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NIGERIA

Electricity tariff/fuel price hikes: TUC tackles Ngige, NLC issues two-week ultimatum to FG

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The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and the Trade Union Congress  disagreed on Wednesday over  the plan by the TUC to go on strike as from September 23.

The minister  while answering questions from State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, dismissed the seven-day ultimatum the TUC gave the Federal Government to reverse  the price of petrol.

According to him, the letter written by the TUC should have been addressed to him, instead of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

But the TUC President,  President, Quadri Olaleye, said the issue of petrol price was beyond  the minister, adding that Ngige should wait till September 23 to see what would happen.

Also on Wednesday, the Nigeria Labour Congress issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to reverse its decision on the hikes in electricity tariff and the fuel pump price or face civil unrest nationwide.

The congress handed down the warning at its Central Working Committee meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.

In a communiqué read by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, the union said the ultimatum  would take immediate effect, warning that it would mobilise its members nationwide for protests as from September 28.

In an interview,  the NLC President said the national executive committee members and the state chapters as well as affiliates would meet on September 22 to decide on the strike action if the government failed to revert to the old prices by then.

“Wednesday’s decision on the ultimatum was taken by the Central Working Committee of the NLC. But by the expiration of the ultimatum,  if the government fails to reverse   the increase in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price, we would hold a meeting on September 28 and take a decision on a strike action,” he disclosed.

Government had two weeks ago increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N 138.62 to N147.67,  prompting  marketers  to adjust their petrol  prices to between N158 and N162 from N148 to N150 in August. The  ex-depot price is the price at which government sells petrol to marketers.

Besides the fuel hike being the third within three months, it came at  a time electricity distribution companies increased their tariffs.

The TUC gave its seven-day ultimatum  in a letter addressed to the President and dated September 4, 2020.

The letter titled, “We cannot bear the burden any longer, issuance of seven days ultimatum,” was signed by Olaleye; and the Secretary-General, Musa Lawal.

TUC’s ultimatum letter to Buhari misplaced – FG

But Ngige, in the interview with the State House correspondents said the TUC’s letter was misplaced because it was addressed to the President, whom he claimed, is not recognised by the International Labour Organisation.

He gave an indication that the letter should have been addressed to him, and not Buhari.

The minister said, “On the TUC issue, the seven-day ultimatum was misplaced because they wrote the President and issued an ultimatum to him. The President is not recognised by the ILO.

“The competent authority for this nature of the dispute in Nigeria resides in the man who oversees them, which is whoever is the Minister of Labour and Employment.”

Wait till you see our action, TUC replies Ngige

But Olaleye  said the decision to embark on a strike and nationwide protests was taken by the National Executive Committee and the National Action Committee of the union.

He dismissed Ngige’s objection, noting that the issues in contention had nothing to do with workers’ wages over which he could preside.

The TUC president said, “We have fully mobilised already. It was an organ decision: the NEC, the NAC took the decision, so, the preparation is ongoing.

Continue to quote law, congress tells Ngige

“For your information, the NLC has also given the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum. Let the minister continue to quote the law. On the expiration of the seven days, he would see the action; he can tell us if it is null and void or not.”

Responding to the minister’s argument that the  letter should have been addressed to him, Olaleye stated that the minister did not take decisions affecting the country.

He noted, “We are talking to our President. The minister is not the one making decisions and this is not a labour matter. We are talking about issues that affect the general population of the country and we are very much aware of the ILO Convention.

“This one is beyond labour matters.  We are not talking about salary increase here. We are talking of something that affects members of the union and the general populace.”

Congress mobilises 79 civil society groups for Sept 23 protest

On the nature of the protest, the union said this would be communicated to Nigerians soon, adding that Nigerians would be mobilised through the 79 civil society groups that had signed up for participation in the protest.

“We are going to have a press conference to inform everybody; we are still in the planning stage. In the next few days, we are going to inform everybody. We are working with 79 CSOs across the country,” he explained.

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NIGERIA

Police dismiss IPOB Oct. 1 sit-at-home call

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The police on Wednesday dismissed the call by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for a sit-at-home on October 1.

Ebonyi State government urged residents to ignore the order and go about their normal business.

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo said it had nothing to do with the call.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said the directive was to protest “bad governance and economic annihilation”.

In a statement by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, Kanu urged the Igbo everywhere to boycott all activities organized to mark the Independence Day.

The statement said: “We, the global movement of IPOB, wish to announce to all Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world that Biafrans across the globe shall observe a sit-at-home in Biafra land  in public protests to mark October 1, 2020.

“We, therefore, enjoin all Biafrans and every conscious Nigerian, especially those ethnic nationalities reeling from the triple blow of terrorism, bad governance and economic annihilation, to boycott every government organized ceremony designed to eulogize the failure that Nigeria has become.

“This is the time to let the world know how disastrously intolerable human existence is in Nigeria.

“If you want to see an end to terrorism and organized mediocrity, now is the time to register your anger by ensuring that you and your household sit-at-home on October 1, 2020.

“Do not risk the life and well-being of your children by allowing them to gather in groups in the open where terrorists may find it easier to blow them up or kidnap them.

“This order is to highlight our position and resolve as Biafrans that we are no longer interested in propping up a crumbling state.

