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Paris Club Refund: Workers threatens to embark on strike

Labour union to commence strike in Ondo State

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Ondo State chairmen of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Tayo Ogunleye, Trade Union Congress (TUC) Chairman, Soladoye Ekundayo and Joint National Committee (JNC) Chairman, Comrade Abel Oloniyo, have unanimously threatened to embark on industrial action.

While bemoaning Ondo State’s Governor Rotimi Akeredolu who walked out of a meeting with the government and the union, the state government workers are threatening to strike over an alleged attempt by the state government to divert the Paris Club loan refund by the Federal Government to a fixed bank account.

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The workers have made known their intentions to strike should the money not be used for outstanding salaries and leave bonuses of workers.

“On the Paris club refund, we know that the money was paid into the account of the state government but we don’t know what has happened to the N20.9 billion.

“We got the information that the money had been paid three weeks ago and we confronted the state government. We were told that the money had been withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and we asked them to address the issue to douse the tension but the government refused.” the JNC chairman was quoted.

Nairametrics had reported that five Nigerian states would not receive the last tranche of Paris Club Refund. The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed made this known during a briefing with State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The states which comprise of Benue, Rivers, Imo, Osun and Akwa Ibom, according to Ahmed, would not receive the fund until they meet all conditionality set by the Federal Government.

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Controversies surrounding the refund

FEC had in September 2018 approved the release of N689 billion balance of the refund to states.

But this was vehemently opposed by workers, under the auspices of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), who appealed to the Federal Government to deny salary debtor states the release unless they commit to instant payment of all salary arrears and other outstanding emoluments.

State governors, however, continued to agitate for the release, saying it was needed to tie them over, particularly as they approach electioneering for the 2019 general elections.

Buhari, reportedly, met with the leadership of Labour, represented by NLC President Ayuba Wabba, and Governor Godwin Emefiele of the CBN, and agreed with them that the only states that were up to date would have the balance of their refund released to them.

However, states that still have salary backlog could only get the fund if they sign ironclad guarantees that the release would be used to clear the arrears of salaries and outstanding emoluments of workers.

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Earlier in September, the Federal Ministry of Finance had blacklisted salary debtors, state, insisting they could step forward for their balance if they cleared arrears of salary and commence the repayment of Budget Support Loans granted them in 2016.

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The other conditions it gave were, clearing amounts due to the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative as well as a commitment to clear matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), where some states have available funds, which could be used to improve primary education and learning outcomes.

The federal government had earlier released N766.54 billion in two tranches to the states. N522.74 was initially released in November 2016, followed by another N243 billion.

Buhari had based the release on the condition that a minimum of 75 percent of the fund would be applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions by states that owed workers.

Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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Economy & Politics

Lagos to shut down Marine Beach bridge for emergency repairs

The closure will allow the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out emergency repairs on the bridge, in line with the government’s vision of providing a better transportation system in the state.

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Lagos to shut down Marine Beach bridge for emergency repairs

Lagos state government has announced that the Apapa Marine Beach bridge will be closed for five months, from Wednesday 27th May, to Wednesday 21st October, 2020.

The closure will allow the Federal Ministry of Works to carry out emergency repairs on the bridge, in line with the government’s vision of providing a better transportation system in the state.

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In a statement from the Lagos state Ministry of Transportation, the Commissioner, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, noted that the repairs were long overdue, and necessary to ensure safety of Lagosians, given the number of motorists that use the route.

READ MORE: Nigerians knock Fashola over comments on “bad roads”  

The Commissioner noted that the repairs included bearing and expansion joint replacement and would be executed in two phases, taking one lane of the bridge at a time.

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The first phase will involve handling the lane inbound Apapa while the second phase will be designated to work on the lane that conveys vehicles outside the axis,” he said.

Alternative routes

Oladeinde noted that alternative routes around the bridge had been improved to make them motorable, and ease movements for road users.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo sets up committee on reopening of Nigerian economy, suspends loan deductions for states

To manage the construction period, the statement noted that Traffic Management Authorities would be hard at work to ameliorate the expected traffic issues and supervise other arrangements.

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“Motorists inwards Wharf road will be diverted to the other section of the bridge outwards Apapa, a contraflow of 200metres has been put in place for vehicles to realign with a proper direction inwards Ajegunle or Wharf road, Apapa, while Motorists descending to Total Gas under bridge will drive without any hindrance,” it read.

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The Commissioner called for the understanding and cooperation of motorists and road users during the period to ensure a smooth flow of plans.

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Economy & Politics

Fayemi set to activate digital economy with N5billion broadband infrastructure

Governor Fayemi plans to activate Ekiti state’s digital economy, this would help generate healthy competition within the ICT sector

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Fayemi set to activate digital economy with N5billion broadband infrastructure in Ekiti state

Ekiti state government has concluded plans to create a digital hub, with the laying of a 606-kilometer broadband infrastructure.

