President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has said there was confirmation from the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) that the circular for the new minimum wage of N30,000 would be ready soon.
The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, had last Friday, confirmed that a letter, which would be jointly signed by the TUC and NLC, would be sent to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, to ensure the quick release of the circular.
He added that the circular was a confirmation that the Federal Government had begun full implementation of the new minimum wage.
Speaking with newsmen in Geneva, Switzerland where the meeting of the governing body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was held until Friday, Wabba said when the issue of the letter was initiated, he was already in Geneva.
He noted that his attention was drawn to it and a draft of the letter was sent to him via his e-mail address.
Wabba explained that immediately, he approached Ngige, who was also in Geneva for the meeting and the minister told him that all issues relating to the circular had been proactively addressed after the last Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
Wabba said, “There was a draft of the letter actually but the letter was not signed and sent to the minister eventually. When the issue of the letter was brought to my attention, I was already in Geneva but they sent it to my mail.
“I was at the meeting in Geneva with the minister of labour and he proactively addressed the issue when I approached him there.
“He said that after the FEC meeting, he prepared all the documents, including the arrears and sent to National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission. We have confirmed from the commission.
“States can start their negotiation. What is important is that no one must negotiate anything lower than N30,000. That had been settled between labour and the Federal Government”, Wabba added.
However, this year’s Workers’ Day celebration in Rivers State was exceptional, as workers left the General Yakubu Gowon Stadium, venue of the celebration excited following the assurance by Governor Nyesom Wike that his government would implement the N30, 000 minimum wage.
But six months after the promise was made, the state government is still waiting for the release of the template by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to enable it begin the implementation of the new wage.
Speaking on the delay, the Rivers State Chairman of NLC, Comrade Beatrice Itubo, called for calm, reiterating that the state government has promised to pay the new wages.
She, however, expressed reservations on the delay saying, “everybody is worried about the delay, but right here in Rivers State, there must be a template as soon as the NSIWC comes out with a template. We hope the state government will comply.
“The delay is not motivating us again. Wages, when they come, have a way of motivating workers to put in their best. But now, people are no longer happy, that is why we are calling on the government to act now because people are no longer motivated. I know they are apprehensive; they have become demoralised, but I will still advise them to remain firm and optimistic,” she stated.
Itubo, who called on the commission to urgently release the template, added that states should not revel in paying the outdated salaries in the guise of the commission’s delay in releasing the template.
She insisted that every state government is capable of paying the new minimum wage, and can pay it with ease if they are desirous of doing so.
Her words: “Each and every state government is able to pay this money if it wants to pay. State governors, apart from having myriads of aides, also have ways of cornering a lot of funds for themselves. So, they should be able to do the needful, but the problem is that governors want to live large and continue to play with the taxpayers’ money.”
“What is the essence of building so many roads when the people that will use the roads are hungry and dying, and not living a healthy life? Government should begin to look at human capital development, and building human infrastructure.”
Rivers People Celebrate Wike At 52
As Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike marks his 52nd birthday today, both Rivers indigenes and people resident in the State have expressed myriad of opinions in celebrating the special day with the Governor.
There is no doubt that, so far, the greatest encomiums showered on the Governor have derived from his obsessive knack for massive infrastructural development across the state.
What baffles many observers is that the execution of such projects comes with the speed of a sprinter, regardless of the season. Their commissioning is always a marathon performed by notable politicians from across party lines. And, above all, these projects have proved to be of top-class quality.
In fact, it was during the commissioning of one of such people-oriented edifices that Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, of a rival political party and an unlikely source for such tangible praise, gave him the most fitting appellation of ‘Mr. Projects’.
Obviously borrowing from this, one of our respondents, Mr. Edward Amatigha, said “Governor Wike is a good man. Look at the three flyovers he is constructing at a go; whereas his counterparts elsewhere are busy emptying their state treasuries into their personal bank accounts. The man is Mr. Projects, no doubt.
“As for his birthday on Friday, I join other well-meaning Rivers men and Nigerians in wishing him a happy celebration and God’s continued guidance”.
Amatigha, a bank clerk, wished the same level of infrastructural transformation could be achieved in his native Bayelsa State.
Chikwendu Nwokorogwu, a civil servant in Port Harcourt, sees Governor Wike as a blessing to the people of Rivers State and one of the best governors the state has had since its creation.
Nwokorogwu was particularly grateful to the Governor for his contributions to the health sector. She called on all Rivers people to celebrate their son who has done them well in all aspects of governance.
A trader, Mrs Ifeoma Chukwuemeka, referred to the Governor as a man of “timber and caliber”; a man of good taste and immense strength. She praised Wike for ensuring that traders enjoyed comfort while doing their business by building ultra-modern markets for them.
The food vendor wished him well on his new age while urging him to maintain his service delivery stance with the Rivers electorate as more goodies were being expected from the government.
