The ongoing National Identity Number (NIN) registration appears to be running into more troubled waters, as Nigerians who have turned up for the exercise have been left unattended at various registration centres.
This is because workers at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) have embarked on strike across the country.
Some of the agency’s offices monitored by Channels Television on Thursday included Lagos, Abuja, Bauchi, and Taraba, among other states.
At the NIMC office located on the premises of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) office in Alausa, Lagos, hundreds of residents were seen as early as 8am.
However, the workers there refused to attend to the applicants, saying they were on strike to demand better welfare packages from the Federal Government.
One of the workers told Channels Television that the recent increase in the number of visitors at their office for registration of NIN had caused a lot of stress for them.
Apart from the demand for allowance, he said the government does not care about their safety as saying they could get infected with COVID-19 as they attend to hundreds of residents daily without protective kits.
In the nation’s capital, Abuja, the staff also complained about inadequate work equipment to protect them from Covid-19 and poor salary structure, among others.
They claimed that some of their members have contracted the disease and were neglected by the management of the agency.
The workers were also worried about the continuous breach of the Covid-19 protocols, considering the large crowds that show up for registration daily.
They vowed to continue the industrial actions until the issues raised were addressed by the relevant authorities.
The situation was also the same in Bauchi Stated where the staff of NIMC joined their counterparts in other parts of the country to down tools.
According to them, the refusal to work is in compliance with a directive following notice of strike issued by the NIMC Unit of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The NIN applicants in Bauchi were locked outside the gate of the NIMC office as staff of the agency withdrew their services.
Some of the workers who were seen on the NIMC premises stated that their demands for improved welfare, promotion, and provision of personal protective equipment, among others have been a long drawn issue.
In Taraba, the workers also complained about the poor condition of service, especially regarding their protection against COVID-19 infection.
Noting that essential duty staff and first responders were excluded from the directive, he urged all the public servants to stay safe and keep adhering to all COVID-19 protocols in order to rid the state of the pandemic in the shortest possible time.
Governor Sanwo-Olu’s directive was contained in a circular issued by the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, to members of the State Executive Council and all heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on Sunday.
The circular entitled “Re: Stemming the Tide of the Second Wave Of COVID-19 Pandemic” also stated that the Year 2021 First Work Day Prayer Session for all public servants in Lagos State would be held virtually on Monday.
Sequel to Head of Service Circular Ref. No: CIR/HOS/’20/Vol.1/139 of 18th December 2020 on stemming the tide of the second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the state, it is hereby notified for general information that Mr Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has further directed all State Public Servants on Grade Levels 14 and below to continue working from home till Monday, 18th January 2021.
Expectedly, the directive excludes Essential Duty Staff, as well as First Responders.
Furthermore, while wishing all staff, a prosperous and fulfilling year, please be informed that the Y2021 First Work Day Prayer Session for all Public Servants in Lagos State shall be held in line with tradition on Monday 4th January 2020.
However, in keeping with COVID-19 Protocols, the session shall be held via zoom and streamed live on Facebook.
In addition, all public servants are enjoined to stay safe and to keep adhering to all COVID-19 protocols in order to rid the state of the pandemic in the shortest possible time.
All heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies are urged to note the contents of this circular for compliance and give it the deserved Service-wide publicity.
The Lagos State government has directed all public servants to resume work, seven months after the workers were directed to work from home as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.
Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola, the Head of Service in the state, issued the directive in a circular obtained by Channels Television on Saturday.
He noted that the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, gave the approval for resumption of all public servants, especially those on salary grade levels 1 – 12 who have been working from home since March.
The circular with reference number CIR/HOS/20/Vol.1/115 and dated October 30, 2020, asked the government workers to resume on Monday.
Muri-Okunola explained that the approval of the governor followed the advisories and recommendations of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the State Ministry of Health.
He, however, asked the accounting officers to maintain attendance duty roster and ensure strict compliance with all COVID-19 protocols in the workplace, thereby ensuring physical distancing in respective Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
Those copied in the circular included the deputy governor, speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, the chief judge, and the secretary to the state government.
Also copied were the chief of staff to the governor, commissioners, permanent secretaries, and chairman of the Civil Service Commission, among others.
Read the full statement below:
RE: FURTHER EASING OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
Sequel to the informed recommendation of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the State Ministry of Health advisory on same, it is hereby notified for general information that Mr Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has approved that all Public Servants on Salary Grade Levels 1 – 12, who were direct to work from home since March 2020 resume at the Office with effect from Monday, November 2, 2020.
