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Subsidy Removal: FG Targets 2-Pronged Relief For Workers




The Federal Government is leaning towards tackling the hardship caused by the removal of fuel subsidy with a twin agenda.

This, according to Vanguard and Empowered Newswire sources, includes the provision of palliatives to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy and N200,000 minimum wage put forward by labour.

Vanguard learned that this might set labour and organised private sector on a collision course with the Federal Government, as their processes at arriving at minimum wage, which the government is not following at the moment.

It was also learned that the absence of a Labour Minister to drive the negotiation process might further compound the issue.

It will be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, demanded this figure, against the current N30,000 minimum wage, which they described as too meagre to mitigate effects of fuel subsidy removal.

President and Secretary General of TUC, Festus Osifo and Nuhu Toro, respectively, had put forward labour’s demand: “Minimum wage should be increased from the current N30,000 to N200,000 before the end of June 2023, with consequential adjustments on the cost of living allowance, COLA, like feeding, transport, housing, etc.

“A representative of state governors will be party to this communiqué and all the governors must commit to implement the new minimum wage.

“Tax holiday for employees both in government and private sector that earn less than N200,000 or $500 monthly, whichever is higher. PMS allowance to be introduced for those earning between N200,000 and N500,000 or $500 to $1,200, whichever is higher.

“The exchange rate for retailing PMS in the country must be kept within a limit of two per cent for the next 10 years where the fluctuation is more than two per cent, the minimum wage will automatically increase at the same rate.

“Setting up of intervention fund where the government will be paying N10 per litre on all locally consumed PMS. The primary purpose of this fund is to solve perennial and protracted national issues in education, health and housing. A governance structure that will include labour, civil society and government will be put in place to manage the implementation.’’

‘FG disposed to N200,000 minimum wage’

But Vanguard gathered that though the Federal Government was disposed to paying the N200,000 minimum wage, governors have restated their inability to pay, as it happened when minimum wage was raised to N30,000 some years ago.

Consequently, it was learned that the government has set up a technical working group, led by Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo, to work out the techical details, with a view to resolving the issues.

A source told Vanguard last night that the matter was tabled and discussed at last month’s National Economic Council, NEC, meeting, led by the Vice President Kashim Shettima.

At the meeting, the source said the Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission assured that government could meet up with the responsibility of paying the N200,000 minimum, per month, citing money that could be saved from subsidy removal and the floating of the value of the naira.

The commission reportedly explained that with money to be saved from these policies, more money would be allocated to states to enable them pay the new wage.

But at the meeting, the state governors who make up the membership of NEC were said to have raised questions querying the proposal, insisting they might not be able to pay.

The source added that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was personally convinced that the demand of Labour was not unrealistic, pointing to his campaign promises as a proof of his readiness to pay.

Also recall that before his swearing-in on May 29, the President had on Workers Day on May 1 stated that: “In the Nigeria, I shall have the honour and privilege to lead from May 29, workers will have more than a minimum wage. You will have a living wage to have a decent life and provide for your families.”

It was learned this explained the reason the President was unperturbed when labour demanded the N200,000 minimum wage.

‘Need to know where money for this is coming from’
eading the governors at the meeting was Anambra State governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, who was said to have argued that before adopting the presentation to significantly raise the National Minimum Wage, it would be important for NEC to first understand where the money would come from, how much would come and what states would get.

This, according to a source, necessitated the explanation of the national salaries, income and wages commission.

It was also gathered that at the June NEC meeting, a sub-committee was formed to review the situation as was publicly announced.

The committee comprised governors, led by Kebbi State governor and six others representing the geo-political zones of the country.

According to a source, they include Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo (South East); Bwenue State Governor Rev Fr Hycinth Alia (North Central); Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed (North East); Cross Rivers State Governor, Bassey Otu (South-South); Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani (North-West) and Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (South-West).

In the Sub-Committee are the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, the Accountant-General of the Federation, and the representative of NNPCL.

Others include representatives from Organised Labour (TUC and NLC) and Ms Rukayyat El-Rufai,
according to a statement from the Office of the Vice President.

It was learned that the responsibility of Soludo’s technical working group, was to interrogate issues around a new minimum wage, with the understanding that both the federal and state governments would pay the new minimu wage.

Under Soludo’s leadership the TWG has met at least thrice last month — 24th, 27th and 30th; and it resolved that “negotiations with labour must be two-tracked between the federation on the one hand and the Federal Government on the other.

Vanguard gathered that later this month, NEC will meet to receive the report of the sub-committee and take a final decision on the National Minimum Wage which would then be forwarded to the President as an advisory.

Minimum wage to be reviewed in 2024

However, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Joe Ajaero, had at the recent 111th Session of International Labour Conference, ILC, in Geneva Switzerland, said what the Federal Government is working on does not amount to minimum wage, stressing that it is just an award, similar to the Udoji award of the 70s.

