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Why NLC Suspended Picketing Of Power Firm

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The Nigeria Labour
Congress (NLC) may have been forced to suspend its picketing of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) following the infiltration of its ranks by suspected hoodlums and hired thugs.
The Tide gathered from a highly placed authority in the congress that the picketing was suspended Friday because the protest was taking a violent dimension.
The authority who pleaded anonymity  revealed to The Tide that thugs suspected to have been hired by the management of PHEDC attacked the protesting NLC members in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The alleged hired thugs were said to have mobilised and attacked the congress members at the Moscow Road Zonal headquarters of PHEDC, Borikiri Business Unit and Ikwerre Road Office of the Diobu Business Unit of the company.
“They emerged in their numbers attacked our members and broke the chains used in sealing the entrances of the company offices”, the source said.
The Tide learnt that, during the violence unleashed on the NLC members, the official vehicle of the South South Zonal Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Godwin Eruba, was smashed and vandalised while his bag containing valuable documents and unspecified amount of money was also removed. Some members of the congress were said to have been injured in the fracas.
But while the attackers in Port Harcourt were suspected thugs hired to protect the interest of PHEDC, The Tide gathered that in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene areas of Akwa Ibom State, the attackers were members of the public who have been aggrieved by the unsatisfactory services of the company.
The hoodlums took advantage of the picketing to vent their anger on some officials of the company.
The Business Manager of Uyo Business unit was said to have been beaten to coma while his Ikot Ekpene counterpart was lucky as he had observed the influx of the hooligans and made away through the back door. It was equally gathered that apart from the two principals officers of the company, other persons also got injured.
It was in the light of the dangerous and violent way the thugs and hooligans were infiltrating the protest, according to our source, that NLC decided to suspend the picketing exercise for the safety of members and other members of the public.
The picketing which started last Tuesday in the South South zone also saw a breakdown of dialogue between the NLC leadership and PHEDC management.
The Tide learnt that choice of venue for the meeting in Port Harcourt was responsible for break down in negotiation while NLC had chosen the Labour House  located at D/Line part of Port Harcourt while the PHEDC management preferred Sansun Hotel in Trans Amadi, apparently for safety reasons.
The meeting which was scheduled to hold on Thursday last week by 2Pm could not hold.
Intervention of the Rivers State Director of State Security Service (SSS),  to broker peace was said to had saved the situation.
The meeting which was said to be convened at the Hotel Presidential after the said attack in Port Harcourt, our source said, lingered till 3.00am in the morning of Saturday.
Effort by The Tide to get the outcome of the meeting was unsuccessful until the time of filing this report.
On Tuesday when the picketing began, the Leader of the NLC team, Comrade Opuoyibo Lilly-West and the Head of the Police team that monitored the exercise at the zonal office of PHED at Mosco Road, Port Harcourt were satisfied with the security atmosphere of the exercise as it was very peaceful.
Lilly-West who also is the chairman, Rivers State Civil Service Union had also assured members of the public that picketing would remain peaceful.
He said, the picketing was in protest against the PHED management stance against workers unionism which is a constructional right of workers.
Lilly-West regretted that PHED, management had not shown commitment in implementing the tripartite agreement between the government, the company and workers which gave way for the take over of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
He said the congress in response to casualisation which he termed slavery, non payment of severance package and refusal to absorb the work force by the private investors who took over from the PHCN amongst others was intended to protect the interest of its members in the company.
Another issue raised by NLC was allegation of a form  distributed to workers in PHEDC which sought to know their interest in unionism, stressing that the company laid of most active members off workers union as it took over from PHCN and had also marked out any staff interested in allowing deduction of union fee from his or her monthly salary for sack.
“We have written series of letters to the company’s management but they have always turned them down, saying they don’t have any business with labour, Lilly-West said and insisted that the picketing would continue until management decides to open the window for discussion.
In Cross River, the State Chairman of NLC, Comrade John Ushie who led the picketing in the state accussed PHEDC of sacking 134 union leaders in its move to abolish trade union in the company.
“There is nowhere in the world that an organisation takes over and wants to abolish trade union activities in the company,” Ushie said, remarking that the picketing would not stop until the government meet  their demand. He also stated that, the Nigerian law is against casualisation of workers in whatever form. After shunning a meeting called by the union thrice, they continued to demonstrate their unfriendly posture with the union.
The Chairman of Nigeria Union of Electricity Employee (NUEE) in Cross Rivers State, Comrade Daniel Asuquo who corraborated what the state NLC boss said explained that the new managers of  PHEDC remained adamant and unwilling to negotiate with the workers on issues of severance allowances and entitlements.
According to Asuquo, the union came in solidarity with the state NLC so that the right of the Nigerian workers would not be trampled upon and called on the management of PHEDC to demonstrate courage by ensuring dialogue with the union to ensure safe landing for the workers who have been penciled down for lay off by the new company.
The Managing Director of 4 Power Consortium had told newsmen recently that PHEDC was thoroughly assessing workers performance as their contract duration ends soon.
He said a consultant had been contracted to handle the issue and stressed that the exercise  was not intended  in sack workers but in finding area where each worker can perform better.
The contract agreement ended on April 2014, but management of PHEDC extended it by one month which was expected to end last month.

