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Take It Back Movement Launches GoFundMe Account For Sowore

lun, 2019-10-07 20:14


The Take It Back Movement has launched a GoFundMeaccount to raise funds for the bail of pro-democracy campaigner and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.

Sowore was arrested by the Department of State Services on August 3, 2019, for calling on Nigerians to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to demand for a better country.

On October 4, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered his release on bail – the judge submitted that Sowore should provide N100m and two sureties in like sum.

The judge also said that one of the sureties must own landed property and deposit N50m and show evidence of tax payment since 2016, while Sowore was barred from travelling outside Abuja and also speaking to the press.

Speaking on Monday, Director of the Take It Back Movement, Joshua Adeoye, said the launch of the GoFundMeaccount was necessitated by the huge bail condition slammed on Sowore.

He said, “Despite a blatant lack of evidence to support the laughable charges brought against him, Sowore has been kept in detention for over 60 days and counting, also despite a court order to release him on bail.

“Now, the government has demanded a king's ransom for him – N100m, which, together with the N50m being demanded for another revolutionary, Mandate, amounts to N150m.

“This is in addition to other equally-specious conditions which we intend to appeal.

“We intend to unite behind Omoyele Sowore in cash and in kind by raising funds to meet those demands.”

At the time of filing this report, the account had raised around $480.

On September 30, Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had granted Sowore bail and ordered the DSS to release him after he met the condition given by depositing his international passport with the court.

But despite that ruling, President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime refused to free him, attracting condemnation from across the world.

The government is charging Sowore for insulting Buhari and planning to bring down his government – charges the pro-democracy campaigner vehemently denies and that had been described by legal practitioners across and beyond Nigeria as laughable and baseless.

The matter was adjourned to November 6, 7 and 8 for accelerated trial by the court.

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Two Americans, One Briton Win Nobel Prize For Medicine

lun, 2019-10-07 20:12


Two United States and a British doctor were on Monday announced as this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine winners.

They were rewarded for their research into a molecular switch that determines how cells in the body reacted to fluctuating levels of oxygen.

Their findings are helping pharmacists develop treatments for conditions such as heart failure, anaemia, cancer, and other ailments that affect how the body receives oxygen.

Secretary-General of the Nobel Assembly, Thomas Perlmann, announced on Monday that William G. Kaelin Jnr, Sir Peter J. Ratcliffe and Gregg L. Semenza, would share $913,000 for their work.

He said, “They were extremely happy, and happy to share the prize with each other.”

So far, 25 Africans have won the Nobel Prize award and the last to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine is Sydney Brenner of South Africa.

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#SexForGrades: Revisit Sexual Harassment Bill, Saraki Urges Buhari, Senate

lun, 2019-10-07 19:00


Former President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to revisit the sexual harassment bill passed by the eighth Senate.

Saraki made the call in reaction to a documentary by the BBC exposing sexual harassment of female students by male lecturers in many West African universities. 

According to him, the Senate under his watch passed the ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill’ – a law which prescribes a five-year jail term for any lecturer, educationist or person in a position of authority in any tertiary institution in Nigeria found guilty of sexual misconduct.

In a post on Twitter on Monday, Saraki said, “As a father, I’m appalled by the actions of lecturers captured in the #SexForGrades exposé. We cannot allow this sort of deplorable behaviour to fester.

“In 2016, my colleagues and I in the eighth Senate passed the ‘Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Education Institution Prohibition Bill’ to prescribe a five-year jail term for any lecturer, educationist or person in a position of authority in any tertiary institution in Nigeria found guilty of such conduct.

“I appeal to the ninth Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit this bill so that we can implement the institutional reforms necessary to safeguard our children in educational institutions in the country.

“I also urge the institutions to conduct robust investigations, not only on the accused but also for all other reports and complaints that come in.

“We need to make institutions safer for our students.”

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UNILAG, Foursquare Suspend Lecturer Filmed Demanding Sex From Student

lun, 2019-10-07 18:58


The University of Lagos and leadership of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria have asked Dr Boniface Igbeneghu, a senior lecturer and former sub-dean of Faculty of Arts, who is also a pastor of a local branch of the church to step aside after being filmed demanding sex from a lady purportedly seeking admission into the institution.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, on Monday confirmed that the lecturer had been suspended indefinitely.