Ajaero had said: “Minimum wage will be due by early next year. And we will review minimum wage statutorily. Because they have removed subsidy without providing anything in the agreement we had with the government, that is why they are talking about minimum wage.

‘’Now, the Federal and state governments are talking at cross purposes. It is important that people understand the concept when they use minimum wage wrongly or rightly. We have proposed to them a wage award, which could be implemented immediately without waiting for the statutory period for the minimum wage law or for it to expire.

“What we are going to do is to look at the rate at which this wage award will be, whether it will be N100,000 or N200,000. This will not stop the review of minimum wage by early next year. It is good we draw this demarcation.

“There is wage award and there is minimum wage. Even early this year, the Federal Government paid some of its workers such money. They gave them a kind of wage award of about 40 per cent that has nothing to do with minimum wage. But it was to cushion the effects of the suffering effects of COVID-19 and others.

“Now that we are having the effect of this subsidy removal, we will look at an award that will cushion it. In this country, even in the 70s, we had the Udoji Award and others. Whatever we are going to come up with we will achieve, but not minimum wage.

“Why will you engage in minimum wage negotiations now because they remove subsidy. The ruling class, especially state governors, have not abided with the Minimum Wage Act and have not been able to convince anybody why they are not paying N30, 000 minimum wage.

“They are the people who are pronouncing the salary increase.

“For somebody that is still paying N18,000 when minimum wage is N30, 000, if you increase it to N100,000, what will he pay? Some of them are trying to prove that they don’t have any idea about the economy of the state. They are now saying there will be three working days and so on as a temporary measure.’’

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China Reaffirms Commitment To Nigeria, Renovates Ogun School



The Chinese Consul-General, Lagos, Yan Yuqing, has reiterated the commitment of the People’s Republic of China towards assisting Nigerian government to develop its education sector.

The Chinese Consul-General disclosed this during the commissioning of renovated China-Nigeria Friendship Model Primary School, Igbesa in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State.

Yuqing said China is quite convinced that education is the foundation of national development and a weapon to fight poverty.

He said China is always willing to partner with her host country to make meaningful investment in the critical sector

The projects sponsored by the Chinese Consulate and Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone included a block of classrooms, cafeteria, as well as donation of educational materials to the pupils of the school.

Yuqing said, “Chinese admire that education is the foundation of national development in the long run and strong weapon to fight poverty. All modern countries in the world do not fail to attach importance to education. As the largest developing country in the world, China has made remarkable achievements in all aspects of social development.

“These achievements are inseparable from our unswerving implementation of the strategy of invigorating China through science and education. And we always place education in a strategic position of priority development. We will continue to support Nigeria’s education system in all areas”.

She added, “Eleven years ago, the construction of this school began. Since then, this school has become a bridge of friendship and understanding between Nigeria and China and it has witnessed sincere friendship from China.

“Today, you can see here, the classrooms are more spacious, the campus is more beautiful, and the facilities are more complete. I hope that all the children will study harder in these improved classrooms and strive towards achieving their goals as soon as possible”.

While advising the pupils, the Consul-General said, “Children education is related to the future of a country; now you are the future of Nigeria. Work hard and fight for a better tomorrow for the prosperity of Nigeria.”

The Deputy-General, China-Africa Investment, Kevin Liu, said the China-Nigeria Model School stands for knowledge, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding, saying, “These values promote global peace and cooperation and we are committed to maintaining this standard for generations to come”.

Governor Dapo Abiodun, who was represented by a Commissioner-designate,Mr. Sesan Fagbayi, disclosed that the project would no doubt further foster smooth bilateral relationship with the Chinese government.

Abiodun has however appealed to the residents of Igbesa to continue to cooperate with the Chinese investors for peace and friendly environment in order for their businesses to thrive.

The Oloja-Ekun of Igbesaland, Oba Oluwatoyin Akinde, represented by Otunba Ade Durojaiye, lauded the Chinese Consulate and Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone for the project pleading for more support in developing the town.

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Fresh Strike Looms As NLC’s Ultimatum Expires Today



AS the ultimatum by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to the Federal Government to address the mass suffering and pains occasioned by the removal of subsidy on petrol expires today, the leadership of the Congress will meet next week to decide when to begin an indefinite nationwide strike.

But Vanguard gathered that the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, has been meeting with some members of the government team on how to avert the strike.

It was also gathered that the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, alongside the Vice President, are putting together a package, including wage awards, to be presented to the NLC leadership.

It will be recalled that NLC had between Tuesday, September 5 and Wednesday 6 embarked on a two-day nationwide warning strike to protest, among others, perceived government insensitivity to plights and sufferings of Nigerians, especially workers, following the subsidy removal.

Ahead of the warning strike, the National Executive Council, NEC, of NLC had issued within 14 working days or 21 days from September 1, 2023, an ultimatum for the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country, threatening an indefinite strike if government failed to address its demands.

