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NLC Suspends strike for two weeks

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Organised Labour has suspended its planned nationwide industrial action for two weeks over the recent hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price in the country.

Sen. Christ Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment said this while reading a joint communique on the resolution of the Trade Dispute between the Federal Government and the organised Labour on Monday in Abuja.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had threatened to embark on industrial action over the Federal Government’s refusal to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price on Monday, Sept. 28.

NAN recalls that the removal of the subsidy had led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kwh, while the price of petrol was increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.

Ngige said the resolution reached with the organised labour was an outcome of a fruitful deliberation.

According to him, on the issue of electricity tariff reforms, the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks effective from Monday, Sept. 28.

“The committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff.

“The technical committee membership included Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State Labour and Employment, as chairman, Mr Godwin Jedy-Agba, Minister of State Power, Mr James Momoh, Chairman National Electricity Regulatory Commission,

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“Others were Mr Ahmad Rufai Zakari, SA to Mr President on Infrastructure, Dr Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Member, NLC, Mr Joe Ajaero NLC, Mr Chris Okonkwo, TUC and a representative of DISCOS.”

The minister said the committee should also look at the different Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC’s order and mandate.

Ngige, on the issue of the downstream sector deregulation, said all parties agreed on the need to expand the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the over dependency on importation of petroleum products

He said NNPC was directed to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.

According to him, the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) will be integrated into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

“The Federal Government and its agencies are to ensure delivery of one million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.

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“A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organised Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” he said.

Ngige also said on the issue of general intervention that the government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

He said the Federal Government would give the labour unions 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and ‘provide to the major cities across the Country on a scale-up basis, thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.’

He said 10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance housing initiative would be allocated to Nigerian workers under the NLC and TUC.

According to him, a specific amount is to be unveiled by the Federal Government in two weeks’ time, which will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund that can be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC.

“This is for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting,” he said.

In his remark, Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President said that both the government and organised labour have looked into the issue of fuel price hike and what was needed to be put in place in order to address the issue of the increase.

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“We have discussed the state of our refineries and how to achieve sustainable refineries.

“We have also looked at the issue of the tariff hike and other challenges.

“We agreed to suspend the strike, and we agreed to also put a committee in place to work outlasting solution in addressing these challenges, including the issue of metering and importantly also is to bring about the issue of efficiency.

“We also reviewed the process of privatisation and other issues such as clear palliatives that were needed to be extended to our members and Nigerians to cushion the effect of these policies,” he said.

Wabba, therefore, called for social dialogue as a way of addressing issues of industrial relations, socio-economic issues and also issues of development.

According to him, the labour hopes that the communique will be implemented, and therefore, the decision of the organised labour as represented here is to suspend the action.

“We are going to convey our Central Working Committee meeting to present the communique to them,” he said.

Also, Mr Quadiri Olaleye, TUC president noted that based on the agreement signed between the government and the labour, the planned industrial action would be suspended for two weeks.

He added that the planned industrial action was called to draw the attention of the government to certain issues.

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US Special military forces rescues an American citizen in Nigeria

Benjamin Ukpabi

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US military forces rescued an American citizen in Nigeria, the Pentagon said on Saturday, days after he was kidnapped by gunmen in the south of neighbouring Niger and apparently taken across the border.

The hostage, Philip Walton, was abducted Monday night on the outskirts of Massalata, a village about 10 kilometres (six miles) from the border with Nigeria.

Walton is safe and in the care of the US State Department, the Pentagon said in a statement. US forces did not suffer any casualties in the rescue operation, it added.

“The United States is committed to the safe return of all US citizens taken captive,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a separate statement.

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“We delivered on that commitment late last night in Nigeria, where some of our bravest and most skilled warriors rescued a US citizen,” he said.

President Donald Trump hailed the rescue operation.

“Big win for our very elite U.S. Special Forces today. Details to follow!,” he tweeted.

Niger’s Defence Minister Issoufou Katambe had earlier confirmed the hostage release to AFP without giving details about how he had been freed.

Local officials had said this week that the kidnappers had called the man’s father to demand a ransom, though the family did not confirm this.

Walton had been living in Massalata with his wife and child for two years, according to his father, who himself has been in Niger for nearly 30 years.

Niger lies in the heart of the vast Sahel region, which is struggling with a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.

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US forces have two drone bases in Agadez and Dirkou, in northern Niger. Their aircraft provide significant support to the French anti-jihadist Barkhane force.

In October 2017, four American Special Forces soldiers and five Nigerien soldiers were killed in an ambush in Tongo Tongo, near Mali, in southwestern Niger.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.

Several Westerners are currently being held hostage in the region, including American aid worker Jeffery Woodke, who was kidnapped in the central town of Abalak in 2016 and is believed to be in neighbouring Mali now.

Three Europeans, including 75-year-old French charity worker Sophie Petronin, were released by their captors in Mali earlier this month under a prisoner swap arranged by the Malian government.

In August, six French aid workers and two Niger citizens were killed in the Koure wildlife reserve west of Niamey, in an attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State group.ci

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FG threatens to make migration difficult for doctors

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Dr Osagie Ehanire, The Minister for Health, made it clear that the federal government will do everything within her power to discourage doctors from travelling outside Nigeria.

The Minister said that the government will provide adequate medical facilities and also provide incentives that will discourage the Doctors from traveling outside the country, he said this on Friday in Abuja after inspecting the Cancer Centre in the National Hospital Abuja.

He said “I have heard the challenge of doctors leaving the country. We have plans to provide better funding for our hospitals in Nigeria and make such migration unattractive,”

Dr Osagie Ehanire praised the hospital staffs and administration, and encouraged them to better, he urged the hospital to be ready incase the global corona virus resurface again as seen in other countries. He advised the hospital to make judicious use of the funds made available to them.

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He added “Schools are resuming, people are travelling in and out the country so we must be prepared for any emergency”.

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Banks commence emergency system update due to threats from Anonymous

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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A global hacktivist network known as Anonymous stirred an aggressive campaign in Nigeria two weeks ago, Nigerian banks as part of the precautionary measure has decided embark on an immediate emergency upgrade.

Mohammed Abdullahi Minister of State for Science and Technology confirmed the threat from Anonymous, he clearly stated there was a well planned attacks on important government Databases.

Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Pantami, also  admitted that some government websites were tampered with. He said: ‘‘On my instruction, the NITDA and NCC worked almost round the clock last week to rectify the situation and ensure no vital data was compromised. I am happy the websites are back and running now.”

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He also assured Nigerians that stringent measures have been take taken to avoid further attacks,  emphasized  for all the relevant organization to upgrade their system.

 

 

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