He said, “A panel will be set up to investigate the issue.”

Also on Monday, National Secretary of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, Ikechukwu Ugbaja, in a statement announced Igbeneghu’s suspension, saying appropriate measures would be taken on the matter.

The statement reads, “The attention of the leadership of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria has been drawn to a video clip trending on social media platforms titled ‘Sex for grades: Undercover in West Africa Universities – wherein a lecturer at the University of Lagos named Boniface Igbeneghu, also described as a pastor in Foursquare Gospel Church, was allegedly involved in sexual misconduct with some female students of the university.

“The general public is hereby informed that as holiness and Bible-believing church, we do not condone such heinous and unscriptural acts among our ministers. See Also CRIME Sex For Marks: BBC Releases Faces Of Lecturers Sexually Harassing Students In UNILAG, Legon 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

“We totally dissociate ourselves from the purported conduct of Dr Igbeneghu and promise to take appropriate measures as soon as the ongoing investigation is concluded.

“Meanwhile, the pastor in question has been asked to step down from all ministerial assignments.”

In the video now making the rounds on the Internet, the lecturer was seen making amorous advances at a ‘prospective student’, who claimed to be 17 years old.

At a point in the video, he offered her a wine, asked her to switch off the light in the room so that he could kiss her.

After the young lady didn’t do as he had said, Igbeneghu soon stood up to switch off the light himself before going back on the sofa they both seated to pull her close to himself for what he described as a “cold room” experience.

According to the lecturer, the “cold room” is a place within the school’s staff club where he and his colleagues take female students to for sexual pleasure.

Since the video went public, there have been reactions from all across the country with many prominent voices calling for a quick action by the government to arrest sexual harassment in higher institutions in the country.

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Atiku Calls For Action Against Sexual Harassment In Universities

lun, 2019-10-07 18:15


Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has called on the government to deal decisively with university lecturers in the habit of sexually harassing young female undergraduates for grades.

Atiku’s call followed a documentary by the BBC where two lecturers were caught on tape soliciting sex from students in return for favours in the University of Ghana and the University of Lagos.

One of the lecturers, Boniface Igbeneghu, from the Department of European Languages at Unilag, was caught on camera making sexual demands to offer admission to a supposed 17-year-old girl. See Also CRIME Sex For Marks: BBC Releases Faces Of Lecturers Sexually Harassing Students In UNILAG, Legon 0 Comments 1 Week Ago

Describing the situation as a scandal, Atiku said, “I have just read the story on #SexForGrades across public tertiary institutions in many West African countries.

“This is unacceptable and requires systemic strategies to put a deterrence to such behaviour.

“As a society, we cannot allow a trend that is psychologically abusive to young women to thrive.

“In fact, that’s a direct opposite of what a sound educational system represents.”

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Nigeria’s Population, A Liability, Says Emir Of Kano, Sanusi

lun, 2019-10-07 18:14


The Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Sanusi (II), on Monday said that Nigeria’s huge population is a liability to the country.

He said this during a panel session of the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit currently holding in Abuja, according to a report by PUNCH. 

The session focused on how demographic realities can be transformed into social and business opportunities and what the implications are on internal migration, sustainable peace and security.

The Emir said that the potentials of the country’s huge population had yet to be tapped as the right policies to harness the future of the young people are still lacking.

Sanusi attributed the spate of kidnapping, armed robbery, insurgency, farmers-herders crisis to the level of population growth.

He said, “People talk that our population is an asset but we are yet to get there.

“Nigeria’s population is currently a liability because most of the root cause of problems such as kidnapping, armed robbery, Boko Haram, drug addiction are all tied to the population that we have and the question is how do you turn that into a productive one?”

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Bandits Release 15 Kidnap Victims After Negotiation With Katsina Government

lun, 2019-10-07 18:13


Some victims of abduction have been released by bandits operating in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, a report by Channels TV, said.

