Terrorists perceive security agencies as objects of mockery – Kukah

Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah, has joined numerous of Nigerians in condemning recent killings in Plateau, asserting that citizens of Nigeria are gradually losing hope in their government’s ability to protect them.

Bishop Kukah in a statement he signed personally and made available to newsmen in the state of Saturday evening said religious leaders; both Muslim and Christians, had continued to use moral authority to encourage their people not to take laws into their hands.

Kukah’s states came on the heels of the killing of over 150 persons in Plateau State on Christmas Eve by suspected terrorists.

According to the statement titled, ‘Blood and Crucifixion on the Plateau’, he said the invisible men came to the Plateau again, bearing their gifts of death and destruction.

He said, “They came from the deepest pit of hell, the habitat of the devils that they are. They are children of darkness, sons of Satan. They opted to extinguish and snatch the light of the joy of Christmas from thousands of people on the Plateau.

(Punch)

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Review Nigerian laws to allow married women bear fathers’ names – MURIC tells FG

The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has called on the Federal Government to review the Nigerian marriage laws with the aim of allowing women to bear their father’s names after marriage.

MURIC’s executive director, Prof Ishaq Akintola, made the call in a statement he issued on Monday.

Akintola is of the opinion that the current practice that permits women to bear only their husbands’ surnames is wrong, describing it as gender discriminatory, archaic, and oppressive.

He argued that it is unfair for a man who did not take part in the upbringing of a woman to suddenly surface and change her surname.

He said, “No woman dropped suddenly from the sky and even if some appear out of nowhere, they must have been born, bred, nurtured, and marmaladed by certain parents before they grew up and matured into womanhood.

“Their education was also sponsored by their parents at a time when the future husband probably knew nothing about them and spent no kobo on their upbringing and their education.

“It therefore beats logic, fairness, and natural justice that a husband appears out of nowhere to commandeer a woman’s parental identity simply by marrying her”.

He lamented that most educated women are forced to advertise their change of names in newspapers to retain the validity of their documents and properties obtained before marriage.

(Daily Post)

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Sanwo-Olu unveils Ikeja overpass today

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, will unveil the Ikeja overpass today (Tuesday).

The Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, disclosed this in a statement on Monday signed by the agency’s Head, Corporate Communications, Kolawole Ojelabi.

The Governor of Kwara State and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, AbdulRahman AbdulRasak, will join Sanwo-Olu in unveiling the project.

“The bridge is one of five overpasses ceded to Lagos State for construction over the Red Line corridor where the Nigeria Railway Corporation and Red Line will share tracks,” the statement noted.

It quoted the Managing Director of LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, as noting that “the Ikeja overpass is the fourth to be inaugurated within the last two months.”

The LAMATA MD stated that the overpasses were built to separate vehicular/pedestrian traffic from train traffic, adding that the opening of the Ikeja overpass would drastically reduce congestion on the Obafemi Awolowo Way and the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and old Lagos Abeokuta Motorway.

Sanwo-Olu, during the unveiling of the Oyingbo overpass last month, had promised that the Ikeja overpass would be opened for traffic before Christmas.

The Ikeja overpass is a T-Bridge measuring 620 metres.

(Punch)

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Fighting Nigerian leaders fruitless, pray for them – Adeboye

The Pastor-in-charge of Region 12 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Richard Adeboye, has called for more prayers for the leadership of the country to overcome its array of woes and challenges.

Adeboye said rather than protesting and cursing them as done in the past with no reprieve in sight, Nigerians should rather rely on the instrument of prayer for a desired turnaround for the good of the country.

The cleric disclosed this while speaking with newsmen at this year’s Halleluyah Mega Praise Night, Season 2 with the theme, ‘Dominion’, held at the Shimawa High School, Ogun State.

Adeboye said, “There is no nation like Nigeria. The fact that we are still surviving is a symbol that God has created this nation in a very unique way and very soon, we shall shout victory at last.

“Nigerians should stand in the place of responsibility, because I have this philosophy that every possibility of God is compelled by the responsibility of man. Let’s do what we’re supposed to do.

“Let’s move closer to God. And let’s believe in God and whatever we need to do physically, let’s do it. We’re not saying we should protest or fight against the government. We have done that in the past, we didn’t win the battle.