Furthermore, in order to ensure physical distancing in respective MDAs, Accounting Officers are to maintain Attendance Duty Roster and ensure strict compliance with all COVID-19 protocols in the workplace.
All Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies are to note the content of this circular for compliance and give it the service-wide publicity it deserves.
Workers at factories in Belarus answered opposition calls for fresh strikes on Monday after a historic weekend protest over President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election brought tens of thousands to the streets.
In footage widely shared on social media, Lukashenko was confronted by workers at the Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT) who shouted him down with chants of “Leave!” as he tried to give a speech.
A visibly angry Lukashenko walked off the stage, saying: “Thank you, I have said everything. You can shout ‘Leave’.”
Pressure has been building on the ex-Soviet nation’s longtime leader since the August 9 election, which he claims to have won with 80 percent of the vote.
In the biggest demonstration to date, more than 100,000 people took part in a “March for Freedom” in Minsk on Sunday following calls from main opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya for continued demonstrations.
A brutal police crackdown on post-election protests has drawn widespread condemnation and appears to have turned even Lukashenko’s support base at state-owned industries against him.
European Union leaders are to hold an emergency video summit on Belarus on Wednesday, EU Council President Charles Michel announced, while Germany said it was prepared to back an expansion of previously announced sanctions.
Hundreds of workers and protesters gathered outside the MZKT plant where Lukashenko was visiting, waving the red-and-white flag of the opposition and demanding his resignation.
Workers at the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) also told AFP that several thousand staff had walked off the job.
After flying in by helicopter, Lukashenko told workers he would not give in to calls for a new election.
“You will never expect me to do something under pressure,” he was quoted as saying by his press service. “If anyone is unwilling to work and wants to leave, no one will harass you, do as you please, the door is open.”
Demonstrators also gathered outside the Minsk headquarters of state television, where some staff were reported to have joined the strikes.
“I know how scared you are, because we are all scared. Thank you for overcoming your fear and joining the majority,” Maria Kolesnikova, a senior opposition leader, told the protesters.
Workers of potash producer Belaruskali have also said they may go on strike, according to independent local news site tut.by. Potash, used to make fertiliser, is a major source of income for Belarus, which is one of the largest producers in the world.
– Tikhanovskaya ‘ready’ to lead –
Lukashenko has defied calls to stand down after the August 9 election that saw him imprison his closest rivals, shun independent observers and unleash a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters who said he fabricated ballot results.
The opposition called for a general strike after hundreds of workers at state-run factories first downed tools last week in a sign that Lukashenko’s traditional support base was turning against him.
In a video posted online Monday, Tikhanovskaya said that although she never planned to enter politics she was prepared to take over the country’s leadership.
“Fate decreed that I’d find myself on the frontline of a confrontation against arbitrary rule and injustice,” Tikhanovskaya said in exile in Lithuania.
“I am ready to take responsibility and act as a national leader during this period.”
Tikhanovskaya has demanded the authorities release all detainees, remove security forces from the streets and open criminal cases against those who ordered the crackdown.
She has also said she will organise new elections if Lukashenko steps down.
Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for 26 years, is facing an unprecedented challenge to his leadership.
Pressure is growing at home and abroad and EU leaders last week agreed to draw up a list of targets for a new round of sanctions.
– UK ‘watched with horror’ –
Britain said Monday it did not recognise the results of the “unfair” elections and called for an independent investigation into the results.
“The world has watched with horror at the violence used by the Belarusian authorities to suppress the peaceful protests that followed this fraudulent presidential election,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
“The UK does not accept the results.”
NATO member Lithuania warned on Monday that Belarus had started military drills on its western border and accused Lukashenko of escalating tensions following the elections.
The Kremlin, which is Lukashenko’s closest ally, has said it is ready to step in if necessary through the CSTO military alliance between six ex-Soviet states.
More and more Belarusians have taken to the streets over the last week to denounce the election result and support Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice who ran after other potential candidates including her husband were jailed.
A violent police crackdown on protesters saw more than 6,700 people arrested, hundreds wounded and two people dead.
Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has called on civil servants and the organised labour to abide by the safety measures put in place by health professionals and the government orders aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 as they mark May Day celebration.
In a statement issued on Friday by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje, the governor commended the organised labour for their understanding with the government at this trying period.
The governor said he is optimistic that the world would soon overcome the pandemic and life would return to normalcy.
Governor Bello urged them to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, while also maintaining the practice of personal hygiene.
