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Tension in Rivers as govt, labour disagree on industrial action



Tension has heightened in Rivers State following a disagreement between the organised labour and the state government over industrial actions.

The government at the weekend accused the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) of conniving with its national leadership to force industrial action on workers in the state.

The Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, who spoke in Port Harcourt, said NLC abandoned a subsisting court case reserved for judgment on September 29, 2020, to embark on its threatened strike.

Adangor explained that on the 16th March 2020, the Organised Labour issued seven days’ notice for an indefinite strike but failed as scheduled.

He said a suit was instituted by the Rivers State Government at the Port Harcourt Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria seeking interpretation to the enabling laws relating to the strike.

According to him, the originating summons was heard and instead of NLC to await the judgment that was reserved for September 29, 2020, they were calling for another strike.

He said: “The Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria failed or neglected to fulfil the condition precedent for the declaration of the strike action as prescribed in Section 4,6 and 18(1)(a) of the Trade Dispute Act,  Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“Surprisingly, while suit No. NICN/PH/41/2020 is still pending and the Interim Order of Injunction issued therein still subsisting, the defendants acting in collusion and concert with the national leadership of the Organised Labour (NLC and TUC) issued another threat of a fresh strike in Rivers State based on the same reasons.”

He noted that in the face of overt and unmitigated illegality by labour, the Rivers State Government approached the Court because it believed in the rule of law.

He explained that the government obtained an Interim Injunction from the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lagos to stop the labour strike while also seeking an interpretation of provisions of the Trade Dispute Act and Trade Union Act.

Adangor said with the subsisting matter in court and the order of Interim Injunction, the organised labour in Rivers State would be committing contempt of court if it embarked on industrial action.

He said: “The trial court after hearing extensive legal argument from the Attorney General of Rivers State granted an order of Interim Injunction restraining all the Defendants on record.

” Whether by themselves or through their servants, agents,  privies,  officers or otherwise howsoever called from embarking on strike action in Rivers State on 5th,  6th, or 7th September 2020 or any other date whether earlier or later, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for Interlocutory Injunction.”

Adangor said all the defendants had been duly served with the order of interim injunction and they could claim otherwise.

He stated that the affidavits of service had been filed in the registry of the court after substituted means of service was used.

“Every disobedience of an order of court constitutes contempt of court. The organised labour is therefore warned against any act of overt or subtle disobedience of the substituting order,” he said.

But the state’s Chairperson, NLC, Beatrice Itubo, described the purported injunction as the black market, insisting that it would not stop labour from engaging in its activities, including the protest is scheduled for September 8.

Itubo dismissed the injunction saying it never existed explaining that the union in the state and the national level had not been served with such restraint.

She said the government was simply trying to cow the workers and stop them from coming out in their numbers to protest against it.

Itubo appealed to workers to come out en masse adding that already national officials of the NLC had started arriving for the protest.

She said: “There is no injunction anywhere. Nobody has served us injunction. They don’t serve an injunction through social media. They claimed they published it in the newspaper; is it not somebody who has money that will buy a newspaper? And the leadership has not told us that they served them any injunction and we here in Rivers State have not received it.

“We are mobilising. Come September 8, people should come out in their numbers. This is a diversionary tactic. He wants to use it to dissuade workers and people will be confused and then we won’t get the number.

“We are asking people to come out in their number come that day. Is it not the court that will convict us? Is he the court? He went to the backyard and got a black market injunction. Is there any vacation judge? He went to Lagos and carried an injunction to Rivers State.”

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No going back on Water Resources Bill – FG



The Federal Government has declared it will go ahead with the Water Resources Bill.

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed told reporters the bill was not designed to cause water wars in the country.

He said the bill is a panacea to likely water conflicts in the country.

He said critics of the bill have either not read it or might be mischievous.

He said there is no hidden agenda behind the bill.

He said it is not a subterfuge reintroduction of RUGA.

Mohammed made the clarifications at a joint briefing with the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu in Abuja.

He said: “There is nothing new about the National Water Resources Bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence for a long time.

These are:

– Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004

– The River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004

– The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004

– National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004

“So, why are the laws being re-packaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020?

“The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the Water Resources Sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the well-being of its citizens.

“The Bill provides for professional and efficient management of all surface and ground water for the use of the people (i.e. for domestic and non-domestic use, irrigation, agricultural purposes, generation of hydro-electric energy, navigation, fisheries and recreation).

“The Bill will ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all persons.

“Critics contend that the Bill is aimed at taking the resources of a certain part of the country for the use of herders. In other words, the Federal Government is seeking to implement RUGA by subterfuge.

“We also want to state that the Bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever.”

Adamu said the bill was sent to all the states for concurrence without any object.

He said the bill predated the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said:” This was never a Buhari bill, it is a bill for Nigeria. It started 2008 long before the President thought of winning election.”

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#Fuel hike: No going back on strike, protest – NLC




The Nigeria Labour Congress has vowed to proceed with its planned strike and protest with effect from September 28 following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and fuel price.

Rising from its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja a few minutes ago, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said the proposed action by the organised labour would proceed from next week.

He stated that the decision was unanimously taken by the chairmen of the 36 states and FCT chapters of the NLC.

Details later…

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#Technology: Sanusi Urges Youths To Explore and not Rely on Government



The Former Central Bank Governor, CBN, Mohammed Sanusi (II), has urged Nigeria youths not to rely on government but to explore and create opportunities for themselves, especially with technology.

The former CBN governor who was the guest speaker on the second day of the Kaduna Investment Summit explained that over-reliance on oil has left the country unproductive.

“We need to think over and over again as to how we understand economics and what we see. How do we understand technology or electricity are we consumers or are we producers and that’s why investment in human capital is so important.

“Produce young men who know that they are worth more than just using their phone to import a pair of shoes,” he said.

Sanusi said Nigeria has to take economic diversification more seriously in order to experience growth and development.

Referencing Malaysia, Sanusi gave a breakdown of the economic growth of both countries within a 30-year period.

According to him, for Nigeria “there was an increase in wealth but without any structural transformation”.

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“We were growing but we did not diversify and that explains the huge levels of poverty in the country, it explains the huge levels of inequality in the country, it explains the vulnerability of the economy to shocks, it also explains the relatively slow pace of growth because when Malaysia started, they started from a GDP per capita level lower than Nigeria’s GDP per capita in 1985. It started from $310 to $4,045 while we started from $345 to $2,055”.

He also stressed the importance of the government creating the right environment and infrastructure for private businesses to thrive.

The former CBN governor who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency noted that with the right environment, the country can move away from being only consumers to producers of technology.

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