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Nation-Wide Oil Workers’ Strike Looms …As NUPENG’s Deadline On Subsidy Payments Expires, Today

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President Goodluck Jonathan (left), receiving a souvenir from Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson, during the President's interactive forum with beneficiaries of his scholarship programme at Government House, Yenagoa. Photo: Lucky Francis

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers
(NEUPENG), has given the Federal Government up till tomorrow to begin payment
of subsidy arrears or face a nationwide strike.

The National President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese told newsmen
in Lagos that the demand for payment of fuel subsidy claims became necessary
because its members’ jobs were at stake as marketers can no longer keep them
due to huge debt owed by the Federal Government.

Achese said the on-going strike action by its members in
Abuja was to force the Federal Government to implement the agreement signed
with the union in July.

‘Today, as I speak to you, there is crude in Chad, in Ivory
Coast and some other parts of African
countries that are producing oil.

Nigeria that is the 6th is going out to these neighbouring
countries again to import petroleum products. It’s a shameful thing.

‘We are also requesting that they must pay this oil subsidy
or we might be forced to declare a nationwide strike. Nigerians are suffering
in the hands of SPDC and Chevron, those that have put in between 25 and 30
years do not have pension contribution and their contributions that are being
deducted from their salaries are not being accounted for and can not be
traced”, he said.

The NUEPENG boss also denied speculations that the strike
action embarked upon by its members in Abuja was sponsored by some indicted
marketers in the fuel subsidy scam.

The Tide reports that NEPENG had advised the Federal
Government to fix the nation’s oil refineries and bad roads.

In the meantime, the Federal Government says it will, today,
pay the outstanding subsidy claims to some oil marketers.

The Tide recalls that oil marketers and tanker drivers since
last week had been on strike, which has paralysed business activities in Abuja.

Based on the ugly situation, the Minister of Petroleum
Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke appealed to oil marketers to shelve their
strike and allow Nigerians celebrate the Eid-el-Fitr.

The minister said the Federal Government was taking
necessary steps to address their grievances and assured tanker drivers that the
Ministry of Finance would ensure that the situation was addressed and marketers
paid their genuine claims.

Meanwhile, some residents of Nsukka in Enugu State have
appealed to both the Federal Government and the striking oil workers to bend
backwards and reach an agreement.

The residents, in separate interviews with newsmen yesterday
said this would help to avert a nationwide strike.

They said any nationwide strike at the moment would further
impoverish the masses in the country.

Mr James Nnaji, a civil servant, said any strike at the
moment Nigeria was going through security challenges would put more pressure on
security agents, and would adversely affect Nigeria’s economy.

“The union should embrace dialogue, instead of embarking on
a nationwide strike that will bring more hardship to Nigerians,’’ he said.

Mr Charles Onah, a commercial bus driver, said NUPENG should
consider the suffering its action would bring upon many Nigerians.

“Strike is not the best option. I plead with the union to
avoid anything that will overheat the already heated polity.

“Some of us feed our families and train our children as
commercial bus drivers.

“Now we are struggling to get money to enable our children
go back to school in September. Any nationwide strike will be a setback to us
and members of our families..

“Every Nigerian should understand that this country belongs
to all of us, and should avoid anything that will overheat the polity and
paralyse the economy.

“I plead with NUPENG to consider the interest of about 160
million Nigerians, who will face extra suffering in the event of the strike.

“Everybody should assist the government to take this country
to the next level,’’ Onah  said.

 

Shedie Okpara

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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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.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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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.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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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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