NLC Faults Cut In Workers’ Salary

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has faulted the Federal Government’s upward review on deduction on workers’ salaries. Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, NLC General Secretary, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview on Tuesday, that the increased deduction was unacceptable.

“We got complaints from a number of workers about the pay that they got last month, being a fall compared to what they use to get. “We have tried to make enquires as to how this has come about, and we heard that there has being upward revisions in the number of deduction that has been taking place before.

“The National Housing Fund, Pension contributions and the PAYE (Pay as You Earn), that is the Personal Income Tax deduction.

“We are at a lost as to how that will happen, because with regards to the National Housing Fund, it is stipulated what percentage of salary goes as deduction.

“So whatever has been deducted in the past is based on that law and therefore you cannot just wake up and change the amount of deduction.

“It will require an amendment and a change to the subsisting law before you can do that effectively He called on the Federal Government to have a rethink on the situation as workers were already in hardship. He said that NLC had received complaints from various workers that their November salaries were reduced as compared to what they used to get.

He said that the salary deducted ranged from N5,000 to N10,000 and above, depending on grade levels. He explained that the Pension Contributions 2004 Pension Act as amended stipulates 7.5 per cent as employee contribution.

According to him, what can be done and what the law allows is that the matching contribution of the employer is set as a minimum and is free to increase what it has.

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Hunger Will Not Kill Nigerians, Presidency Faults UN Report

The Presidency says the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible and will not allow starvation to kill millions of Nigerians.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu said this on Sunday in a reaction to the recent alarm by some aid agencies that starvation would kill one million internally displaced persons in the northeast next year.

He said the nation appreciated the increasing humanitarian assistance complementing the federal and state governments’ efforts in the region currently facing humanitarian crisis.

Shehu explained that the crisis was a problem Buhari’s administration continued to handle with great sensitivity.

He stated: “This notwithstanding, we’re concerned about the blatant attempts to whip up a nonexistent fear of mass starvation by some aid agencies; a type of hype that does not provide solution to the situation on the ground, but more to do with calculations for operations financing locally and abroad. In a recent instance, one arm of the United Nations screamed that 100,000 people will die of starvation next year. A different group says a million will die.

“The displacement pattern as revealed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) with the International Organisation for Migration indicates that there are currently about two million people who are displaced. Only about 20 percent of this is however in IDP camps. This much reduced numbers are in Borno in 13 formal and 16 satellite camps; four of such camps currently operating in Adamawa and about the same number in Yobe. The larger number of the IDP population is living either in self-settled camps or with host communities. The affected states with active collaboration with NEMA and the recently inaugurated Presidential Committee on Northeast Initiative are deeply involved in efforts to cushion the humanitarian challenges especially on food security and nutrition.

“Through an ongoing arrangement, NEMA provides raw food items to IDPs at formal camps, self-settled centres, host communities and satellite centres. The states for their part provide condiments, firewood and maintain environmental quality of the IDP camps. Beyond the IDP camps, government agencies are  distributing food in host communities. The T.Y Danjuma-led PCNI is currently doing this in Borno State. In addition to the supply of food, the Federal Government, through NEMA and the PCNI, has made the provision of drugs to some major hospitals in the zone as a priority. These agencies have also been deploying on continuous basis, medical teams and equipment to the North-East to support the provision of medicare to the IDPs.

“This country has a responsible government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari which is doing a lot to bring relief to the displaced people. The Nigerian government which has been making the most efforts in the entire endeavour will continue to work closely with the local and international response groups to overcome this humanitarian crisis. At this time when the focus is gradually shifting to towards rehabilitation, reconstruction, resettlement, recovery and the dignified return of IDPs back home, we can do with all the support out there in the donor community.

“We do not, however, see the reason for the  theories and hyperbolic claims being made ostensibly to draw donor support by some of the aid agencies. The situation on the ground, as it exists, provides sufficient motivation to all well-meaning donors to come and do a decent part. The hype, especially that which suggests that the government is doing nothing is therefore uncharitable and unnecessary.”

Credit: dailytrust

PDP Faults Postponement Of FCT Council Elections

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed concern over the postponement of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Area Council elections, alleging that it was done at the instance of a particular political party.

The party said there is no valid reason for the shift, except that the PDP and its candidates are more popular and are set to sweep the elections in the area councils.

A statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Wednesday said it is aware that the postponement is part of the moves to deny the PDP of its imminent victory at the polls.

“Intelligence reports available to us indicate that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was instigated to shift the election merely because that particular political party realized that our candidates were going to sweep the polls.