“The Bible says that the heart of the king is in the hand of God. If only we could talk to God that put them there, I believe things will change and very soon, it will change for the better.

“My message to our leaders is that they should recognise the one that actually put them on the throne. We should stop fighting our leaders. The role of the church is to preach righteousness and establish integrity. If the world sees that what we preach is what we are doing, I believe it will go round and it will be contagious, and very soon, everybody will be affected.”

(Punch)

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NLC, TUC to hold emergency NEC meeting over workers’ minimum wage, wage award

The organised labour in the country will soon come up with a strong position on the suspension of the payment of the wage award to civil servants and has warned the federal and state governments to prepare to increase the minimum wage from the current N30,000 monthly.

It also warned state governors that they would have no choice but to pay the minimum wage once it is signed into law next year.

Already, conversations are being held around the new minimum wage, which is expected to be signed into law soon. The Federal Government on its part has budgeted the sum of N1tn for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears and severance benefits for civil servants in its Ministries, Departments and Agencies, analysis of the 2024 appropriation budget released by the Budget Office of the Federation revealed.

However, state governments have largely remained silent on the issue of a new minimum wage for their workers, even in the face of escalating cost of living nationwide.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Idris Mohammed, said in an interview with Sunday PUNCH in Abuja that the current N30,000 minimum wage would expire at the end of March 2024.

The Federal Government’s team and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council on October 18, 2019, agreed on the implementation of the N30,00 minimum wage after months of negotiations.

The Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress, Tommy Etim, told Sunday PUNCH that the body might resolve to embark on a prolonged industrial action during its next national executive council meeting.

He said in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, “At the last TUC NEC meeting, we called the government’s attention to the fact that stopping the payment of the wage award is not in the best interest of the government, because it is a recipe for industrial action; so, that alone is a signal.

“However, the government has not also invited us to tell us why they have not paid; so, we are waiting; if by the end of this month of December they have not paid, I can assure you that at the next meeting of NEC, there will be a resolution for an industrial action.

“Until the budget passes through the National Assembly and is enacted before Mr President assents to it. If it is assented to, there will be a supplementary budget to that effect (new minimum wage), so that is not an issue. When you look at the current inflation rate of about 28.2 per cent, no benchmark as of today can survive. So, it is not going to be based on a mere pronouncement of N500, 000 for instance.

“The negotiation for a new minimum wage will be based on socio-economic realities. That is what we are going to take to the table. We are going to look at all indices that a worker needs. The housing, transportation, and all these components will form the basis of our discussion and negotiation. So, it is not going to be on a round figure basis. The current minimum wage will be determined by the current prices of items.”

When asked about states that have failed to factor in adjustments for the new minimum wage in their budgets, the Head of Information of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Benson Upah, said, “Once the law is passed, they will be under obligation to comply with it. How they fund it will be up to them. At least they have the window of supplementary appropriation.”

Ahead of next year’s negotiation for a new minimum wage for workers in the country, the NLC insisted that only an amount reflective of the current economic realities would be accepted.

The President of the congress, Mr Joe Ajaero, stated this last Tuesday in Abuja at the 19th edition of the NLC 2023 Harmattan School.

Ajaero, represented by the Vice-President of the NLC, Mr Benjamin Anthony, said it was necessary for the government at all levels to recognise that life and living conditions were getting more difficult.

“The removal of subsidies on petroleum products has further worsened the challenges faced by working people. That is unleashing severe pain and contributing to galloping inflation and increasing inequality and poverty.

“We must reckon that a well-motivated and well-remunerated workforce has a positive impact on productivity and national development. As we anticipate the commencement of negotiations for the national minimum wage in 2024, we seek the understanding of all stakeholders to ensure that we use this opportunity to arrive at a minimum wage commensurate with the prevailing cost of living.”

The NLC president said the ultimate goal of labour was a living wage that would cover the cost of living and make allowance for savings.

On the wage award, Upah said the congress would also hold the Federal Government by its promise concerning the release of the outstanding wage award to workers.

Saturday PUNCH had earlier reported that the Federal Government only paid the wage award for September while failing to pay that of October and November.

