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Editorial

Kaduna: Stop The Senseless Killings

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The despicable and near lawless situation in Southern Kaduna in which hundreds of
innocent lives and property worth millions of Naira perished will continue to re-echo in national discourse until the authorities take stringent and decisive actions against culprits as a deterrent.
As worrisome and heart-rendering as the ugly development is, observers will continue to cast aspersions on the federal and Kaduna State governments until the authorities do the needful to avert re-occurrence in order to avert reprisal actions by relations and dependents of the victims of the mayhem in which over 800 people, mainly Christians were allegedly killed in cold blood.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the National Assembly in separate reactions revealed that 808 persons were killed in 53 villages, 57 with life-threatening injuries while about N5.5 billion worth of farm produce, 1,422 houses and 16 churches were destroyed by unspecified invaders.
However, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El. Rufai announced weeks after the mayhem that the attackers were foreign Fulani herdsmen, who were avenging past attacks on them and their livestock’s. But, CAN countered the view of El-Rufai, insisting that the attack was religious, and unfortunately targeted at Christians.
Reports made public by Open Doors, an International Christian Charity recorded that in 2015, there were 4,028 killings and 198 church attacks in northern Nigeria. The figure recorded for 2014 were 2,484 killings and 108 church attacks. It noted that “for decades Christians in the region have suffered marginalization and discrimination, as well as targeted violence”.
The report also reveals that decades of religious violence directed at the Christian community have had an even larger impact on the church in Northern Nigeria than previously thought. The violence unleashed on Christians in the region resulted in the deaths of “between 9,000 to 11,500 Christians”, which the report even described as “a conservative estimation”.
A large number of Christian properties and businesses have been destroyed, including 13,000 churches that have either been destroyed or closed down. In addition, 1.3 million Christians in northern Nigeria “have become internally displaced or have settled in other areas of Nigeria in search of safety and security”, since the year 2000.
The future of a nation battered by a destructive ethno-religious upheavals that the government can not control portends grave danger for national unity and co-existence. The situation where the tradition of democratic, secular governance and multi-confessional inclusiveness is perceived abominable and desiring of annihilation by Islamist extremists must no longer be condoned.
We call on the Federal Government and northern state governments to urgently halt this spate of destruction of lives and property that is provoking resentment amongst the citizenry. The official position that there is no evidence to support claims that the attacks are not religiously motivated is no longer tenable. Happily, President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate establishment of two military units in the area.
Such senseless mayhem must end if Nigeria is to remain a peaceful, united country. As in previous cases of religious killings of a woman preacher, Eunice Olawale in Abuja and others in parts of the north, which President Buhari promised justice and nothing concrete is done, The Federal Government’s inaction, can no longer be acceptable.
The task is for President Buhari to institute a thorough investigation to fish out all the perpetrators of the recent murder and senseless mayhem in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the north and ensure their prosecution. State governors in the northern part of Nigeria should also rise up to their responsibilities by working with security agencies to stem the incidents of religiously motivated killings. They must demonstrate their commitment to upholding and defending the diversity of Nigeria by taking proactive steps to ensure such acts are nipped in the bud.
We also call for adequate compensation for victims and their families. Urgent provision of adequate security to the troubled areas and other vulnerable states like Benue, Plateau, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers and Ekiti, where similar attacks had occurred in the past is a necessity.
The laxity with which the killings have been handled in the past has raised questions concerning the role of the political class that dominates government in N orthern Nigeria. Therefore, the Southern Kaduna incident must be addressed with the seriousness it rightly deserves to further enlist the confidence of Nigerians in the present government’s resolve to uphold and defend the rule of law and the Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

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Editorial

Hurray, Rivers Is 57!

