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Subsidy Removal: Federal Government Okays Action On TUC Demands

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A major step towards averting an industrial action over petrol subsidy removal was taken last night.

Yesterday’s meeting was a follow-up to Wednesday’s parley between the government and Labour over President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s pronouncement during his inauguration statement that ‘fuel subsidy is gone’.

Following the speech, marketers raised the price of petrol and Labour announced a nationwide strike to begin on Wednesday.

Negotiations would continue tomorrow on the demands, the spokesman of the government team, Mr. Dele Alake, announced after the meeting.

He said Labour’s demands are “not impracticable”.

TUC President Festus Osifo confirmed tomorrow’s meeting.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) leadership, which attended Wednesday’s meeting, failed to show up yesterday.

It declared its intention to go ahead with strike on Wednesday.

According to its president Joe Ajaero, the government must reversed the ‘unilateral’ increase of petrol prices before any negotiation.

Former Edo State governor Adams Oshiomhole faulted the NLC for shunning the resumed negotiation between the Federal Government and the organised Labour.

He expressed the hope that the Joe Ajaero-led union will return to the tomorrow when the government team and Labour officials resume talks.

But the government said it would continue to reach out to the NLC leadership.

There were calls on the NLC to shelve the planned action.

The government got more support for the subsidy removal from manufacturers, investors and business concerns, and was urged to introduce palliatives.

The government team at yesterday’s meeting was led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator George Akume.

Alake said: “We are very happy to announce that this engagement has been very productive.

“The TUC presented a list of demands, which will be presented to Mr President for consideration.

“A lot of the items on the list are not impracticable. What we need to do is to study the numbers very well.

“We have asked the TUC to also give us a leeway to consult very exhaustively and reconvene on Tuesday (tomorrow) to look at the numbers’ viability and practicability of all the items.

“The most important is the issue of the minimum wage, which the Labour movement has demanded given the consequential impact of this removal of subsidy.

“The government will look at that and Mr President is most likely going to constitute a tripartite committee of Federal Government, states and the organised Labour as well as the private sector.

“The committee will study all the dynamics of a wage increase in percentages, the numbers and the categories that will be affected.

“So, by Tuesday, when we reconvene to meet with the TUC again, we should have very concrete items to present to the world.

“But, the most important thing for today is that we are making appreciable progress with the Labour.”

Alake admitted that the cost of living will rise with subsidy removal.

“Labour argues that there is an immediate impact on the workers, on the purchasing power, because the price of fuel has gone up.

“That will necessarily reduce the purchasing power of the average worker. So, the next thing of immediate consequence is to increase the purchasing power of the worker.

“That to me and all of us on this side is the topmost priority on the list.

“There are other things like the tax holidays in which some categories of workers will be beneficiaries. But the most important is the minimum wage,” Alake said.

On the NLC, he said: “We all agreed that we are going to meet here, but again, in this game there are dynamics.

“Sometimes, they could be meeting with their executives and not able to meet with us, or they could want to postpone or they have not articulated their list of demands as the TUC.

“But we cannot second-guess why they are not here. But efforts are being made to reach them; we are not isolating them at all.”

Osifo said his team attended the meeting as directed by the union’s National Executive Council (NEC).

He said: “Yes, we have presented the list of our demands and they received it in good faith. They will go back to their principal and come back to us on Tuesday.

“So we’re hopeful that the demands that we have presented will be reviewed in the best interest of Nigerian workers and the entire Nigerian masses.”

He confirmed that part of the demands is the review of minimum wage, which he said has been eroded by the subsidy removal.

“Because they are going back to Mr President, we also think that we should also give them that benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Others members of the Federal Government team are Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefie; Senator-elect Adams Oshiomhole; and Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari.

Also at the meeting were the Executive Secretary of the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC), Zacch Adedeji; Executive Vice President, Downstream, of the NNPCL, Yemi Adetunji; House of Representatives member James Faleke, among others.

NLC: strike to go on

The NLC yesterday debunked claims that its ranks were divided, saying it was going ahead with its planned industrial action.

The Congress said all the affiliate unions of the NLC stand together.

Head of Information and Public Affairs, Benson Upah, said: “Whereas primordial sentiments such as religion, region or ethnicity may be a refuge for some, at the NLC, they have no place.