The NLC and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress, had warned the government against going back on the agreement it made with workers as regards the wage award to help mitigate the effects of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit popularly known as petrol. However, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation noted that plans were being put in place to ensure that workers receive their wage awards soon.

Commenting on the matter, Upah said, “You heard their response to the effect that workers have no cause to worry. We will hold them to their promise.”

One of the agreements reached with the Federal Government by the leadership of the NLC and the TUC is that the government will pay the sum of N35,000 as wage awards pending the time that negotiations for a new minimum wage will commence.

President Bola Tinubu had declared during his Independence Day speech that “low-grade workers” in the federal civil service would be awarded a wage of N25,000.

The amount was later increased to N35,000 following discussions with the organised labour unions. A memo signed by the Chairman, National Salaries Wages and Income Commission, Ekpo Nta, noted that the approval took effect from September 1, 2023.

Northern govs’ decision

The governors of the 19 northern states under the aegis of the Northern Governors’ Forum may have resolved to make a uniform offer on the payment of the wage award to workers in the region.

The Chairman, NLC in Kaduna State, Ayuba Suleiman, who disclosed this to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said the development led to the current delay in making any pronouncement on the wage award in the state, otherwise, the state had an agreement in principle on the matter.

Apart from the wage award to the state civil servants, Suleiman also disclosed that Governor Uba Sani had promised the state workers to pay them the December salary bonus and distribute another round of palliatives to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

Suleiman stated, “We have written to the government through the Head of Service and they have replied, assuring us that they are getting ready for negotiation.

“The northern governors want to decide on a uniform wage and met yesterday (Friday, December 14, 2023). But we don’t know the outcome yet.

“When we went for a condolence visit to the governor, Senator Uba Sani,  he promised us the other part of the palliatives – the issue of rice. He also promised a bonus for December.

“He promised to give our workers their basic salaries and 13th month salary (bonus).”

On whether or not the state government captured the new minimum wage that should come into operation on April 1, 2024, in its budget, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mohammed Lawal-Shehu, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that he was in transit and would call back.

However, as of the time of filing this report, he had yet to fulfil his promise of calling back.

Benue wage differential

The Benue State Government said it had yet to make provision for the proposed new minimum wage for workers since the issue was still on the negotiation table between Federal Government and labour unions.

The Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Michael Oglegba, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone on Saturday, said that the government had made allowance for wage differential in the budget.

Oglegba also said that the wage award to workers in the state was still at the negotiation level.

“We are awaiting the final negotiation with the Federal Government on the new minimum wage; however, we have made allowance for possible wage differential in our budget,” he said.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Terungwa Igbe, said the state government had yet to meet with the labour and trade union leaders on wage award despite their letters to it.

The NLC boss said the union was waiting for the state government to invite the labour leaders for negotiation on the wage award.

Uncertainty in Borno

It is not clear if the Borno State Government captured the new minimum wage in the 2024 budget and if it will make a supplementary budget for it.

Also, there is still no negotiation between the state’s chapter of the NLC and the state government on the wage award to its workers to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“I have no information on that,” the Commissioner for Information and Internal Security, Prof Usman Tar, said in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents.

“As I told you some weeks ago, we submitted a letter on the issue not long ago to the governor and he pleaded with us to let him contend with some pressing issues before any negotiation on the wage award,” Yusuf Inuwa, Borno State NLC Chairman told Sunday PUNCH.

“We cannot tell you the action to take for the governor’s refusal until the negotiation takes place and it is not implemented,” he added.

Ekiti minimum wage

The organised labour in Ekiti State on Saturday expressed hope that it would soon reach a compromise with the state government on the wage award.

The Chairman, Trade Union Congress in the state, Sola Adigun said, “We (labour) have written, and negotiation is ongoing. All the necessary machinery for us to arrive at a reasonable amount has commenced and very soon, we are expecting that both government and labour will reach a compromise for the benefit of our members.”

Adigun, who said that the new minimum wage would always be accommodated by supplementary budgets in instances like this, stated, “We are not giving ourselves any headache. When the negotiations for the minimum wage start at the national level and our leaders at the national level agree on a reasonable amount, it is mandatory for the states to implement. What usually happens is that state governments will take supplementary budgets to the Houses of Assembly so that the minimum wage can be implemented. For this reason, we fear less.

