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ASUU Strike: FG, Union To Continue Negotiations

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The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has said that government would continue its negotiations with ASUU to fulfill their demands except that of exemption from Treasury Single Account (TSA).
Adamu, who disclosed this after the Federal Executive Council meeting last Wednesday, admitted that government had not fulfilled its own part of the agreements with the university lecturers.
He acknowledged that ASUU had late last year issued a one-week strike notice leading to a meeting where agreements were reached  but noted that the Association did not follow due process for the current strike.
“The issues we agreed on, there are eight of them.
“Already, let’s say there was the issue of negotiation which is the only one they agreed that government has done what it promised because we set up the negotiation team and the negotiation is already ongoing.
“There is the issue of their earned allowances and I think that because of some miscommunication what was promised could not be done but I am assuring ASUU and the nation that this is going to be done.
“There is the issue of registration for the Nigerian Universities’ Pension Commission.
“I think in that one, there are few issues that they need to sort out with the Nigerian Pension Commission and I believe that there will be no problem there.
“The other is the issue of their staff school which I think the court has given them the verdict to go ahead with it.
“They have requested that they should be allowed off TSA and I think government will not do this.
“But there are some peculiar funds in the universities, like endowments, which are money kept and out of interests they generate prizes and so on are given.
“Government will exempt that one,’’ Adamu said.
Adamu stated that he expected that government and the striking lecturers would reach trusted agreements on the demands.
Explaining further on the TSA, he said that because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not give interest on it, that was why endowments was exempted but other payments could be made into it.
He said that ASUU had been paid N30 billion of the allowances requested but because they were unable to render account of its disbursement it was stopped.
“The figures that I know, they have been paid N30 billion and the problem actually arose because they were not able to account for this N30 billion.
“And we said we will only give them the balance if they are able to account and the balance is N23 billion,’’ he said
The minister noted that the total demand was N53 billion, adding that government had the money to pay.
The minister re-affirmed his belief that ASSUU “is composed of patriotic people, very responsible’’, noting that it was one of the fruits of their struggle that led to the creation of the TETFUND.
He noted that without TETFUND today the university system could have collapsed, adding that he was not supporting ASUU but what was good.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed who also briefed on the memoranda submitted by the minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said that council approved contract for the rehabilitation of Ajaokuta-Itakpe rail line.
He said that it involved track laying, permanent way works and ancillary facilities area and completion of 12 railway stations in favour of Messr CCECC Nig Ltd in the sum of $122.62 million.
He said the amount was inclusive of all taxes at the prevailing CBN exchange rate of one dollar to N305 with a completion period of 15 months.
According to him, Ajaokuta to Warri track is in good condition and when the new contract is completed, access to the seaport is achieved for the evacuation of goods.
Mohammed added that Amaechi also submitted a memo for the interim phase arrangement for the concession of the Nigeria’s narrow gauge railway system which was approved.
He said that the approval was to issue a letter of comfort to General Electric so that by October 2017 there would be full utilisation of Lagos–Kano and Port Harcourt-Calabar–Maiduguri line.
He said it was part of the efforts to rehabilitate the 30,000 km narrow guage line and make it ready for haulage of goods and services.
According to him, from October there will be new 17 wagons to move at least a million tonnes of goods from the roads.
Mohammed added that council also approved the variation cost for the construction of one 150 MVA 330/133 KVA transformer at Birnin Kebbi and the reinforcement of a sub-station in Kumbutso, Kano for the transmission company of Nigeria.

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Land Racketeering: Group Wants FCT Administration To Intervene

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A group; the Housing Development Advocacy Network, has called on the Federal Capital Territory administration to provide details of existing approved layouts in the territory, in order to prevent land racketeering in the capital city.
The group noted that land racketeering was on the rise in the FCT and that the government needed to be aware of this to avoid losing investments.
Regardless of the high number of fake and political developers and land racketeers, there are also many genuine investors who wish to invest in the FCT, but are at risk from land racketeers, the group noted.
Executive Director of the advocacy group, Festus Adebayo, who made the call while speaking to journalists, further called on the FCT Minister to declare a state of emergency on land racketeering.
“The master plan of the FCT is in disarray. It requires surgical operation and the FCT minister must declare a state of emergency on the FCT urban planning system.
“So much damage has been done. The system is no more going in line with those who saw the vision of the FCT and gave the master plan.
“Firstly, there is no detailed information on existing approved layouts, resulting in fake layouts overlapping it.
“This information, if made public, would enable investors to know the right information that would save them from falling victim to land racketeers.” he said.
According to him, if there was inadequate information about the existing layout, the public would no longer fall victim to sharp practices resulting in demolition all the time in some areas.
“Some officials in government are supporting the business of those who are engaging in land racketeering and destroying the FCT master plan for selfish reasons, which is why the real estate sector in the nation’s capital is at a risk”, he explained.
Adebayo further explained that even with the suspension of the issuance of building plan approvals to area council plots, people were still erecting substandard buildings and the government was grossly losing revenue.
“Normally, before a demolition exercise is carried out, there has to be an order from the FCT urban and regional planning tribunal. However, the demolition is now at the discretion of the task force.
“Most demolitions are supposed to be followed by implementing a use or activity on the reclaimed land. However, nothing is done after demolition, hence after some time, the illegal activity gradually creeps back again. Other areas have been marked for action and nothing is being done about them. Almost 70 per cent of area council plots do not have building plan approvals”, he said.