The victims, 15 in all, were mostly women and children and were in captivity for 44 days before the state government intervened by negotiating with their abductors.

One of the victims was rescued alongside her baby girl, which was delivered while in custody of the bandits.

Katsina State governor, Aminu Masari, while receiving them, said the next level of the dialogue with the bandits would be disarmament of the repentant ones.

According to the governor, this will be achieved in collaboration with the governors of Zamfara State and Maradi in Niger Republic.

The freed victims commended the governor’s peace dialogue initiative with bandits.

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$11m Cyber Fraud: Lagos Court Orders Invictus Obi’s N280m Forfeited

lun, 2019-10-07 18:12


The Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday ordered the forfeiture of N280m “warehoused” in the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told the court that the two firms were owned by Obinwanne Okeke, “a strong leader of a cybercrime syndicate specialised in business email compromise”.

Okeke, popularly known as Invictus, is currently standing trial in the United States of America over an alleged $11m cyber fraud.

The 31-year-old Nigerian, who was in 2016 celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30 and described by the magazine as “proof that there is hope for Africa”, was arrested in August this year by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as the ringleader of a cybercrime syndicate, which had defrauded a number of US citizens to the tune of $11m “through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive coordinated business email compromise scheme”.

Following an ex-parte application by the EFCC on Monday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa made an order for the temporary forfeiture of the sums of N240,250,904.46 and N40,304,106.19, which the anti-graft agency said it found warehoused in the Nigerian bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited, respectively.

EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the funds were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of cybercrime and urged the judge to order their forfeiture to the government to prevent Okeke from dissipating same.

In an affidavit filed in support of the application, EFCC investigator, Ariyo Muritala, said the commission assigned him and others to investigate a request for information on Okeke and three others by the United States Department of Justice, Office of the Legal Attache, US Consulate General.

He said, “I know as a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following ear-aching and mind-boggling findings: (a) That the Obinwanne George Okeke is a strong leader of a cybercrime syndicate specialised in business email compromise.

“(b) That the said syndicate has defrauded many innocent and unsuspecting victims.

“(g) That the said Obiwanne George Okeke has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America for cybercrime-related offences.

“(h) That if these funds are not forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Obiwanne George Okeke and his cronies will dissipate same.”

Oyedepo argued that Justice Aikawa had the power to make the interim forfeiture order by virtue of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Fraud Offence Act No. 14, 2006.

The judge agreed with him and ordered the temporary forfeiture of the funds.

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Few Citizens Holding Most Of Nigeria’s Wealth —Buhari

lun, 2019-10-07 18:11


President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said that a significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today was concentrated in the hands of a few people.

He said those few people were currently living primarily in four or five states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The President said this at the opening session of the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit held in Abuja, according to a report by PUNCH. 

He said while only five states had most of the wealthy people, the remaining 31 states have about 150 million people waiting for better opportunities to thrive.

The President said a prosperous society is one where the majority of its citizens have an acceptable standard of living and a decent quality of life.

He said his administration understood the need for Nigerians to have a better lifestyle, adding that this was why measures had been put in place to reduce the level of unemployment and poverty.

He said, “Today, many mistake prosperity with wealth. They are not necessarily the same.

“Experts and analysts explain economic trends by making references to indicators of wealth.

“Wealth, however, in its simplistic form, is money or other assets. In recent years, global events have shown that when a society and its leaders are driven and motivated by these alone, the ultimate outcome is a divided state of severe inequalities.

“But a prosperous society is one where majority of its citizens have an acceptable standard of living and a decent quality of life.

“A significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in four or five states and the FCT.

“This leaves the remaining 31 states with close to 150 million people in a state of expectancy and hope for better opportunity to thrive.

“This, in the most basic form, drives the migratory and security trends we are seeing today both in Nigeria and across the region.”

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Court Seizes Convicted NIMASA Acting DG's N35m, Hotel

lun, 2019-10-07 16:51


A Federal High Court in Lagos has granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission an interim order to seize N35m and a 22-room hotel belonging to a convicted former Acting Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Calistus Obi. 

Justice Saliu Saidu made the interim order following an application by EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo. 

