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New Minimum Wage: NLC Boils For Strike

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The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) last Wednesday in Abuja, said it would commence a three-day warning strike from November 10 to November 12.

This was contained in a communiqué issued and signed by Mr Abdulwahed Omar and Mr John Odah, President and General Secretary of the NLC, respectively at the end of its NEC meeting.

The communiqué said that NEC condemned the delay in the implementation of a new national minimum wage since the conclusion of negotiations early this year.

It also said it resolved to give the Federal Government a 14-day statutory notice after which it would embark on the warning strike if the new wage was not implemented.

The council said that this was as a result of government’s reluctance to implement the wage several months after the negotiations ended and recommendations made.

“NEC also observed that there is a deliberate connivance between government and the private sector to scuttle the implementation of a new national minimum wage.

“It has therefore, directed that a National Minimum Wage Strike Committee be set up to drive the process for intensive mobilisation for a very successful strike,” the communiqué said.

According to the communiqué, the council also noted the increasing insecurity in the country and called on the political leadership of the country to, as a matter of urgency, overhaul and restructure the security agencies to make them more proactive in their operations.

It also resolved that it would give its maximum support to the new INEC Chairman to achieve credible, free and fair elections in 2011.

“NEC further resolved to embark on a campaign for the sack of Mrs Ayoka Adebayo as Resident Electoral Commissioner of Ondo State given her role in the re-run Ekiti governorship elections which attracted severe reprimand from the Appeal Court Justices that nullified the election of Segun Oni,” it added.

The communique also said that to discourage rigging and other electoral offences which led to the nullification of some elections, Congress would mobilise its allies to campaign for the criminalisation of electoral offences with very stiff penalties.

“NEC also resolved that as part of its voter education and sensitisation programmes, Congress will organise a parley for presidential as well as governorship candidates as well as monitor the electoral processes from voters’ registration to the actual voting in 2011,” it said.

The communiqué further disclosed that NEC deliberated on the sack of 46 teachers at Community Secondary School, Asokoro, Abuja by the authorities of the State Security Service (SSS) to frustrate unionisation of teachers in the school and condemned the sack by the school’s management.

It added that NEC-in-Session noted with concern the fate of pensioners, following the centralised biometric enrolment exercise ordered by the Head of the Service of the Federation (HOSF), Mr Steve Oronsaye, stressing that NEC would seek audience with the HOSF one-on-one in order to resolve the issues.

It also expressed concern over the refusal of government to pay 12-15 per cent pension arrears to pensioners, despite the reflection of same in the 2010 budget and the fact that the Army and Para-military organisations were already enjoying uninterrupted payment of the salary increase.

NEC condemned the Governors of the Eastern states for allowing the strike in their state universities to drag on for months without showing any commitment to ending the dispute.

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Nigeria’s Revenue-To-GDP Ratio Lowest, Private Sector Choking – World Bank