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Continued from Page 1

The 12 States were North-Western State, North-Eastern State, Kano State, North-Central State, Benue-Plateau State, Kwara State, Western State, Lagos State, Mid-Western State, Rivers State, South-Eastern State, and East-Central State. However, these twelve states have since metamorphosed into thirty-six federated units, giving new and more fundamental relevance to Gowon’s definitive action.
Gowon’s desire to strengthen national unity and prevent more instability led him to seek support for the states’ creation exercise from an extensive cross-section of regional leaders before declaring the enacted order. In the Eastern Region, the whimper for the creation of the Calabar – Ogoja – Rivers (COR) State had risen increasingly vocal. In the North, the Middle Belt movement became a major source of dissatisfaction in the region.
The battle, agitations, and creation of Old Rivers State, now Bayelsa and Rivers, commenced in 1939 and climaxed in 1967. The state as constituted then was under the Eastern group of provinces in 1939 with administrative headquarters in Enugu. The group of provinces later became the Eastern Region of Nigeria, made up of Igbos, as the dominant ethnic nationality with other minorities comprising the region. The minorities included the Ijaw, Ibibio, Efik, Anang, Ogoja, Ikwerre, Ibani, Ekpeye, Engenni, Ogba, Kalabari, Nembe, and Ogoni, among others.
Rivers State in the Niger Delta region is unique. Popularly known as the Treasure Base of the Nation, the State’s uniqueness is not random. The abundance of human and natural resources coupled with its people’s hospitality, makes the State stand shoulder-high among its contemporaries. Gowon’s proclamation of a distinct state was, indeed, a realisation of the vision of the founding fathers. These fathers over several decades, bemoaned the marginalisation by prominent ethnic groups in the Nigerian project. This was particularly the Igbos, who cohabited the then Eastern Region with its capital in Enugu.
Starting with its first Military Governor, Navy Commander Alfred Papapriye Diete-Spiff in 1967 to the present administration of Governor Siminalayi Fubara, successive administrations, both military and civilian alike, have made significant contributions to making the state the enviable one it is today. From the creation of Bayelsa State in 1996 to the exponential growth in the education sector, human capital development, infrastructural revolution, health sector development, national political relevance, active participation in the global economic renaissance and bold presence on the world entertainment stage, Rivers State can indeed be said to have come of age.
Perhaps except for the epoch of the pioneer administration, at no other time in history has the state experienced such a level of transformation of its landscape as is being realised under the present administration. From an extensive urban regeneration effort that has seen the rebuilding of state-owned assets and city roads to meet present-day needs and the building of vast road infrastructure in all parts of the state, the current administration is truly working hard to realise the objectives of the state’s founding fathers.
By the efforts of the state government, Andoni and some adjoining communities have been made accessible to the state capital by road. The same fortune is soon to be enjoyed by erstwhile disconnected people of the Kalabari Kingdom through the commencement of the second phase of the Trans-Kalabari Road. By the same token, a courageous move has been initiated to create more urban centres in the state. This is done through the siting of essential projects.