Obi had bagged seven years imprisonment on June 3, 2019 for N225m fraud. 

More to come…

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Ondo: Academic Activities Paralysed As Lecturers At Adeyemi College Of Education Begin Strike

lun, 2019-10-07 16:28


Lecturers at the Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo State on Monday embarked on a strike action over some unfulfilled promises by the management of the institution.

The lecturers, through the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, had lamented the withdrawal of their allowances by the institution’s management.

SaharaReportersgathered that the industrial action by the lecturers had led to the shutting down of both academic and business activities on the school’s campus.

The aggrieved lecturers had on September 25, 2019, issued a seven-day warning strike to the management of the college to accede to their request or face a full-fledged strike action.

Speaking with SaharaReporters, Secretary of COEASU at the college, Comrade Olaniyan Olaolu, said they decided to embark on the strike action after the institution’s management failed to meet their demands.

According to him, the union had met on several occasions to make the management do the right thing but the school authorities had refused to reverse its harsh policy on their welfare.

He said, “It is a full blown strike since the management has failed to meet our demands and so far. We have not seen any positive response from them.”

It was gathered that members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of the college were also preparing to join the industrial action if the management failed to urgently accede to their demands.

Efforts to reach Provost of the college, Dr Samuel Akintunde, were unsuccessful as his official telephone numbers were not connecting as at the time of this report.

Following the strike, some students residing in the college’s hostels have begun vacating the halls in anticipation of a long strike by the lecturers.

President of the institution’s Students Union Government, Comrade Adebusoye Emmanuel, told SaharaReportersthat they had met with the management over the matter and that efforts were ongoing to end the strike action. 

He said, “After due consultation, the management team headed by the Provost, Dr Akintunde Samuel, disclosed that there was going to be a meeting with the COEASU board members on Tuesday and if the meeting ends on a positive note, the strike will be called off.

“The Governing Council of the college will also have a congress with COEASU members on Wednesday to discuss the situation and how the demands can be met without affecting academic activities.

“We have already advised students to stay calm and remain on campus because positive measures were being taken to end the strike action.”

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Nigeria Hasn't Harnessed Enough Data To Move Forward -Experts

lun, 2019-10-07 15:24


Nigeria has so far been unable to build data structures that can help the country plan, experts have said. 

They said the country had continued to dwell on oil when data is the key revenue source for the digital economy.

Yvonne Alozie, programme director for GITGIRL and Open Banking Nigeria, said data as basic as the number of people in the country is inaccurate.

“I feel the data we have in the country is not enough to give us relevant information on how to move the country forward, she stated.

“Government needs to update its data and review them. It’s been long since Census was conducted and we are still working with the data which is grossly inaccurate.” She observed that the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC), needs to improve the country’s identification system as well. Rajesh Jakhotia, the Founder of K2 Analytics Finishing School, argued that the country has to swing away from oil pretty soon, considering the giant growth of firms like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

“There’s a huge opportunity lying untapped in data analytics," Jakhotia said. 

“Going forward Data is going to be the New Oil. Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft among others, generate revenues through data and with the revenues they’ve become multinational companies. These experts feel the government needs to get more serious with creating databases that can allow it accurately predict problems such as unemployment.

“We can do a lot better by creating an open data system to share structured data among agencies and government in other to develop the country. Having access to ID would help the government know the status of the citizens, if employed or not that way, improvement can be measured,” Alozie enthused. 

Evans Otalor, a data scientist at Sterling bank, said it is high time the government set-up structures and processes to gather data and system of availability of the data to enable Private sectors to utilize their own processes. Certain officials in the Nigerian government, still hold the obsolete view that crude oil remains the source of funding to lift people out of poverty. 

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), told a delegation in September that fossil fuel demand would stay high beyond 2040, an opinion that differs from global predictions.

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Nigeria Recorded 189,133 Delayed Flights In Five Years – Report

lun, 2019-10-07 15:16


A report obtained by SaharaReporters has revealed that at least 189,133 flights were delayed in Nigeria in five years.

The report also indicated that 309,425 flights were operated out of Nigeria and within the country within the same period.

The report covered flights delayed between 2014 and 2018 by both local and international airlines.