“It is indeed incontrovertible that most Nigerians from all walks of life residing in Abuja are in support of the PDP and are ready to express this support overwhelmingly at the FCT elections. The shift, we know is a fallout of the panic and conspiracy against the PDP.

Credit: Thisday

Fashola Begs Nigerians To Accept Hike In Electricity Tariff, Faults Jonathan’s Privatization Of Power Sector

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, has noted that the increase in electricity tariffs is the first major policy the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is coming up with, describing same as “a painful pill,” which consumers have to “swallow.”Fashola disclosed this Monday during the second monthly meeting with stakeholders in the power sector in Lagos, where he also inspected some projects at the Alagbon Transmission and Distribution Complex.

Fashola’s comments came at a time Nigerian workers under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, joined by Civil Society Organizations embarked on peaceful protests against the policy which has grounded commercial activities in several cities in the country.

His words, “Importantly, I understand that people who have been disappointed over a long time will feel a sense of concern that again tariffs have gone up. But the truth is that these tariffs ought to have been there from day one. I don’t know why the government of yesterday was not courageous enough to tell us this was the price.

“It is a painful pill that I must appeal that we swallow. It is like quinine and malaria. It’s painful; it’s not sweet, I know that, but I do it because we are not left with many choices. This is the first major decision in power that this administration has taken. There are other problems.

“I can only appeal for some understanding and some trust that we do this in the best interest of our country. It is a hard decision, but I think down the line, we will have cause to look…”

The minister, who faulted the way the privatisation of the power sector carried out by the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, said the sector was being plagued by several problems including gas supply shortfall and transmission issue.

Credit: Vanguard

INEC Faults Tribunal’s Judgment On Rivers Guber Election, Asks Appeal Court To Set It Aside

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has filed an appeal  against the judgment of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal nullifying  the election of Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike.
The electoral body filed her appeal dated November 4, 2015 at the Court of  Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division on  November 5, 2015.

In a 12-grounds appeal filed on behalf of INEC  by her counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, the  electoral  body challenged the  entirety of  the tribunal’s judgment.

The  reliefs sought by INEC  in her appeal include: “an order allowing  the  appeal, an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal and an order dismissing the petition as lacking in merit.”

According to INEC, the learned justices of the tribunal erred in law when it failed to evaluate the evidence of each of the witness called by the petitioners before reaching  its decision.

INEC stated: “The tribunal was obligated to making findings as to where elections were said to have held on the one part and where they were alleged not to have held on the other part.”

The electoral body further stated that the tribunal  erred when it resorted to generic declaration like “many instances,” when the justices were obligated to specify where the  evidence  elicited under cross examination enhanced the case of the first and  second  respondents.

The INEC further stated that the tribunal erred  when it used the testimonies of witnesses  who were not at polling  stations  to nullify  the Rivers  governorship election.

Credit: ThisDay

Maina Faults EFCC On Wanted Notice, Court Order

The former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, on Tuesday faulted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on an alleged order by Justice G.O. Kolawole, that he be produced in court by his counsel, Bar. Esther Uzoma.

Uzoma in a statement in Abuja said she made an appearance on July 21 to protest the EFCC’s claim that her client was on the run when no charge had been served on him.

She said EFCC’s action was against the letters of the law.

The statement said: “The EFCC should come clean on the matter of my client, Dr. Abdulrasheed Maina. When I appeared before His Lordship, Justice Kolawole, on July 21, I made it clear that the EFCC was yet to file any charge as well as serve any summons on Dr. Maina.

“It is trite law that you cannot say an accused is on the run when there is no charge preferred against him or any invitation extended to him.

“During the hearing for the bail application, counsel to the EFCC, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), wanted the court to direct me to produce Maina in court at the next sitting which I argued that there are clear procedures, which the EFCC is familiar with and should follow.

“Naturally, the court agreed with my submission on the position of law. Therefore, it is misleading for the EFCC in its statement of Monday to mislead the public that there exists an order for Maina to be produced in court when there is no invitation extended to him talk-less of a charge preferred against him by the commission.”

Credit: NationOnline

Gowon Cautions Buhari, Military’s Confidence On Boko Haram December Deadline

A former military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, on Tuesday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian military over the December deadline for ending the Boko Haram insurgency.

President Buhari had tasked the military to end insurgency in three months, ending December 2015. The military has said it would meet the schedule.

Mr. Gowon said the military would do its best to meet the December deadline, expressing “absolute confidence” in the ability of the Nigerian armed forces to defeat Boko Haram.

He however warned that no person can confidently talk about the particular time a military operation would end.

Mr. Gowon stated this in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, when he led an advocacy team on malaria and four other neglected tropical diseases, on a visited to Governor David Umahi.

