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Minimum Wage: Consider economic realities, Tripartite Committee tells Organised Labour

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Meeting on the ongoing negotiations on new minimum wage has been adjourned till Wednesday after the organised labour

The Tripartite Committee on National Minimum Wage said at the weekend that organised labour should reconsider the amount it was demanding as national minimum wage, based on current realities.

Chairman of the committee, Goni Aji, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that labour should exercise more flexibility in its negotiation, based on current economic considerations and non-monetary incentives, which the federal government had so far provided for workers.

However, a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Sunny Onuesoke, berated labour, claiming Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been selfish in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

Onuesoke said at the weekend in Asaba that the labour unions had ignored the effect of their wage demand on private sector workers and people in the informal sector, who he said formed the largest workforce in the country.

Aji listed government’s recent incentives for workers to include N35,000 wage award for all treasury-paid federal workers, N100 billion for the procurement of gas-fuelled busses, and conversion to gas kits.

He stated that the others were N125 billion conditional grant, financial inclusion to small and medium scale enterprises, and N25,000 each to be shared to 15 million households for three months.

According to him, the N185 billion palliative loans to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal and the N200 billion to support the cultivation of hectares of land to boost food production, should also be taken into consideration by organised labour.

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The tripartite committee chairman said there was another N75 billion to strengthen the manufacturing sector and N1 trillion student loans for higher education. He also cited the release of 42,000 metric tonnes of grains from strategic reserves and the purchase and distribution of 60,000 metric tonnes of rice to the millers’ association.

Aji urged organised labour to consider the recent salary increase of 25 per cent and 35 per cent on all consolidated salary structures for federal workers and the 90 per cent subsidy on health costs for federal civil servants registered on the health insurance programme and accept the N62,000 being offered by the federal government.

He maintained that the light rail commissioned in Abuja was to relieve transportation costs until the end of the year, stating that it is a landmark achievement that would cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

Aji said in addition to “the freedom of civil servants to engage in agriculture, the federal government has approved the inclusion of ICT services for alternate sources of income”.

He said the committee agreed that where major and small businesses were closing down with the consequent loss of jobs, the outcome of a new minimum wage should be such that it would not trigger further massive job losses.

He further said linking the strike due to electricity hikes with the wage determination was not fair to the negotiating parties.

Organised labour had demanded N250,000 as minimum wage per month. However, the federal government and Organised Private Sector (OPS) offered N62,000 per month.

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Labour also faulted a recent statement by President Bola Tinubu during a meeting with some governors and members of the National Assembly on the occasion of the country’s 25th Democracy Day anniversary. Tinubu had said the government would only be able to pay its workers what the country could afford.

The president said, “Senate President, Deputy Senate President, you will get a notice from me if I have changed my mind on minimum wage. We are going to do it — what Nigeria can afford, what you can afford, what I can afford. They ask you to cut your coat according to your size if you have size at all.”

Organised labour began the minimum wage negotiation with a demand for over N615,000, which it later slashed to N250,000. But the federal government initially said it could only pay N48,000, an amount that was increased to N62,000, and now awaiting presidential decision.

Onuesoke accused labour of selfishness in their negotiation for minimum wage for workers.

The former Delta State governorship aspirant told journalists that organised labour had engaged in reckless agitation by trying to force the federal government to succumb to their terms.

He alleged that organised labour acted like politicians, stressing that their obnoxious demand would hurt the common man, who does not earn a salary or wage, and those in the private sector, including traders, artisans, and those in the rural areas, which constitute the largest labour force in the country.

Onuesoke stated that labour should review their demand by considering the plight of the larger percentage of Nigerians who were not on the payroll of government. He said this percentage constituted the largest population of the workforce in Nigeria compared to those working for the government, who were less than one per cent of the entire Nigerian population.

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The PDP chieftain stated that organised labour should have focused their agitation on how the federal government could reduce inflation and the prices of goods and services.

Onuesoke stated, “TUC and NLC are selfish. They are the same thing with the political leadership. They are agitating for the increment of their wage. What happens to the private sector, the traders, artisans and even the unemployed Nigerians roaming our streets? Who is going to increase their wages? They forget that once there is wage increase there will be hyperinflation.

“Why are they agitating for themselves salary increment, like the way our lawmakers are agitating for their own salaries and allowances increase? How many salary increases did they agitate for traders, private sector, artisans and the unemployed among others?

