The joint public service negotiating council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Taraba State have announced the suspension of its indefinite strike, few hours after commencement.
The Council said this decision follows the state Governor Darius Ishaku’s approval for the implementation of the national minimum wage and signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the suspension of the strike action.
Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Why Kwanchi, therefore urged the civil servants to suspend immediately the strike action embarked upon.
He assured that in view of the understanding between the government and labour, no worker will be victimised for participating in the strike action for the implementation of the new national minimum wage in the state.
Taraba State Head Of Service, Suzy Nathan who spoke on behalf of the state government urged the civil servants not to be anxious for any agitation but to resume work immediately.
Organised Labour in the state had earlier on Wednesday announced the commencement of an indefinite strike in the state. They said the decision became paramount in view of government’s long silence on the negotiated new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment.
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, has condemned the claims that he is causing trouble and division among the people of the state.
He described as unfortunate, the withdrawal of ethnic groups who have been in conflict for decades from tendering their memorandum and testimonies at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the sake of peace in the state.
The governor insisted that there was no problem without a solution, saying he was proud of seeking peace coexistence from every zone of Taraba and would not relent in his resolve.
He made the remarks on Wednesday when he received the paramount ruler of Kwararafa Empire, Aku-Uka, and his kinsmen at the Government House in Jalingo, the state capital.
“Today, we have a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in which the parties that have been accusing the government have refused to attend this commission’s sittings.
“It is unfortunate because we desire peace and anyone who desires peace will always go to where peace is and anyone who desires where peace is being stopped, then really does not want peace,” he said.
‘Run Faster Than Jonah’
Governor Ishaku, however, gave an assurance that he would not let residents of the state down in his quest for peaceful atmosphere.
He stressed that the five years of his administration has visible achievements and promised to achieve more feats.
“Even the peace that is eluding, we will come and get it and one day those accusing us will come and say thank you for the peace you have given.
“There is no problem that does not have a solution, it is only the will to make sure that peace is achieved or gotten, and it is gotten through sweat and sleepless nights,” the governor stated.
He added, “We are ready to spend sleepless nights to get to the bottom of the issues; we have done it and we shall do it again.”
Governor Ishaku insisted that the problems bedevilling Taraba in terms of crisis were with the state.
According to him, nobody has a monopoly of knowledge and he is a governor of a tenure.
“Unlike Jonah in the bible, I did not say no; I said Lord, here I am, but if I had known the problems that are here, I would have run faster than Jonah.
“This is because whatever you do, you have not done it right and I acknowledge the deputy governor and all other members of my cabinet for tortuously pushing them to the end of the road for better results of harmony,” the governor said.
The Taraba State government has resolved to synergise with relevant security operatives and traditional rulers to tackle insecurity in the state.
Chairman of the Association of Local Government Chairmen, Bala Bako, said this at the end of an emergency meeting with the chairmen of the 16 local government areas of Taraba, which held in Jalingo.
At the meeting, the chairmen resolved to introduce a platform for the promotion of peaceful coexistence.
He said, “We have resolved to collectively pursue the issue of insecurity with all vigour by synergising with relevant security operatives and the traditional rulers to tackle the incessant security out-breaches in the state.
“No society truly develops without peace. Thus, all hands must be on deck to ensure that peace and tranquility prevail in our respective communities.
“We have resolved to introduce a platform in our respective local government councils for the promotion of peaceful coexistence by all ethnic groups.
“Similarly, we have identified the need to promote sporting activities in all local government areas to foster unity among the various communities.”
Part of the resolutions by the LG bosses is to further strengthen the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) activities in their council areas by rewarding outstanding corps members at the end of each service year.
The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the issues discussed at the meeting and it was agreed that the local governments would partner with the primary healthcare agency to establish mobilization and sensitization committees at ward and local government levels for effective awareness and advocacy campaigns.
Another issue raised at the meeting was the proliferation of fake certificates of origin. To reverse the trend, local governments agreed to suspend pending when a new process is implemented.
