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Fresh Crisis Looms Over New Minimum Wage

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The moves by the Federal Government and the organised labour to finalise the new minimum wage issue this month may face yet another crisis.
Sources at the National Assembly told newsmen yesterday that the legislature plans to go on another recess ahead of the presentation of an Executive Bill on a new minimum wage by the Presidency, which is one of the agreements reached between the government and the worker unions.
The National Assembly is on Christmas and New Year recess and will resume on Tuesday.
While the Presidency plans to transmit National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill to the National Assembly on January 23, sources in the leadership of the National Assembly told our correspondent that the lawmakers might go on another recess by January 24.
He said, “The lawmakers will close on that day to allow members to participate in electioneering, ahead of general elections which will begin in February.”
The Federal Government and the organised labour had on Tuesday reached an agreement that the Presidency would send the minimum wage bill to the National Assembly after their meetings.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who presided over the meeting, had assured the labour leaders that the Federal Government would send the bill to the National Assembly on January 23, after the lawmakers’ resumption from their Yuletide recess.
Barring any change of plan, both chambers of the National Assembly are expected to adjourn plenary after five sittings. Our correspondent gathered that they would hold plenary on Wednesday, January 16, and Thursday, January 17, before adjourning till Tuesday, January 22.
Upon resumption on January 22, the lawmakers plan to sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before proceeding on a three-week break to enable most of them to participate in their re-election campaigns.
Speaking with our correspondent, a National Assembly source said, “That (January) 23 they said they would transmit the bill to the National Assembly, the National Assembly might have embarked on recess again for the elections. And they know that the lawmakers will not resume until after the elections. They know what they are doing.
“We will go (on recess) between this week and next week. We will go by Thursday (January 24). Our (presidential, Senate and House of Representatives) election is on the 16th (of February), so we have less than one month (to campaign). Why can’t they transmit the bill on Tuesday when we will resume?”
When contacted for his comment, Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, said work would continue on legislative activities except when the lawmakers were on recess. Speaking on the readiness of the lawmakers to expedite work on the bill, Namdas said, “It is a priority; once it is brought (to the legislature) by the executive, we will consider it as a matter of priority.”
Asked if the lawmakers would have enough time to work on the bill scheduled for presentation on January 23 and pass it before the elections, Namdas said, “The entire House can never close. Once the House is in session, whether there is election or anything, some people will remain.

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RSU, IAUOE Join Varsity Workers Strike. Today

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Workers of Nigerian universities will begin a nationwide “warning” strike today following the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum given the Federal Government to address issues of Earned Allowances, sacked workers of university staff schools and other issues affecting their members and the university system.
President of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Chairman of Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, Samson Ugwoke, told newsmen that the strike would be “total and comprehensive”.
Ugwoke pointed out that already, their members have been mobilised, while all the non-teaching staff in the university system across the federation have been directed to stay at home from today.
The SSANU president, however, said it would last for five days, from Monday to Friday, to serve as a warning to the Federal Government.
“Yes, the strike will start on Monday, and it will be comprehensive and total. It will last for five days – Monday to Friday. To ensure its success, we have already mobilised all our members, and they have been directed to stay away from work from Monday,” Ugwoke said.
The unions, under the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet their demands or face a nationwide strike.
The unions said the strike had become imperative as the government failed to response to their demands.
In a circular issued after the JAC meeting penultimate Thursday, and sent to all branches, the unions warned that at the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, they would be left with no other option than withdrawing their services and closing down the universities if the government fails to address all their grievances.
Entitled: “Notice of Industrial Action,” the circular, which was signed by Ugwoke and the General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, lamented the non-challant attitude of the Federal Government towards addressing their grievances and obeying court judgment.
The circular read: “That a 14-day ultimatum of industrial action be given to the Federal Government to address the pending issues with effect from Monday, August 5, 2019. During the period of the ultimatum, all branches are hereby directed to carry out peaceful protest on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 and Thursday, August 15, 2019.
“At the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum, Sunday, August 18, 2019, without any positive response from the Federal Government, members shall proceed on a five-day warning strike in all branches from Monday 19 to Friday, August 23, 2019, inclusive.
“You are, therefore, directed to properly mobilise our members for this action. All defaulting branches shall be sanctioned accordingly.”
However, academic and other official activities would be paralysed in the two state-owned universities, the Rivers State University (RSU) and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUOE) following the nationwide industrial strike embarked upon by the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) under the aegis of Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, today.
Speaking to The Tide on the decision to join the strike in the state, the Chairman of Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) at the Rivers State University (RSU), Nkpolu-Oruworukwo, Port Harcourt, Comrade Azuma Cheta said members of the union would join the strike beginning from today because of alleged government’s insensitivity to the plight of their members working at the university staff schools as well as its inability to comply with the national directives of the union.
Cheta disclosed that the state government had refused to pay their members working at the staff schools and the international schools their salaries for the past four years.
The chairman said they would have relaxed the strike but for the interest of those members now languishing in pains over the government’s refusal to pay them salaries since February, 2016.
“We will comply with the directive but for our members at the international schools and staff schools, who the state government has refused to pay salaries for the past four years”, he stated.
Also at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education (IAUOE), the Chairman of SSANU, Comrade Chisa Egwu could not be reached for comments, but a senior staff working at the administration department, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said they held a congress meeting on the proposed strike, last Friday, at the union’s auditorium.