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Naira Redesign: CBN Recovers N1.9trn In Two Months

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it recovered N1.9 trillion worth of currency in two months outside of the banking system following its naira notes redesign and cash swap policy.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this, last Sunday, as part of his updates following a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Emefiele noted that the apex bank had been able to reduce the currency outside the banking system to N900 billion from a whopping N2.7 trillion following the announcement of new naira notes.
President Buhari in November 2022 had launched the new naira notes of N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations, which are aimed at combating counterfeiting, improving the effectiveness of monetary policy tools on inflation, as well as mopping excess liquidity.
Emefiele said, “Ladies and gentlemen, available data at the CBN has shown that in 2015, currency in circulation was only N1.4 trillion.
“As of October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes.
“Ordinarily, when the CBN releases currency into circulation, it is meant to be used and after effluxion of time, it returns to the CBN thereby keeping the volume of currency in circulation under the firm control of the CBN.
“So far and since the commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion.”
The CBN Governor also added that the initiative recorded over 75 per cent success rate, out of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.
Emefiele noted that Nigerians in the rural areas, villages, the aged and vulnerable had had the opportunity to swap their old notes; leveraging the naira swap initiative as well as the CBN senior staff nationwide sensitisation team exercise.
The CBN Governor also announced the extension of the deadline by 10 days to February 10, 2023, to allow for the remaining old notes in the economy to be returned to the banks.
“A 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023 is to allow for the collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside the CBN lose their legal tender status.” the CBN boss said.

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Contributory Pension Assets Rise To N14.9trn

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The total assets of the Contributory Pension Scheme has risen by N1.56 trillionn as at the end of December, 2022, according to figures obtained from the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
PenCom, in its latest “Report on pension industry portfolio for the period ended 31 December 2022″ disclosed that the funds, which ended December 31, 2021, at N13.42 trillion, rose to N14.99 trillion by the end of December 2022.
It added that Contributors in the scheme rose slightly by 333,002 from 9,529,127 as at the end of 2021 to 9,862,129 in the corresponding period of 2022.
In the figures, the sum of N9.64 trillion or 64.33 per cent of the assets was invested in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s securities, N1.66 trillion was invested in corporate debt securities, N1.98 trillion was invested in money market securities, and N82.8 billion in mutual funds among other investment portfolios.
According to the 2022 third quarter report of the pension industry, the Director-General, PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, said despite the overwhelming head-winds in the global economic climate and the country’s challenging macroeconomic environment, the pension fund assets under her management increased.
She said this laudable performance in the growth points to the fact that the pension industry will continue to deliver value and benefit to its stakeholders and the nation’s economy.
During the period under review, the Director-General, said PenCom steadily pursued increased diversification of pension fund portfolios by ramping up efforts aimed at ensuring sustained investment of pension fund in alternative asset classes and structured infrastructure projects that meet the stringent requirements as enshrined in the regulation for the investment of pension fund assets.
She said PenCom’s efforts at diversifying investments of pension funds and hedging against inflation had gradually begun to yield results.
According to her, efforts were on going to ensure that the annualised average rates of return of pension funds across Retirement Savings Account (RSA) and legacy funds were above headline inflation rates.
“Perhaps, the most significant achievement recorded in the third quarter of 2022 was the successful issuance of guidelines on accessing RSA.
“Balance towards payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage. The guidelines give effect to Section 89(2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, which allows eligible RSA holders to apply a percentage of the balances in their Retirement Savings Accounts for payment of equity contribution towards residential mortgage for employees of the public, private and the informal sectors”, she said.
Dahir-Umar noted that the achievement in the Nigerian pension industry could not have been possible without the right people, strategy, culture and governance structures that supported the delivery of consistent and sustained value for all its stakeholders.

By: Corlins Walter

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