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Petrol price hike: NLC begins mobilisation against FG.

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Petrol

THE Nigeria Labour  Congress, NLC, yesterday said it has commenced mobilisation against the Federal Government’s proposed increase in petroleum pump price of over 200 percent in 2022.

The Federal Government had announced that it would withdraw subsidy on petroleum products next year, saying the burden of  subsidy was heavy to bear.

But NLC’s disclosure of its mobilisation for a showdown against the government came on the heels of the charge to organized labour by a former General Secretary of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, to fight government’s manipulation and corruption tendencies masquerading as fuel subsidy.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of 17th NLC Harmattan School in Ilorin, Kwara State, NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, vowed that labour would resist  attempt by the government to increase fuel price without making adequate arrangement to cushion the effect.

He contended that if government succeeded in the plan, the impact of the price hike would affect every Nigerian, motorists, households, transporters, and others.

Wabba lamented that out of the OPEC member countries, it was only Nigeria that was adhering to the International Monetary Fund, IMF, policies, which he described as neo-liberal.

He said:  “The concept of accepting deregulation hook line and sinker anchored on import driven price model is not something that we can accept. We have said that without mincing words. 

“If you say we are pushing through our throat to accept deregulation on the basis of importation, basically there will be no end to price increase even the issue of saying that once you deregulate without having the capacity to refine for domestic use will bring down the price of PMS, is not correct.

“When the price of crude oil was almost at a zero level, the price of two items that were deregulated never came down; that is diesel and   the price of kerosene. In fact, they kept going up. The market fundamentals, marketers are out there to make maximum profit and usually they will collude and that is what will happen to Nigeria if we accept that policy hook line and sinker.

“The implication is not also on the working class because whether we like it or not, the minimum wage gain has been eroded completely with disparlel effect of the issue of failing value of our currency so the major issue under contention is actually how do we stabilise the value of the naira. Once you dont stabilise the value of the naira anything imported will have an effect on the larger economy but also on the cost of goods and services.

“This is the reality. So we are actually calling for reviving of the refineries, making them to work, don’t export our jobs let us benefit substantially from what God has given us freely.

“Labour has done a lot of studies out of the OPEC countries. We are the only country trying to adopt this IMF imposed model of deregulation on the basis of import driven price mechanism. 

“That will not be good for our economy and that is the idea of our argument that yes you can liberalise but not on this monopoly   of making sure that it is only import driven.

“The issue of extending N5, 000 to 40 million Nigerians. The impact of the policy of price hike under the name of deregulation will affect every Nigerian citizen either directly or indirectly.

“Either you have a car, a motorcycle or you use a transportation either to move people or bring in farm produce or you are a medium and small enterprise using a small generator, everybody will be impacted and so I dont see the wisdom of saying only 40 million people. We have seen some of these policies where people say they are extending support to Nigerians.

“Remember when the organised labour submitted a list of the working poor N50,000 on request to the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs as I speak to you no single person benefitted yet it is being said that everybody benefitted. We dont have empirical data even on the poor of the poorest and so basically it is going to be the same way those other policies have gone and that is why we said no because there will be spiral.inflation and we have seen that each time there is a slight increase in the pump price of PMS, because of its centrality to our economy, the impact will be very humongous.”

He said if the government does not reverse the policy, it would adversely affect wage earners and rubbish the minimum wage, adding that it was on that basis that organised labour decided to engage the process.

“But engaging the process also has to be open. You don’t have to make pronouncement before inviting labour to the negotiating table because it is like the deed is done and that is why we are also mobilising our people this time around, we are not saying increase N5, you are moving the price from N162 or N163 to N340 or N408.

“ If we are to actually go by the recommendations of the governors forum, I don’t see how that can be pushed down the throat of Nigerians looking at the impact. Not even the political considerations, it is about the economic impact on buisness, citizens and the fact that it is going to push more Nigerians below the poverty block. These are the concerns labour has had.

“We have made three recommendations. Can we identify refineries around the shores of Africa to do crude oil swap?   When you do that you insulate the Nigerian market and consumers because in one barrel of crude oil you have about 19 derivatives that will be able to take care of freight tro and fro and taxes and even at a profit to the Nigerian government.

“This policy option was recommended since the time of Obasanjo. Yar’Adua embraced it but nothing happened and now we are at the same stage again.

“Revive the four refineries. We know why they are not working. It pays those cabals better to import than to refine products and they will do everything possible to ensure the refineries don’t work so it will take a lot of political will by our leadership to try to fix those refineries.

“The third one is the argument of how many litres of oil we consume per day. Till date, nobody knows, we are just juggling around figures because nobody wants to make the figures known to social partners and Nigerians,’’ Wabba.

