President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige to meet with the organised labour, to avert possible industrial crises due to increment in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and electricity tariff.
The minister made this known when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of a closed door meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, the meeting, which has been fixed for Sept. 12, will deliberate on state of the nation’s economy, particularly the dwindling government revenues as it affects the generality of Nigerians
He stated that he updated the president on the activities of his ministry soon after he briefed the President on the state of affairs in his Ministry.
“The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organized private labour; all the government institutions that have to do with the finances of government so that we meet with them and show them the books.
“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the trade union congress and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.
“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Sept. 12), so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today so that we do this meeting tomorrow.
“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. Their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, they will also table it so that we look at it.,” he said.
He explained that the recent upward review of electricity tariff was done by the regulatory body based on certain realities confronting the sector.
He said: “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity bands R1 and R2 and even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.
“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”
On the planned strike by the tripartite unions of the non-academic staff unions of universities, the minister said the government had already invited the leadership of the unions to a meeting to address their concerns.
“The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), we have invited them to a meeting.
“The leadership met with me last week and the major thrust of the challenges they have is on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) system.
“They claim and allege that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they are supposed to debit.
“They also claim that some allowances that are peculiar to the university system like responsibility allowance, hazard allowance, field trip allowance and education of children allowance, that the IPPIS has stopped all of them.
“At the government level, we have discussed and we now want to do a special session with them, they come with their facts and the Accountant General will lead his team, the National Salaries and Incomes and Wages will also come and the Ministry of Labour will lead and then we discuss and find out who is treating the other unfairly,’’ he explained.
Ngige lauded the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) for suspending their nationwide strike.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the president of the association, Aliyu Sokumba on Sept. 10, announced the suspension of the strike, saying NARD would review the progress made in talks with the Federal Government in two weeks.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
Troops rescue 22 kidnapped victims in Zamfara, Katsina
The Nigerian Army troops of Operation Sahel Sanity fighting banditry and kidnapping in the northwest region have foiled bandits’ attacks and rescued 22 kidnapped victims.
The troops also recovered arms and ammunitions in various operations in Zamfara and Katsina States.
Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, made the disclosure in a statement issued in Gusau on Friday.
According to him, troops deployed at Moriki and Jangeru, responded to a distress call on Sept. 13, and folied a planned bandits’ attack on Mai-Zuma village in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara.
This, he said, followed severe shoot out along Kayawa axis forcing the bandits to withdraw and abandon three motorcycles recovered by the gallant troops.
Onyeuko said on Sept. 12, troops deployed at Dandume in Katsina State rescued two young girls kidnapped by bandits on August 18, adding that the bandits abandoned the victims after a hot pursuit.
He said that on Sept. 17, troops also rescued 8 kidnapped victims from suspected bandits at Fankama and Sabon Layi area in Faskari LGA of Katsina.
“Troops on patrol at Chabas Chabas, swiftly rescued a truck driver, 11 women and children, on their way to Batsari Market but blocked by suspected bandits along Shimfida – Gurbi Road in Katsina State,” he said.
The Acting Director added that troops deployed at Forward Operation Base (FOB), Dansadau arrested a suspected bandit named Bello Ibrahim riding a motorcycle on his way to Dandalla village.
Onyeuko noted that the troops recovered one Pump Action rifle and three live cartridges from the suspected bandit.
He said: “On Sept. 16, troops deployed in Faskari arrested a suspected bandits’ informant named Isah Indo while spying on troops’ location.
“Following credible information; troops deployed at Yankara arrested a suspected bandits’ collaborator named Idris Isah from Yampa village in Faskari LGA of Katsina, who is engaged in illicit activities with bandits.
“Also on Sept. 16, troops deployed at Magami arrested Yaya Rabiu at Magami checkpoint, the suspect was identified to be a member of a notorious bandit gang.”
According to him, the bandits recently attacked troops location at Ruwandawa-Kwankele village in Gusau LGA of Zamfara.
Onyeuko reiterated commitment of the Nigerian Army to protect lives and property, and urged the people to provide credible information on suspicious movements and persons in their communities.
Edited By: Josephine Obute
FEMA alerts Abuja residents of severe flood
The Director-General of FEMA, Alhaji Abbas Idriss, issued the alert in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Idriss said the red alert became necessary following rainfall and repeated floods being witnessed in different parts of the country and around the FCT,
Idriss said though FCT was not on the red alert, but could be at the risk of heavier flooding because of its closeness to neighboring red line States.
He assured that the agency was prepared to handle any eventuality that may arise.
“As we speak, about nine rivers in nine countries are discharging their contents from their rivers which will eventually flows into River Niger and settles at Lokoja,” he said.
He called on residents living around the riverine and flood-prone areas of the FCT to move to higher grounds, clear their water channels and drainages.
Idriss also enjoined the residents to avoid dumping refuse on water ways and avoid walking or driving through flooded water to keep safe.
“What we are about to witness from now on is ‘river flooding’ and this is going to be heavier and more forceful than the flash flood we experienced earlier,” he warned.