“I can tell you this, nobody can really talk about when any particular operation is going to end. And as a (former) commander-in- chief, I know this.

“Yes, you can say you target a particular time, but it may finish before that time or it may go slightly beyond. To end it, that is the most important thing.

“I assure you that I have absolute confidence in our military that they are going to really deal with the situation as they are doing at the moment,” said Mr. Gowon, who was the military leader during Nigeria’s civil war between 1967 and 1970.

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Buhari Faults Jonathan’s Approach To Chibok Girls’ Abduction

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday maintained that that the handling of the Chibok girls issue by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was not impressive. He spoke when he received the #Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He declared that it was a matter of right for the government to take care of the welfare of the escaped girls and parents of the over 200 secondary school girls abducted from Chibok, Borno State on April 14 last year. He said: “I think the government should provide the welfare as a matter of right.”

Buhari promised to do all it takes to rescue the Chibok girls. He wondered how the capacity of Nigerian armed forces had lowered over the years. Promising to strengthen institutions, he said, that everything will be done to bring the armed forces back to its lost glory.

The #Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group visited the Presidential Villa to make formal demands for the girls’ rescue, among others. The group was led by the Coordinators, former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili and Mariam Uwais.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo along with the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and some service chiefs were also among top government officials that received the group in the briefing room attached to the Council Chamber.

Previous attempts by the group to access the seat of power and have audience with former President Jonathan were thwarted by the last administration.

The demands made by Ezekwesili and Chibok Area Development Association, represented by Mr. Dauda Iliya,  Wednesday, included increasing effort by the government to immediately rescue the abducted girls, for the Federal Government to start taking care of the welfare of parents of the abducted and escaped girls.

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PENGASSAN Faults Revenue Drain On Importation Of Petroleum Products

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has called on President Muhamadu Buhari to increase local refining capacity before embarking on any deregulation process.

This is contained in a statement on Tuesday by PENGASSAN National Public Relations Officer, Mr Emmanuel Ojugbana.

The union called on the president to ensure that the focus of deregulation policy was based on local production rather than importation.

It said that if local refining was not increased to meet local demand for petroleum products, especially the premium motor spirit (petrol), removing subsidy on petroleum products would bring more hardship on Nigeria.

It stated that removing subsidy while the country depended on importation of refined products would make prices of refined products to be out of the reach of the masses and would cause inflation.
It said that importation of refined petroleum products was a major drain on the nation’s revenue, adding that it created jobs for the refining nations in spite of the high unemployment rate confronting Nigeria.

“Importation of refined petroleum products is also putting the Naira under undue pressure and creating social problems for the economy. This is unacceptable to PENGASSAN.

“Abrupt removal of fuel subsidy will create chaos that may ground the economy.
“PENGASSAN calls for well-coordinated measures with timeline to achieve self-sufficiency in local refining as a means of proffering acceptable steps to end fuel subsidy.

“This should be combined with such other measures for effective optimisation of gas, especially for domestic, industrial, electricity and automotive energy. Such will create other affordable and friendly sources for energy needs” it stated.

Credit: Vanguard

Emir Sanusi Reacts To PWC Audit Report

A former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, has reacted to the recent audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers on the alleged missing $20 billion oil money, saying the report has confirmed in the first instance that at least $18.5 billion was indeed missing.

Mr. Sanusi faulted the petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who said the report had exonerated the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, earlier accused of diverting the money.

In an opinion article published by the Financial Times of London, Mr. Sanusi, who is now the Emir of Kano, said the argument that the outstanding amount was used by the NNPC for apparently unlawful purposes such as kerosene subsidy, does not dismiss the notion that the NNPC illegally withheld billions of oil dollars from the government.

“Contrary to the claims of petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the audit report does not exonerate the NNPC. It establishes that the gap between the company’s oil revenues between January 2012 and July 2013 and cash remitted to the government for the same period was $18.5bn,” Mr. Sanusi said.

The former CBN governor said of the $18.5bn in revenues that the state oil company did not send to the government according to PwC, “about $12.5bn appears by my calculations to have been diverted”.

“And this relates only to a random 19-month period, not the five-year term of Mr Jonathan, the outgoing president,” he wrote.

As CBN governor, Mr. Sanusi had accused the NNPC of failing to pay about $20 billion in oil revenue to the government between 2012 and 2013.

The government denied any money was missing, even before an investigation. Mr. Sanusi was later fired by President Goodluck Jonathan.

On his suspension by the president, Mr. Sanusi said he had made it clear that “you can suspend a man, but you cannot suspend the truth”.

