Rivers State Government took a historic step on Monday as it finally endorsed the new minimum wage into law with a promise to commence payment from October this year.
This is coming seven months after the wage was signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan in April this year.
Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Mr George Feyii represented Governor Chibuike Amaechi at the ceremony which witnessed the presence of labour chiefs in the state, including the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council(JNC), Comrade Emecheta Chuku who signed on behalf of labour.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr Feyii said that the development was a result of dialogue with labour as he hinted that payment of arrears would commence from April and end in September, stretching it instalmentally within six months, and urged workers to show more dedication to duty and improve their productivity.
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government further pledged the resolve of the Amaechi administration to maintain a harmonious relationship with labour at all times.
In the same vein, Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) in the state, Chief Chris Oruge described the agreement as a dream come true to labour. He stated that the exercise was the outcome of intense negotiations and dialogue between labour and government in the past six months.
Chief Oruge noted,” time has passed when we bang on the table, the latest method of agreement with government is through dialogue and that is what has been done today, we have done it before and we will continue to do it”.
A similar view was expressed by Chairman of Trade Union Congress(TUC),Comrade Chika Onuegbu who remarked that the development would put smiles on the faces of workers in the state.
Comrade Onuegbu thanked workers in the state for being patient while the negotiation was going on, charging them to reciprocate by raising their productivity and being committed to work.
Also, the Head of Service, Mrs Esther Anucha enjoined workers in the state to appreciate government’s kind gesture by taking their jobs seriously while commending them for their patience and cooperation throughout the period.
Consequently, the Commissioner for Finance, Dr Chamberlain Peterside expressed assurance that the existing harmonious relationship between government and labour would be enhanced with the new wage law.
He disclosed that his office would liaise with the office of the Accountant-General of the State to commence the process of payroll for workers as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Sir Ngo Martyns -Yellowe and his counterpart in the Local Government Service Commission, Chief Azubuike Nmerukini have commended the Rivers State Government for signing the new minimum wage into law, stressing that it will boost workers’ morale and set a pace for other states.
Commenting on the development in an opinion poll conducted by The Tide yesterday in Port Harcourt, Sir Martyns-Yellowe congratulated Governor Amaechi for his courage and boldness in ensuring that the state civil servants benefit from the largesse.
He was of the view that the wage was coming at a critical time, saying, “with the approval, it will help workers and boost their morale”.
The Civil Service Commission chairman described the government’s gesture as a welcome development,” stressing that, as Chairman of Nigeria’s Governors Forum, Governor Amaechi had challenged others to do same”.
He, therefore, called on the state civil servants to reciprocate the gesture by raising their productivity and be more dedicated to duty.
Similarly, Chief Nmerukini said the signing of the wage into law in the state would cushion the pains of workers in the state.
He described the State Government’s gesture as commendable.
The Chairman of the Local Government Commission expressed hope that the wage would also be paid by the local governments”, I believe local government workers will also enjoy the new wage even though there will be a delay”, he said.
He continued,” I foresee some bottle necks in the implementation due to dearth of funds”.
Chief Nmerukini therefore urged local government workers to exercise patience, adding that,” first and foremost, they should be thankful and be patient while the implementation of the new wage is being carried out”.
Other civil servants who spoke on the matter lauded the State Governor, Rt Hon Chibuike Amaechi for responding to the plight of workers.
Director of Tourism in the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mrs Sokari Davies stressed that the Governor had endeared himself to workers.
While acknowledging that the wage would improve the welfare of workers, she urged civil servants to save for the rainy day, they should use this money for something better”, as she also urged the government to check inflation.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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