According to the report, in 2014, international airlines delayed a total number of 4,715 flights out of Nigeria, 6,134 flights in 2015, 6,430 flights in 2016, 4,386 flights in 2017 and another 5,395 flights in 2018.

Within the five years period, international airlines had a total number of 27,050 flights delayed out of Nigeria.

Within the same period, domestic airlines delayed 32,925 flights in 2014, 30,911 flights delayed in 2015, 31,683 flights delayed in 2016, 20,214 delays in 2017 and 36,350 flights delayed in the just past year.

In all, domestic airlines had a total number of 162,083 flights delay in five years.

Further breakdown indicated that in 2014, a total number of 37,640 flights were delayed out of Nigeria and within the country among international and domestic carriers, 37,045 flights delayed in 2015, 38,113 flights delayed in 2016, 34,600 delays in 2017 and another 41,745 flights were delayed in 2018.

However, there were no reasons for the flights delayed out of Nigeria and within the country within the period, but it is clear that poor and obsolete infrastructure across the nation’s airports had contributed to flights delayed in various aerodromes in the country in the past years.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) that is saddle with the provision and maintenance of infrastructure across the country’s airports had failed in discharging this duty over the years, which had contributed to damages to equipment especially aircraft in most airports in the country.

Besides, the report revealed that a total number o 309,425 flights were operated in the past five years in Nigeria – 2014 to 2018.

The domestic airlines had the highest number of flights operated with 234,055, while the international airlines operated 75,370 flights within the period.

The breakdown showed that 2014 had the highest number of flight operations in recent times with 83,880 out of which domestic airlines operated 68,506 flights, while the other 15,374 flights were performed by the international carriers.

Besides, 2015 had the second-highest of flight operations within the period with 77,871 flights – domestic operators had 62,488 flights and international carriers had 15,383 within the same period.

This was followed by 2018 with a total number of flights at 75,463 with domestic having 59,818 and international operations stood at 15,645.

The other was 2016 with 70,147 flights – domestic had 54,682, while international airlines had 15,465 flights within the period.

The least flights operated in the past five years were in 2017 with only 61,822 flights.

The report indicated that domestic airlines had 48,319 within the period, while international carriers had 13,503 flights in the same period.

Another report obtained by our correspondent showed that a total number of 296 flights were cancelled in the first half of 2019 by both local and international airlines in Nigeria.

The report indicated that in the first half of 2019, 30 airlines operated into and out of Nigeria with 55 cancelled flights, while on the local scene, 241 flights were cancelled among the nine operating scheduled airlines.

According to the report, international airlines operated 7,640 flights between January and June 2019, while the domestic operators had 30, 043 flights within the period.

According to the document, a total number of 16,482 luggage were either declared missing or delayed luggage in the Nigerian airports in the first six months of the year.

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Ondo Governor Sacks Aide For Calling Deputy Governor's Wife 'Acting First Lady'

lun, 2019-10-07 15:12



Augustine Pelemo, the Special Assistant on Political Matters to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state, has been sacked.

Mr. Pelemo was relieved of his position on Monday morning, according to a statement by the government. 

The sack of the political aide came barely 24 hours after posting on his Facebook page a congratulatory message to wish the wife of the deputy governor, Mrs. Ajewole Agboola Ajayi, a happy birthday but referring to her as the "Acting First Lady of Ondo State". 
 
However, the press statement signed by Donald Ojogo, the spokesman for the Ondo state government, said, "This directive is with immediate effect; and it underscores the need to instil sanity and nip in the bud, divisive acts and tendencies inimical to the existing cordiality and cohesion in the administration led by the governor. 

"While wishing him well in his future endeavours, Mr Governor further directs Pelemo to hand over every government property in his possession to the Deputy Chief of Staff without further delay." 

SaharaReporters gathered that Pelemo although attached to the office of the Deputy Governor, Agboola Ajayi, functioned as an aide to Akeredolu.

An impeccable source at the office of the deputy governor who confirmed the sacking to SaharaReporters, said the political aide acted in "stupidity" for addressing the deputy governor's wife as "Acting First Lady" of the state on the social media. 