He described civil Servants as pivotal to the success of the policy implementation of his administration adding that, when the civil service is properly positioned, every aspect of government runs smoothly.
“The impact of the government’s policies and programmes on the citizens is determined by whether they have been implemented excellently or shoddily. This, in turn, depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service,” the governor said.
He also assured the workers of his administration’s commitment to give priority to their welfare and development for optimal performance, promising that conducive atmosphere will continue to be provided for the private sector to thrive as they have been adding value to the state.
As some countries begin to ease their lockdown restrictions, governments and employers must prepare workplaces and ensure people can return safely to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, the UN said Tuesday.
In a new study, the International Labour Organization stressed the importance of ensuring that workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria before allowing people to return to their jobs, in order to minimise their exposure to the novel coronavirus.
“Without such controls, countries face the very real risk of a resurgence of the virus,” the United Nations agency said in a statement.
The ILO’s report comes as a number of European countries are beginning to gingerly scale back lockdown measures, and as authorities in China, which began loosening restrictions last month, fear a second COVID-19 wave could be looming.
The report stressed that by putting in place a range of measures, employers can minimise the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace.
“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount,” ILO chief Guy Ryder said in the statement.
“In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves,” he stressed.
“It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival.”
The pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide and infected nearly three million, has taken a devastating toll on economies and businesses around the globe.
After weeks with more than half of humanity told to stay home, many governments and employers are eager to get back to business.
But the ILO highlighted the dangers of allowing people return to their workplaces, stressing the need to prepare properly.
Tuesday’s report stressed that risk control measures should be especially adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic, like health workers and those in food retail, but stressed that other workplaces also needed strategies to deal with the COVID-19 threat.
– ‘Respiratory etiquette’ –
Employers, it said, should map hazards and assess risks of contagion in relation to all work operations, and should continue to make such assessments after work resumes.
They should also adopt risk control measures adapted to each sector and each workplace, including for instance reducing physical interactions between workers, contractors, customers and visitors, improving ventilation, regularly cleaning surfaces, and providing protective gear like masks to any workers who need it.
Most importantly perhaps, according to ILO occupational safety and health expert Manal Azzi, is to remind people of the basic hygiene rules, like frequent hand-washing, covering sneezes and coughs, and keeping a proper physical distance.
“You still see people not respecting respiratory etiquette. So these are basic things that we need to be raising awareness on,” she told reporters in a virtual briefing.
She also suggested that companies could leave doors open “so people don’t have to touch handles.”
Employers should also provide mental health support for staff, ILO said.
A total of 596 dead civil servants and pensioners have been uncovered on the payroll of the Bauchi State Government in north-east Nigeria.
The Chairman of Bauchi State Authentication Exercise Committee, Mr Adamu Gumba, disclosed this to reporters on Monday in the state capital.
He explained that the dead persons have been on the state government’s payroll and were receiving salaries for several years.
“In the process of this particular exercise, we have also discovered about 596 deceased officers,” he revealed.
Gumba added that the government has put more than 4,000 people on the same payroll under suspicion of being ghost workers.
According to him, the persons were placed under watch after they failed to turn up for the month-long verification exercise.
The committee chairman said, “Despite the extension of time that we have waited for officers (civil servants) to come around to appear before us for verification, we have a huge number that did not turn up.
“Our seven sub-committees travelled to all the local governments and in two instances spent almost a week working in the local governments, but some people decided to be absent.”
“These people that were absent in the process total about 4,578 – both staff and pensioners … and those found to have correct documents were cleared,” he stressed.
Gumba explained that the committee has completed its assignment and would submit its report with a list of recommendations to the state governor, Bala Mohammed.
The state government inaugurated the committee authenticate over 30,000 workers and pensioners after it found out that most of them were without the Bank Verification Number (BVN).
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Mr Kayode Fayemi, says Nigerian governors do not want workers to down tool on the issue of minimum wage.
Fayemi who spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said the N30,000 minimum wage recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari should rather be an incentive that will boost the productivity of Nigerian workers.
He noted that it was on the basis of this that the NGF collectively agreed to increase the salaries of workers in their domain.
“We don’t want workers to down tools, we want productivity to increase and that is why we said we are ready to pay N30,000.
“We are even ready to pay a level of consequential adjustment but that has to be determined on a state by state basis,” he said.
Although the governor agreed that not all fingers are equal, indicating that not all states are financially buoyant, he however, wants a situation whereby the labour leaders will strike an understanding with the respective state governors.