“If the government has gone ahead to budget for the minimum wage, how much is it? The minimum wage should be a result of collective bargaining between the government and labour. So, it is not what the government can just say, okay, the minimum wage should be like this. If the government goes ahead to put any amount in the budget, I don’t think that is the best. Though the budget is an estimate, maybe the government is just estimating that probably it will be this and that.”

Edo’s new wage

The Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, has said the state government will soon come up with a new minimum after discussions with the labour unions.

He noted that the state was currently paying N40,000, which he noted was above the minimum wage.

Nehikhare said, “I can confirm that there are enough personnel courses for the workers next year.

We also know that labour negotiation will go beyond next year, so we have funds available to take care of the workers’ needs.

“Don’t forget, Edo State currently pays way above the minimum wage. So, we will be glad to work with whatever comes up at the end of negotiations.”

Osun wage award

When contacted, the Osun State Chairman of the TUC, Mr Bimbo Fasasi, said the payment of the wage award to workers would commence this month.

“The Osun State Government will commence payment of the wage award to the workers this December. We have that understanding with them,” he stated.

 Delta wage budget

Governor Sheriff Oborevweri of Delta State says he has provided for a likely salary increase by the Federal Government in the 2024 budget.

Oborevweri disclosed this when he presented the N714.4bn Appropriation Bill for the 2024 fiscal year to the State House of Assembly.

“The personnel cost of N150bn provided in the budget was in anticipation of domestication of a likely salary increase by the Federal Government sometime in 2024,” the governor said.

The NLC Chairman in the state, Goodluck Ofobruku, said negotiation on wage awards between the state government and labour was ongoing.

 Kogi NLC embraces dialogue

The organised labour in Kogi State has said that it will continue to employ diplomacy in mounting pressure on the state government on the need to provide palliatives to cushion the effect of the recent subsidy removal.

The Chairman of the state council of the NLC, Gabriel Amari, in a chat with one of our correspondents in Lokoja, said several letters had been written to the state government through the Head of Service, but no response had been received.

The Commissioner for Finance, Idris Ashiru, recently told journalists that no palliative was captured in the 2024 budget proposal laid before the state House of Assembly last week.

He said that the Kogi State salary structure was about the most robust and there was therefore no need for further wage award for now.

Asked for the next line of action, Amari said he would continue to employ diplomacy in mounting pressure on the government on the need to follow the footsteps of neighbouring states like Kwara Nasarawa and Adamawa.

 Kwara’s preparation

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has unveiled the plan for a new minimum wage, which he notes is due for negotiation next year.

In the state’s 2024 budget of N296.4bn laid before the state House of Assembly on Thursday, Abdulrazaq said the budget was made up of 61 per cent capital expenditure and 39 per cent recurrent expenditure.

“Also covered in this document is our preparation for a new minimum wage, which is due for negotiation next year,” the governor stated.

The Chairman of the TUC in the state, Tunde Joseph, said that the Labour leaders had met with state government officials on the delay in the payment of the monthly N10,000 award for workers for November and “we have written letters to the governor to raise the amount to N35,000 as done by the Federal Government.”

 Abia makes provision

The Abia State Government says it has concluded plans to increase the salaries of its workers to reflect the present economic realities in the country.

Governor Alex Otti stated this during his presentation of the state 2024 budget to the state House of Assembly last week.

The governor said, “As I promised at a media briefing earlier in the month, we shall be implementing a pay rise for our civil servants to reflect the present economic realities in the country.

“This shall be implemented in the New Year and provision for that has been made in the 2024 budget.

“The government will continue to prioritise the welfare of its employees even as we expect to see greater commitment from our civil servants, who are major stakeholders in the implementation of our governance agenda.”

In his reaction, the state NLC chairman, Pascal Nweke, said what the governor was talking about was wage award, adding that the labour union was on the new minimum wage.

Ogun workers waiting

The Chairman of the NLC in Ogun State, Hammed Ademola-Benco, said that the workforce was still waiting for Governor Dapo Abiodun to constitute a negotiation committee to address wage award as proposed by the national leadership of the union.