 

Chris Oluoh

Prof Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power

Prof Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power

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Islamic Leaders Blame Nigeria’s Woes On Leadership Failure 

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Islamic leaders in Rivers State have blamed the underdevelopment and high level of poverty in Nigeria on greed and bad leadership.
They also  called for an end to the lingering political crisis in Rivers State.
The Islamic clerics who spoke to newsmen  at the just concluded Eidel Fitri prayers at the Port Harcourt Central Mosque, Niger Street, regretted the high level of poverty in the country inspite of the country’s enormous resources.
The Vice President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Awelegbe Uhor, condemned the lingering political crisis in the state, adding that, if not checked, the situation could derail development efforts.
Alhaji Uhor also stressed the need for the various political parties in the state to work with Governor Siminalaye Fubara to move the state foreward.
He said Governor Fubara meant well for the state, adding that Rivers Moslems were beneficiaries of the policies and programmes of the current administration in the state.
Alhaji Uhor, who blamed the ravaging poverty in the country on greed, noted Nigeria has enough resources to make every body rich in the country.
He also said that Nigeria did not need to vote for any president based on religion, adding that moslems and Christians had been ruling the country since independence and the situation had not changed.
Also speaking the leader of Rivers state Moslems, Alhaji Suleiman Akani, warned that Rivers Moslems would not tolerate any impeachment against Governor Fubara.
Alhaji Akani described Governor Fubara as one of the most Moslems friendly governor since the inception of the state.
He said the governor had not neglected the moslems community since the inception of his administration, stressing that some Moslem umars have been sponsored for pilgrimage by the administration.
According to him, “Apart from Odili, this is the most Moslems friendly governor.
We moslems have benefitted so much from the present administration in the state.”
On his part, the Chief Imam of the Port Harcourt Central Mosque, Alhaji Abdul Malik Yahaya, called on Nigerians to cultivate the virtue of love for one another, stressing that the message of Salah was  about love for one another.
He also called on Moslems to show love, not only to fellow Moslems alone, but to  people of other faith as well.
Meanwhile the sole Administrator of the Rivers State Moslem Pilgrims welfare Board, Alhaji Abdul Rasaq Diepriye, has commended Governor Fubara for being the first governor in the country to sponsor Moslems to the Haj.
He said that it was the first time in several years that Rivers Moslems had felt a sense of belonging.
Alhaji Diepriye assured of the continuous support of the Moslem community to the administration.

By: John Bibor

 

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Rivers PDP Chieftain Hails Fubara’s Leadership Qualities

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A Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in Opobo/ Nkoro Local Government Area, Warisenibo  Tonye Fubara, has described Governor Siminalayi Fubara, his deputy, Prof Ngozi Odu and Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt, Rt. Hon Edison Ehie, as leaders with unbeatable transformational agenda.
Speaking with newsmen recently in Port Harcourt, Warisenibo Fubara said that they are astute, patriotic and typify leaders with quality mindset Nigerians, especially Rivers people yearn for, as far as purposeful, profit oriented and development -innovative governance is concerned.
He said: “Insecurity, political crisis, hunger and marginalization have become a cankerworms that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the oil and gas -rich state, in particular and the country in general.
He maintained that since Governor Siminalayi Fubara took over the mantle of leadership of the state in May, last year, till now, there has been relative peace across the state, noting that the political crisis in the state orchestrated by some mischief makers and greedy politicians was regrettable.
Warisenibo Fubara, a grassroot mobiliser in Opobo/Nkoro Ward 5, further hailed Governor Siminalayi Fubara, his Deputy, Prof. Ngozi Odu and the Chief of Staff, Government House, Rt. Hon. Edison Ehie for successfully triumphing over dictatorial leadership, describing them as “development pathfinders of our generation.”
He pointed out that Governor Fubara and his team were committed in the task of governing the state in the best interest of the state and  its people, not minding the negative and unproductive distractions of those who do not wish the state and its people well.
Meanwhile, Warisenibo Tonye Fubara has enjoined Rivers people to support Governor Siminalayi Fubara to provide the needed democratic dividends for all and sundry, adding that they should stand their ground to resist any attempt by the Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule -led Rivers State House of Assembly who threatened to impeach the Governor for vain glory and selfish ambition, without following the rule of law, as to please their pay masters.

By:   Bethel Toby

 

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Politics

Fubara’s Victory Thanksgiving: Semenitari Challenges Okocha Over Funding Allegation

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Former Commissioner for Information and Communications in Rivers State,  Mrs Ibim Semenitari, has challenged the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress ( APC) in Rivers State, Chief Tony Okocha, to show proof that Governor Siminalaye Fubara is funding the thanksgiving services being held across the 23 local government areas in the state by the Simplified Movement.
Mrs Semenitari who said this during the thanksgiving service organized by the Okrika Local Government Area chapter of the Simplified Movement explained that the event was sponsored by simple people from the local government areas who are happy with the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the election victory of the governor.
She said what Rivers people should focus on his good governance, adding that Governor Fubara had shown commitment to keeping to his promises to Rivers people.
“The Rivers State Government is not spending a dime. I challenge him (Okocha) to bring out proof of Rivers State Government funding the thanksgiving service. It is a simple event funded by simple people”, she said.
Mrs Semenitari, who was also a one time Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), said the occasion was an opportunity for Rivers people to show appreciation to God for what He had done in Rivers State.
‘It is an opportunity to say to God, we are grateful; that we are grateful to God for the victory without rancour; we are grateful that we have the opportunity to celebrate a Governor who had a peaceful disposition. But beyond that, also a prayer by Rivers people that we are tired, we don’t want any more crisis.
“We want our state to progress. We have a Governor who is committed to driving development across every local government area. For us, that is what matters” she said.

By: John Bibor

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