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West African leaders must collaborate to overcome common challenges – Buhari

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Buhari

ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday advocated renewed collaboration among West African leaders to overcome the myriad of common challenges, including state of insecurity facing the sub-region.

This is just as the President of Ghana and Chairman of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Nana Akufo-Addo, said only two per cent of the entire population of the subregion had been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic. President Buhari made the advocacy in his welcome address at the 60th Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, held at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He noted that the sub-region had, in recent times, managed to stay afloat amid a myriad of crises, which include the negative socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state of insecurity, which has claimed many lives and left millions displaced.

The Nigerian leader, however, charged leaders of the region to be ready to deliberately work together in the task of finding solutions to the challenges, as a region.

“Our subregion continues to face socioeconomic, political, security, and environmental realities linked to Coronavirus pandemic. Our democracy is being challenged in Mali and Guinea. Furthermore, threats are looming around environmental degradation and climate change on our farming systems. We are facing a network of criminals, including terrorism.

“All of these challenges require our collective action to work in concert with each other to pragmatically address and provide our people better prospects in life. Today’s realities remind us of the need to continue to forge stronger solidarity in order to address the new challenges, including the current third wave of the pandemic and its Omicron variant.

“I am glad that the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States and the West Africa Health Organization are continuing to work with our respective national disease control centers to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on our people and subregion,” President Buhari said.

He, however, thanked the Ghanaian President and Chairman of ECOWAS, President Nana Akufo-Addo, for providing the needed leadership to member states, as they mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

In his opening remarks, President Akufo-Addostre-ssed the need for the subregion to take local production of COVID-19 vaccines more seriously, pointing out that with all the efforts so far made in the fight against the virus, only 2% of the population of the subregion had been completely vaccinated.

He said:   “As of 8th December, our region has recorded 674,556 cases of infections with some 10,000 deaths. This scourge has impacted our humanitarian, social and economic sectors, and it continues to rage with the emergence of a new variant and the risk of a new wave in our region.

“The new variant Omicron has already been found in three member states, and has led to unfortunate imposition of travel bans by some countries, which are unjustified and unacceptable. Meanwhile, the availability of vaccines continues to remain a problem. Despite our efforts, we have only 6% of our population receiving one dose, with 2% of the population fully vaccinated.

“Whilst we remain grateful for the support from friends of the community, we must continue to pursue national and regional efforts to fight COVID-19 and move rapidly into the domestic production of vaccines for the protection of our citizens and for the growth and development of our economy”.

The ECOWAS Chairman, also called for continued mobilization of troops for peace keeping in areas where peace is fragile, noted that all is being done to restore democratic governance in Mali and Guinea, where there were undemocratic change of power

Akufo-Addo restated ECOWAS’ resolve to promote good governance in West Africa, through the sustenance of democratic institutions.

“We continue to be faced with security trials in the forms of deadly terrorist and kidnapping attacks, particularly in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Nigeria, causing numerous casualties amongst civilians and security forces, resulting in a significant number of displaced persons.

“Recent events in Burkina Faso are matters of the greatest concern. Increased coordination, however, on the part of coastal nations, have recently led to an improved maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Let me on behalf of the authority, condemn in the strongest terms, these attacks that continue to plague our region. Significant efforts are being made at both national and regional levels to fight terrorism and extremism.

“We must step up our efforts to deal with these tasks which will be imposed upon us and we must act in such a way that no one will doubt our resolve to protect our peoples and the peace and stability of our countries”, Akufo-Addo said.

He congratulated President Jose Neves of Cape Verde, who was attending the summit for the first time, as well as Adama Barrow of Gambia, who recently got re-elected.

In a goodwill message, the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, represented by the Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel, Annadif Saleh, pledged more support for ECOWAS, as he sued for more cooperation among member States. 

Guterres commended Cape Verde and the Gambia, for holding peaceful Presidential elections recently.

In another goodwill message, the African Union represented by its Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Nigeria’s Bankole Adeoye, hailed ECOWAS for sustaining democracy in West Africa.

The AU pledged to continue to work closely with ECOWAS to ensure the promotion of good governance within the region.

The two-day summit was attended by Heads of State and government of all the member States, as well as Former Nigerian leader and ECOWAS Special Envoy and Mediator to Mali, Goodluck Jonathan, and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Kassi Brou, among others.

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FG urged to re-visit matters of NDDC board

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Niger Delta Development Commission

A prominent northern leader, Alhaji Musa Saidu has again called for the urgent inauguration of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, saying the delay was generating tension in the region.