Ademola-Benco said, “The organised labour has written another letter reminding Governor Dapo Abiodun to create time to constitute a negotiation committee to address wage award as proposed by the national leadership. So, organised labour is anxiously waiting for the governor’s invitation”.

Asked if a new minimum salary was captured in the 2024 budget recently presented to the state House of Assembly, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication, Mr Kayode Akinmade, said, “The budget is in the House of Assembly. It has yet to be passed. So, it is not a law. You can’t quote any portion because it may still be subject to amendment.”

(Punch)

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Petrol no longer subsidised in Nigeria, FG replies W’Bank

The Federal Government has denied the claims of the World Bank on the continued payment of the fuel subsidy on petrol.

In an interview on Channels Television on Thursday, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said President Bola Tinubu had made it clear from his first day in office that his government would not sustain the payment of subsidy on petrol.

According to Idris, the removal of the petrol subsidy had led to an increase in the revenue accruing to the Federation Account.

“Subsidy is gone, and the President told Nigerians from his first day in office that there won’t be subsidy (on petrol). It is because subsidy has gone that we have so much money available for the government to do so many things. Of course, it’s never enough, but fuel subsidy is gone and it’s gone for good,” the minister stated.

He added, “There are instances where the government needs to come in to see that things don’t go so bad. That’s the responsibility of the government. Every rule will also have its self-adjusting mechanism, but I can assure Nigerians that the subsidy is gone.

“If you look at the monies accruing to the Federation Account and the kind of money the states are receiving, you would know that everybody desires that subsidy should go. What do we do with that subsidy, I think, is the next question. We need to scrutinise that so that Nigerians would benefit from the subsidy that has been taken away. Subsidy is gone.”

Marketers project

Reacting to the argument by the Federal Government that the petrol subsidy had gone, the National Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief John Kekeocha, said this was not true.

Kekeocha said the government was afraid that the removal of the subsidy would lead to unrest.

“It is funny when government personnel who don’t know the realities on the ground come to the open and mess the government up. How can you say that subsidy is gone? No reasonable person who knows the dynamics of the market globally will say that.

“As we speak, a pound is about N1,480 or more, and a dollar is about N1,200 or more. So what is the magic to use and say subsidy on PMS is gone? The government is subsidising PMS because if it gets to N1,000/litre the country could be set on fire.

“So the government is apprehensive. Just like I keep saying, the things they ought to have done before the removal of subsidy on petrol, were not done. They are now beginning to sit with organisations and try to know what they ought to have done.

“So no reasonable government personnel who knows the politics or dynamics of the downstream oil sector would come out and say subsidy has been removed. There is a subsidy, the government is subsidising the product which is why you can see fuel at N650/litre,” he stated.

Asked whether he shared the view of the World Bank that the pump price of petrol should be N750/litre, Kekeocha replied, “Even at N750/litre it is still subsidised. What is the cost of fuel in London? It is about N1000 to N1,200/litre. So that is the range we should be looking at.”

Earlier, the National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told one of our correspondents that the subsidy on every litre of petrol should be about N400 currently.

“Remember I once told you that we are operating quasi-subsidy, but now that quasi-subsidy scenario is gone. It is now a full subsidy on PMS because the naira is down, so there is nothing you can say about it.

“Since the dollar is now about N1,100, if you buy it at that price for the purpose of importing petrol, that means PMS should be selling around N950 or N1,000/litre. This is because when the dollar was N750, petrol was sold at N595/litre. So there is no magic about this.

“Also, the cost of diesel is skyrocketing. Now, when diesel is sold at over N1,000/litre, the difference between its cost and that of PMS is not more than N5 or N10/litre in normal circumstances,” he stated.

The Convener, Nigerian Unity and Progressive Forum, Ifeanyi Egwuagu, called on Civil Society Organisations to embark on a nationwide peaceful demonstration to demand concrete action from the government towards ameliorating the sufferings of Nigerians.

In a statement issued in Abuja, Egwagu expressed worry over the economic hardship being faced by the majority of Nigerians over the years and accused the Tinubu administration of taking the sufferings of Nigerians to a higher degree through the removal of the subsidy.