This to him is because when the governors are being put under undue pressure, it may rather affect the plight of the workers rather than assisting them in view of the current economic realities.
“But clearly fingers are not equal at the state level, there will be challenges and I hope labour and state governments will both display a level of understanding that will assist the workers,” he stated.
Explaining further, he said: “The challenge that we have at the level of governors is on the consequential adjustment which has now been agreed by labour and the Federal Government.
“And for us, we will be meeting. I don’t want to give you a view until my colleagues and I have met to review how we are going to look at the template that has come out of the negotiations at the federal level and see how that can be applied.”
When asked when his administration intends implementing the minimum wage payment, the governor replied saying: “We are starting this month in Ekiti State.”
British Steel collapsed on Wednesday after the government said last-ditch talks with its owners failed to secure a financial rescue.
The High Court in London ordered British Steel Limited into compulsory liquidation, a statement said.
“British Steel Limited was wound-up in the High Court” on Wednesday, meaning its assets would be sold to help pay debts.
“The government has worked tirelessly with British Steel, its owner Greybull Capital, and lenders to explore all potential options to secure a solution for British Steel,” said Business Secretary Greg Clark.
“We have shown our willingness to act, having already provided the company” recently with funds.
Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, described the collapse of Britain’s second-biggest steelmaker as “devastating news for the thousands of workers” in the UK.
Some 5,000 people are employed by British Steel and an estimated 20,000 more have links to the firm’s supply chain.
Greybull has blamed Brexit strains for its financial collapse, while the steel sector faces other uncertainties.
“While Greybull cannot be allowed to walk away scot-free and must be held to account for its stewardship of Britain’s second-largest steelmaker, ministers cannot wash their hands of the Brexit farce and ongoing uncertainty that has placed the company in difficulty,” Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union, said Wednesday.
“To do so would be a betrayal of a loyal workforce that has made great sacrifices to make British Steel a success and send economic shockwaves throughout the steel industry, UK manufacturing and the households of 20,000 workers in the supply chain who rely on the steelmaker for their livelihoods.”
There are clouds also over the future of Tata Steel’s main European operations based in the UK after German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp recently scrapped merger plans with the Indian giant.
A deal was seen as positive for Tata’s Port Talbot plant in Wales that employs more than 4,000 staff.
Following the merger collapse, ThyssenKrupp said it would slash 6,000 jobs worldwide in a structural shakeup.
British Steel is owned by investment firm Greybull Capital, who founded the long steel products maker in 2016 after snapping up assets from Tata Steel.
Long steel products include plates, rails for railways, sections used in construction, and wire rod. The latter can be used as steel rope for infrastructures like suspension bridges or filaments for car tyres to give rigidity.
The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Bobboi Kaigama, has reacted to the new minimum wage recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kaigama who appeared on Lunchtime Politics which aired on Channels Television on Friday said that states can meet up with the N30,000 monthly payment for the Nigerian workers if the right priorities are placed.
“We are pretty sure (that) they (states) have the political, economic will except for the fact that corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the state systems.
“So it will interest you to know that pin the just concluded governorship elections, so many of these states had reserved money to go out, buy voters, compromise electoral officers, compromise security (personnel) and that is why in most of the states now, they cannot pay salaries,” he stated.
He also decried a situation whereby some governors said to be owing workers’ salaries would still source for loans, hence plunging the states into more debts.
When asked if the increase in the minimum wage would not lead to inflation and further devaluation of the nation’s currency, the TUC president stated that prices of commodities were already on the increase.
He, however, noted that if the situation deteriorates to the point that the workers cannot meet his basic needs, agitations would come up for another salary review.
“We already have inflation; we already have a devaluation of our naira. So it’s already taking a toll on the worker’s take home.
“Unless we allow it to go to the extent of the worker not even taking a single square meal, otherwise where we have inflation, devalued naira, the worker has the right to demand a corresponding increase in his salaries,” he stated.
Pope Francis issued stringent child abuse legislation for Vatican City employees on Friday, as part of the Church’s bid to address a wave of sex abuse allegations against priests.
The legislation requires officials and employees in the Vatican City State as well the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church, to immediately report any abuse against minors and vulnerable people or face fines or a prison sentence.
Anyone convicted of abuse must be “removed from office” under the new rules, which set a statute of limitations for such crimes at 20 years from the date victims turn 18.
Francis said in a letter released with his “motu proprio” decree that it was the duty of everyone “to generously welcome children and vulnerable persons, and to create a safe environment for them”.