"I think Pelemo just acted in a very stupid manner because in the first instance, while should he go on his social media page to address the wife of the deputy governor as an Acting First Lady of the state? 

"Is the governor's wife, Mrs. Betty Akeredolu, on leave? That means he is trying to create a division in the government of Akeredolu. Even considering the kind of animosities in the government with all calculations towards the 2020 elections, Pelemo should not have gone to that extent on the social media. 

"It is just unfortunate. He is now a sacrificial lamb despite his closeness to the governor and his deputy. Honestly, I really pitied him on this," the source said. 

When contacted, Pelemo refused to respond to SaharaReporters' repeated calls.

Last July, Akeredolu sacked three commissioners. 
 

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For Nigeria At 59 By Niyi Osundare

lun, 2019-10-07 12:47


Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare

 

With limbs half limp and a vacant gaze

She plods through the months and hazy days

Some hail her as Africa’s Giant

But she bears herself like a hapless ant

 

Blessed with sunshine and abundant rain

She blights her people with needless pain

Their boundless strength she converts to curse

Their bus to bliss becomes a hearse

 

While others make, they prefer to fake

The sweat-fruit of others they take and take

Insatiable consumers of foreign goods

A land long lost in subservient woods

 

The best of her brains desert in droves

This land of paupers and princely rogues

Who fritter our flairs and drain our dreams

With their fell designs and venal schemes

 

A land so blessed but so betrayed

She leaves the world ever so dismayed

Big-for-Nothing is her middle name

An Open Sore and a Continent’s shame

 

But Hope’s wide door is never shut

Its kernel is hard as a seasoned nut

The Sleeping Giant may yet awake

When her folks rid themselves of their mindless ache

 

                     Niyi  Osundare

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Minimum Wage, Maximum Trouble By ‘Fisayo Soyombo

lun, 2019-10-07 12:37


 

Anyone who followed the national new minimum wage negotiations between the organised Labour and the Federal Government at the peak in November 2018 would have known, as they say in Nigerian street lingo, that it would “end in tears”. While receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee on New Minimum Wage from the Chairman, Amal Pepple, on November 7, 2018, Buhari had said he was “fully committed to having a new National Minimum Wage Act in the very near future”. Many newspapers reported that the President had “endorsed” the proposal. This was quickly denied by the Presidency, which was not so much a problem. The problem, though, was the vehemence of the denial. “It is not the duty of the President only to endorse a new national minimum wage,” the Presidency would later tell Premium Times. “It is imperative for us to always avoid misinterpreting a written speech.”

Of course the President couldn’t single-handedly approve it, but his personal approval was the most important. He literally controls the Federal Executive Council (FEC), he wields enormous influence over the National Economic Council (NEC), his party holds the majority in the National Assembly. If the President wanted the national minimum wage bill to become law, nothing could stop it. But the manner of that denial was pregnant with intention; the grouse wasn’t that the President’s planned endorsement had been second-guessed; it was that the President never did endorse it. Telling.

From that time, it was clear to me, personally, that although Buhari was unfavourably disposed to the proposal, there was no chance he would reject it just four months to the presidential election. It wouldn’t take long for the President to be exposed. The House of representatives passed the bill in January; the Senate did in March. Still, the President withheld assent, prompting the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to give him a May 1 ultimatum. Buhari finally acceded in April 2018, but today — one month short of the first anniversary of the submission of the report — we’re still debating the commencement date for payment of the new minimum wage. Only Kaduna and Zamfara states have begun partial implementation. The 35 other states are still stuck in what I call oscillatory motion — much activity but no movement. Ekiti has given assurances the new wage will take off in October, but until the alerts hit workers’ phones, never say never. As things stand, it is a question of when rather than whether; time will come when all states will have no option but to pay the minimum wage — for workers from levels 1 to 6.

