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Implement New Minimum Wage, May 1, Labour Tells Govt …As Senate Approves N30,000 Wage For All Workers …FG Mulls Increase In VAT, TAX To Pay New Wage

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage for workers in the country before the May Day Celebration.
Acting President of NLC, Mr Najeem Yasin, said this in an interview with newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja.
He commended the Senate for approving the minimum wage bill of N30,000, yesterday, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly sign the bill into law.
Yasin said, “We commend the Senate for passing the minimum wage bill of N30,000 but the battle for the minimum wage was not yet over; workers will not rest until the bill is signed and implemented.
“But it is not yet over because we want them to make sure that the process gets to the logical conclusion and for the quick implementation of that N30,000. Nigerian workers are happy and commend them.
“We want the Federal Government to ensure its implementation before the May Day celebration, which is the Workers Day celebration. The government should greet workers with the commencement of the implementation,” the labour leader said.
Yasin, who is also the National President of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), called on the federal government to ensure effective sanctions for employers who refused to implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage.
“We have been fighting for this N30,000 for a long time and the governors have been opposed to it. But now, it has been passed. Nigerian workers are now looking forward to the signing the bill into law,” Yasin said.
Also, the NLC Deputy President, Mr Amechi Asugwuni, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to follow the path of honour and immediately sign into law the new pay rise document once he received it.
Asugwuni, however, disagreed on call by the Senate for a review of the Revenue Sharing formulae which gave Federal Government 56 per cent, states 24 and local government 20 per cent.
He argued that the minimum wage bill was an independent bill which should not be subjected to adjustments in sharing formulae by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission.
According to him, such calls could further slow down the already overdue implementation of the new minimum wage.
Also, President, United Labour Congress (ULC), Mr Joe Ajaero commended the Senate for the passage of the N30,000 minimum wage.
Ajaero called on the Federal Government to ensure that the process of the national minimum wage implementation should not be beyond March and April.
“Government should ensure that this year’s May Day should be a day to celebrate the implementation of the national minimum wage. I want to say that by May 1, all employers of labour should have implemented it,” he added.
In the same vein, following the struggle by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for increase of workers’ minimum wage, the Senate, yesterday, approved the payment of N30,000 as the new minimum wage for both federal and state government workers in the country.
The upper chamber, yesterday, passed the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the National Minimum Wage on the National Minimum Wage Act CAP N61 LFN (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2019 (SB. 722).
The Bill, which was laid and presented by Senator Francis Alimikhena, set the new minimum wage at N30,000.
Speaking on the passage of the Bill, President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki said, “Let me join our colleagues to commend the efforts of the committee. More importantly, let me commend the patience of Nigerian workers and the leadership of the labour union, who have over the years been calling for this minimum wage and have carried their efforts responsibly.
“I want to commend the leaders of the organisations of the union. Let me also state that as government, we should ensure that at times like these, we should not wait for there to be strikes to do what is truly deserving for our workers.
“I hope that with this minimum wage our workers will double their efforts to increase their productivity, so that we can also improve the general productivity of the country. It is my hope that the implementation of this will start immediately,” the Senate president said.
However, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, yesterday, appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance, and hinted that the Federal Government was considering, among others, an upward review of the Value Added Tax to enable it to fund the new national minimum wage.
Udoma also told the panel headed by Senator John Owan-Enoh that the Technical Advisory Committee on the Minimum Wage will submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari, this week.
He said, “The current minimum wage of N18,000 is really too low. It is difficult for workers to manage on that amount.
“The president supported a review, but it is important that as we are revising it, we should be able to fund it.
“It is in the light of this that we would be coming to you (Senate) because there may be the need to make some changes, especially the VAT, in order to fund the minimum wage once it is announced.”
He also said efforts were on, too, to ensure that capital projects and other sectors of the economy are adequately funded.
Meanwhile, the Senate, yesterday, concluded debate on the principles of the 2019 Appropriation Bill and passed the Second Reading of the Bill.
With this, the Appropriation Bill has now been sent the relevant Appropriation Sub-committees of the Senate for the budget defence and presentation by Ministers and other Heads of ministries, department and agencies of the Federal Government.
Speaking at the end of the debate, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, thanked his colleagues for participating in the debate, while also stating that there was a need for the nation to continue to plug the leakages from the independent revenue sources.
The Senate president said, “The most important issue now is for us to see how we can complete the process.
“I want to make a strong appeal to all members of the Subcommittees on Appropriation to ensure that you all immediately start receiving presentations. At the same time, all Ministers, Heads of Agencies and Departments should ensure that they promptly attend the budget presentations when they are called in — so that there will be no delays coming from them.
“Ministers and Heads of MDAs should know that this is not the time to travel. This is the time to be around.
“Because of the short timeframe, Distinguished Senators should let us know of any MDA that you have called for presentations who have not attended for one reason or the other, so that this can be done by the 2nd of April when we hope to consider the final Report by the Appropriation Committee.”
Similarly, the House of Representatives has suspended plenary to April 2 to enable members engage Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) at committee level on the defense of 2019 budget proposal.
This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by the Majority Leader of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC-Lagos) at the plenary, yesterday.
In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker of House, Rep. Yussuf Lassun (APC-Osun), urged all the standing committees to work and conclude budget defense before May.
He said that the 2019 Appropriation Bill should be ready for passage upon resumption of the House in May.

Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Make Laws To Advance Nigeria, Not Selves, Fubara Tells NASS …Seeks Concerns Of Women, Issues In Difficult Terrains Addressed

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has challenged the National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters to focus on amendments that contribute to improving the electoral process in the country for good of society and not to advance individual gains.
The Governor maintained that any legislation targeting to empower or undo particular individual(s) is misplaced, and urged the lawmakers never to pay attention to identified problems it promoted.
Governor Fubara gave the charge when he hosted a delegation of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, led by its Chairman, Senator Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli and co-Chair, Hon Adebayo Balogun, on courtesy visit to Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The Governor said: “You are still working on your electoral amendment. I wouldn’t say much on that until when we see your proposal and conduct public hearing where we will make our inputs.
“But, legislate in such a way and manner, knowing full well that tomorrow, you will also sit here (executive). So, don’t do it because you are on the other side. And you say, maybe, let it be at the disadvantage of the people sitting here.
“Do your legislation in such a way and manner that when you sit here, those laws that are made can also apply to you, and you will sit and say, yes, I did the right thing.”
Governor Fubara noted that Nigeria is in a very trying time, and needed to be careful not to make costly mistakes that would erase any good work that has been done in the minds of the people to necessitate a fresh start.
The Governor explained that the level of political awareness and the drive among the people to be involved in the political process is higher now than it was about 20 years ago, and urged the lawmakers to be more sensitive to the realities of the times.
Governor Fubara said: “Everybody now understands that political involvement is the key to a better and developed state. Everybody wants to be part of the system, from the local government to the state and to the Federal Government.
“So, I am happy that we are doing this at this time; and not just doing this but taking the most critical aspect of the election: women. If we are talking about election, it is not the men, the true votes that are counted in elections are women and youths.
“So, taking up this very delicate and sensitive subject to addressing the situation at this time, I think the National Assembly is trying to understand and to feel the pulse of our people.”
Governor Fubara particularly noted how difficult it is to conduct elections in Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, and Ondo states because most of the communities are riverine and could take more than two days journey to access them on sea amidst the scare of being kidnapped or suffer boat mishap.
Governor Fubara applauded the committee for the courage to take on such sensitive task of embarking on sensitisation of the people and engaging with them on best way to ensure that they enjoyed greater safety during elections.
He said, “I believe that after this committee’s sensitization programme that you are doing, it is going to help us have a framework that will help us get an amendment that will protect the interest of the women, protect elections in difficult terrains.
“Because most times, when elections are conducted, we will wait two days or more before results from different areas will come in. And when they come, at times, these results decide the total picture of the election.
“Considering this now, I believe that you will come out, work out something that will help us solve this difficult problem.
“But, most importantly, to encourage women, give them opportunity more than the 35 percent Affirmative Action, and something that will give them assurance that they should be part of this process.”
Governor Fubara said his administration understands the importance of opportunities when given and what it means to give people opportunities to actualise their aspirations.
The Governor, therefore, assured that whatever the recommendations they make, if they make it public, the Rivers State will be one of the states that will first implement them.
He added, “But, most importantly, we want you to be our ambassadors. You are a visitor to Rivers State today. You have seen us. When you go back, you should also tell them that it is not really those things that you are hearing. Tell them that Rivers State is organised. Tell them that Rivers State is focused, and the leadership is purposeful for the people.”
In his address, the Chairman, National Assembly Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, Senator Sharafadeen Abiodun Alli, said they are in the State for what he described as the second in the series of zonal engagements of the people on the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act, 2022.
Senator Alli stated that there is no doubting the fact that Nigeria has never had an Electoral Act that is as good as the one of 2022, but noted that as soon as the 2023 elections were over, flaws were noticed that needed to be addressed.
He said, “And, I must say without being inmodest, that this is the first time this is happening in the history of the National Assembly. Because we felt that for us, for our people to have confidence in the electoral process, they should be involved in the lawmaking process, and we have decided to go round.”
Senator Alli further said: “About two months ago, we were at Ibadan to talk to the youths and the traditional institutions. Today, we came in here, and it is continuing tomorrow to talk about the issues of legislation: the women and elections in difficult terrains.
“We put this because, apart from the issues of the women and the youths; the South-South, because of the topography of the place (region), it is one of the most difficult terrains we are having difficulties in conducting elections in Nigeria.
“And we need to let the people tell us how the challenges they are facing during elections could be ameliorated in the lawmaking process, hence our coming here,” he added.
He solicited the support of the Government and people of the State and the zone in efforts to fashion a workable electoral amendment that would address the concerns of majority, if not all Nigerians.

