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10 Pensioners Die In Abia

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Ten pensioners died in Abia State last year on account of irregular payment of their monthly pensions. This disclosure is coming as aggrieved pensioners yesterday took to the streets of Umuahia, the Abia State capital, to protest non-payment of their pensions for the past three months.

Apart from the pension arrears, the pensioners also claimed that most of them were yet to receive their gratuity many years after retiring from service, while the arrears arising from the  harmonisation of pensions  were reportedly high.

The retirees numbering about 100 marched sluggishly along the streets of Bende Road, Aba Road, Akanu Ibiam Road and terminated at Okpara square. At the respective inter-sections of these roads, the senile men stopped and made supplications to God to touch the hearts of those in power  to pay their emoluments to forestall their untimely death.

The protest march affected traffic flow as the old men covered one lane of the road. However, after a frantic appeal by one of them, they created a little space for drivers to manouvre.

Speaking with The Tide, Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Umuahia Branch, Deacon Ama Ugo Daniel, lamented that their members had been exposed to untold hardship as they could no longer perform their role as bread winners of their families.

According to him, pensioners in Abia State received only  four month pay in a year. In a bitter voice, he said, “We put in 35 years of service and retired but now we have been rejected. We are not paid our entitlements as at when due. When they owe us for four months, they would offset just one month. They do not want us to train our children and honour our financial obligations as heads of our families”.

“Justifying their protest march, Daniel said “our march is to draw attention to our plights and press for the payment of our pension arrears now in the third month. As a result of the irregularity in paying our pensions, 10 of our members died last year when they could no longer put up with the hardship being imposed on us”.

Another aggrieved pensioner accused government of being insensitive to the welfare of pensioners. He said that they were tossed around each time they visit the Umuahia Sub-Treasury office for their pension at the end of every month.

“Officers at the Sub-treasury keep telling us come today, come tomorrow and in the end, we will not receive a dime. Instead of them to inform us that the there is no money, they continually raise our hopes only to dash it in the end. The government should be sensitive to our plight,” said the pensioner who craved anonymity. 

Efforts to reach the Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Nick Eleri, to speak on the matter proved abortive as he was said not to be on seat when The Tide called.

Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State, on assumption of office, set aside N30million monthly for payment of gratuity and pensions. However, the practice was jettisoned after about three months.

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FG To Recover N614bn Debt From 35 States

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, says the Federal Government has resolved to recover N614 billion loan facility from 35 states of the federation.
The minister disclosed this when she briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
Ahmed said each of the affected 35 states received N17.5billion as bail out from the Federal Government.
She said that already the Council had agreed to constitute a team to finalise modalities for commencement of repayment of the loan facility.
The team, according to her, would be constituted from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Finance.
The Minister of Finance said that she briefed NEC on the progress of the loan facility, detailing how the Federal Government has made a total of over N614 billion available to 35 States being N17.5 billion each.
“Council agreed to constitute a team from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the CBN and Ministry of Finance to finalise modalities for commencement of payment,’’ she said.
The minister further revealed that she updated the Council on the activities of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account (ECA) and other special accounts of the federation.
She said the committee requested for extension of time to finalise and present its report during the next meeting of the Council.
On the $9billion dollars London Court judgement against Nigeria, the minister said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had assured that Nigeria would appeal against the judgment.

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I’ll Lift Nigerians Out Of Poverty – Minister

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The new Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has promised to lift Nigerians out of poverty by developing the nation’s endowed natural resources.
He made the promise on Wednesday in Abuja when he assumed office shortly after he and other 42 ministers were sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Tide reports that the minister was received by directors in the ministry and some heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry.
“I intend to learn quickly from all of you. I have been following the progress of Dr Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past minister of this ministry who did a lot of work.
“I also intend to learn the robes quickly with the Minister of State, so that we can contribute our quota to the development of the country, especially with regards to lifting people out of poverty.
“Mr President has promised to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years, at the end of tenure of this administration which is four years, we want to at least achieve 40 per cent of that,’’ he said.
Adegbite expressed optimism that the administration would achieve a lot at delivering the dividends of democracy.
The minister said he would stamp out corruption in the sector in line with the agenda of the Buhari administration.
“Corruption fight begins with all of us, if we can be disciplined in the little things we do in our privacy, it will be easier to fight corruption in the country.
“We will join efforts with the Federal Government in fighting corruption to ensure a corruption free society,’’ he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of State for the ministry, Dr Ikechukwu Ogor, said he would support the minister to achieve the vision for the sector.
Ogah solicited the support of members of staff of the ministry to achieve the vision.
“We will all work as a team to take this ministry to an enviable position,’’ he said.
The ministry‘s Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadri Mu’azu, welcomed the ministers and gave them the break-down of the departments and operations.
He said the ministry was strategic to the country, especially with regards to diversification of the economy.
Muazu pledged the loyalty and dedication of the management and staff of the ministry to the ministers to enable them succeed the tasks ahead.
Some members of staff of the ministry expressed optimism that the ministers would bring to bear their experiences to take the ministry to greater heights.

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CTA To Assist Farmers Access Drought, Flood Tolerant Seeds

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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), has revealed that it is working with partners in various countries to ensure that farmers have access to drought and flood-tolerant seeds.
This move became necessary following the rising effects of climate change which has a direct impact on agricultural activities.
The Senior Program Coordinator of CTA, Dr Oluyede Ajayi said agriculture is central to development in Africa, but unfortunately it is subjected to a lot of pressures of climate change, like drought, weather extremes that affect food production.
Dr Ajayi who spoke with newsmen in Abuja at the Regional Workshop on Climate Finance and Support Mechanism for a Resilient Agriculture Sector in West and Central Africa said the point they raised was how to improve investment to help farmers become resilient and promote food security in the face of extreme weather.
“One of the points that we raised is how we improve investment to help farmers become resilient and to promote food security in the face of extreme weather situations, to do that requires more than investment, unfortunately less than 10 per cent of fund that goes to the climate is spent on agriculture, we are expecting so much from agriculture, but the fund that goes into agriculture in terms of investment to address climate issues is very low.
“So, this meeting is being organised to brainstorm the practical ways to leverage funding and improve financing to support climate action in agriculture”, he said.
He further said that they were also working towards exposing farmers to climate technologies which would assist in increasing their yield even in unfriendly weather.

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