President Goodluck Jonathan’s meeting with the leadership of Labour failed last night to resolve the petrol price crisis. It was inconclusive. The talks continue tomorrow.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Abdulwaheed Omar declared after the meeting that the strike, which started on Monday, will continue today.
But he said Labour and the government shifted grounds.
The government asked Labour to call off its strike, besides insisting on “total” deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry an action that shot up the price of petrol from N65 to between N138 and N200 per litre.
Labour insisted on reversal to N65. But Omar did not give details of the shift in positions.
After the five-hour negotiation, the government offered N120 per litre for petrol, down from N138 and N200 that it has been sold since January 1.
The government team said they would not go back to N65. But Labour insisted on the mandate from workers for N65 per litre.
A source at the meeting said: “The President set the tone for the meeting with preliminary remarks which bordered on his usual points that everything was done in the interest of the nation and not to punish Nigerians.
“Shortly after the opening remarks, he left the negotiation hall with the Vice-President. But Senate President David Mark took over to moderate the session.
“After the usual appeal and justification for deregulation by all the governors and other Federal Executive Council members, the government said it would not go back to N65 per litre. It, however, said it will be willing to peg the pump price of PMS at N120 per litre.
“The government was emphatic that it will not go below N120 per litre although some government officials were saying in confidence that if Labour pushes for N100 per litre, the government may concede.
“The way the government presented its arguments, they were not too keen on return to N65 per litre, they were more interested in security implications of the ongoing action. They were raising issues on how things will not get out of hands. That made the Labour to be suspicious.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole said he knew the thinking of Labour but now that he is on the other side, he knows what he is experiencing. He, however, did not say what he is going through in office.”
“The NLC President and the TUC President, Peter Esele spoke on why the labour will not trade away the N65 per litre mandate given to them by workers.
“The Labour went further to say that the government must reverse the pump price to N65 with a 90-day moratorium to enable all stakeholders look at the challenges of subsidy, pump price and find ways for appropriate pricing for the PMS.
“The idea is that within 90 days, a larger committee will look at the entire subsidy picture and the deregulation plans of the government and find a common ground. But this window was not acceptable to the government.
“When the deadlock was evident, the Labour leaders said they will go and consult with their National Executive Committee on Saturday and get back to the government the same day. No time was fixed for the resumption of negotiation on Saturday.”
Omar said: “The outcome is that we have not concluded discussions yet but we have had fruitful discussions and we re to continue on Saturday.”
On whether both parties shifted ground, he said: “Yes; it’s part of it. Of course, all of us are trying to shift ground, that’s why I told you that we have had fruitful discussions.”
On the possibility of the strike being called off, Omar said: “Unless and until we get a conclusive conclusion from the discussion; that means we’ll maintain status quo.” The meeting, which was held at the Presidential Villa, started at about 4pm.
Senate President David Mark led a team which included Senators Ike Ekweremadu and Victor Ndoma-Egba.
Nigeria Governors’ Forum Chairman, Rotimi Ameachi (Rivers) led the governors’ seven-man delegation, including Babatunde Fashiola (Lagos), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Peter Obi (Anambra), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Gabriel Suswam (Benue).
Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, Justice Minister, Mohammed Adoke, Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, Minister of Petroleum Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke and National Security Adviser, Patrick Azazi, represented the Executive.
With Omar on the Labour side were Peter Esele and 14 others. There were also Civil Society Organisations, representatives.
However, former military Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon has urged the Federal Government and labour to engage in dialogue “without any condition” to facilitate a quick resolution of the anti-fuel subsidy withdrawal strike.
“The strike is assuming strange dimensions and has been taken up by groups that are causing violence, destruction and deaths. This is unfortunate and unnecessary,” he told newsmen yesterday in Jos in a telephone interview.
Gowon challenged labour to consider the hardship the strike was causing to innocent Nigerians who could not do their normal business, and called for “absolute care, patriotism and consideration” from all parties.
He likened the current impasse on the fuel subsidy removal to the resentment his government faced when he introduced the NYSC scheme in 1973.
“When we introduced the scheme, it was stiffly rejected. We were called names by people, who said we wanted to enslave the youths. “But I was determined and honest about it. I was looking at the future and wanted the young Nigerians to have a feel of what other parts of the country were like, because I knew that such youths were certain to be Nigeria’s leaders in future. “After the scheme took off, I visited some camps and the corps members apologised for their initial demonstrations against it. Since then, the corps members have continued to play prominent roles in national development as witnessed in the last elections,” he noted.
He said he had listened to the strong argument put across by the CBN Governor over why the fuel subsidy could not be sustained, and had also listened to suggestions that those benefiting from it (subsidy) would seek to create a situation where it would continue.
The former leader decried a situation where leaders of some political parties were getting involved and making statements that had little or no link with the issue at stake, and suggested that leaders should rather work toward resolving the issue.
He commended the police authorities for apologising and taking steps to deal with a police officer who allegedly shot some protesters in Lagos, stressing that such “irresponsible” officers should not be spared, “as they usually give the government and the nation a bad name”.
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.
Wike, Pride Of Nigeria’s Democracy, NUJ Affirms
The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.
The NUJ also noted that Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.
The National leadership, the 36 State Executives, and the FCT, including members of the NUJ across the country made the assertion in Port Harcourt during the inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by the governor in the state.
The National President of the NUJ, Chief Chris Isiguzo, said the 1999 Constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold governments accountable to the people.
Isiguzo posited that having placed the projects side-by-side with the expectations of the populace, it was obvious that the governor’s investment in critical infrastructure would remain lifelong empowerment tools for the people.
”We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.
”At the much-talked about Real Madrid Football Academy, where they are going to train the young ones, we saw that they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.
”That’s also to catch-them-young, and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources is continuously invested in sports development in Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, it will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”
On her part, the National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs Ladi Bala said that the projects she had seen were entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.
According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges’ Quarters stand out as first of its kind in Nigeria, with its serene ambiance that would translate into enhancing the productivity of judges of Rivers origin.
”I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State, and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them, and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.
”I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leaf from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working, and we are very proud of what we have seen here”, she added.
In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur, stated that Wike was a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of life of his people.
Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, said that his show of love for journalists confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.
On his part, Chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ismail Ademola Babalola, asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital, and the Real Madrid Football Academy were part of projects Governor Wike was using to secure a productive future for the youths of the state because they meet global standard.
Also speaking, the Vice President of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako, commended the quality of the various roads and flyover bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city tourists’ destination of choice.
In the same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Comrade Larai Musa, said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Wike and his projects’ mantra, and asserted that it was leaders like him that were needed at the national level.
Also, Comrade Ikechukwu Ordu of Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted the need for other political leaders to emulate Wike in providing dividends of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortunes of his state.
Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Comrade Ugochukwu Chukwudieke, said she was completely overwhelmed by what Wike has done in constructing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi Flyover Bridge delivered within one year.
Chukwudieke also praised the quality of work on the Rumuola Flyover Bridge, Ogbun-nu-Abali Flyover Bridge, GRA Junction Flyover Bridge, and the Orochiri-Wurukwo flyover project at Waterlines Junction by Aba Road.
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