Alhaji Saidu who is the leader of Arewa in the South and former aide to Late Chief  Harold Dappa Biriye also lashed at some youths under the aegis of Niger Delta Progressives Movement, NDPM, who poured encomiums on the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio for launching a Strategic  Implementation Work Plan for his Ministry, dismissing them as political traders.

Saidu said it was unfortunate that some youths would come out at this time to shower praises on the Minister at a time the region was condemning his delay in constituting aboard for the NDDC.

“I am not sure they are Niger Delta youths. At a time the region is bitter over delay in constituting aboard for the NDDC some youths could come out to shower praises. This is wrong.  What we expect now is for all Niger Deltans and youths inclusive to be focused on agitating for a board for the commission and fixing the East-West road. “, he said.

“When these are done, achieved then you can call anyone a Messiah. But for now, these youths that came up with the statement under the name Niger Delta Progressives Movement, NDPM,  should bury their heads in shame. “, he said.

He said he had called for the sack of the Minister over the delay in inaugurating aboard for the commission and the deplorable state of the East-West road, adding that he had not changed his mind.

Alhaji Saidu said the Niger Delta is very dear to him because he had been actively involved in driving matters of development in the region, adding that he moved a motion for the north to support the creation of the NDDC at a gathering of prominent northerners at the Arewa House when he was national youth President of Arewa Youth Forum.

Continuing, he said as an aide to the late Harold Dappa Biriye, a Frontline leader of the Niger Delta, he accompanied the late sage to almost all meetings on matters of development of the region.

“And at meetings in the north  Chief Biriye will ask me to speak first on matters of the region on many occasions before he would wrap up. So you know and see my passion for the region”, he said.

Alhaji  Saidu further called for the implementation of recommendations of the Niger Delta Environmental Survey and several other recommendations on Niger Delta, stressing that sweeping them under the carpet was not a good one for any serious government.

“It is high time federal government visited recommendations on redressing challenges in the Niger Delta. There are several of them. There are the recommendations of the Niger Delta Environmental Survey and many others. They should give them attention so the area can enjoy development “, he said.

On the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator  Akpabio, he said he was calling again for his sack because of his failure to keep his promise to inaugurate aboard for the NDDC before August this year.

“We heard the  Minister when he visited stakeholders in Warri, Delta state that he was going to ensure aboard was in place before the end of July. But this has not come to be since. then. I still call for his sack. The East-West road is in shambles. The dry season is the time.to work but you see the situation. “, he said.

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Teni, Jaywon, others thrill fans as Funmi Ayinke launches album “The Journey”

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Teni

It was a superlative afternoon of kid’s glove reception, music and fun as fans and lovers of music were treated to heartwarming performances from Nigerian singers, Teniola Apata, popularly known as Teni, Iledare Oluwajuwonlo better known as Jaywon and others at Funmi Ayinke’s debut album “The Journey” on Sunday in Ikeja, Lagos.

The event witnessed the presence of some notable personalities like the former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Shina Peller, the publisher of Ovation International, Bashorun Dele Momodu, royal fathers and others who all took part in the launching of the 15-track album titled, The Journey.

The 16-track album features talented and multiple award-winning acts such as Tunde TDot of Styl Plus fame, popular comic act-cum-singer, Klint D Drunk, Magnito, and legendary singer, Chief Ebenezer Obey.

‘The Journey’ album according to the brains behind it features well-written and powerful compositions that are a strong source of motivation and inspiration to listeners, providing needed zest to those in a moment of darkness and hope for the downcast.

FunmiAyinke noted that all the 15 songs were carefully composed and written with the hope that they heal the mind, body, and soul of everyone that listens.

Speaking on the album, the multi-talented Funmi Ayinke, who also doubles as the founder of Funmi Ayinke Records and Funmi Ayinke Humanity Foundation (FHF), said the body of work was inspired by her desire to pass a strong message of hope and motivation to her listeners.

“I decided on the album after taking a deep reflection on how I can impact the larger society aside from what I do at the Funmi Ayinke Humanity Foundation (FHF). Then the inspiration to sing hit me. It was at the time that I decided to write the songs before hitting the studios to pour out my soul on the songs. The album is a mix of inspirational and soulful soft music that was well produced and mastered to delight my listeners,” she said.

On her choice of features on the album, Funmi Ayinke said, “I grew up listening to Chief Ebenezer Obey whose career has lasted multiple decades. It was a dream come through having him on a record that I intend to use to inspire a wider audience. I also featured established characters such as veteran gospel singers: Funmi Aragbaye, TDot, Magnito, and Klint D Drunk on the album.”

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