Also speaking, Gabriel Ejiofor noted that “Governor Wike, beyond all reasonable doubt, is doing well, but I just pray that he becomes friendlier with the youths, because we have a lot to explore in our own state. God bless Wike! God bless Muhammadu Buhari! And God bless Nigeria!”
Muhammad Kadiri, who is of the Muslim community in Rivers State could not express his excitement and gratitude enough to Governor Wike. He saw the governor as a man of the people whose peaceful mien is very palpable across the state.
Kadiri said that Muslims in the state, who are mostly non-indigenes, still partake of the governor’s generosity, even as non- Rivers people. According to him, they can access the health and educational facilities in the state and also do business without any fear of intimidation or molestation; all because the governor is very accommodating.
Mallam Muhammad appreciated Allah for Governor Wike’s life and wished him well on the occasion of his birthday today.
On his part, a motorist, Anthony Chibor, paid special tribute to Governor Wike for inaugurating the task force on illegal parks and street trading in Port Harcourt. According to him, there is better traffic flow and an improved ease of doing business in the city.
He wished the Governor many years of success and advised him to remain focused while avoiding any temptation to be distracted by unnecessary political rantings and hate speeches from enemies of the state.
Also responding, Miss Goodness Idong, a student of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt, opined that it is actually a double celebration for the state’s chief excutive as his birthday anniversary falls in the same month as Jesus Christ’s.
She assured that the governor’s vision and support towards improving the standard of education in the state would not be in vain as it will surely serve to produce students who would become very sound future leaders.
Another trader, Mr. Cletus Nwankwo, said that Wike’s good legacy at ensuring a better Rivers State is unrivaled. He described the state’s helmsman as the “Governor of all governors”, saying that his birthday would bring him good fortunes as the Heavens would surely shower him with multiple blessings.
For Elder John Chimezie, it was a very simple and apparently honest confession: “I like the governor’s work. The truth is that I have never seen a governor like him. I wish him goodluck, long life, prosperity and a graceful birthday”.
A civil servant who craved to be known simply as Mrs. D said she was always proud of Governor Wike’s accomplishments as a politician.
“Politicians hardly keep their election promises. But in Governor Wike, Rivers people and, indeed, Nigerians have found a politician whose word has always been his bond; a man who has consistently matched words with prompt action. In fact, an Ekwueme (talk-and-do) governor,” she eulogized.
By: Ibelema Jumbo, Ngozi Dennar, Chioma Peters & Odinakachi Oko
Sowore: SANs Seek Judicial Inquiry Into Court Invasion
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BoSAN) yesterday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to reveal the identities of those who invaded courtroom number 7 of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The Department of State Services (DSS) last Friday re-arrested Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow, a situation that has generated local and international criticisms.
BoSAN warned that unless the truth is unravelled, Nigeria would lose respect and become an object of ridicule among the comity of Nations.
The body gave the warning on Thursday in a speech made at a special valedictory court session to mark the retirement of Justice Kumai Aka’ahs from the Supreme Court.
The event held at the headquarters of the Supreme Court in Abuja.
Chief Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN) who delivered the body’s Speech remarked that the incident with similar ones in the last three years points to the level of disregard to the rule of law and the judiciary.
“The Nigerian Bar Association has come up with a statement from the bar condemning the action. As members of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, associates itself with the condemnation of the show of shame.
“It will, however, go one step further to suggest that this matter should not be swept under the expanding carpet of deceit in Nigeria.
“The pertinent question is who was responsible for the action in the courtroom? This is a task that the government must carry out to ascertain the truth”, he said.
While stating that the Nigeria Police being a sister organisation cannot investigate the matter thoroughly, he said even the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Customs and other paramilitary forces in the country cannot also not do a thorough job.
Okpoko (SAN) added that even the National Assembly is not sufficiently equipped to investigate the matter.
“The way out is an Independent Commission of Enquiry under the law. This can be achieved. The Body of Senior Advocates hereby demands that Mr. President considers without delay, the setting up of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to hear publicly and determined the perpetrators of the acts, their sponsors and their objectives.
“Unless this is done, Nigerians are unlikely to be convinced by any other explanations that the act was not the work of the DSS.
“It is the result of any such judiciary inquiry that will lead to the re-establishment of discipline in the society. The DSS and its officers are not above the laws of the land and the Constitution.
“In Nigerian law and in the Common Law, the Superior Orders is no defence to a criminal conduct. It has never been and this administration must not allow it to be”, the body said.
Also speaking at the occasion the NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN) condemned the persistent disobedience and flouting of court orders by the authorities in the country.
“We desecrate the temple of justice when we blatantly flout and disobey the orders of courts. A court that is made to be helpless in the face of flagrant disobedience of its orders is as useless to society as a toothless bulldog is to its owner.
“No one fears a bulldog that is known to be toothless, it has no capacity to keep away a marauding army or a band of invaders”, he said.
In a related development, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar has warned that disobedience to any court order is a recipe for lawlessness and chaos.