“The plan to remove fuel subsidy has been on the front burner over the years. There is a logical argument that the positive impact of removing the subsidy will be felt in the long run.

“However, a government that truly has the socio-economic well-being of the people at heart will put in place sustainable measures to lessen the sufferings associated with the immediate subsidy removal.

“I cannot see any clear-cut vision by the present administration to enhance the socio-economic well-being of Nigerians. For me, what President Tinubu did was to put the cart before the horse.

“If a powerful cabal was alleged to have been stealing subsidy money, why not go after the cabal and recover the stolen wealth of the people from them? In any case, I do not see this government fighting corruption as desired by good-thinking Nigerians.”

Fuel queues

In a similar development, the Independent Petroleum Association of Nigeria, on Thursday, said it would meet the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, to demand the supply of more Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.

It disclosed this while responding to questions on what was being done by the association to address the queues for petrol at filling stations operated by both major and independent marketers, as well as the lack of products by IPMAN members.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Delegates Election of the association in Abuja, the newly elected National President of IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, said his team would work hard to ensure the seamless distribution of petroleum products nationwide.

Commenting on the queues at filling stations and the lack of products by some independent marketers, Maigandi said, “We are going to contact the GCEO of NNPC to make sure that all the required products are being supplied to us so that we should be able to get our filling stations with PMS and others.”

On the move by the Federal Government to deploy Compressed Natural Gas as an alternative to PMS, the new IPMAN boss said it was a welcome development and promised that members of the association would participate fully.

“We are ready to key into Mr President’s programme on CNG in such a way that you are going to see all our members participating fully in the programme,” Maigandi stated.

Speaking about the elections that produced him as president, Maigandi said other contestants for the position of IPMAN president stepped down and gave him their support to lead the association.

“They stepped down for me, therefore I need them so that we can be able to move this association forward and help the administration of President Bola Tinubu in moving the oil sector forward,” he stated.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, IPMAN, Aminu Abdulkadir, said the elections successfully produced new officials who would run the association for the next five years.

“By our constitution, we are saddled with the responsibility of conducting the elections, and we have done our job well because there was no single dissenting voice. We have conducted a successful election and our members are happy about it.

“This is because the wishes of the people have been expressed here. I want to also state that IPMAN, as a critical stakeholder in the downstream oil sector in Nigeria, has turned a new leaf today with the emergence of its latest leadership.”

Other newly elected executives of the association include the National Vice President, Adekunle Fasola; National Secretary, James Tor; Assistant National Secretary, Suleiman Yakubu; and National Treasurer, Umar Aliyu.

The National Organising Secretary is Ben Odjugo; National Legal Adviser, Nnanna Oru, among others.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance, on Thursday, said details of the proposed plan to scrutinise the dollar oil revenue flow accrued to the government from financial gains of fuel subsidy removal would be released and widely publicised when completed.

The Director of Press and Public Relations, Stephen Kilebi, offered this explanation when one of our correspondents sought further clarification on plans to scrutinise the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited as earlier indicated by the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun.

Kilebi said the audit, which was a work in progress, represents the government’s effort to be accountable to the public and all processes and procedures would be released.

He said in a telephone interview, “Well I don’t think those details should be in public domain for now because it should be a work in progress.

“And since that is the intention of government, I think they would be working towards that. So when they are perfected and procedures completed. They will come to tell the public how the audit will be done.”

Recall that the minister had revealed during a panel session at the World Bank’s Nigeria Development Update Release, that the government was ready to scrutinise the revenue flow from the National Nigerian Petroleum Company Limited.

In the report, the World Bank raised transparency and accountability issues about the financial gains from fuel subsidy removal remitted by the NNPCL and the impact of subsidy removal on federation revenues.

According to the World Bank, while revenue gains from the exchange rate reforms are visible, more clarity is needed on oil revenues, including the fiscal benefits from the PMS subsidy reforms.

It declared, “Nominal oil revenue gains have been evident since June; these are mostly categorised as ‘exchange rate gains’”, suggesting that they are due to the naira depreciation.

