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.”
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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