“What counts for us are issues such as the mindless and criminal increase in the pump price of PMS whose burden will be borne by the already impoverished communities of the poor across Nigeria.

“The burden of this malevolent policy will not be borne by other segments of the country to the exclusion of the North or Southwest. Thus, there is no reason for these regions to back out of the strike.”

More unions are mobilising for the industrial action.

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) directed its members to withdraw their services nationwide on Wednesday.

The NUEE, in a notice signed by its acting general secretary, Dominic Igwebike, urged its members to comply with the directive and stop work from the early hours of Wednesday.

“All national, state and chapter executives are requested to start the mobilisation of our members in total compliance with this directive,” the statement stated.

The Nasarawa chapter of the NLC is also mobilising its members.

Its chairman, Ayuba Oko, after an emergency meeting of the State Executive Council (SEC), said there was no going back unless the subsidy removal is reversed.

Sanwo-Olu, Ndume, urge Labour to shelve plan

But, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, urged the NLC to shelve the action.

Speaking after a post-inauguration thanksgiving service at the Cathedral Church of Christ, he said: “This is not the time to go on strike. Recall that all presidential candidates said the first thing they will do is remove fuel subsidy. So what has changed?

“What has President Tinubu said or done that is different from what others would have done? The president has not even spent one week in office.

“We need to be very patient and reason together. Let us not make the issue about politics, but let’s support this man. We should allow him to go and reflect.

“Strike will not resolve anything; it won’t address the issue. The point should be how to ensure a sustained turnaround in our economy…

“So, I plead with the NLC to not turn the subsidy issue into a political one. The leadership should know they are leading people and so there is a need to restrain themselves. Let us be patient and work with the president.”

Former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, also urged the NLC to call off the planned strike.

He said: “This fuel subsidy removal is something we must do now or never. We need to open the wounds now and begin to heal them.

“The NLC needs to work with the government and see how the effects can be minimised. If we don’t remove the subsidy now, some people will continue to milk this country.

“NLC should go to the negotiation table with the Federal Government.”

But, Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, asked petroleum marketers to revert to the old price.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, the governor said the marketers still had old stock that was supposed to be sold at the previous rate.

“I am disheartened to see our dear people of Kano suffering as a result of an unjustified fuel hike, and the situation must be stopped right away,” Yusuf said.

IPMAN predicts price crash

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) believes petrol prices will drop when more companies are licensed to import the product.

Its Chairman Enugu Depot (comprising Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu), Chinedu Anyaso, said: “The competition that will begin in the coming days will surely ease the pain of high prices of products.”

‘Dialogue needed’

Director General, Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Comrade Isa Aremu, called for continuous dialogue.

He said: “What makes the current reform different is that there is a national consensus among all stakeholders that prohibitive costs of subsidising a single product (PMS) in the wake of declining public revenue and other national needs are unsustainable.”

He added: “Neither policy reversal nor mass protest is an option. Genuine negotiation and social dialogue would make the deregulation policy a reality without compromising the welfare of the citizens concerning welfare and secured jobs.”

National Chairman of Tinubu Support Network and Director-General of Amalgamated All Progressives Congress (APC) Support Groups, Kailani Muhammad, applauded President Tinubu for the prompt announcement of subsidy removal.

Kailani, a former staff of the defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), argued that if Tinubu had not announced the removal of the subsidy at the time he did, the oil cabals would have frustrated the effort as they did past administrations.

At a briefing in Kaduna, he said: “This is the right decision because the immediate past administration shifted it. We have been postponing the evil day. A time has come for this country to measure up with the comity of nations.

“Nigeria as a member of OPEC should enjoy gains that accrue from sales of oil to develop infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, etc.

“I think we are good to go. Subsidy removal will increase competitiveness and prices will fall back. I believed he did it in a good fate.”

Also, Chairman APC USA, Prof. Tai Balofin, urged Nigerians to trust President Tinubu to work out palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

“I trust that the president will put some measures in place to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal so it does not go overboard,” he said.

A chieftain of APC U.S.A, Mr Tunde Doherty, said the United Kingdom does not pay subsidies on its petroleum products.