The political class in the state, in particular, must utilise this event of the 57th Anniversary of the state’s creation to evaluate and determine to eschew bitterness, rancour and acrimony  and work with the Fubara-led administration. The struggle for Rivers State achieved the desired results because the political elite, traditional rulers and the youth of the time shared a rare and uncommon sense of oneness, purpose, selflessness and indeed drive for service to the fatherland.
That widely acclaimed Rivers’ spirit of love and commitment to selfless service have waned greatly, leaving in their stead, a threat to public peace activated by political greed, selfishness and an unguided quest for personal aggrandisement far and above love for the state. The clarion call is, therefore, for leaders at all strata to introspect and purge themselves of all tendencies that are inimical to the overall development and prosperity of the state.
We must remind ourselves, especially the political class, that it took selfless sacrifices, personal denials and unrelenting activism from foundational leaders. This was achieved for us in the state we now call home. All must embrace peace, tolerance, and true brotherliness and seek civil and lawful means to address all grievances and disagreements. This is because strife, violent confrontations and aggressive engagements will only destroy the time-enduring bonds of togetherness that have bound our people for years.
The founding fathers’ relentless struggle to question the imbalance and injustice of the Nigerian Federation remains the philosophy behind the state’s creation. Their mission and vision was to ensure Rivers State’s pride of place in Nigeria. The question remains, however, whether that vision has been achieved or not. More than any other time in our history, the need to re-enact and revive the values, sentiments, philosophies, and spirit that formed the driving force of the founding fathers to victory is now.
The Tide extends its heartfelt congratulations to the esteemed government and people of Rivers State on the auspicious occasion of the 57th Anniversary of the state’s creation. All stakeholders must rally together to pursue the common goal of ensuring that the state remains a safe haven, where security, peace, prosperity, and unimpeded opportunities for happiness reign supreme for all its inhabitants and the business community.
Today also holds a special importance not only as the day we celebrate the birth of our dear state, but also the day we honour our precious children, known as Children’s Day. This occasion is dedicated to celebrating the innocence, joy, and dreams of our little ones. It is a time to reflect on the necessity of nurturing, protecting, and investing in their future well-being.
Children are the future of our society, and on this special day, we acknowledge their unique contributions and remind ourselves of their inherent rights and needs. It is an opportunity to recommit to creating a world where every child has access to quality education, healthcare, and a safe and loving environment. By celebrating Children’s Day, we not only honour our children but also invest in the future of our nation and the world.
The event serves as a reminder that children are not just miniature adults but individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and perspectives. It is essential to listen to their voices, respect their opinions, and provide them with the support and guidance they need to thrive. When we empower our children, we equip the future generation to become responsible, compassionate, and active citizens who will shape the country for the better.