“The leadership of this great movement in conjunction with supporters of Biafra freedom across the globe has concluded every arrangement to let the whole world know and understand that we are no longer part of this shambolic monument to terrorism and failure.”

The group said it remained committed to “the full and irreversible restoration of Biafra sovereignty and independence for all oppressed ethnic groups in Nigeria”.

Ebonyi State government urged the people to go about their normal activities on October 1 as IPOB has no legal basis to compel anyone to stay home.

Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Emegha, said: “Who is IPOB to tell people to sit at home? That is the height of craziness on their side.

“How can you tell people who have a family to sit at home? To do what? Will you come and put food on their table?

“In the first place, we don’t even know if there is anything like IPOB existing in the state.

“People should disregard the said statement and go about their normal business on that day.”

Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi, Philip Maku, warned IPOB to steer clear of the state.

He said the proscribed group does not have the right to tell people to sit at home.

“People have the fundamental right to movement. If you try to restrict their right to move about and transact their lawful business activities, you are crossing the red line.

“If anyone tries to force people to sit at home, the Police will not fail to deal decisively with such persons,” he said.

The Anambra State Police Command also urged residents to ignore the call.

The spokesman, Mohammed Haruna, told our correspondent that IPOB remained banned and had no right to make the call.

The Anambra State President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, said the socio-cultural organisation has nothing to do with the directive.

Besides, he said Ohaneze had no control over IPOB.

He said: “They have their Modus Operandi and we have ours. That means, we have no control over them and they also don’t have over us.”

Activist-lawyer Emperor Ogbonna said IPOB lacked the right to compel non-members to stay at home.

He told our correspondent that the banned group would be infringing on others rights by stopping anyone from exercising their right to movement.

Ogbonna said: “IPOB members and their sympathizers have the right to stay-at-home and to go out.

“IPOB doesn’t have the powers to tell everybody in the Southeast not to go out because not everybody belongs to IPOB.

“They cannot compel non-members to comply with their order. If they do so, they will be infringing on the rights of those who are not members.”

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NIGERIA

Kogi declares two-day mourning over tanker explosion

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Kogi has declared a two-day mourning period in memory of those that died in the tanker explosion in Felele, along the Lokoja-Abuja highway on Wednesday.

No fewer than 25 persons, including five students of the state-owned polytechnic, three nursery school pupils and passersby were burnt beyond recognition in the resulting explosion from an auto crash.

The crash, which was said to have been caused by brake failure in the fuel- laden tanker involved five cars, two motorcycles and three tricycles, all of which went up in flames in the ensuing inferno.

Kogi government in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Kingsley Fanwo, said full investigations will be carried out to determine the “causes of the painful incident.”

It called on the relevant Federal Government agencies to provide relief materials to support what the State Government shall be providing to the relatives of the victims.

Governor Yahaya Bello had also called on Federal Government to quickly repair failed portions of its roads strewn across the state, to curb incessant accidents.

The Governor made the request when he paid a visit to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Bello was quoted to have said that the deplorable state of federal roads in the state has led to many accidents.

The statement reads: “The government of Kogi State has declared a two-day state mourning in honor of the victims of the Felele tanker accident on Wednesday 23rd September, 2020.

“The governor and the government of Kogi State are saddened by the unfortunate incident that claimed many lives in the early hours (of Wednesday).

“The primary responsibility of government is to ensure the safety and well-being of the Kogi people. As a result of the importance placed on the lives of our people, government has declared a two-day state mourning to honor the departed souls.

“In this time of grief, we urge the people to be deep in sober reflection and stand together for one another to pull out of the agonizing loss.

“Government wishes to reiterate her call on road users to act responsibly in order to avert unfortunate situations that simple care and caution could have averted.

“Full investigations will also be carried out to determine the causes of the painful incident.

“The Kogi State government wishes to assure families that lost loved ones and those whose houses were affected of support at this trying moment. We also call on relevant Federal Government agencies to provide relief materials to support what the state government shall be providing.

“Our hearts are with the affected families. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.”

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NIGERIA

Ondo 2020: We’re committed to hitch-free polls, burnt smart readers replaced – INEC Chairman

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Following the destruction of over 5000 card readers in the ICT unit of the Ondo State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Chairman of the commission, Prof Mammud Yakubu has disclosed that the card readers have been replaced.

The INEC boss revealed this on Wednesday in Akure while speaking with newsmen during a three-day working visit to the State.

Recall that about 5,141 smart card readers meant for the governorship election were burnt in the inferno that occurred on September 10.

According to Prof. Yabuku, the visit was to have on-the-spot assessment of the level of preparedness of the commission ahead of the October 10 governorship polls.

While stressing that the governorship election in the State will be hitch-free as witnessed in Edo State last Saturday, Yakubu maitainted that the commission had made provision for the card readers from other States and they have been configured ahead of the polls.

“We have already recovered some smart card readers. We unfortunately lost over 5000 smart card readers to the fire incident.

“We have, however, recovered by getting requisite a number of smart card readers from neighbouring Oyo State,” he said.

Yakubu explained that he was in the State to meet with the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Ambassador Rufus Akeju and Head of Departments ahead of the October 10, Governorship Election in Ondo State.

He also stated that during the visit, he would interact with all the stakeholders in the election, including traditional rulers in the State to ensure the success of the election.

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