Organised Labour has stated that nothing will stop it from embarking on its planned nationwide, indefinite strike and protests come Wednesday, October 3, insisting that it is not in contempt of a court order.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, had on Friday, said that the proposed strike was in clear violation of the pending interim injunctive order granted on June 5, 2023, restraining both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), from embarking on any industrial action or strike pending the hearing and determination of the pending motion on notice.
However, in response to his comments, NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, stated in a statement that the Congress found it curious that Fagbemi, a well-bred professional, could indulge in such talk.
Ajaero expressed surprise that the AGF was still making reference to a restraining order that had been imposed on June 5 through motion exparte and that the Ministry of Justice had said had expired due to non-diligent prosecution in a formal statement.
“Which order could Fagbemi be talking about here, we demand to know. We similarly, find it necessary to remind Fagbemi that equating a restraining order to a perpetual injunction will do no small damage to our legal/judicial system” he started.
The NLC president further blamed the court for refusing to sit during the pendency of the order to accept its response, while accusing Fagbemi of being partisan.
“There are two ministerial portfolios whose offices constitutionally do not admit partisanship in the discharge of their duties. These are Minister of Labour and Employment, and Minister of Justice. In addition to their regular duties, they are expected to play the umpire role.
“But here we find a Minister of Justice whose first major outing is not only an open partisanship but has descended into the arena with his robe and wig, losing in the process the umpire status!
“To gag us, to bind us, to tie us to the pole for life without a chance to hear us out will constitute not just malicious conduct but grievous injury to our fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“We refuse to be gagged. We also want to remind those in power of their own history when they were out of power!
“We find it pathetic that Mr Fagbemi strives to operate from the high moral ground by advising ‘Labour Unions on the need to protect the integrity of courts and observe the sanctity of court orders.’ “Who is causing more injury to the sanctity of the courts? Those seeking to convert a restraining order obtained under the cover of the night to a perpetual injunction or the victims of this terrorism?
On its part, the TUC referred to the order as a “black market injunction”, adding that the federal government did not have the moral standing to accuse the labour centres of disobeying court orders.
General Secretary of TUC, Comrade Nuhu Toro said: “The Federal Government and the government of Nigeria are not practising what they preach. I make bold to say this because, there is a subsisting court judgement in Lagos, delivered at the National Industrial Court, sitting in Lagos which stated that Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) is on the exclusive legislative list and therefore, the Lagos State Government has no business interfering in their activities, but as I speak to you today, they did not just disrespect the court ruling, they are still perpetuating themselves in the seizure of their property.
“If the government is preaching upholding the rule of law, they should show it so that Nigerians will know that they are really practicing what they preach.
He restated the congresses decision to embark on a strike, adding that addressing their demands is the only thing that can stop them.
“The court order is a black market injunction in my opinion and we are going ahead with our mobilisation.
“We have tabled our demands and the government has refused to take action, and if at the eleventh hour, they are trying to cry foul, then they should do the needful. They know what the issues are they should attend to the issues.
Reacting to concerns that the strike may further put Nigerians into hardship instead of helping the situation, he said: “this assertion is not correct, because the poor man and the poor worker are already down. They are not afraid of falling again because they are already down. So, if this is the only thing we will do to bring them out of the suffering that the government has pushed them into as a result of the thoughtless removal of fuel subsidies, we will do it.”
NLC and TUC, at a joint emergency meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, resolved to embark on an indefinite strike with effect from October 3 following Federal Government’s failure to address the suffering and other socio-economic hardships occasioned by the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly known as petrol.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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