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Police Confirm Three Deaths In Khana Fresh Violence …LG Boss, Ex-Youth Leader’s Houses Razed

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The Rivers State Police Command has dispelled ‘fake news’ making the rounds that more than 36 persons were killed by suspected cultists in a raid on two Khana communities of Opuoko and Lumene in Rivers State, yesterday.
In a statement, yesterday, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed that only three persons were actually killed during the attacks on the communities in Khana Local Government Area.
The statement reads, “The attention of the Rivers State Police Command has been drawn to the above ‘caption’ making the rounds on social and traditional media on the state of affairs in Opuoko and Lumene communities in Khana LGA.
“Ordinarily, this distorted news should have been ignored as the command is not given to frivolities and fake news capable of stirring disaffection and causing panic and tension in the state.
“However, in order that the public will not be immediately misinformed and hold erroneous impression resulting from the fake news, we have, therefore, deemed it necessary to put the records straight, and state as follows: That today 18/8/19 at about 0630Hrs, information got to us that a group of cult boys invaded two communities in Khana (Opuoko and Lumene) where they attacked and killed one person in Opuoko and two in Lumene, altogether three persons died.
“The houses of the LGA chairman and the former youth leader came under attack.
“The attackers on sighting the police took to flight but were chased and two of them arrested, while the trail for others is still on.
“The two suspects are Damwua Karagbara, 33 years (alias Spider); and Dinee Prince, 23 years.
“Exhibits recovered from them include: Assorted phones and military camouflage.
“So far, calm has returned in both communities.
“The CP has ordered Investigation into the incident with a view to ascertaining the remote and immediate causes of the attack and to bring perpetrators to justice.
“We are again appealing to the public to help us with useful information that can lead to the arrest of these mindless criminals, via the following security numbers: 08032003514, 08098880134, and 08182157778”, the statement added.

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Lawyer Petitions UK, DSS To Probe Buhari’s Cambridge Documents

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The Department of State Services and the London Metropolitan Police Service have received petitions to investigate the documents said to have been obtained from Cambridge University and tendered by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential election petition tribunal.
Copies of the separate petitions dated August 14, 2019, were signed by a Nigerian lawyer, Kalu Kalu Agu.
It would be recalled that the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, had told the tribunal that he obtained the President’s ‘assessment’ documents from Cambridge University.
He was quoted as saying he personally signed for and collected the documents on behalf of the President.
The UK-based examination body oversaw the conduct of final year secondary school examination in Nigeria and placement into foreign universities in the 1960s.
In the two petitions forwarded by Agu, the lawyer questioned the authenticity of the ‘certifying statement’ said to have been obtained from the Cambridge Assessment International Education.
He asked the UK police and the DSS to launch an investigation into the circumstances leading to the procurement.

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