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Labour

El-Rufai talks tough, blasts FG, gives condition for negotiation with NLC

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Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has vowed that his administration would not honour a meeting with the Nigeria Labour Congress unless electricity is restored in his state.

The governor also lambasted the federal government for allowing workers of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) owned by it to disrupt electricity supply to his state.

Mr El-Rufai made the comment after the NLC announced a suspension of a five-day warning strike called to protest the Kaduna government’s plans to lay off some of its civil servants due to what it blamed on a severe fiscal crisis.

The NLC suspended the industrial action after the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who requested parties to sheathe swords for a federal government-mediated negotiation to hold in Abuja.

But shortly after the NLC announced it was suspending the strike to enable it to honour the planned Abuja meeting, a defiant Mr El-Rufai issued a statement that said no official of his government would negotiate with the unions unless electricity is restored in the state.

The National Union of Electricity Employees is an affiliate of the NLC and its members had on Sunday switched off electricity supply in the state and joined the strike.

In his statement early Thursday morning, Mr El-Rufai said, “No official of Kaduna State will go to Abuja for any meeting with FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) or NLC when the citizens of the State have no electricity.”

“We hold the FGN responsible for (its) inability to assert its ownership rights over TCN (Transmission Company of Nigeria). No electricity, no meeting.”

Hours before his latest update, the state government had said it was yet to see evidence “that the NLC is backing off from its campaign of economic and social sabotage against the people of the State.”

“Electric power is yet to be restored after it was shut down at dawn on Sunday, 16th May 2021, in brazen violation of the laws protecting essential services and infrastructure,” Muyiwa Adekeye, the spokesperson to Mr El-Rufai, had said in a statement sent to the media on Wednesday.

“That action removed any basis for state government officials to meet the NLC last Sunday. Denying our people electricity about 18 hours to the advertised commencement of their organised sabotage was akin to putting a gun on the government’s head. Government has a lawful duty not to indulge blackmail.

“Restoring electricity is vital to relieving some of the pain that needless acts of lawlessness have inflicted on our people.

TEXEM

“The unimpeded provision of essential services is vital to civilised order. Those who have disrupted it should promptly reverse themselves, not expect that it will be a matter for negotiation, much less being viewed as a precondition.

“KDSG will not participate in such a negotiation or countenance one whilst our people are still being denied their right to electricity.”

Governor Nasir El-Rufai latest update on Kaduna-NLC faceoff
Governor Nasir El-Rufai latest update on Kaduna-NLC faceoff

Mr Ngige had on Wednesday afternoon announced that he had apprehended the strike and invited parties to an emergency conciliation meeting at his office in the nation’s capital by 11 am on Thursday.

The minister further directed the two parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the resolution of the issues in contention.

The letter Mr Ngige separately addressed to both Governor El-Rufai and the president of the NLC reads in part:

“ Sequel to the strike prompted by the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC)  one of the federations of Trade Unions in Nigeria, and the subsequent withdrawal of work and services in almost all public sector establishments and institutions in Kaduna State, including but not limited to the essential services in electricity, water and health, which has consequently resulted and inflicted huge damage and loss to the economy and well-being and even loss of lives to the people of Kaduna State in the last three days.

“ I am therefore constrained in the exercise of my powers as the Minister of Labour and Employment, under the Trade Disputes Act, CAP. T8, Laws of  Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004; to invite you and your top officials  to the emergency trade dispute  conciliation meeting.”

The letter said “between the transition period for the meeting, you are please requested to maintain the status quo ante bellum before this dispute so that the enabling climate for the resolution of the issues in dispute will not be hindered by the creation of new issues.”

Under the Trade Disputes Act, which is the principal law dealing with the settlement of industrial disputes in Nigeria, the Minister of Labour has powers to intervene in a trade dispute for the purpose of settling it.

(Premium Times)

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Labour

Unemployment: FG to launch labour statistics system – Ngige

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Ngige (file photo)

As part of efforts to address the rising unemployment in the country, the federal government has announced plans to develop a labour statistics system where unemployed Nigerians at home and abroad can apply for available jobs.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday during a media parley with labour reporters at his office.Ngige made reference to the US Department of Labour which publishes labour data, which are essential statistics for addressing unemployment.

“But over time that we have been here, it is not funded. You don’t also blame them. Everybody wants to build bridges and airports and go. But they forget that with labour statistics and matching, you can fight unemployment. With that, you know who is where at any given time. And people abroad, especially those with specialities, who want to come back, can enter that system to know where to apply to for jobs,” Ngige said.

Ngige promised that the system would be set up at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment within the next month or two in preparation for its official introduction in two months.