“I expected them to agitate on how the federal government can reduce inflation or how the prices of goods and services should be reduced, instead of agitating for wage increment for themselves alone at the expense of the larger population of Nigerians.”

Source: This Day

 

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has questioned Peter Obi's fitness to lead Nigeria, citing the Labour Party candidate's handling of

President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

“When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

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“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

Source: The Punch

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Tinubu, Shettima, governors in closed-door meeting

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Tinubu, Shettima, governors in closed-door meeting

President Bola Tinubu is currently meeting with some state governors at the State House, Abuja.

The meeting comes after the president met with the leaders of organised labour over minimum wage negotiations.

Vice-President Kashim Shettima is also attending the meeting.

Earlier, the representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had a meeting with Tinubu at the presidential villa.

Though labour leaders and government representatives at the meeting said they discussed the minimum wage, they are to reconvene in seven days.

Over the past few months, labour unions, federal and state governments, and the private sector have been deliberating on a new minimum wage for workers.

On June 3, labour unions embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike over the failure of the government to yield to their demand for the minimum wage.

The NLC and TUC had proposed N494,000 as the new national minimum wage, citing inflation and the prevailing economic hardship in the country, while rejecting the federal government’s N60,000 minimum wage offer.

On June 7, state governors under the aegis of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) said a N60,000 minimum wage would prove unsustainable.

At the last meeting of the tripartite committee, organised labour rejected the N62,000 proposed by the government and lowered its demand to N250,000.

The federal government had asked labour unions to demand a more realistic and sustainable wage.

Tinubu had also directed Wale Edun, minister of finance, to present the cost implications for a new minimum wage.

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, said the presentation would form the basis of further negotiations.

Source: The Cable

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Minimum Wage consultations between Organised Labour, Tinubu inconclusive

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Tinubu appeals to governors’ for unity of purpose to ‘make Nigeria greater’

Minimum Wage consultations between the Organised Labour and President Bola Tinubu have again adjourned without a conclusive agreement.

The meeting called at the instance of the President, Bola Tinubu has just ended with no meaningful resolutions reached.

The Labour leaders who emerged from the meeting, however, told reporters that their consultations with the Presidency will continue next week as they also have to go back to their organs to relay what the President discussed with them.

President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero said the positions of N250,000 for Labour and N62,000 for the Federal Government still stands.

Recall that Nigerians, especially the nation’s workforce have been expecting a new minimum wage from the government.

 

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Ganduje, wife to appear in court over alleged bribery on Thursday

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The Forum of All Progressives Congress State Chairmen on Tuesday passed a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the party,

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, his wife Hafsat, and six others are expected to appear in court on Thursday over charges related to alleged bribery, diversion, and misappropriation of funds.

This development comes after a notice of trial served on the respondents through substituted means by order of the court.

A Kano State High Court granted the order on June 5, 2024, allowing the state to serve the seven respondents through substituted service, which was subsequently executed via advertisements in two national newspapers on June 6, 2024.

The respondents in the case include Abdullahi Ganduje (1st respondent), his wife Hafsat (2nd respondent), Abubakar Bawuro (3rd respondent), Umar Abdullahi Umar (4th respondent), Jibrilla Muhammad (5th respondent), Safari Textiles Ltd (7th respondent), and Lesage General Enterprises (8th respondent).

Justice Amina Adamu, who presided over the case, granted the order following an application by Zahradeen Kofar-Mata, counsel for the state government, representing the lead prosecution counsel, Ya’u Adamu.

“This court grants the application for substituted service because it is necessary to ensure the respondents are duly notified of the proceedings,” stated Justice Adamu during the court session.

“The matter is adjourned till July 11, 2024, for hearing, and all parties involved are ordered to present their fiat to the court.”

The hearing is expected to commence at 10am at the Kano State High Court on Thursday.

Source: Vanguard

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Tinubu relives fond memories of mum at play presentation

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Tinubu relives fond memories of mum at play presentation

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu went emotional yesterday as he relived memories of his late mum Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji.

It was at the preview of a stage play titled: “Abibatu Mogaji: The Play,” written by a renowned playwright Prof. Ahmed Yarima and produced by Ola Awakan.

The President recounted how his mother’s breasts served as his first restaurant.