Idriss, therefore, stressed the need for residents to take personal responsibility of the safety of their environment, saying ” disaster management is an all-inclusive effort from both the government and the governed.”
He assured residents of the agency’s efforts to work with all the relevant stakeholders to mitigate any possible effect of flooding in the FCT.
The DG said that the agency had strengthened its Ambassadors (FEMA volunteers/Vanguards) in all the area councils to be able to sensitise their people using town criers and other indigenous means of communication.
” This will enable them to drive the message home, in the bid to minimise loss of lives and properties.”
He added that FEMA had also mounted reflective billboards at various flood prone points warning off and cautioning residents from these danger areas.
Idriss challenged religious leaders, community heads and well- meaning Nigerians in authority to take responsibility of the public education and sensitisation of people around them.
” Especially those living close to flood prone areas to move to higher grounds for safety and to always call the national toll-free emergency number 112 for prompt response of any emergency.”,he said.
He said flood could catch up with anybody, anywhere, citing the example of the victim of Trademoore Estate ,Lugbe, a visitor in the Estate that was swept off by flood water.
Edited By: Buhari Bolaji/Sadiya Hamza
COVID-19: NCDC announces 221 new cases, total infections rise to 56,956
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Friday.
According to it, the new cases are confirmed from 18 states in the country.
The new infections brought the total number of confirmed cases to 56,956 in Nigeria.
The public health agency said that Lagos had 59, the highest number of cases, followed by Abia with 46 cases and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), 22.
Among others were; Rivers, 11, Bauchi, 7, Benue, Ekiti and Imo, 6 each, Kaduna, Kwara and Ondo, 4 each, Ogun and Osun, 3 each, Bayelsa, Edo and Kano, 1 each.
According to it, those discharged on Friday include 100 community recoveries managed in Oyo State in line with new case management guidelines.
The health agency sadly recorded one more death, which brought the national death toll to 1,094.
It noted that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC) activated at Level 3 had continued to coordinate the national response activities across the country.
It cautioned that the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 was higher when people did not wear face mask in public places.
“Wear your face mask properly at all times. Adhere to all non-pharmaceutical preventive measures of COVID-19,” it urged Nigerians.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that as the people of Edo State prepared to vote their preferred candidates at the governorship election on Saturday, Sept. 19, NCDC urged all to observe the COVID-19 guidelines recently released.
It noted that relevant stakeholders must take actions that would reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during the election.
“Ensure there is hand hygiene and temperature checks at the campaign ground, polling stations; providing additional polling stations or booths to ensure physical distancing, with clearly marked floors to enforce spacing on queues.
”Mandating the use of face mask for everyone, regular cleaning of polling stations, tables and other surfaces highly essential because those are the areas that are easy to contract the virus.
”Multiply hand-washing points or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, while staff at the polling units should practice hand hygiene frequently,.”
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu
FG set to support 1.7 million businesses, individuals — Minister
Amb. Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, has stated the Federal Government’s resolve to provide financial support for 1.7 million business entities and individuals across the country in the next three months.
The minister made this known at the virtual commissioning of the Fashion Cluster Shared Facility for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) tagged:“Eko Fashion Hub” in Lagos on Friday.
According to her, the initiative is borne out of the Federal Government’s continued commitment to help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy by saving existing jobs and creating new job opportunities.
She said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, through the Economic Sustainability Committee, had announced specific programmes aimed at cushioning the impact of COVID-19 on MSME businesses.
“The Federal Government is fully committed to empowering Nigerians; more so in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“These programmes include among others, the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes of which I have the honour to chair the Steering Committee for the effective implementation of the projects.
“The project, which will run for an initial period of three months, is targeting 1.7million entities and individuals and has provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses and five per cent for those with special needs.
“The registration portal for the schemes is set to open on Monday 21st September, 2020 and I urge you all to take full advantage of the schemes,” she said.
She said that both schemes were at the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package also known as the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) being implemented by the Federal Government.
The minister said that the commissioning of shared facilities was also expected to provide succour and relief for the teeming micro businesses in need of space and infrastructural support.
Katagum expressed appreciation to the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for providing a pragmatic and purposeful leadership in establishing a conducive environment that would seamlessly allow MSMEs to grow and prosper.
She congratulated MSMEs across the country and urged the ones in Lagos State to take full advantage of the shared facility as well as the MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes to improve their businesses.
“This event is a testimony to the continued commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide a conducive environment for operators in the MSME space.
“The establishment of Shared Common Facilities, is one of the key take-away from the organisation of MSME Clinics across the country.
“It is also imperative to state that the provision of Shared Facilities in support of MSMEs, is being complemented by activities in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
“It has been established, and rightly so, that Shared Facilities have been found to be effective tools to minimise the infrastructural challenges that have inhibited MSMEs overtime”.
“It is my belief that this initiative has come at the right time for MSMEs in Lagos State in particular, and Nigeria in general,” she said.
Edited By: Dianabasi Effiong/Grace Yussuf