was scheduled for the 10th of April 2013 across the nation.
The labour group however gave the Federal Government an ultimatum to fulfill all agreements by the end of April or risk an industrial action without any warning.
Addressing journalist in Abuja on Tuesday, the acting president of the congress; Mr Promise Adewusi said the decision of the labour group is in consideration of moves by the Federal Government to sufficiently meet with the demands of the congress and National Union of Pensioners.
Such moves according to Mr Adewusi includes the setting up of a joint committee headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to harmonise payments as well as resolve sundry matters connected with pension payment and administration of pension funds.
He however warned that the industrial action will resume without warning if by the end of April the Federal Government fails to implement all it has promised to do.
According to the labour leader, the Federal Government among other things, accepted to restore the check-off dues of the national union of pensioners which had been withheld for one year.
It also ordered the withdrawal from the court the case between the Federal Government and the union in respect of the pension payment/matters.
The NLC also directed the joint committee to resolve all issues pertaining to the immediate payment of all pension arrears to deserving pensioners, resumption of inconclusive verification exercises of 2010/2011 and a review of pension payment to reflect 53.4 per cent wage increase to workers in 2010 andthe payment of the N18,000 minimum wage.
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.
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).