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APC Shuns ABOLGA Stakeholders’ Parley

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As the Independent Na
tional Electoral Commission (INEC), gears up for the rerun legislative elections on 30th July, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers state, has shunned a stakeholders’ meeting called by the electoral body to discuss how to ensure smooth and violence-free polls in the area.
The parley, held last wwek in Abua Central, headquarters of the local government, was attended by the Deputy Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Marshall Uwom; the state Women Affairs Commissioner, Mrs Ukel Oyaghiri; the LGA CTC Chairman, Chief Oye Fubara Igenewari; the LGA PDP Chairman, Mr Optimist Wariboko; and representatives from other political parties in the LGA.
Speaking at the event, the Electoral Officer, Mr Emmanuel Ebifa, expressed shock that the All Progressives Congress chairman and representatives were absent, stating that invitation letters were sent to all the political parties and stakeholders in the same manner, and wondered why the APC was absent in the meeting.
Ebifa further informed those present at the meeting that he even called the APC chairman in the LGA, Hon Gift Igoma, while the meeting was ongoing, and that the chairman, in response, promised to send a representative.
The electoral officer, however, stated that the upcoming election scheduled for Saturday, 30 July, 2016, will hold only in wards 11 and 12 of the LGA, and appealed for the co-operations of all to ensure a smooth exercise.
Speaking, the Abua/Odua Council Caretaker Committee Chairman, Chief Oye Fubara Igenewari commended the security agencies for their untiring efforts at sustaining the existing peace and security in the area but denounced their activities in the last rerun election.
According to him, “I stand here as the head of government of this place, and we are to provide, in conjunction with the security agencies, a level playing field. We are not known to be partisan when it comes to security, and it is also my complaint that during the last election, I was treated as if I was not holding the office I am holding in this place.
‘’I was not recognized as the chief security officer of this LGA. At some point, I was even molested,” he said.
He, however, appealed for a change of attitude, and called on the electoral officer to clarify which wards and units the election would take place in the LGA.
On his part, the Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Marshall Uwom also commended the security agencies for the sustained peace in the LGA but frowned at the indiscriminate arrest of members of a particular political party in the area during the last rerun election.
Uwom appealed for their cooperation to ensure that the upcoming exercise was smooth, free and fair.
The state Women Affairs Commissioner, Mrs Ukel Oyaghiri, appealed to INEC to ensure quick and timely distribution of election materials and personnel in view of the difficult terrain of the affected wards and units.
In an interview shortly after the parley, Mr Emmanuel Ebifa, told newsmen that election will take place in wards 11 and 12, adding that “for other units, the head office will confirm to us and we shall inform you in the same way we have called for this meeting.”
In a communique signed after the meeting by all political parties present except the APC, the parties agreed to refrain from violence on, before and after the elections.

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Christmas Celebration: PH Residents Bemoan Cash Crunch

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Today is Christmas Day.
It is another opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. As expected, the atmosphere is electric. The mad rush is noticeable everywhere. Human and vehicular movement is unprecedented in Port Harcourt.There are desperate attempts by residents to meet the expectations of family members and loved ones. This is because love is in the air. In the midst of all these, our correspondent combed the Garden City to find out how the residents feel about today.
Excerpts:

Mrs Chibuzor Martins, food stuff dealer
This year’s Christmas, it’s well oh! I don’t see anything serious about the Christmas this year. People have been complaining, even workers, they say no money is flowing in the system. Workers are lamenting that even the salary when paid is not enough because they have incurred debts that need to be settled before the salary arrives.
There is very low patronage this year than other years. This year what I experienced instead of sales is people coming to ask about the price of things, but they don’t come back to buy them again. Look at it now, today is December 24th and yet no sales.
I wonder when we are going to sell out all these goods we have bought and hoping to sell them this Christmas. There is really nothing to show about this year’s Christmas, but we have hope for a better tomorrow.
We would still celebrate Christ’s birth as it remains the reason for the season, so whether sales, or no sales we would still celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ because His coming is the reason why we are alive.

Mrs Doris David, business woman
Christmas is a season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, so whether there is money, or no money, we must thank God for life because there are many people in the hospital who have money, but cannot celebrate the Christmas.
As the Federal Government has declared Tuesday, 25th, Wednesday, 26th December, 2018 and Tuesday, 1st January, 2019 as public holidays to mark the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year celebrations respectively, we must take advantage of these public holidays to enjoy ourselves while we are alive.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, had made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government in a statement signed by the ministry’s Director of Press, Mohammed Manga last Wednesday evening.
This is a period when Christians should think and reflect on God’s gift for us and so I want all Christian faithful in Nigeria to use this period in praying earnestly for the betterment and development of our country, Nigeria.
While I also expect that the Federal Government make life comfortable for Nigerians because there is serious hunger in the country and almost all businesses in Nigeria can no longer thrive with the harsh economic system in the country.

