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Labour

Subsidy: Planned protest political, NYCN counters NLC, TUC

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National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) has condemned the proposed call For mass action and strikes by the Labour Unions against the recent deregulation policy of the federal government.

The youth body warned that it will amount to misleading unsuspecting Nigerians instead of be in the forefront of advancing a Socio-economic paradigm shift for the country.

Addressing newsmen Thursday in Abuja, NYCN national president Comrade Solomon Adodo, described Labour unions’ action as a show of inconsistency and lack of understanding of the implication of converging economic issues.

“The order by the NLC and TUC for the Federal Government to revise the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and revert to the Old subsidy regime is not only out of sync with the pricing realities of the product under discussion, but also falls below par in our current economic logic.

“Truth is that when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director, Mr. Mele Kyari announced that subsidy was gone forever, NLC and TUC were probably on COVID-19 Lockdown, but certainly not asleep or dead.

“Therefore, as far as the issue of Petroleum Products Pricing is concerned, NLC and TUC are aware that subsidy was withdrawn months ago. Though there was COVID-19 Lockdown, the two (2) Trade Unions did not hold Press Conferences or threaten post lockdown industrial action.

“So, it is surprising and hypocritical that they are now trying to blackmail the federal government and advance unfounded arguments. This gives clear credence to the fact that the Labour Unions have been seriously compromised to score political points.”

According to NYCN President, the argument of Nigeria returning to the subsidy regimes is unsustainable and cannot sail through.

“Nigeria cannot afford to hold itself down by trying options that do not and can never work. And the Trade Unions should not be the ones pushing Nigeria to her continued economic doom,” Adodo said.

While passing a bite of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, Adodo said: “The National Youth Council of Nigeria supports the total deregulation of the petroleum industry because that is where there is hope for the youth.

“There is no economic sense in spending less 3 trillion Naira annually on capital projects, while spending about 1.5 trillion Naira on Petroleum subsidy. Remember that while we budget below 4 trillion Naira for capital projects, actuals releases have been less than 3 trillion Naira.

“Our continued deficit balance of trade needs to be improved upon, we lose almost all the gains of crude oil export by massive importation of refined products. We will not recover from this deficit till deregulation attracts massive investments in the oil sector.

“The pressure on Foreign Exchange because of refined products importation will keep the Naira struggling against foreign currencies (particularly the United States Dollar).

“The deregulation of the Petroleum Sector will go a great extent in correcting this as refineries are now being built locally. Most importantly, the youths are denied jobs that will inevitably come with deregulation.

“The monies spent on importation and subsidy payment will be channeled to other internal economic activities. Obviously, the Federal Government cannot even afford this subsidy in the face of other competing issues demanding government’s attention.”

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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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