The new process will require all applications for certificates of origin to be routed through ward or village heads to local government chairmen for final endorsement.
Meanwhile, the association praised Governor Darius Ishaku for approving the elongation of the tenure of local government chairmen from two years to three years.
They said the move would enable them to better serve the people.
The Tiv ethnic group has withdrawn its participation to tender memorandum or offer testimony before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku.
This followed objections raised by the counsel representing the over eight million Tiv population in Taraba which were overruled by the Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ah led commission.
Governor Ishaku had asked the commission to look at the remote and immediate causes of the clashes between the Tivs and neighbouring communities in Taraba who have been in ceaseless conflict for decades.
This has led to the death of thousands of persons and the destruction of properties worth millions of naira, with travellers sometimes caught in the web of the crisis.
The crisis has led to several peace meetings to find a lasting peace between the warring parties, some of which were attended by Governor Ishaku and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom.
In his search for a peaceful resolution to the rampant clashes between the Tivs and other residents of the state, especially those in the southern and central zones, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is the latest effort adopted by Governor Ishaku.
While inaugurating the commission, the governor said the setting up of the commission would be his final effort in a quest for peace between the warring factions.
At a resumed sitting to submit a memorandum and allow for testimonies by affected residents, counsel to Tiv ethnic group, Sebastian Hon, argued that the commission should stay proceedings, saying they have already filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to restrain the commission from sitting, pending the determination of the suit.
He also raised an objection on the instrument setting up the commission that, ‘The Tiv and Neighbouring Communities’ as a title, was indicting and discriminatory.
Sebastian wondered why only the Tiv people were mentioned without specification on who the opponents were, insisting that they cannot be fighting themselves.
He said, “We are withdrawing; we do not have confidence in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry because right from the instrument setting up the commission to its terms of reference, the Tiv people have been profiled and isolated.
“The commission of inquiry is supposed to name the parties, but it only named the Tiv people and its neighbours. So that is discriminatory and contrary to Section 42 of the Constitution and it is also a ground towards breaching the fundamental human rights of fair hearing on the Tiv people”
“The terms of reference also delve into criminality, or does it mean that the Tiv people that are named are the troublemakers?” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said.
He insisted that they have no confidence in the commission and prayed the commission to adjust the sitting date pending the hearing of the suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, stay proceedings for the same purpose, decline jurisdiction continuously, or recuse itself by avoiding conflict.
In his submissions, counsel to the Jukun Traditional Council, Abdul Ibrahim (SAN) disagreed with Sebastian’s submissions, insisting that the commission was duly constituted.
In his ruling, Justice Kumai Bayang overruled the submissions made by Sebastian, saying they were clear ambush of the proceedings.
He added that no order was issued from the Federal High Court in Abuja stopping them from sitting.
These declarations by Justice Bayang forced the counsel to the Tiv to withdraw from further tendering memorandum and testimony.
The public hearing has been rescheduled to hold on Wednesday for taking memos and cross-examination of testimonies.
It has 90 days, starting from July 13, to submit its report.
A retired colonel, Agbu Kefas, has emerged as the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Taraba State.
Kefas was elected based on consensus to pioneer the affairs of the party for the next four years at a state congress held on Thursday in Jalingo, the state capital.
Delegates also elected new state officials of the party at the congress which took place at the main bowl of the Jolly Nyame Stadium, in partial compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines.
In his opening remark, the outgoing PDP state chairman, Victor Bala, stated that posterity would not judge them wrongly as they have delivered charitably to the people during their eight-year reign.
He insisted that his administration introduced reforms aimed at repositioning the party to a greater height.
The voting was a seamless process where a total of 1,685 out of the expected 1,980 delegates cast their ballots.
Announcing the results at the end of the congress, the Chairman of the PDP Congress Committee for Taraba, Charles Minigbo, Kefas as the winner of the state chairmanship seat.
The newly elected officials of the party in the state were later inaugurated by the Secretary of the Congress Committee, John Okezie, who urged them to live up to expectations.