“Except for the exchange rate-related increases, however, there is a lack of transparency regarding oil revenues, especially the financial gains of the NNPC from the subsidy removal, the subsidy arrears that are still being deducted, and the impact of this on federation revenues.

“It is also unclear why retail petrol prices have not changed much since August, despite fluctuations in the exchange rate and global oil prices.”

The institution further expanded that gains in net oil revenue of the federation were lower than what they should have been considering what the removal of fuel subsidy should have added to the accounts.

The PUNCH reports that the expanded scrutiny comes barely a week after a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPCL might not be remitting enough dollars to the Federation Account despite the subsidy removal.

(Punch)

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Labour fumes as FG stops N35,000 wage award payment

The organised Labour and the Federal Government are on a collision course over the government’s failure to sustain the payment of N35,000 wage award to workers.

Workers in the Federal Civil Service, in separate interviews with our correspondent on Monday, noted that the Federal Government only paid N35,000 wage award for September.

Following the removal of the fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu on his assumption of office, the Federal Government agreed to pay N35,000 to each of its workers to reduce the hardship caused by the subsidy removal.

The government, in a memo signed by the Chairman, National Salaries Wages and Income Commission, Ekpo Nta, stated that the payment of the wage award would begin to take effect from September 1, 2023.

However findings by our correspondent indicated that the government only paid the wage award for September.

A senior civil servant in one of the core ministries, departments and agencies said, “The wage award was only paid once and I assume that was the one for September. Since then, we have not received another. We all are confused as there has been no official communication from the government as regards the matter. We are all confused at the moment.”

Another civil servant, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said, “What you heard is true. We have not received anything else other than the initial wage award which was paid. The government cannot continue to let the citizens suffer. Our takehome salaries cannot even take us home any longer at this point.”

Also speaking with our correspondent, a civil servant in one of the Federal Government-owned schools in Abuja noted that the workers were only paid the wage award for one month.

“We only received for one month which I assume was for September. Though the peculiar allowance introduced by the former administration is still being paid alongside our salaries, we have not received any such thing as a wage award. The government needs to stop playing games with our emotions.”

The Head of information at the Nigeria Labour Congress, Benson Upah, in an interview with our correspondent said, “This betrays the government’s dishonorable intentions and is completely unacceptable.”

When asked if the NLC would take action, he said, “Certainly, the congress will do something about this but what it will do will be dependent on the appropriate organs of the congress. On communication with the government, sure, we will. It usually precedes our actions.”

But the spokesperson for the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Bawa Mokwa, in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Monday allayed fears of civil servants. Mokwa noted that plans were ongoing to ensure that civil servants receive their wage awards.

“The process is ongoing. They will be paid. The process to pay the wage awards has commenced.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has budgeted  N1tn  for minimum wage adjustments, promotion arrears and severance benefits for civil servants, an analysis of the 2024 appropriation budget released by the Budget Office of the Federation has revealed.

This is as the head of information of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Upah further explained to our correspondent that the congress would kick against any form of imposition of a new minimum wage by the Federal Government.

 Upah told The PUNCH in Abuja that negotiations had yet to commence, but he expressed optimism that talks on the new minimum wage would start soon.

 “No, not yet but soon, I suppose,” Upah said when asked if the congress had received notice for the commencement of negotiations surrounding the new minimum wage.

Upah said, “ The national minimum wage law is a product of collective negotiation by all the critical stakeholders, workers, employers (plus private sector), and government. It cannot be fixed by fiat by any stakeholder. Thus, any unilateral action by any party will not only be presumptuous but contemptuous and injurious to other parties and will certainly be at variance with the law and principles governing this variant of minimum wage-setting procedure.”

(Punch)

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Inflation: IMF urges CBN to raise interest rate

The International Monetary Fund has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to hike the interest rates in the next Monetary Policy Committee to address the country’s high inflation rate.

The agency’s Director of the Communications Department, Julie Kozack, disclosed this during a press conference held on Thursday. The transcripts of the conference were published on the IMF website on Saturday.

Koszack noted that the CBN’s policy of mopping up excess liquidity from the system has contributed to the growing inflation in the country.

“You asked a specific question on inflation. Inflation in Nigeria is running very high. It reached over 27 per cent in October, that is the year-on-year number.

