The Federal Government will meet with the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) n Abuja, today.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who convened the meeting said it would hold at 12 noon on September 6 in place of November 2 as earlier planned.
Ngige explained in a statement last Monday that the doctors had reached an agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health on their six-point demand with timelines duly signed.
He, however, expressed disappointment and shock at what he described as the “sudden U-turn” by the leadership of the association and asked them to go back to work.
“In view of this unfortunate development, the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by the Trade Dispute Act 2004, has apprehended the ongoing strike by NARD,” said the statement signed by the Deputy Director of Press at the ministry, Samuel Olowookere.
“Consequently, the meeting between NARD and government earlier scheduled for November 2, 2017, is now convened for Wednesday, September 6 by 12 noon at the Conference Room of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment.
“All stakeholders are implored to attend this crucial conciliation meeting. The health and well-being of Nigerians are cardinal to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Hence, every measure necessary shall be taken to restore normalcy.”
The meeting was reconvened hours after the leadership of the association announced the commencement of a nationwide industrial action.
The decision was reached at the doctors’ National Executive Council meeting which lasted from 7:00 pm on Sunday until the early hours of Monday.
The doctors vowed that they would not end the strike until all their demands were met by the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) teams, will, tomorrow, hold a crucial meeting to try and resolve issues which gave rise to the ongoing strike by the lecturers.
Tomorrow’s meeting, if held, will be exactly a week since the lecturers refused to show up for a meeting with the government delegation, saying such meeting was “unnecessary.”
The meeting is at the instance of the Ministers of Labour and Education and was communicated to ASUU in the early hours of yesterday, it was learnt.
Persons expected to be at tomorrow’s meeting are the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige and the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.
In an interview with newsmen, yesterday, the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi confirmed the meeting.
“We just received the notification of the meeting,” he said in a telephone interview, yesterday morning, adding, “Until Thursday, that is when we can say what would happen but we have been invited for the meeting.”
A National Executive Council meeting of ASUU held last week had reviewed the government’s initial offer to some of the demands of the lecturers.
At that meeting, the lecturers resolved to proceed with the strike which commenced on August 13.
According to a top ASUU official who pleaded anonymity, the lecturers rejected the Federal Government’s offer due to lack of “trust.”
“Lecturers were not comfortable with the Federal Government’s offer because previous promises failed,” the source said, seeking anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media.
“So, it was better to solve all once and for all, so as not to be deceived again.”
The Federal Government had reportedly offered to pay N23billion and a monthly payment of N1.5billion pending the outcome of the forensic audit being carried out by the Ministry of Finance on various universities.
Some of the demands of the lecturers include payment of shortfall in salaries, universities to be allowed to manage their internal revenue independently and exemption of universities from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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