In a veiled reference to the arrest of the #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Services in violation of a court order, Abubakar stated that “everyone must be law-abiding in the interest of national development.”
He gave the warning yesterday in Abuja at the 2019 fourth quarter meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council with the theme: ‘Religion and Civil Authorities in Dialogue for Nation-Building.’
The monarch said, “We must regularly obey and respect the laws of our land. We should never disregard the laws to avoid the consequences. If a court makes a judicial pronouncement on a particular matter, it should be obeyed to the letter.
“If you have any problem or disagree with the pronouncement, the next step is to appeal the pronouncement instead of disregarding or violating court judgments.”
Speaking further, the Muslim leader noted, “If you are served a court order and you deliberately refused to obey it because you are a governor, president or any influential person, then you are setting a dangerous precedent.”
“There’s no society that will prosper through lawlessness; Citizens must be law-abiding so that we can achieve the desired development,” Abubakar said.
The NSCIA President-General also stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue in the country, noting that it would foster a better understanding among the people.
He admonished the citizens to be wary of extremism and prevent extremists from causing trouble in the polity.
Abubakar further emphasised the importance of education and particularly stressed the need to enrol street children in school and to combat the rising menace of drug abuse in the country.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha commended the Co-Chairmen and members of the NIREC for being steadfast in maintaining the peace and harmony in the country.
He said the Federal Government recognised the efforts of NIREC in bringing the two major religions together and providing religious leaders and traditional rulers a veritable forum to promote greater interaction and understanding among the leaders and their followers as well as lay foundations for sustainable peace and religious harmony in the country.
The SGF stated, “The time has now come for governments at all levels to sit down and discuss the issue of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence with our religious and traditional rulers because the success or failure of security administration in the country depends largely on both institutions.
“You, therefore, remain in the frontline of stakeholders in the business of peacebuilding in every community.”
The NIREC Executive Secretary, Prof. Cornelius Omonokhua said justice and good governance remained the most effective means for promoting peace, harmony, mutual co-existence and development.
Rivers Finance: House Committee Assures On Reforms
The Joint House Committee on Finance and Public Accounts has promised to champion new reforms that will inject accountability into the management of funds in the state.
They made public their plans, yesterday, during a public hearing on two executive bills: Rivers State Audit Reform bill and Rivers State Finance Control and Management bill 2019.
While the Audit bill seeks to repeal and re-enact an existing bill of 1999, the Finance and Control bill is a new bill set to streamline public finance and enforce transparency.
Chairman House Committee on Finance and Deputy Speaker, Hon. Ehie Ogerenye Edison said the public hearing is to get input from stakeholders and ensure that all forms of misappropriation are eliminated.
In his words, “if the bill is finally approved and passed into law the state would be one of the first to legally fight corruption.
Hon. Edison affirmed that the Chief Wike-led administration is against all forms of misappropriation hence it has sponsored the bill to streamline adequate appropriation of government funds.
Earlier, Chairman House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Major Jack submitted that the public hearing will streamline the bill and give it a modern look.
In his view it was high time the state reformed its audit system to give room for efficiency.
In the future, he said, accounting officers will be responsible as they are expected to be more prudent in their duties.
In a related development, the call for the establishment of the Rivers State Audit Service Commission has divided stakeholders in the public finance and accounts sector in the state.
Their views were made public during the public hearing on “The Rivers State Finance Control and Management bill 2019”, and “The Rivers State Audit Reform bill of 2019” held at the Assembly Complex yesterday.
While the Auditor- General of the State, Eliaz Akazu, advocated for an independent body to oversee audit processes in the state, Chairman of the State Civil Service Commission, Chief Oris Onyiri said it will conflict with service rules and duplicate functions.
Speaking through one Emmanuel Dappa, the Chairman of the State Civil Service said if the Commission is established, it will conflict with the mandate of the commission to oversee all public service matters, and therefore urged the Assembly to ensure that such provisions are duly addressed.
“When it comes to the discipline and promotion of auditors, it will relegate the duties of the Civil Service Commission, “ Onyiri declared.
Except in the appointment of Auditor General, which is exclusive of the Governor, Onyiri stated that other aspects of employment, promotion and discipline are under the Commission, stressing that auditors are civil servants.
Akazu had earlier posited that the Commission was necessary to inject efficiency and transparency in audit system.
He reasoned that, “auditing is moving away from the traditional system… The office should be funded through direct charge on government account or through budgeting”.
The State Auditor -General also sued for the establishment of a legal department to oversee grey legal areas instead of resorting to staffs loaned from sister agencies.
Meanwhile, a representative of the Rivers State University and Professor of Accountancy, Loveday Nwayanwu, has called for the inclusion of members of various high institutions in the proposed board of state audit.
Besides, Prof Nwayanwu argued that it will not be transparent if the auditors generally appoint somebody to audit his office.
Such duty, according to Nwayanwu, should be done by an independent body to create transparency.
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