The publication of the PwC audit report into the missing billions, he said, has brought the nation a step closer to the truth.

He said the report has suggested lines for further investigation into the matter, and urged the Buhari government to follow the leads and ensure anyone found culpable is punished.

“Nigerians did not vote for an amnesty for anyone,” he said. “The lines of investigation suggested by this audit need to be pursued. Any officials found responsible for involvement in this apparent breach of trust must be charged.”

Mr. Sanusi noted the various duplicated expenses, unsubstantiated costs, computation errors and tax shortfalls listed in the report against the NNPC.

The former CBN governor said although PwC report concluded that a significant part of the unremitted funds were used to finance kerosene subsidy, such decision lacked presidential approval as former President Umaru Yar’Adua had stopped kerosene subsidy at the time.

In spite of the subsidy claims for which NNPC withheld $3.4 billion for the period, Mr. Sanusi said Nigerians were still made to pay an average of N120 and N140 per litre of kerosene, far more than the supposed subsidised price of N50.

“I have consistently held that this (subsidy of kerosene claim by NNPC) was a scam that violated the constitution and siphoned off money from the treasury,” the former CBN chief said.

On the transfer of oil assets belonging to the federation to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, the upstream petroleum industry subsidiary of the NNPC, Mr. Sanusi expressed regrets that his removal did not allow him conclude the investigation he was doing on that transaction.

He said although the NPDC paid about $100 million for the assets, from which it had extracted crude valued at $6.8 billion, it had only paid about $1.7 billion as tax and royalties for the period under review.


No Rift With Govt. Transition Committee, Head Of Buhari’s Transition Committee Faults APC’s Claim

Head of the incoming government’s Transition Committee, Ahmed Joda, has denied having any setbacks with the Federal Government’s Transition Committee in the course of his assignment.

The All Progressives Congress had on Thursday accused the government of failing to co-operate with its transition team.

The APC had made the accusation through its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed. “As we write, the transition committee of the FG has yet to hold a single meeting with our own transition committee, neither have they given us a line of handover note,” Mr. Mohammed had said.

But reacting to the allegation on Friday, the PDP spokesperson, Olisah Metuh, said the APC’s claim was as “unnecessary and diversionary” as it was “false and tendentious”.

Mr. Metuh stated that the meetings of the transition and inauguration committees of both parties have been going on fruitfully and wondered where the “false alarm” was coming from, “if not a measure of confusion in the APC camp”.

The chairman of the APC transition committee has now confirmed Mr. Joda’s claim.

Speaking with journalists at the State House, Abuja, after a meeting with the government side, chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mr. Joda said his committee is getting all the necessary cooperation from the outgoing government.

Insisting that the two committees were operating on the same page, Mr. Joda dismissed reports that the presidency was not cooperating with his committee to ensure a smooth transition. “Our committee has never said to anybody that there is no cooperation, we have never said that and we are waiting for the reports, until when they come,” he said.

The secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, also told journalists that the meeting was “fruitful and cordial”.

He said, contrary to speculations, there was no contending issue between the two committees as rumoured in some quarters. “The meeting was very, very fruitful; it was very cordial,” he said. “There is certainly no (contending) issue, we are flowing and we have clearer understanding of the working of the two committees.”


FG Faults Petrol Importers On N200 Billion Subsidy Claim

The Federal Government has faulted the N200 billion claim by oil marketers as outstanding payment on subsidy.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, faulted the claims on Sunday in Abuja while briefing journalists.

“As you know, we paid N156 billion recently to the marketers; N100 billion being the principal payment we owed them and N56 billion being interest rate and some remaining exchange rate differentials.

“Prior to that, we paid them N31 billion as exchange rate differentials. At the time we paid that amount last week, what we had outstanding is N98 billion,’’ she said.

The minister said that government relies on the weekly data released by Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to certify what was due to the marketers.

“Since we made the announcement last week, the outstanding payment has now risen from N98 billion to N131 billion.

“And they (marketers) are now making a demand of N200 billion and I asked them what is the balance for.”

The minister said the marketers were making demands for huge sums in exchange and interest rate differentials.

She added that the government had made it known to them that what they were requesting was huge especially the exchange rate differentials.

She said that PPPRA needed to look at the figures to ascertain if the way they were calculated was in line with the exchange rate policy of the Central Bank.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the outgoing administration would not want to leave unverified claims or burden for the incoming government to pay. “So, this (marketers claims) must be thoroughly looked into and certified.

“We recognise that the marketers are business people and should be paid; but the rate at which they have continued to hold Nigerians to ransom is discouraging.

“It is unfortunate that this is happening now when the government has prioritised their payment,’’ she said.

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