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Nigeria’s revenue-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio, which fell to between five and six per cent last year, is the lowest in the world, the World Bank said on Monday.
The Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Dr Shubham Chaudhuri, said this during a panel session at a virtual public sector seminar with the theme ‘Nigeria in challenging times: imperatives for a cohesive national development agenda’ organised by the Lagos Business School.
Chaudhuri, who stressed the need for private investment for the country to realise its potential, said the private sector in the country ‘is struggling to breathe’.
“In Nigeria, I think the basic economic agenda is about diversification away from oil because oil has really been like resource curse for Nigeria on multiple dimensions,” he said.
He noted the aspiration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the end of the decade.
He said, “Nigeria is a country with tremendous potential. If you look at the synopsis for this panel, it suggests that Nigeria is at a critical juncture – almost at the moment of crisis.
“Despite all of that, Nigeria is still the largest economy in Africa. So, just think about the potential that Nigeria has because of its natural resources, but more than that, because of its dynamism and all of its population. Nigerians are more entrepreneurial by nature.
“No country has become prosperous and realised its potential, eliminated poverty without doing two simple things: investing in its people, and unleashing the power of the private sector in creating jobs by investing and growing business. And then, of course, the basic function of the state is to provide security and law and order.”
According to Chaudhuri, to invest in people entails basic services, basic education, primary healthcare and nutrition, among others.
He said, “On this, Nigeria at the moment ranks sixth from the bottom in terms of the human capital index that we produce every year.
“So, obviously, there is a huge agenda in terms of investing in human capital. Nigeria spends more on PMS (premium motor spirit) subsidy than it does on primary healthcare in a year, and we know who the PMS subsidy is benefitting.”
He indicated that despite the country’s huge potential to attract private capital, the non-oil part of the economy ‘is not growing that robustly and certainly not generating revenues that the government needs’.
Chaudhuri said, “So, we see as priorities investments in human capital. But for that, one needs revenues. And there again, Nigeria unfortunately has the distinction of having about the lowest revenue-to-GDP ratio in the world.
 ”The standard rule of thumb is that for government to provide the basic services and law and order, it needs between 15 to 20 per cent of GDP as being revenue, and this will be both at the federal and state levels combined.
“In Nigeria, it was eight per cent in 2019. In 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis and with the fall in oil prices, that went down to about between five and six per cent.
“So, domestic revenue mobilisation is huge. And then the third is enabling the space for private investment. You have to fix the power problem. Power is like the oxygen of an economy. In Nigeria, the private sector is struggling to breathe.”

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CBN Stops Sale Of Forex To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as announced immediate discontinuation of sale of Foreign Exchange (forex) to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor , made this announcement yesterday, while presenting a communique from the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele said that the decision was informed by the unwholesome business practices of the BDCs, which he said had continued to put enormous pressure on the Naira.
He  said ,  henceforth,  the apex bank would sell forex to deserving Nigerians through the commercial banks.
“ The BDCs were regulated to sell a maximum of 5000  dollars per day,  but CBN observed that they have since been flouting that regulation and selling millions of dollars per day.
“The CBN also observed that the BDCs aid illicit financial flows and other financial  crimes.  The bank has thus, decided to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs with immediate effect.
“We shall, henceforth,  channel all forex allocation through the commercial banks,” he said.
He urged the commercial banks to ensure that every deserving customer got their forex demand,  adding that any bank found circumventing  the new system would be sanctioned.
“Once a customer presents all required documentation to purchase forex, the commercial banks should ensure they get the forex.
“Any customer that is denied should contact the CBN on 0700385526 or through the email- cbd@cbn.gov.ng “ he said.
The Tide source reports that stakeholders have been calling on the CBN and its MPC to take urgent steps to halt unending depreciation of the Naira.
Recently,  a past President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN),  Mr Okechukwu Unegbu,  urged the MPC to focus on policy decisions that would curb rising inflation and stabilise the Naira.

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RSG To Privatise Songhai, Fish Farms

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State Government has concluded plans to privatise the moribund Songhai Farm in Tai and Fish Farm in Buguma.
The State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb. Desmond Akawor, gave this indication while appearing in a phone-in radio programme organised by Silverbird Communications in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
He explained that the previous administration in the state failed to put in place a sustainability programme for these farms, hence they went moribund.
In order to reverse the situation, he said that the present administration was now contemplating a rehabilitation scheme to be driven by a privatisation policy to enable those investments come on stream.
He said the scheme had reached an advanced stage and is to executed by the State Ministry of Agriculture.
On the issue of job creation, Akawor said the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike was using the various construction projects around the state to empower the youths.
He explained that the government had floated a special scholarship scheme in Law and Medical Sciences to create opportunities for young people in various professions.
He called on the opposition to desist from de-marketing the state through propaganda as it’s capable of scaring investors away from the state.
Akawor insisted that the Wike led administration has provided an enabling environment for businesses to thrive through infrastructure and improved security.

By: Kevin Nengia

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