He recalled that his ministry earlier established a labour exchange system for merging and cross-matching labour supply and demand in the country.

“In our electronic labour exchange system, both people who are looking for work and recruiters can enter the system where we merge and match them. We do what is called cross-matching and people are gainfully employed. This is the facilitation of employment.”
Speaking further, Ngige said his ministry has gotten involved in some international projects with foreign partners, which Nigeria has not hitherto been doing, adding that for the first time, the American Government was putting up a grant for women and children in Nigeria and Liberia.

“For children, they are doing that to stop child labour. You know that child labour is a kind of poverty. People who ask their children to go to mines are looking for money from those miners. It is the same thing with hawking. Children are on the streets hawking while others are in school. They are in the streets hawking to make ends meet. The same goes for cocoa plantations.

“We are fighting child labour. The American government has agreed to assist us. We have two programmes. One is for $5 million and another one for $ 4 million is specific to Nigeria for areas where granite, columbites and others, are mined. We have not been loud in announcing them because we don’t want the American Government to withdraw. When the programmes take off, we can announce.”

According to the minister, a Nigerian implementer has been appointed for the programmes while ILO will be rendering technical assistance.

While applauding the ILO for being up and doing in the area of technical assistance, he urged the organisation to sustain the momentum.
He said this ministry has finished the validation of new laws and sent the bills to the National Assembly for legislation and passage, among them, the upgrade of the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) to a full-fledged commission.

“We are hopeful to get the National Assembly to pass the bills before the end of February.”
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ms Daju Kachollom, as well as directors and other unit leaders in charge of several departments, were also present at the media discussion.

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Education

Nasarawa State University to Pull Out of ASUU Strike, says Governor Sule

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Worried by the negative effects of the ongoing Industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Nasarawa state governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, has said that Nasarawa state university Keffi (NSUK) is set to pull out from the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) after the state government agreed to shoulder the responsibility for the payment of salaries of the staff of the university.

Breifing members of the state executive council, at the fifth state executive council meeting, in Nasarawa on Wednesday, the state government agreed to takeover the payment of salaries at NSUK, thereby meeting one of the key demands by the local chapter of the ASUU.

“One of the conditions they gave to us, the most important condition, is to ensure that we take over the full payment of salaries of all the staff, so that they don’t have to use their IGR.

“As far as we are concerned, we looked at our finances and we strongly believe that, based on the cashflow we have available to us and also because of the importance we attach to education, that we should be able to start that from this month.

“That is what we are looking forward to do. We are also hoping they will compliment by the moment we start the payment hopefully by Thursday or Friday, then we are hoping to see them also returning to their classes,” he stated.

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Economy

NSITF Clears theAir on N17.158 Billion Missing Vouchers

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The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has assured Nigerians that the 2018 Audit Report by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation which raised 50 queries on misappropriation of N17.158 billion has nothing to do with the current management which came into office on June 1, 2021.

A press statement signed by the fund’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Ijeoma Okoronkwo, said, “Though the current probe by the  Senate Committee on Public Accounts is in exercise of its statutory oversight functions, it is overly important to inform the general public that what is under investigation are not new infractions but a cumulative financial violations under the management that ran the agency between 2012 and 2017.

“These infractions are not new. They have in fact been the subject of a probe  since the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation first raised the red flag in 2015. We make it clear therefore, that the negative trails of these breaches, have nothing to do with the present management beyond assisting the Senate Committee to carry out its oversight functions knowing full well that government is a continuum.

“On record, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has probed and taken the former Chairman of the Board and  five other senior officials, including the Managing Director and three Directors to court over some of the issues. Huge sums of money as well as property were also recovered, while some of the indicted staff members were equally removed from office.

“Indeed, when the Senate Committee initiated this current probe, the Managing Director, Dr Michael Akabogu, set up an internal committee to retrieve from First Bank and Skye Bank, respectively detailed transactions involving the fund under the period in question. The documents were subsequently submitted to the Senate Committee.

“However, when the Senate Committee further called for the vouchers backing up the transactions, Dr Akabogu requested that the former Managing Directors under whose tenures the transactions were made, be invited to provide further answers especially with regards to the vouchers.

“The current management is not in possession of the vouchers and hence informed the Senate Committee that the contents of the container in the premises of the fund where the former Managing Directors allegedly left the vouchers have succumbed to the elements. And that this can be substantiated from memos, hitherto written by the fund’s General Services Department on the state of the facility in question.

“This statement has become necessary to forestall further wrong finger-pointing and mischief in a section of the media directed at the current management of the NSITF which has charted a new course with strategic reforms, strongly anchored on transparency and already producing positive results.”

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