“Mama’s grandson (Seyi) didn’t partake in my first breakfast with Mama because my first restaurant was her breast, my first toilet was her lap and my first-ever bedroom was her back.

“There is no way I could have been this old without that care,” Tinubu said.

The President praised Awakan for his thorough research and thoughtful presentation of the life of his mum, a prominent businesswoman, who was the Iyaloja-General of Nigeria.

Alhaja Mogaji died on June 15, 2013. She was 96.

Tinubu pledged to invest in Nigeria’s Arts and Culture sector.

Sharing the fond memories of his childhood and the values instilled in him by his mother, Tinubu thanked the cast and crew for their hard work and dedication.

He promised to support the arts and culture sector because of its importance in the preservation of Nigeria’s heritage and promoting its rich cultural diversity.

The President left the State House Conference Centre midway into the presentation, pleading for the understanding of guests as he had another meeting with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

According to him, the sub-regional leaders had been waiting for the meeting for three days.

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He mandated Vice President Kashim Shettima to stand in for him.

He said: “I thank Ola Awakan. He’s a very great researcher, producer and thoughtful person to have come up with this and I can see some faces of Mama’s children – Tunji Alausa and the rest of the people are here.

“I will invest in the play; nothing could have been better than rewarding a very thorough research.

“I can see Adams Oshiomhole there, they knew her – many of you here knew her.

“Tough, she was a disciplinarian and I thank God for the gift that I got from her and that gift is an enduring one – character, determination, and never to give up.

“I’m so grateful to all of you in large numbers, I would have enjoyed the audience more with you. I’ll find another opportunity to do that, but I asked for this assignment. Through your exercise and commitment, you gave it to me.

“Only 48 hours ago, they renewed my mandate as the Chairman of ECOWAS. So, if they now give me an assignment, I don’t have a choice, but to do it.

“Seyi, you didn’t partake in my breastfeeding, I enjoyed it better than you. So, enjoy the play. I thank all of you immensely from the bottom of my heart.

“Ola Awakan, Yerima and the members of the cast, I say thank you. We will invest in Nigeria’s culture and art for the education of our children and for the benefit of mankind and all of you.

“I thank you for sparing your evening to celebrate my mother, a great woman. Thank you,” he said.

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The event was attended by notable figures.

Oshiomhole and Alausa attested to the late Alhaja Mogaji’s legacy.

Seyi thanked the managers and crew for putting up a brilliant performance.

Awakan thanked the President for the opportunity and support to stage the play at the Presidential Villa.

Source: The Nation

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 Lagos court orders final forfeiture of $16.5 million, N127 million diverted from NIMASA

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The Federal High Court has issued an interim order, restraining the chairman of Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offence

Justice Kehinde Ogundare of the Lagos Federal High Court, Ikoyi has ordered the final forfeiture of $16.5 million and N127 million which were fraudulently diverted from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the federal government of Nigeria.

Justice Ogundare finally forfeited the monies, while granting an application for such orders, which was filed and moved by an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lawyer, Sulaiman I. Sulaiman, today.

The monies, according to the EFCC, were said to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

The judge had on May 23, 2024, ordered the interim forfeiture of the monies, while granting an Exparte motion, brought before the court pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14. 2006; and Section 44 (2)(B) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended)

The court after forfeiting the monies in the interim on May 23, 2024, had directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper, to show cause why the monies should not be finally forfeited.

However, at the resumed hearing of the final forfeiture of the money today, counsel to the EFCC, Suleiman Suleiman, informed the court that pursuant to your lordship’s order made on May 23, 2024, that the order be published, the publication of the order was made on June 6, 2024, on a national daily.

“The said application is supported by 22 paragraphs deposed to by Oghare Ogbole, an investigator with the EFCC.

“The application is accompanied with two exhibits, the Interim order of the court and Punch publication of June 26, 2024. And It’s supported with the written address.

“We most respectively adopt same and urge the court to grant the relief sought.”

Justice Ogundare after listening to the EFCC lawyer held that “order granted as prayed.”

The EFCC in the affidavit support of the application made the followings: “That on the 2nd October, 2013, the management of NIMASA under the leadership of Dr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi vide letter referenced: NIMASA 2007/DG/NSA/2013/006 dated 2/10/13, requested for the release of the sum of N1,123,400 billion, for the implementation of International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) projects.