The real trouble, though, is that the rancour over the percentage increase for levels 7 and above will not be resolved any soon. Since raising the minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000 represented a 66.7% increase, Labour wanted the percentage applied across board. Tough ask — because 66.7% of N18,000, for instance, is not the same as 66.7% of N100,000. It wasn’t an unreasonable demand, but for a government that continues to struggle with paying the lowest cadre five months after the law was made, 66.7% across board was near impossible. Labour has had to lower that percentage five times, eventually settling for 29% for levels 7 to 14 and 24% for levels 15 t0 17. Still the government has implicitly saddled Labour with one of two unpleasant conditions; fresh negotiations or mass retrenchment of workers. It is almost impossible to see how the industrial action of October 16 will be averted.

Interestingly, while the new minimum wage has not yet taken off, the government is already plotting how to help workers spend the bonus. As announced last week by Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, the Federal Government has finalised plans to return the toll gates demolished in 2003 by the Olusegun Obasanjo regime. It is instructive to note that Obasanjo dismanted the toll gates after a fuel price hike, with a conviction that the added revenue from the new pump price of fuel was enough to maintain federal roads. There have been many fuel hikes since then, yet the toll gates are coming back. Currently before the Senate — and it has already survived first reading — is a Communications Service Bill seeking to enforce 9% tax on use of electronic services, such as voice calls, SMS, data and pay-per-view TV. On phone calls alone, that’s an extra charge of close to N3/min for every subscriber, depending on the telco. Or, to simplify it further, for every N100 airtime you buy, you only have access to N91. Ali Ndume, sponsor of the bill, says the tax will have minimal effect on the masses, but with 176.6 million mobile services subscribers and 122.6 million active mobile Internet users, the phone is no longer an elitist gadget. The masses, including those workers whose new wages currently give the government sleepless nights, will be affected.

If the government retrenches workers, as threatened by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, there will be trouble — even though the payroll is bloated despite repeated verification exercises, and not many genuine workers can prove they truly earn their pay. Any routine retrenchment motivated by determination to optimize labour will have the support of the public, but not one triggered anti-labour parsimony in a country where the Senate spends N5.5 billion on SUVs then shoves it in our faces, telling us to “try dictatorship if you think democracy is expensive”. Retrenchment or delayed payment will surely spark a labour shutdown to be accompanied, as expected, with enormous revenue loss for the government. All this when government is busy perfecting how to rob Peter knowing Paul would possibly not be paid.

Clearly, the federal and state governments are too financially unhealthy to meet Labour’s demands. The solution, therefore, is to fund the new national minimum wage by cutting waste: reduce wasteful spending such as jumbo pay for lawmakers, lying-fallow presidential jets, excessive appointees and foreign travels, frivolous benefits enjoyed by public office holders; and cut public-office corruption. Anything short of that, this minimum wage already will have maximum trouble for company.

Soyombo, former Editor of the TheCable, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and SaharaReporters, tweets @fisayosoyombo

 

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Fayemi: There's Difference Between Minimum Wage Increase, General Wage Review

lun, 2019-10-07 11:48


The Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, says Nigeria's civil servants and labour leaders should understand that there is a difference between new minimum wage increase and general wage review.

“Our proposal during the negotiation was N24,500 minimum wage but at the end of the negotiation, N30, 000 was the agreed figure and we abide by that because it is now a law," he told TheNation.

“However, governors are very clear that a national minimum wage increase is not tantamount to a general wage review," Fayemi explained further.

“Whilst we know that there may be a need for a minimal consequential adjustment, we (governors) are together with the Federal Government that this should not exceed nine per cent.

“We think nine per cent is too much for those who are already earning above the minimum wage. It is a minimum wage increase; it is not a national wage review in the sense that it affects those who are earning below N30, 000.”

The Ekiti governor said, “Some states have not paid the N30, 000 minimum wage because there is no general agreement yet on the consequential increase. The government has offered nine per cent consequential increase across the board for those who are earning above the minimum wage threshold but the Nigeria Labour Congress is asking for a 45 per cent increase.

“The Federal Government has said 45 per cent consequential increase is unrealistic. The government has already made provision for the N30, 000 minimum wage in 2020 Budget. Where do they expect the government to get the funds? Some consequential increase may be sensible but this demand for 45 per cent is unrealistic.”