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Editorial

Towards Minimum Wage Implementation 

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It is not surprising that organised labour is pushing for a wage review, as President Bola Tinubu’s economic re-
form has negatively impacted Nigerian workers. Since taking office last May, the economy has been in turmoil, leading to hardships for many employees. The need for a wage increase is vital as workers continue to bear the brunt of the economic downturn.
The implementation of minimum wages in Nigeria has historically faced several obstacles. Despite the government’s mandate to set and enforce a minimum wage for all workers, many employers, particularly state governors and in the informal sector, fail to comply. This widespread non-compliance undermines the objective of protecting workers from exploitation and ensuring a basic standard of living.
Numerous factors contribute to the challenge of implementing minimum wages in Nigeria. One major issue is the lack of effective enforcement mechanisms. The National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) is responsible for enforcing the minimum wage, but its powers are often limited. Employers who violate the law often go unpunished due to weak enforcement and the high cost of legal proceedings for workers.
In the negotiations between the federal and state governments, a critical factor that must be considered is finding the right balance amidst the challenges posed by the country’s double-digit inflation rate, the growing national debt profile, and the pressing issue of ensuring timely payments from both state and federal authorities. Both levels of government must collaborate to address these economic concerns and come to a mutually beneficial agreement that prioritises the financial stability of the nation.
Things are not looking good. The organised labour, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, has proposed an astronomical jump from the current N30,000 per month to N650,000. While it is undeniable that the current rate of N30,000 is insufficient, the drastic increase to N650,000 is simply not realistic and may not be feasible for the government to implement. Both parties should find a middle ground that is fair and sustainable for all stakeholders involved.
The challenge before the minimum wage committee, which Tinubu inaugurated recently, is to find a realistic rate for all the parties concerned, including the private sector. This task is not an easy one, as there are various factors to consider when determining a fair minimum wage that benefits both workers and employers. The committee will need to take into account the cost of living, the current economic situation, as well as the financial capabilities of businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises.
Incidentally, the Nigerian economy is facing multiple challenges at the moment. With inflation at a staggering 29.90 per cent, a debt stock of N87.9 trillion, a high lending rate of 18.75 per cent, and a grossly devalued naira at N1,300 per $1, the cost-of-living crisis has worsened. The recent surge in food inflation, jumping to 35.41 per cent in January from 23.75 per cent the previous month has added to the economic woes. Moreover, the rapid price increases in petrol and diesel, essential for the economy, have further burdened the already distressed population.
Hence, the demand by labour for an upward wage review is justified given the rising cost of living and inflation. However, the government faces a dilemma in determining the appropriate rate of increment. Nigeria’s economic situation is dire, with debt servicing consuming a staggering 99 per cent of its revenue in the first quarter of 2023. Balancing the need to improve workers’ welfare with the constraints of the economy is a delicate task. The government must engage in constructive dialogue with labour to find a compromise that addresses their legitimate demands while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the economy.
Incidentally, the meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour was deadlocked on Wednesday, as the government was reported to have offered a paltry N48,000 as the new minimum wage, which is a far cry from the N615,000 being demanded by labour.
Apparently irked by the Federal Government’s offer, representatives of labour were said to have stormed out of the meeting in protest. However, both parties still need to find a common ground to resolve this knotty issue. Constructive dialogue is key.
If the government succumbs to labour’s demands and borrows more to fund the wage increase, its financial stability will be further compromised. This could lead to a debt crisis, with severe consequences for the economy. The governing authorities must explore alternative revenue sources and implement prudent fiscal measures to address labour’s concerns without jeopardising the nation’s financial health.
Retrospectively, an excessively high minimum wage can pose challenges for States. When the wage was raised to N18,000 during the Goodluck Jonathan era, many States struggled to meet their salary obligations. As of October 2023, BudgIT reported that 15 states were still failing to pay the N30,000 minimum wage set by the Muhammadu Buhari administration in 2019. This situation has dire consequences for workers, who rely on their wages for sustenance.
The inability of States to pay the minimum wage is often attributed to their limited economic viability. Data from Economic Confidential indicates that only seven States are economically viable without federal allocations. This means that the majority of States rely heavily on federal support to meet their financial obligations. When the minimum wage is raised too high, States with weak economies may find it difficult to balance their budgets and fulfill their responsibilities to both workers and other sectors.
Any minimum wage that will be agreed upon should be sufficient to meet the needs of Nigerians. Unfortunately, many state governors have failed to implement the wage award approved by the Federal Government for civil servants, despite the high cost of living. This lack of action is unacceptable and shows a lack of appreciation for the struggles that public sector workers face. State governors should prioritise the well-being of their employees and ensure that they are able to make ends meet with the wages they receive.
We firmly advocate for the autonomy of state governments to streamline their workforce by retaining only those workers who demonstrate productivity. An example of this would be questioning the necessity of hiring typists in the era of advanced technology. Additionally, the rationale behind employing 20 drivers within a government agency deprived of operational vehicles may also be subject to scrutiny.
Many governors overlook the importance of paying their workers properly, which can have a positive impact on the overall productivity and economic growth of their States. States should have thriving industries that can create employment opportunities. Governors need to understand that low consumer demand can hinder the growth of businesses in their domains. They have to consider implementing efficient wage systems to ensure fair compensation for workers and foster economic development.