Mrs Amaka Shefiu, provision dealer
This Christmas, there is nothing to show for it because up to this time, there is no customer to buy our goods. We are just managing by the grace of God. There is no money, people are complaining of no money.
By this time last year, we sold reasonably although it cannot be compared to sales we made last three years. If it were during the Jonathan administration, by this time, we would have packaged goods for customers to use as souvenirs but this year, not even one person has asked that we wrap gifts for them to use as souvenirs.
This year is the worst year I have ever witnessed in my Christmas sales as there is a very high decline in our sales.

Augustine Eze, mason worker Christmas is very hard to me as there was no money anywhere despite the hard labour I am doing. My family has no food and we cannot travel home for Christmas like we did last year.
During the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, there was enough money in my hand and me and my family members travelled home on time for Christmas and New Year, but this year, it’s very difficult for me to see food to put on the table for my family members.
I am very hard working and ready to do any menial jobs, but I will work and no money to pay me for it.
I am not happy at all because I have never celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ without money. I cannot buy Christmas clothes for my children and wife and they are not happy too.

Pastor Kingsley Munachim
This Christmas is very good because it brings life to me, my family and the entire world. This is why I said the Christmas is very good whether there is money or not.
I am grateful that I am alive because there are many people who are on the hospital bed now and they cannot see the brightness of the day, but I am sound and healthy enjoying this Christmas harmattan, so I give God all the glory.

Nwibari Dick, newspaper vendor
There is nothing to celebrate about this Christmas. All I am looking for is money to settle some outstanding demands confronting my family this season. I am struggling to make ends meet, yet, it is as if I am doing nothing. I want the local, state and the Federal Governments to find a way to provide jobs for the people, so that it would go a long way in ameliorating the suffering of the people.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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NLC Rejects Technical Panel To ‘Look Into’ N30,000 Minimum Wage

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As the presidency considers passing the report of the Tripartite Committee on the National Minimum Wage to the National Assembly in form of bill, for passage into law, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said no Technical Committee will look into the already agreed  figure of N30,000.
The NLC was reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that a “high powered technical committee” would be set up to look into the ability of state governments to pay the already agreed minimum wage to avoid job loss.
Buhari disclosed this at the presentation of N8.83 trillion 2019 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in Abuja, yesterday.
“To avoid a system crisis on the federal government and states, it is important to device ways to ensure that its implementation does not lead to an increase in the level of borrowing. I am, accordingly, setting up a high powered technical committee to advice on ways of funding an increase in the minimum wage and attendant wage adjustments without having to resort to additional borrowing.
“The work of the committee will be the basis of finance bill which will be submitted to the National Assembly alongside the minimum wage bill,” Buhari said.
Buhari, said the committee would recommend modalities for the implementation of the new minimum wage.
But, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba told newsmen in Lagos that no Technical Committee would look into the issue of N30,000 minimum wage.
“We cannot use any technical committee to look into the agreed minimum wage. The President promised to pass the report to lawmakers a week after it was presented to him.
“Once the tripartite committee has met and agreed on an amount, no other committee can meet on the same issue,’’ Wabba added that it was the tripartite committee’s decision for workers to be paid N30, 000 as minimum wage and there was no going back by labour on the amount, and also noted that Organised Labour would meet, next week, to take a decision the next line of action. Earlier, President of the United Labour Congress (ULC), Joe Ajaero, said a tripartite committee had considered the ability of governments to pay the sum before the committee agreed on it and that Labour had resolved to fight for the new minimum wage even after the upcoming general election, saying that there would be no retreat or surrender until workers received the wage. Buhari set up a tripartite committee on November 5, 2017 and the committee later agreed on N30, 000 as new minimum wage after prolonged consultations.
He received the panel’s report this December.

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Dickson Signs Security Bill Into Law …Sends 2019 Appropriation Bill To Assembly

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The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson has signed into law the Community Safety Corps Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the state House of Assembly.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Daniel Alabrah quoted the governor as expressing optimism that the amended law would enable security agencies and vigilante groups carry out their operations more effectively in the state.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the signing, Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Friday Benson, described the amended law as an embodiment of all security-related laws passed by the state legislature.
Mr Benson said the bill was given expeditious passage in line with the prevailing collaboration between the legislature and the executive in order to improve the security situation in the state.
His words: “The amendment became necessary because we have to bring in the element of vigilante groups. That is why we will not be doing vigilante law separate from the community safety corps. “That means the new law is an embodiment of several security elements brought together to ensure that we have a very holistic and robust security outfit that will be able to take care of the security challenges in the state.”
Also speaking, the Majority Leader, Peter Akpe explained that the assembly merged some of its earlier security legislations, including the Community Safety Corps Law, to make for easy implementation as well as give legal backing to the state-owned security outfits.
“We had the Operation Doo Akpo, a quick response squad, that was formed by the state government without a legislative backing. We also had the Education Safety Corps, which was an intendment of government to have security hovering around the existing infrastructure and personnel in education.
“All these packaged together is what we had as the Community Safety Corps Law. But the new one is an amendment to that, which encompasses all these elements.
“So with this amendment, the Operation Doo Akpo and the Bayelsa Vigilante now have legislative backing. And for purposes of records and emphasis, the new law has no relationship with the Bayelsa Volunteers because that also has its own law. So we just have two existing security-related corps to support the activities of security agencies in the state,” Mr Akpe explained.

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