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“That on the 4th day of November 2013, the then President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, through the National Security Adviser (NSA) approved the requested sum of N1,123,400 billion. And that upon the release of the first tranche in the sum of N1, 123, 400 billion, an account No. 0060559139, domiciled in Access Bank was opened on 03/1/14, in which Captain Bala Ezekiel Agaba, the Chairman of the ISPS Committee/Executive Director, NIMASA, Mr. Victor I. Onuzurike and Mr. Dele T, Ejekukor are signatories.

“That no sooner had the money hit the Committee’s account, one Mr. Uche Obilor, a close associate of the chairman of the committee, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba received that total sum of N437,726,666.66 million, through his company known as Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited with account number 005326440 domiciled in Access Bank.

“That the said Mr. Uche Obilor equally received another whopping sum of N402,480 million, through his company Southern Offshore Limited with Zenith Bank Plc., account number 1013224100. And that also, the said Mr. Uche Obilor used his company known as Ace Prothesis Limited to receive the total sum of N66,800 million, through its account number 1012583949, domiciled in Zenith Bank Pic.,

“That out of the N437,726,666.66 million, paid to Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited, the total sum of N187 million, was transferred to Usaini Sabo on 06/03/2014, 10/06/2014, 12/06/2014 and 09/07/2014, who in turn converted same to US Dollars and handed them over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

“That from the said sum paid to Seabulk Offshore Operator Limited, the total sum of N67 million, was on the 23rd July, 2014, paid to Kofar Fada Limited, who also converted the money to US Dollars and handed over same to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba. And that the sum of N66,800 million, received by Uche Obilor through his company Ace Prothesis Limited from NIMASA was equally converted to personal use without rendering any service to the agency.

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“That from the sum of N402,480 million, received by Uche Obilor through his company Southern Offshore Limited from NIMASA, the total sum of N268 million, was paid to one Usaini Sabo, who said sum to US Dollars and handed same over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

“That from the sum of N402,480 million, received from NIMASA by Mr. Uche Obilor through his company Southern Offshore Limited, the total sum of N103,100 million, was equally transferred to Haji Kawu Investment Bureau De Change and Lekay Leads Ventures Limited, which sums were equally converted to US Dollars and handed over to Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba.

“That the various sums of money transferred to the companies of Mr. Uche Obilor from the treasury of NIMASA were fraudulent in that these companies neither rendered any service nor supply goods to the agency. Rather, the funds were largely converted to Dollars for personal use and the remaining retained by Mr. Uche Obilor.

“That during the course of investigation, the total sum of $16,500 USD cash, was recovered by the Commission, part of the funds diverted from the treasury of NIMASA. And that for using his companies as mentioned above, Mr. Uche Obilor, upon invitation to the Commission during the course of investigation agreed to return the sum of N118 million, admittedly received and retained by his companies from the funds fraudulently converted from the treasury of NIMASA.

“That Mr. Uche Obilor voluntarily raised drafts through First City Monument Bank in the name of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which sums are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

“That the funds sought to be forfeited are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of an unlawful act of diversion of funds from the treasury of NIMASA, through Mr. Uche Obilor, his companies and other cronies.

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“That I know as a fact that Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, the then Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development of NIMASA was convicted, sentenced by this Honourable Court, per Buba, J (rtd) and subsequently granted pardon by the Council of State.

“That in view of the findings in preceding paragraphs and upon a thorough analysis of the evidence on record, this Honourable Court on the 23 day of May 2024 made an interim order of forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria in favour of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) the assets sought to be forfeited.

“That I know as a fact and verily believe that this Honourable Court on the said 23 day of May, 2024 also directed the Applicant herein to publish in any national daily the said interim order of forfeiture to enable any interested party to appear before the Court to show cause why the assets should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, in favour of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

“That in compliance with the order of this Honourable Court, the Applicant herein published in The Punch newspaper of 6th June, 2024, the interim order of this Honourable Court.

“That I also know as a fact and verily believe that notwithstanding the Order of this Honourable Court directing any interested party to appear and show cause why the assets sought to be forfeited should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria in favour of NIMASA, no person or party had served any affidavit showing cause on the Applicant herein.

“That this Honourable Court has the requisite power and jurisdiction to grant this application. And that it is in the best interest of Justice to hear and determine this application.”

Source: The Nation

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