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Editorial

Diesel Price Cut, Building On Dangote’s Example

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In a critical move, the Dangote Refinery has announced a further reduction in the price of diesel, bringing it
down to N940 per litre for customers purchasing 5 million litres or more directly from the refinery. This represents a notable decrease from the previously reported N1000 per litre, offering significant savings for bulk buyers. The price reduction is a testament to the refinery’s commitment to providing competitive pricing and supporting businesses in Nigeria’s growing industrial sector.
The Refinery, once fully operational, is expected to have a significant impact on the Nigerian economy by reducing the country’s reliance on imported refined petroleum products. The refinery’s ability to produce vast quantities of high-quality diesel will not only meet domestic demand but also create opportunities for export, potentially generating valuable foreign exchange for Nigeria.
The reduction in diesel price is also expected to have positive implications for various industries that rely heavily on diesel as a fuel source. Industries such as transportation, manufacturing, construction, and agriculture are likely to benefit from the lower fuel costs, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. This, in turn, can contribute to economic growth and job creation throughout the country.
This was announced by the Refinery’s spokesperson, Tony Chiejina. The statement read in part:
“In an unprecedented move, Dangote Petroleum Refinery has announced a further reduction of the price of diesel from N1,200 to N1,000/litre. While rolling out the products, the refinery supplied at a substantially reduced price of N1,200/litre three weeks ago, representing over 30 per cent reduction from the previous market price of about N1,600/litre. This significant reduction in the price of diesel at Dangote Petroleum Refinery is expected to positively affect all the spheres of the economy and ultimately reduce the high inflation rate in the country”
Reacting to the price reduction, the Secretary of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja Branch, Mohammed Shuaibu, said, “This is a welcome development and I am happy to hear this news because it will further increase competition in the downstream which will benefit many Nigerians. Such competition would create room for more price reduction and we are going to start seeing the positive impact on the cost of goods and services on the long run.”
Commending the company’s efforts, President Bola Tinubu described the move as an “enterprising feat” and said, “The price review represents a 60 per cent drop, which will, in no small measure, impact the prices of sundry goods and services.” In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu affirmed that Nigerians and domestic businesses are the nation’s surest transport and security to economic prosperity.
Dangote’s decision to reduce diesel prices has been met with widespread approbation and is expected to have vital positive impacts on the Nigerian economy. The price reduction has sparked a gradual decline in the prices of locally-produced goods, such as flour, as businesses are now paying less for diesel. This reduction in production costs is likely to trickle down to consumers, resulting in lower prices for essential commodities. Businesses will have more disposable income to invest in production and expansion.
Moreover, the trickle-down effect of this singular intervention promises to change the dynamics in the energy cost equation of the country, in the midst of inadequate and rising cost of electricity. The reduction will also have far-reaching effects in critical sectors like industrial operations, transportation, logistics, and agriculture. A lot of companies will be back in operation.
Aliko Dangote, Nigeria’s foremost industrialist, has a big role to play in alleviating the economic burden faced by Nigerians who rely on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). By concertedly including the production of PMS in his business operations, Dangote can make a substantial contribution to reducing the nation’s dependence on imported fuel and easing the financial strain on its citizens. The business mogul’s vast resources and expertise in the manufacturing sector make him ideally positioned to lead this initiative.
Furthermore, local PMS production would stabilise fuel prices and protect Nigerians from the volatility of the global oil market. The country’s over-reliance on imported PMS has made it susceptible to price fluctuations, which have a ripple effect on the cost of goods and services. By producing PMS domestically, Nigeria can gain greater control over its fuel supply and mitigate the impact of external factors on its economy.
If truth be told, Dangote has built an image for himself as one among the few genuine and credible rich persons who have successfully synergised industry with philanthropy. Nigerian entrepreneurs and investors should emulate the iconic businessman by channelling ideas and resources into areas of the economy that stimulate growth, with long-term effect on job creation and poverty reduction. We laud the Dangote Group for the vision behind the refinery.
Nigerians, who have been granted licences to establish private refineries should make haste. The establishment of private refineries will create numerous economic benefits. It will reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuel, leading to savings in foreign exchange. Additionally, it will create jobs in various sectors, including construction, engineering, and oil and gas operations. Moreover, the increased availability of locally refined products will stabilise fuel prices and enhance energy security.
Delay in the establishment of these refineries could have adverse consequences. Nigeria continues to lose billions of dollars annually on refined fuel imports, draining its foreign reserves and putting pressure on the local currency. Furthermore, the scarcity of refined products often results in fuel shortages, causing economic disruptions and hardship for citizens. Therefore, it is crucial that the licencees expedite the construction and commissioning of their refineries.

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