“The Central bank, under its new leadership, has started to withdraw excess liquidity that was in the system and contributing to high inflation.

“The next Monetary Policy Committee meeting should further raise the policy interest rate. So, the Central bank is taking action to try to address the high inflation problem. As we mentioned in our Article IV Consultation, which was held in February of 2023, raising revenue from the very current low revenue-to-GDP ratio of 9 percent is essential to create fiscal space for social and development spending. 9 percent of GDP is a very low revenue to GDP ratio, and it is really not high enough to be able to support strong social safety nets, and development spending, to help protect vulnerable households and also to meet Nigeria’s development needs,” she said

She also commented on the 2024 budget, stating that it “aims to reduce the fiscal deficit while also creating space for these priority spendings, both on the social side and also on the development side.”

(Punch)

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2024 budget: FG votes N50bn for student loan

The Federal Government had voted N50bn in the 2024 budget for the implementation of its student loan scheme.

This was contained in the details of the 2024 budget appropriation.

Meanwhile, details of how the loan scheme, unveiled by President Bola Tinubu in June, would be implemented remains sketchy.

But the President gave the assurance that the loan scheme would kick off January.

The PUNCH reports that Tinubu, who spoke at the 29th National Economic Summit in November, insisted that the student loan scheme was a more sustainable model for funding tertiary education and increasing citizen’s access to higher education

“By January 2024, the new students loan programme must commence. To the future of our children and students, we are saying no more strikes.

“To address long-standing issues in the education sector, a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education will be implemented, including the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024.

(Punch)

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Be servants to your people, Tinubu tells APC govs

President Bola Tinubu, on Friday, advised governors elected on the platform of the governing All Progressives’ Congress to remain servants of their people by putting the people’s interest first and working for the good of their states.

“Make sure that everyone is carried along. You are now the servants of the people,” Tinubu said when he received the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, the returning Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, and the Governor-Elect of Kogi State, Ahmed Ododo, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Friday.

Ododo and Uzodimma were at the Villa to present their certificates of return to the President who expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the elections he described as free, fair, and peaceful.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, revealed this in a statement he signed on Friday titled ‘President Tinubu to APC governors: remain servants of the people.’

To the governors, Tinubu said, “You worked hard for this victory. I am very proud of you, but the real challenge has only started, and it will stare you in the face.

“That is the challenge of good governance. Make sure that everyone is carried along. You are now the servants of the people. To God be all the glory for the victories, and may God guide you.”

He advised that once Nigerians and their concerns become the focal point of the governors’ plans and actions, not only will governance be easier, but they will enhance the value of their states and the people will have new opportunities to grow and enjoy a new standard of living.

“This must be your driving focus as governors, but especially as governors elected on the platform of our great party,” he emphasized.

Tinubu appoints Perm Secs 

Meanwhile, President Tinubu, on Friday, approved the appointment of eight new Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Civil Service.

The appointment follows “the recently concluded selection process by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation,” a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, read Friday.

The statement is titled ‘President Tinubu appoints eight new permanent secretaries.’

According to Ngelale, the new appointees include: Ndakayo-Aishetu Gogo, Adeoye Ayodeji, Rimi Abba and Bako Deborah Odoh.

Others are Omachi Omenka, Ahmed Umar, Watti Tinuke and Ella Agbo.

In another development, President Tinubu, appointed a former Minister of Finance under the Umaru Yar’Adua administration, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, and nine others to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.

This follows the President’s drive for “accurate and purposeful performance assessment of both commercial and non-commercial government-owned enterprises and the consistent attainment of the highest returns possible on all investments made in trust of Nigerians,” a statement by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, revealed Friday.

Among the appointees are the board Chairman, Dr Shamsudeen Usman; CEO/Managing Director, Dr Armstrong Takang; Executive Director, Portfolio Management, Mr. Tajudeen Ahmed; Executive Director, Investment Management, Mr. Femi Ogunseinde and Executive Director, Risk, Mrs. Oluwakemi Owonubi.

The President said he expected “nothing less than the highest level of results-driven performance from this highly experienced and qualified MOFI Board and Management team.”

(Punch)

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