“In the UK today, we have Costco Oil selling for £1.3 and we have Sabre (Oil and Gas) selling for £1.7. So it is a liberalised economy with petrol.

“There is no subsidy in the Diaspora and we enjoy fuel. We have never experienced fuel scarcity. The time for us to enjoy that Renewed Hope is here,” Doherty stressed.

‘Provide palliatives’

A former Minority Leader, Senator Biodun Olujimi, urged President Tinubu to roll out palliative measures to cushion the effects of subsidy removal on Nigerians.

“Even though we want the subsidy to go, it should have been done in such a way that it won’t cause people unnecessary pain,” he said.

A group, the Community of Advocacy for Positive Behavioural Patterns Initiative (AFPBPI), also called for palliative measures to ameliorate the effects on the masses while welcoming the policy.

Its spokesman, Bamidele Mann, said in a statement: “We want you (President Tinubu) to protect and cushion the effect of the removal especially on the low incomes and youths to enable us to secure the right to an adequate standard of living and to avoid further hardship.”

 

Credit: The Nation

BIG STORY

BUSINESS: Investing In Davido’s Coin Highly Risky, SEC Warns Nigerians

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The public has been cautioned by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) not to invest in the meme coin that is purportedly associated with popular Nigerian artist David Adedeji Adeleke, better known by his stage name Davido.

The commission made this known in a statement published on its website on Friday.

The SEC issued a warning, saying that users of the meme coin do so at their own risk.

“The general public is hereby advised that meme coins lack fundamental value and are purely speculative. The general public is further warned that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

“Capital market operators are by this notice warned not to associate with instruments that fall outside the SEC’s regulatory purview. Such instruments should not in any manner be distributed or monitored through any capital market mechanism.

“Please note that the commission does not recognise $Davido as an investment product or investable asset class under its regulatory purview, as such individuals who patronize it, do so at their peril,” the statement read.

The SEC said it will keep a close watch on market developments and is ready to step in with regulatory action as needed.

The commission further explained, “Generally, meme coins are cryptocurrencies inspired by memes and internet jokes. They are often envisaged as fun, light-hearted cryptocurrencies promoted through a social media community and sometimes through celebrity endorsements.

“Meme coins are also not intended to serve as a medium of exchange accepted by the public as payment for goods and services, or as a digital representation of capital market products such as shares, debentures, units of collective investment schemes, derivatives contracts, commodities or other kinds of financial instruments or investments.”

The music star unveiled a meme coin called $Davido on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

However, the meme coin has been widely criticised by Nigerians after its value nosedived just a day after its launch.

Social media was awash with disappointed investors and fans venting their frustration as the coin’s value plummeted, with many expressing their dismay and disillusionment.

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UPDATE: More Women Testify Against Perm Sec Accused Of Sexual Harassment, Union Levels Allegations Too

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The controversies and series of serious allegations surrounding the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa, have taken a different dimension.

The Ministry’s labour union, the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), is likewise incensed at the Permanent Secretary.

The union charged Lamuwa with financial irregularities, favouritism, bad management, and high-handedness, all of which had a negative impact on the rights and welfare of the employees.

In a June 11, 2024, petition to Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the staff union charged that the Permanent Secretary was pushing all matters pertaining to employee welfare, benefits, training, and other related matters to the side.

They specifically highlighted the denial of various benefits the workers were entitled to, which had been a source of their discontent for months.

In the petition obtained by PRNigeria, the union listed and explained in detail the series of benefits that the workers were entitled to that Ambassador Lamuwa has been denying them for months.

They accused him of unduly and illegally favouring a certain category of people and victimising those who do not dance to his tunes in the area of posting, training and other benefits like Hajj seats.

Some of his alleged crimes as listed in the petition include delay in payment of some benefits, delay in promotion and conversion of staff, lack of transparency in posting, delay in payment of clothing allowance, discrimination in paying First 28 Days Allowance, lack of fairness in the distribution of the 2024 Hajj seats, inadequate posting of Batch B officers to foreign missions, poor sanitation and hygiene due to insufficient water supply, lack of work tools, dilapidated office buildings, refusal to pay the 25th regular course allowance for nine months, among others.