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Sowore, Agba Jalingo: Human Rights Writers Association Condemns Nigerian Government

lun, 2019-10-07 11:30


A pro-democracy and civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association, has accused the Nigerian government and the judiciary of collective conspiracy to silence dissenting voices and to cripple human rights in Nigeria.

HURIWA said this in a statement issued over the weekend. 

The association accused the government of resorting to self-help because it was unable to steer the ship of state away from the economic adversity it has imposed on Nigerians due to poor economic policies.

It alleged that the government realised that it failed to deliver on promises made to voters, concluding that the only way to retain power is to curtail the enjoyment of constitutional freedom.

The group also urged media houses to publish background information on the judges that are now alledgely enlisted by the government and some state governments to "perpetuate horrendous human rights abuses through obnoxious ex-parte orders and unattainable bail conditions".

HURIWA condemned the continued detention of pro-democracy activist Omoyele Sowore and a journalist,Agba Jalingo.

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Bobrisky Is Risky, Buhari Regime Warns Travellers, Tourists

lun, 2019-10-07 11:29


The President Muhammadu regime has warned tourists and travellers to be wary of Nigerian crossdresser, Okuneye Idris Olarenwaju, aka Bobrisky.

Reacting to a complaint that Bobrisky used a female restroom at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria's Director-General of National Centre for Arts and Culture, Segun Runsewe, told Punch, “Bobrisky is a serious health hazard for Nigeria and Nigerians. The health hazard Bobrisky has is worse than Ebola Virus Disease; travellers and tourists should be careful wherever they notice the presence of Bobrisky, mostly as it affects sharing of public facilities.

“Women are prone to get various types of disease from the toilet than sexual intercourse. Now, Bobrisky will enter the same toilet with a woman and at the end the woman will contract some kind of diseases.

“When she gets home and sleeps with her husband and the husband discovers he has been infected, the next thing is to seek for divorce without knowing the actual cause of how the wife was infected.”

Speaking further, he said, “In the first place, Bobrisky’s passport shows that he is a man. Why should he turn himself to a woman and use women’s toilets? At the end of the day, innocent Nigerian women who go to same toilet will now be infected with what they did not bargain for.

“If Bobrisky is even using men’s toilet, we can understand. As I speak, we got a report of how a woman was very upset with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria because on this day she saw Bobrisky using female toilet in Abuja airport.

“Well, for me, we have done our little bit; we have left everything for the medical practitioners.”

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Kidnappers Of Kaduna Teachers, Students Increase Ransom To N80 Million

lun, 2019-10-07 11:24


The kidnappers of six female students and two staff of Engravers College, Kakau Daji, Chikun local government area of Kaduna state, have increased the ransom demanded to N80 million.

The bandits, who had earlier demanded a ransom of N50 million are not insisting that all the captives must pay N10 million each to regain freedom, according to TheCable

The girls, alongside the vice principal of the school and the matron, were kidnapped around 12:10 am on Thursday.

In an interview on Sunday, an official of the school who is involved in the bargain for the victims’ freedom, said the kidnappers discarded the initial arrangement after listening to reports of the kidnapping on the radio.

“They (kidnappers) called individual parents and asked them to pay N10 million each. They said they don’t want collective bargain again, every parent should pay N10 million for the release of their children,” the official said.

“They told us that they heard the story on the BBC. They called me and they were insulting me. They said they don’t want a collective bargain again. They said every parent should pay N10 million.

“They insulted me because they thought I was negotiating for the ransom on behalf of the government. I told them that when such incidents happen, newspapers and radio stations always report it for the world to know.

“They asked me whether I am a lawyer, I told them that I am a teacher. They asked whether I am the proprietor of the school. I told them that I am not the owner of the school. Then asked me to remove my hands off the issue and face my business.

“They asked me whether I can recall some expatriates were kidnapped sometimes ago. They said they were the ones who abducted them and that it was the government that paid the ransom.

“I pleaded with them to have mercy on the parents of the children because they don’t have that kind of money.”

Yakubu Sabo, the spokesman for the Kaduna police command, could not be reached for comments as his mobile phone as was switched off.

On Friday, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, had said efforts were in place to secure the release of the victims.

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