The House of Representatives had about two weeks ago introduced a bill which according to the sponsor, Honourable Garba Mohammed would allow both the Federal and state governments to freely negotiate the minimum wage with their workers in line with the nation’s federal system.
This move, the protesting workers say does not work in their favour, stressing that it is an attempt by some state governors and members of the National Assembly to short-change them.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has demanded a fair tax justice system that will make it mandatory for business organisations to pay tax that is equal to their investment.
The union says at least 50 billion Naira is taken out of Africa annually and that the time to arrest the trend is now.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, believes Africa is being impoverished by the local and multi-national companies which enjoy a tax haven without contributing their profits to the development of the continent.
He urged the Federal Government to reduce the burden of taxation imposed on the average Nigerian worker who ‘compulsorily pays tax regularly’.
Mr Wabba made the call on Wednesday at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, where he led some workers to submit a letter of protest at the Federal Ministry of Finance.
He asked the Nigerian Government to protect Africa’s wealth through an effective tax regime that would provide a tax haven for some people.
The Director of Special Duties at the ministry, Mohammed Dikur, received the protest letter with a promise to ensure it gets to the Minister of Finance.
The march in commemoration of the 2-year anniversary of the Chibok girls abduction, which started from the Unity Fountain climaxed as planned at the Presidential Villa.
However, a human barricade formed by men of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group from gaining access into the villa.
That did not, however, stop the campaigners from continuing with their planned itinerary at the Presidency which ended with a press conference.
They delivered their message to the President right there.
First they asked the President to act fast to rescue the girls, some of which some parents had just identified in recent pictures on CNN.
Other major demand of the group is that government should investigate every case of kidnapping, whether or not it is related to Chibok, set up a missing persons verification bureau as well as a rehabilitation platform for victims of insurgency.
The Chairman of the Chibok community, Tsambido Hosea, also asked for the establishment of a special search and rescue team with a special mandate to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.
He said that members of the community have continued to grieve over the faith of the girls and are asking the federal government to step up efforts to find them.
Meanwhile, the co-convener of the BBOG campaign group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, reassured Nigerians that the movement is apolitical with interests focused on good governance alone.
“Those who have misrepresented our advocacy to mean some politics need to be mindful of the fact that politics has not delivered anything valuable to any of our Chibok girls,” she said.
The campaigners said that 731 days is no joke and is too long a time for young girls to be left at the mercy of insurgents and away from home but they are not giving up until the girls are back and alive.
They insisted that government must act fast on the new information available.
One of the parents of the Chibok girls, Esther Yakubu, while berating the Police for denying them access to the Presidential Villa, said tearfully, “It is not our fault. We didn’t beg for it and we didn’t pay the Boko Haram to kidnap our girls. They did it just to fulfill their selfish interest.”
The National Assembly has expressed concern that two years after over 200 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents, the Chibok girls are yet to regain their freedom and their whereabouts unknown.
The lawmakers blame the federal government for failing to rescue the girls after two years.
The upper chamber consequently resolved to summon the service chiefs and the National Security Adviser to explain efforts made so far to rescue the girls.
Federal lawmakers in the lower chamber described the abduction of the Chibok girls and their continued captivity as national shame.
They directed the Ministry of Interior to pay compensation to the families of the abducted girls.
Federal lawmakers also asked the Borno State government to rebuild Chibok secondary school in the interest of children in the community.
The National Assembly has asked security agencies to do everything possible to ensure that the girls are rescued.
A symbolic march was held to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the abduction of over 200 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok Borno State.
The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group convened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, and subsequently marched to the Presidential Villa to present their messages to the Presidency.
However, a human barricade formed by officers of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group from gaining access into the villa.
Prior to the march, co-convener of the group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili told Channels Television that Nigerians must continue to empathize with the plight of the girls.
Members of the group have asked Nigerians and the international community not to relent in attempts to return the missing schoolgirls to their parents.
The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaigners have again called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts at rescuing the over 200 girls abducted by the Boko Haram sect in Borno State.
Speaking at their daily sit out at the Unity Fountain Abuja, the campaigners asked the Federal Government to improve the welfare of the military to enable them confront Boko Haram effectively.
On the outcome of the meeting with President Jonathan, the Chairman of the Chibok community in Abuja, Mr Hosea Esanbido, said that the President assured them that the girls would soon be rescued.
He also said that President Jonathan assured the parents of the abducted girls that the education and welfare of the girls would be taken care of.
Fifty-one of the girls who escaped from their abductors were brought to the Presidential Villa earlier alongside the parents of those still in the camp of the Boko Haram.
The meeting was held under tight security and not even the State House correspondents were allowed to cover the closed-door meeting.
Also at the meeting were the governors of Borno and Bauchi States, Senate President, Ministers of Education, Finance, Information and other key officials in the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, including security personnel.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, addressed State House correspondents after the meeting, saying that the President used the opportunity of the meeting to empathize with the girls and their parents and reassured them that everything would be done to make things easier for them especially the ones that have already escaped and the ones yet to be rescued.
One month since campaigners of Bring Back Our Girls group started it’s sit out sessions to call for the rescue of the abducted girls, the campaigners have promised not to be deterred or intimidated by any group with ulterior motive.
The campaigners have changed the venue of their meeting to the Maitama Amusement Park in Maitama area of Abuja but they did not have an immediate access to the park. They had to wait outside the park for about fifteen minutes before they were finally allowed into the premises.
When the meeting finally started, former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, admonished the group not to relent in their campaign for the release of the girls and ignore intimidation from other groups.
There had been an incident at the Unity Fountain, where a new group allegedly came to harass campaigners seeking the rescue of the girls.
The new group, whose campaign is tagged “Release Our Girls”, said that they were not calling on the Government for the rescue of the girls but directing their grievances to Boko Haram members, as they cried and called on the sect to “release our girls”.
One of the protesters said, amidst tears: “They should release our children, let them release our children, this is what we are saying. How can they say they paid us? How can they say that?”
There had indeed been allegations that their group was sponsored to counter the protests by the other group and Channels Television sought to know the rationale behind their new campaign.
The leader of the “Release Our Girls” campaigners, Meg Abbagu said, “This is not true, I will tell you that before coming out here we had 7 days prayers – all of us day and night – and we fasted that this (abduction) is what we don’t want.
“Doing that in a square is not getting the message to the people, the Boko Haram and their sponsors. We want to send them this message and that’s why we have come to the open field.
“I don’t know about being paid. I am not being paid to do this.”
With many attacks still going on in the North East, especially in villages, many Nigerians hope that the girls would be rescued or released soon and reunite with their families.