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Fuel, electricity price hike: Buhari seeks truce with NLC, TUC, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday set the machinery in motion to avert the strike being planned by organised private labour and the human rights community in reaction to the latest hike in fuel price and electricity tariff.

He directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to dialogue with the labour unions immediately.

The meeting is scheduled for today in Abuja.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are believed to have already gone far in mobilising workers for the strike aimed at forcing the government to reverse last week’s increase of petrol price to N159 per litre and of electricity to over N60 per unit.

But TUC insisted last night that government should first revert to the old prices first.

Apart from the talks, the federal government also plans to distribute 2,000 buses across the country to cushion the effects of transportation on Nigerians, especially the rural dwellers.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, told State House correspondents yesterday that the dialogue would afford the government the opportunity to lay the state of the nation’s finances bare and the challenges both face on the table for better understanding.

Ngige said he would be reaching out to the concerned labour and trade union bodies as well as the civil society groups to get them ready for the meeting.

“The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organised private labour. All the government institutions that have to do with the finances of government will be part of the meeting so that we meet with them and show them the books,” the minister said as he emerged from a meeting with Buhari yesterday.

He added: “So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon; the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.

“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (today). 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.”

Continuing, Ngige said: “The electricity tariff, as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band 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.”

Government, the minister said, had also reached out to some unions in the universities which are planning a separate strike.

His words: “The tripartite unions of the 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.”

It will be recalled that the Labour community kicked recently when prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff were reviewed upwards, threatening to declare an industrial action.

Return petrol,  electricity tariff to old prices, TUC tells FG

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) said last night that it would proceed on a nationwide strike from September 23 unless the Federal Government reverts the hikes in electricity tariff and prices of petroleum products.

Although the union stated that it was not opposed to dialogue on the two issues, it said it would only call off its planned nationwide strike when the government had reverted to the old price of premium motor spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol.

President of the congress, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, said in an interview that the TUC was yet to receive, at press time, an invitation from the government for today’s meeting with labour leaders.

“We have not received an invitation to that effect,” Olaleye said.

Asked if the TUC would attend the meeting if the union leaders received the invitation, he said: “Of course, we will attend. If we don’t attend, we will not be able to make our point known. But there is no invitation for now.

“If at the meeting they discuss the need to revert it (increase in fuel and electricity tariffs), we will also revert our decision.

The Secretary-General of TUC, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, said separately that the union would issue an ultimatum to the government on Monday to return fuel to the old price or face a nationwide strike.

 

NLC won’t attend meeting, says notice too short

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) will not be represented at today’s meeting with government, Congress president Ayuba Wabba said last night.

He said the notice given for the meeting by the government was rather short and made it impossible for labour leaders who are spread in different locations to attend.

Wabba stated this in a text message sent to our correspondent in response to an inquiry.

He said: “The information about the meeting was communicated by the Minister of Labour in the afternoon today.

“Due to the short notice, it not possible for Labour leadership, who are spread in different locations, to attend.

“We have proposed a reschedule.”

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NIGERIA

Flood displaces scores in Kano, Nasarawa, Kwara

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Heavy downpour which lasted for days has left many displaced in Kano, Kwara, and Nasarawa states forcing governors Abdulahi Ganduja, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Abdullahi Sule to seek for a speedy supply of relief materials to victims from the Federal Government.

In Nasarawa,  Governor Abdullahi Sule, yesterday, raised the alarm that scores of people, including aged men, women, and children, were displaced and rendered homeless following a flood that ravaged Nasarawa town in Nasarawa Local Government Area.

Sule, who appealed to the Federal Government to quickly intervene in tackling flood and other ecological problems facing the state, said it was the second time flood would wreak havoc in Nasarawa in less than two weeks.

He said houses were submerged, just as animals were killed, with some persons reportedly missing.

The governor stated this, yesterday when he visited the affected LGA where he ordered the evacuation of the displaced persons.

He directed the state emergency management agency to provide relief materials such as food items and mattresses without delay to the victims.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ibrahim Addra, the governor “urged the people of the state to desist from building on waterways and stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages.”

In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, Kano State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA), Dr. Saleh Jilli, in an interview with Daily Sun, lamented that this year’s flood was far more devastating than it had ever been in the state. He said an assessment showed that there was no local government council in the state that was spared by the flood, adding that in some cases, over 100 houses were destroyed by the flood in a single local government council.

While imploring the National Emergency Relief Agency(NEMA), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Presidential Task Force on Relief and Rehabilitation and National Refugees Commission to deliver and assist victims, Jilli underlined the fact that most  of the victims had been displaced and were in urgent need of support

He equally appealed to well -to –do individuals in the state to assist the displaced, saying government alone  could not shoulder all the responsibilities of ameliorating the suffering of the flood victims.

Similarly, on Saturday night, torrential rains that lasted several hours  wreaked havoc in Ilorin, Kwara state capital.  One life was said to have been lost during the heavy rains, it was gathered.

Two persons whose corpses were  yet to be recovered were equally swept away at Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges in the metropolis, a source at the state Fire Service said.

The heavy downpour also destroyed several houses and property.

The rains started around 7pm and stopped in the wee hours of Sunday.

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq commiserated with families whose houses  were affected.

The state government urged  the Federal Government to urgently consider Kwara for special support even as it is setting up a special disaster response team to collate data of areas affected and determine how the state government can offer support based on available resources.

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NIGERIA

Nigeria records 97 new cases of COVID-19, total now 57,242

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Nigeria now has 57,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 97 new cases recorded on Sunday night.

According to a tweet from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, 48,569 patients have now been discharged, with 1,098 deaths recorded.

The tweet revealed that Lagos State had the highest number of infections on Sunday night with 46 cases, with Kwara State following with 12 cases.

Other states read as follow:

Rivers-11 Adamawa-4 Niger-4 Ogun-4 Osun-4 Ekiti-3 Imo-3 Kaduna-3 Plateau-2 FCT-1

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NIGERIA

FCTA captures 300,000 households for social plan

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THE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has commenced the second phase of registration of vulnerable persons in Abuja for its Social Investment Programme.

FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu stated this at a 3-day training for community-based targeting team at the legislative chamber, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abuja.

Aliyu revealed that the second phase, which targets communities in AMAC, Bwari and Gwagwalada Area Councils, was coming after completion of the first phase which captured poor and vulnerable persons in Abaji, Kuje and Kwali Area councils.

Represented by her Special Assistant and FCT Focal Person on Social Safety Net Programmes, Chiwendu Eteyen Amba, Aliyu said that over 88,000 poor households were registered in more than 400 communities in the first phase of the programme.

”It is on record that as at August 2020, a total number of 88,464 poor and vulnerable households and 309,509 individuals from 408 communities across the three Area Councils were identified and registered into the National Social Register (NSR)”.

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