As the 21-day ultimatum expires today, Vanguard learned that critical organs of NLC will be meeting next week to decide on the indefinite strike and modalities if nothing concrete was done to lessen the suffering and hardship of Nigerians.

A source said: “The issue is conventional, when an ultimatum expires, you call your organs and the organs will decide when to commence the strike. If we ever decide to say we would take one day or few days or one week to prepare for it, that would be their position.”

Pressed to be more categorical on whether the strike would commence immediately, one of the sources privy to the NLC meetings simply said “Nothing is impossible.”

‘Meeting to hold on a date for the strike to begin’

Another source told Vanguard that the “last NEC held on September 1, 2023, has actually given the leadership of NLC, especially members of the National Administrative Council, NAC, the go-ahead to meet, fix a date for the commencement of the indefinite strike and communicate to the state councils and industrial union affiliates.

“I can tell you that the leadership will meet next week and fix a date for the strike. However, if NAC members are convinced that the government has addressed our demands to an appreciable level, in such a case, the leadership will still call the organs to brief them of the development.”

‘Govt team working to avert strike’

The source, however, said available information revealed that the government team is working seriously to avert another round of industrial unrest by NLC.

He said further that both the minister of finance, and the vice president, who is standing in for the President who is attending the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, Summit in New York were considering some figures.

“So they know the seriousness of the planned action and some of them are speaking out boldly that they are not afraid because of the package they have for workers.

“Available information is that the government will soon announce what it has. They are really making efforts and again the President is not in the country.

“What we don’t know is whether what they have will be enough for NLC to consider or not. In the past two to three days, the vice president has been meeting with some of the government team to come up with something. “

The source made it clear that the NLC leadership had said it would not be part of any meeting if there were no tangible packages for workers.

Attempt to get a reaction from the Presidency did not yield any results as the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, is out of the country.

The presidential spokesman is with the President in New York for the UNGA summit.

Recall that while briefing last Friday, after its NEC’s meeting, NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said: “NEC-in-session of NLC resolved to embark on a total and indefinite shutdown of the nation within 14 working days or 21 days from today until steps are taken by the government to address the excruciating mass suffering and the impoverishment experienced around the country.

“To commence a two-day warning strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, 5th and 6th September 2023 to demonstrate our readiness for the indefinite strike later in the month and to also demand that the state vacates the illegally occupied national headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. “

The NLC also resolved to embark on a mass protest and rally in Imo State within September, and equally raised the alarm over what it described as a renewed onslaught by the government and its agents on labour unions.

Ajaero explained that the proposed strike was necessitated by the government’s deliberate neglect and disregard to engage the relevant stakeholders through the channel of social dialogue.

He said the Federal Government had refused to engage and reach an agreement with organized labour on critical issues on the consequences of the unfortunate hike in prices of petrol which had unleashed massive suffering on Nigerian workers and masses.

Ajaero said: “There is a renewed onslaught against trade unions and its leadership by the state and its agents across Nigeria.

‘’The Police, under the instruction of certain forces peddling the name of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, invaded and occupied illegally the national headquarters of the National Union of Road Transport Workers headquarters seeking to install its own executive.”


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Kogi Declares Free Education In Primary, Secondary Schools; Commences Distribution Of Palliative



The Kogi government on Thursday declared free education for indigenes at primary and secondary school levels.

Governor Yahaya Bello made the declaration in Lokoja when he inaugurated the distribution of the federal government’s palliatives to cushion the effects of subsidy removal.

“My administration has now declared free education from primary to secondary school in the state and will cover examination fees for WAEC, NECO, and JAMB for all indigenes of Kogi,” he declared.

Mr Bello, who commended the federal government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of fuel subsidy removal on citizens, said the palliatives, which were valued well in excess of N2 billion,  would reach intended beneficiaries regardless of political, religious, or ethnic affiliations.

He extended his gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for the idea.

“Already, all the local government areas of the state have commenced the distribution of rice and other essential items.

“Therefore, this launch is essentially an extension of our ongoing efforts to cushion the impact of the current policy on our citizens.

“We are not only distributing rice but also making cash available to reach the people. The total value of what we are launching for distribution today exceeds N2 billion, and it is intended to reach every household in Kogi,” he stated.

He emphasised that those responsible for the distribution must not discriminate, warning that any report of bias or favoritism, or hoarding would be dealt with accordingly.

The governor, who called on security agencies to ensure a peaceful and smooth distribution process, assured the people that more initiatives to alleviate hardship were in place.

He commended the state’s people for their support for Mr Tinubu’s administration and the New Direction administration in Kogi, which had prioritised the welfare of residents.

While mentioning the various infrastructure developments that had taken place across the state, Mr Bello expressed confidence that the governorship candidate of the APC, Usman Ododo, when elected as his successor, would continue to build on the current achievements. 


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