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Spain Puts Forward 11 Stadia To Host World Cup 2030

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The Spanish FA are reportedly set to confirm the 11 venues that will make up their end of the 2030 World Cup.
The game’s global showcase will take place in Spain, Portugal and Morocco in six years’ time with the final set to take place at Santiago Bernabéu.
But 10 more stadia are set to be put forward by RFEF by the deadline set by FIFA, according to our sources.
Games will take place in: Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebastian, La Coruña, Zaragoza, Seville, Malaga and Gran Canaria, the Madrid-based sources claimed.
Neither Vigo nor Valencia, as initially planned, will be present amongst the host cities.
Madrid and Barcelona will both have two stadia present with the Santiago Bernabéu and Civitas Metropolitano in the capital and Camp Nou and Stage Front Stadium in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, FIFA has announced their summer update to the men’s world ranking list with some significant movers.
Argentina’s Copa América victory sees them keep hold of top spot, while France’s disappointing European Championship isn’t enough to dislodge them from second.
Spain are the biggest movers near the summit, rising five places to third, while Belgium drop down to sixth and Colombia enter the top 10 as a result of their run to the Copa final.
Elsewhere, Türkiye have shot up 16 places to 26th due to their Euros showing and Venezuela move from 54th to 37th as a result of their recent showings, making them the biggest overall movers.

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Tinubu Tasks Ambassadors On Enhancement Of Economic Value

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President Bola Tinubu received some ambassadors at the Presidential Villa yesterday.
President Tinubu in Abuja called for the enhancement of the economic value of bilateral relations between Nigeria and partner nations.
The president spoke when he received Letters of Credence from the Ambassadors of Portugal, Jorge Adao Martins Dos Santos; the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Biu Quoc Hung; and the State of Kuwait, Salim Khalifa Mohammed Almuzayen, at the Presidential Villa.
Tinubu expressed his appreciation for Nigeria’s long-standing relations with Portugal and the shared interest in the areas of trade and culture, as well as partnership in oil and gas, which had translated into gains for both countries.
“It is good to have you in Nigeria. I am happy you are familiar with Nigeria and the environment.
“I believe that with your presence, our bilateral relations will be further improved. I am happy you are also present in other West African countries.
“I have been informed of your economic interest in Nigeria. We need to work together for more localised productions as regards mineral deposits.
“I have an open-door policy, and you can always reach me through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and my Chief of Staff, Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila,” the president said.
To the Ambassador of Vietnam, President Tinubu said the manufacturing sector in Nigeria was ready to benefit from the automating skills and technology of the Asian country.
“Thank you for coming to work in Nigeria. We share a lot with Vietnam in terms of diversity and values.
“We really value our bilateral agreements with your country, Vietnam, especially in the area of technology. We look forward to adding more value to the partnership with you in terms of collaboration for development,” he said.
President Tinubu also thanked the ambassador of Kuwait for his country’s long-standing good relations with Nigeria and extended his appreciation to the Emir and the Crown Prince.
“I am glad we are pulling strings to enhance the value of our relationship. We are both committed to the development of our people and will explore opportunities for economic ties. I have an open-door policy so you can always reach me,” the president said.
In his response, the Ambassador of Portugal said investors from his country had a keen interest in Nigeria, and that the trade with Nigeria on gas predated the war between Russia and Ukraine, and would be sustained.
“I will work on our agreements on improving economic relations. There is no shortage of interest in the areas of development where we can be partners.
“We are one of the highest buyers of gas from Nigeria, and we remain grateful for the supplies.
“Portuguese companies are also handling the rail line construction from Kano to Niger Republic. It will be ready in two years,” the Portuguese Ambassador said.
His Vietnamese counterpart said: “Under your leadership, I see Nigeria overcoming most of her challenges and taking its place among the happiest people in the world.”
Hung added that he was in the country to strengthen relations and improve economic ties.
The Ambassador of Kuwait assured President Tinubu that he would do his best to strengthen bilateral ties for the mutual benefit of both countries.

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