The project is expected to lift the state from 16% internet penetration to 90% and is estimated to be worth N5 billion, with the Federal Government contributing N1.1 billion of the total sum.

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This plan is part of the memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which the state Governor signed with O’odua Infraco Resources Limited, a consortium that develops high speed and efficient Fibre Optic Cable (FOC) Open Access Network (OAN) across the South-West region of Nigeria.

According to the Managing Director of O’odua Infraco Resources Limited, Mr Sammy Adigun, the project will be officially flagged off in October and completed within 14 months.

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(READ MORE: What Nigeria stands to gain from new National Broadband Plan)

This decision is a follow-up to the recent crash of Right of Way charges from N4,500 to N145 per meter for broadband infrastructure, and in line with one of the five pillars of Governor Kayode Fayemi’s development plan for Ekiti state.

The Governor noted that these decisions would help generate healthy competition within the ICT sector, thus activating Ekiti state’s digital economy and digital education.

Fayemi noted that the project execution, as well as the broadband policy in the state would be coordinated and supervised by a Digital Infrastructural Committee, made up of various relevant government institutions critical to the implementation of the project.

READ MORE: NCC, Infracos to boost broadband infrastructure with N265 billion 

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“For us the roadmap is first the fibre connectivity itself, the second is the adequate data center infrastructure, the third is the e-learning programme which will cover our educational institutions, then our safe city, our security programme will also be included.

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“With our geographical land information system (GIS), we would digitalize all our land records, and of course, commercial investment as well as digitalisation of our government assets and our health education initiative,” Fayemi explained.

 

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Economy & Politics

NCC reacts to claims that minister chased Diaspora Commission’s staff from office complex

The NCC denies claims of the video on social media, pointing out that the staffs of NIDCOM were not sent packing from the digital economy complex

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NCC orders immediate suspension of USSD charges by telcos, 5G Network to undergo 3 months trial before approval - NCC , NCC licenses 20 new Internet service providers amidst challenges , 150 million Nigerians risk being defrauded – NCC , NCC warns telcos against cyber fraudsters , NCC rolls out new regulations on drone use, NCC licenses 10 new VAS providers as it projects market to hit $500 million , NCC, Infracos set to develop broadband infrastructure with N265 billion raise , Telecommunications: Broadband penetration set to grow, Telecoms operators fined N2.9 billion over infractions , NCC reacts to claims that minister chased away diaspora commission staff from office complex

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reacted to claims by the Chief Executive of Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that her staff members were chased out of its premises by armed men on the orders of the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.

The NCC, through a press statement on May 24, 2020 signed by its Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, has said that nothing of such happened as it denied claims in a video making rounds on social media that the staff of NIDCOM were sent packing from the digital economy complex.

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According to the press statement from NCC:

Following the completion of the NCC building at Mbora, Abuja designated as NCC Annex and the acute shortage of accommodation space for the staff of the commission in the NCC head office at Maitama, Abuja, the Board of the commission directed the decongestion of the Head office building. Some of the departments of the NCC had started moving to the new office complex of 5 floors when discussions were held between the NCC and the Diaspora Commission to enable the Diaspora Commission also utilize any free offices within the complex.

“The fifth floor allocated to them had to be used to accommodate other departments from the NCC headquarters to ease the congestion. NCC’s offer to house the Nigeria Diaspora Commission was predicated on the long held position of the NCC that agencies of government will achieve more through strategic collaboration, partnership, synergy and sharing to the extent allowed by relevant laws.”

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(READ MORE: PenCom dissolves interim management committee for First Guarantee Pension, appoints new board)

NCC disclosed that it had secured approval for the commissioning of the office complex by President Buhari, and also the launching of 4 important projects of NCC, together with the renamed Ministry of Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.

It also stated that the offer to NIDCOM had not been withdrawn, but had only hit a bump arising from the preparation for the visit of President Buhari to launch the projects and inaugurate the complex. It said that the Board and Management of NCC took a decision to ensure that every activity in the building was in line with the Federal Government’s agenda.

Going further, the statement reads:

“Incidentally, after the offer of the office spaces to the Diaspora Commission, the Director General, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa had not visited the complex to take possession of any of the offices and also the commission had not started using any of these spaces as offices.

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‘’As is usual in ensuring security and accountability before, during and after presidential visits, the building had to be cleared to allow for only known and identifiable persons to have access within the complex. Therefore, the Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami could not have sent armed men to drive the staff of the Diaspora Commission out of the Communication Economy Complex.”

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The statement also pointed out that as at that time, only NCC staff were accredited to have access within the premises and that all properties belonging to NIDCOM were safely warehoused in some of the offices within the complex.

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