In his acceptance speech, Kefas promised that the State Executive Committee would operate an open-door policy and reconcile with aggrieved members.
He also gave an assurance of strengthening the existing structure of the party to boost the chances of winning future elections.
The state governor, Darius Ishaku, who was also present at the Congress stressed that the party was determined to ensure Taraba continues to be a PDP state.
He said, “Our programmes and policies have been designed to benefit all Taraba residents of all facets of life.
“I am also pleased to announce that the congresses at the ward and local government levels were successful and I am encouraged by the maturity, orderliness, and peaceful conduct of all.”
The governor also commended the outgone leadership for solidifying the party’s stronghold in the state and making PDP a party of choice for the residents.
“Let me put it on record that your work is not yet over in our party, as you shall be called upon to give useful advice and sharing of experiences in the years ahead.
“I encourage the party faithful to give the new officials the maximum support and cooperation needed so that they can take the party to an even more enviable position, not only in Taraba, but in the country at large,” he said.
Governor Ishaku congratulated the new party officials and urged them to bring to bear their wealth of experience by encouraging aggrieved members to return.
Although the ruler escaped unhurt when the armed man invaded his palace in Jauro Santi, he, however, explained that in the process of repelling the attackers, one of his guards was shot by the assailants.
Banti noted that the attack occurred a few hours after he hosted a peace meeting with the warring tribes of his chiefdom which has led to the displacement of hundreds of people.
The country added 386 fresh cases of the virus on the first day of August with the total deaths from the disease 883, according to the agency.
Lagos State has the highest number of deaths (as of the time of this report) from the pandemic – 192 – followed by Edo State on 83 and Delta and Rivers states with 53 fatalities each.
Taraba, so far, has 54 cases of the virus, out of which 11 have been discharged, 43 persons on admission but no death reported.
Nigeria’s COVID-19 epicentre, Lagos has reported 192 deaths from 15,043 cases, the highest number of fatality in the country.
On May 17th, Taraba state discharged all 17 active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) receiving treatment after they tested negative twice.
Governor Darius Ishaku confirmed this to reporters when he inspected a 100-bed space capacity isolation centre at the NYSC orientation camp in Sibre in Ardo-Kola Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
No Testing Centre
The governor had also lamented the lack of a COVID-19 testing centre in the state, calling on the Federal Government to set up at least one testing centre in the area.
Although a lockdown was imposed on the state to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the government suspended the restriction of movement for residents for the Local Government Council elections held on June 30.
Return To Class
On Thursday and in line with the Federal Government’s directive, the Taraba government asked graduating students in secondary schools in the state to resume on August 4.
It explained that this was to enable the students to revise for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
The Taraba State government has asked graduating students across the over 300 secondary schools in the state to resume on August 4.
It explained that this was to enable the students revise for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
The decision to allow the students return to school formed part of the resolutions reached at a meeting of education stakeholders held on Thursday in Jalingo to discuss ways to meet the set standard by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
At the meeting, the stakeholders agreed on August 3 for fumigation of all classes and hostels in the state, with the setting up of a monitoring team to ensure compliance with set standards.
This followed a broadcast by Governor Darius Ishaku on March 24 in which he ordered the shutdown of all schools with a view to curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Four months later, the government convened a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the best ways on how schools would reopen for graduating students to write their examinations.
In an exclusive interview with Channels Television, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Johannes Jigim, revealed the government has granted express approval for the procurement of personal protective equipment in all schools.
According to him, the meeting had representatives from the primary board, secondary school board, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), as well as directors and permanent secretaries in the State Ministry of Education.
“As much as we love our students, we must equally protect their lives and that of their staff,” Jigim said.
He noted that the governor has directed the Chairman on COVID-19 Technical Committee, Innocent Vakkai, to supply all the needed materials.
The commissioner added that Governor Ishaku also gave approval that all health teachers be trained on the use of thermometers to detect those showing symptoms of COVID-19.
He explained that a monitoring team has been set up to go round the 305 public and private secondary schools to monitor strict compliance with the guidelines.