In the petition, signed by the Chairman and Assistant General Secretary of the JNC, Comrade Ali Seidu and Comrade S. E. Akpana, the union urged Ambassador Tuggar to look into their grievances and address the series of injustice allegedly done by the Permanent Secretary to avoid a drastic action by the workers.

They workers said: “Consequent upon the maladministration, dwindling level of productivity occasioned by the administrative leadership apathy in the ministry, the JNC has been engaging with the management thinking its solidarity with the authorities of the Ministry will yield positive results and prompt action on pending issues.

“Unfortunately, there was no corresponding improvement instead, the management has become worse, unreceptive and very harsh to everyone who dares to speak and ask questions. Victimisation, intimidation, and harassment has become a tool the management uses to shut critics while the staff of the Ministry continue to suffer.

“The staff of the Ministry are outraged by the egregious neglect, surreptitious administrative skullduggery, manipulations and commercialisation of the Ministry’s activities by the Permanent Secretary and his allies under the guise of rejuvenation. They have introduced harmful practices that threaten the very fabric of our Institution. We demand an immediate end to all their destructive policies and a return to the principles of fairness, equity and transparency. We call on the Honourable Minister to direct the authorities to investigate these grievances and take swift action.

“We the staff hereby give a 21-days ultimatum to the Management to immediately address the grievances outlined in our communiqué, failure to do so will be met with strong resistance.”

In his response, the Minister called for calm and promised to look into their grievances.

It would be recalled that the Permanent Secretary had been in the eye of the storm for days over allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a staff of the Ministry, Simisola Fajemirokun-Ajayi, who is said to be an aide to the Minister.

The lady wrote a petition to the Minister, through her lawyer, Femi Falana, which forced the latter to equally write to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, to probe the allegation of sexual harassment against Lamuwa.

The Head of Service also set up a panel to investigate the allegations and suspended the Permanent Secretary pending the probe’s outcome.

Meanwhile, further investigations by PRNigeria showed that at least three more women have approached the probe panel to lodge similar allegations of sexual harassment against Ambassador Lamuwa.

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Ghana Announces Three Weeks Of Power Cuts Over Reduced Gas From Nigeria

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Ghana’s state-owned electricity company has announced a three-week power outage due to reduced gas supply from Nigeria.

This has made the “dumsor” (a term that means “on and off”) electrical shortages that have been a problem for the country for years worse, according to BBC Africa.

Over the past 20 years, Ghana’s population and urbanisation have increased, and with them, so has the country’s need for power.

However, this growing demand has been hindered by the current gas supply reduction from Nigeria, which commenced on Wednesday and is attributed to maintenance works being conducted by a supplier.

This has resulted in a decline in power generation across the country, compelling the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to initiate load shedding to effectively manage electricity distribution, as stated in a release on Thursday.

“The reduction in gas supply is due to maintenance works being undertaken by a gas supplier in Nigeria and is projected to last three weeks,” it added.

On Wednesday, West African Gas Pipeline Company Limited (WAPCo) revealed that it was experiencing a decline in the volume of gas available for transportation as a result of one of its producers in Nigeria shutting down its facility for maintenance.

This reduction in gas availability has had a knock-on effect on customers in Togo, Benin, and Ghana, who are experiencing decreased gas supplies transported by WAPCo.

“The current situation is entirely out of WAPCo’s control,” the regional power utility added.

“We expect normalcy to return after the maintenance activities.”

ECG has assured the public that it is working collaboratively with other key stakeholders in the power sector to make the most of available resources, thereby minimizing the impact on consumers during the gas shortage period.

It comes barely two months after President Nana Akufo-Addo curtailed the export of electricity to neighbouring Togo, Burkina Faso and Benin in response to local supply challenges.

In recent years, power shortages have worsened as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis in a decade.

Private electricity suppliers are owed $1.6bn (£1.3bn) by the state power company, according to Elikplim Kwabla Apetogbor, the head of the organisation representing them.

Ghana, a leading producer of gold and cocoa, has increasingly relied on gas for electricity generation in recent years.

Despite having hydro and thermal sources, which provide much of its electricity, the country’s infrastructure is often inadequately maintained.

Last July, threats were made by private electricity suppliers to halt operations due to unpaid arrears, highlighting the challenges facing Ghana’s energy sector.

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