Speaking about the state’s inability to provide ambulances at all the schools, the commissioner disclosed that general hospitals, primary healthcare clinics, and referral hospitals have been placed on red alert to attend to emergencies.
On the possibility of aiding private school proprietors pay its workers, he stated that they were not part of the state government’s budget.
A socio-cultural group Mutual Union of Tiv in the United Kingdom (MUTUK) has called for increased effort to end the persistent clashes between the people of Jukun and Tiv in the southern part of Taraba State.
The President of MUTUK, Dr Kohol Shadrach, made the call on behalf of the group in a statement on Sunday.
He decried the clashes have claimed many lives and led to the destruction of properties, and have spiralled into the border communities of Taraba and Benue States.
Shadrach noted the interventions of the Taraba State Governor, Dairus Ishaku, and that of Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom, as well as the efforts of the security agencies to end the violence.
He, however, regretted what he described as the “unreasonable response” to the pleas and the intervention of traditional and religious leaders to calm frayed nerves.
The MUTUK president believes dialogue, rather than violence and bloodletting is the most suitable way to resolve any dispute between warring parties.
He stated that while the group would not blame any group of persons or community for the reprehensible conflict, it was important for all warring factions to sheathe their swords and embrace peace.
Shadrach also asked the government at various levels to live up to the responsibility of protecting the lives and property of the people.
He urged them not to relent in their various efforts until peace was achieved in the troubled southern part of Taraba and other places affected by the conflict.
Read the full statement below:
It’s time to sheathe the bloody swords in Southern Taraba
The President of The Mutual Union of Tiv in the United Kingdom (MUTUK), Dr Kohol Shadrach Iornem, on behalf of the Management Committee of MUTUK, has expressed deep concern over the renewed endless violence, killings, bloodbath, acts of arson and wanton destructions of properties between the warring communities of Jukun and Tiv predominantly in the Southern senatorial district of Taraba state.
It is also regrettable that these unfortunate conflagrations have spiralled into the border communities of Taraba and Benue states.
MUTUK finds it extremely difficult to understand the refusal of the internecine conflagrations to abate, despite several interventions by security agents, including the Nigerian Army, the Governors of Benue, HE Gov. Samuel Ortom and his Taraba State counterpart, HE Gov. Dairus Ishaku.
The intervention of traditional and religious leaders as well as other political leaders have also failed to calm frayed nerves. We consider it an unreasonable response to these pleas by these warring actors.
We are not only astounded at this reality but the further shameful confirmation that the over a year of violence, killings, bloodbath, displacements of hundreds of thousands of people, dislocation of social life and the damaging of economic treasures for a people who are basically agrarian farmers are potent existential threats now and in the nearest future.
Let us clearly state in very unambiguous terms that nowhere has violence and bloodletting, rather than dialogue has resolved any dispute.
It is not our intention to blame any group of persons or community for the reprehensible conflict. But we desire to appeal to all warring factions to sheathe their swords and embrace peace for the sake of humanity, posterity, and God.
We are aware that development and prosperity do not thrive where there is no peace. Our brothers and sisters must realise and court the wisdom to live in peace and harmony and consciously work towards it to bring development to our people and communities.
While MUTUK, therefore, appreciates the interventions of leaders at all levels to end the crisis, we prayerfully plead with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR; the Governors of Taraba and Benue states to redouble their efforts by urgently using the powers of Government at their disposal to bring an end to the killings and destructions.
May we again, remind Government at all levels that the first and uncompromisable duty of any responsible government is to protect the lives and property of the citizens.
Therefore, Government and indeed, all concerned leaders must not relent until peace and security are achieved in the troubled Taraba Southern Senatorial District and environs.
MUTUK believes that whatever must have caused the crisis is not a problem beyond all stakeholders of both groups to resolve amicably and peacefully on the dialogue table.
Whilst we pray Almighty God to touch the heart of everyone to drop arms, we pray for the repose of beloved ones who have lost their lives in the bloody skirmishes. May their families be consoled.