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Subsidy Removal: Nigeria On Brink Of Collapse — Catholic Bishops




The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, yesterday raised the alarm that the removal of fuel subsidy without cushioning the effects has put the country on the brink of collapse.

The bishops’ alarm came as Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, pleaded with the Federal Government to urgently address the pains of the people arising from the removal of subsidy on petrol.

However, efforts made to get the reaction of the Special Adviser to the President on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Mr Dele Alake, did not yield any results, as he neither responded to a text message sent to his phone nor picked up his calls.

But the President of CBCN, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, raised the alarm in a homily delivered at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral, during the reception of the Supreme Subordinate President of the Knights of St. John International, Prof. Remy Uche, in Owerri, weekend, said Nigeria might be heading for the precipice if nothing urgent is done to effectively check the current economic crisis facing the nation and its citizens

He said: “The suffering in the land has over the years been galloping uncontrollably. Our growing economic crisis became exacerbated with the recent withdrawal of petrol subsidy by the Federal Government. Indeed, Nigeria is on the brink of collapse.

“Government has not ceased to inundate citizens with it’s fabled palliative measures to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal. I am sure those running the nation’s affairs at all levels know that palliative measures can never be a cure for any economic or health challenge.

“If Nigerians are given food items as palliatives, we will definitely go hungry again, after consuming the food. So, I ask: Why waste resources on palliative measures, instead of attacking the problems frontally?

“Provision of a constant source of energy remains the driving force in all developing and developed economies. Why is ours different? Why should we not subsidize fuel?

“We have severally been told that some people have been enriching themselves from our commonwealth through petrol subsidy. For many patriotic citizens, this argument does not hold water.

“Why has the government failed, is unwilling or incapable of identifying the supposed culprits and bringing them to account for their sordid act?

“There is a lot of deceit and corruption in the land. How can anybody explain why and how the former administration hurriedly commissioned the Dangote refinery, which is yet to start production? So, why the haste in commissioning an unfinished project?

“There is also the fabled story of the supposed Nigerian airline and how an aeroplane was hired or borrowed to flag off its operation. Where is the airline today? Has anyone been asked to account for the act? This is not a good national testimonial.

“The root of Nigeria’s problem is massive corruption. For Nigeria to survive, we must collectively fight corruption, whichever way it rears its ugly head.

“Government must be told that we cannot afford the luxury of punishing the entire populace, because of the corrupt tendencies of a few. This is not fair to all concerned.”

Address workers, Nigerians’ pains, NECA urges FG

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, has warned that any strike or mass protest in the face of the hardship and suffering in the country could potentially cause a breakdown of law and order with attendant risks for businesses and the nation as a whole.

The umbrella body for employers and voice of businesses in the country urged the government to urgently take immediate steps to ameliorate the economic trauma being faced by workers, Nigerians and organized businesses.
In a statement by its Director-General, Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, NECA argued that any disruption of businesses in the form of a strike or mass protest will exacerbate the current unemployment rate and drag many further down the poverty line.

Oyerinde recalled that businesses in the formal and informal sectors lost over N5 trillion due to the crass vandalism by unscrupulous elements who hijacked the purposeful #EndSARS protest in 2020.

“Any strike, the threat of mass action or civil disobedience that could potentially disrupt economic activities or businesses, especially those in the formal and informal sectors which could compromise sustainability and job creation, based on economic policies of the government which are non-employment related, will be counter-productive.

‘’While organized labour is at liberty to engage with government on behalf of its members on issues of welfare as they relate to the impacts of any economic policy, sometimes deadlock may hold sway. When that happens, the consequential action by organized labour should not, in any way, hinder anyone from going about their businesses peacefully or cause anyone to be intimidated or harassed.

‘Importance of dialogue’

“We re-emphasise the importance of social dialogue, a potent instrument of the International Labour Organization, ILO, and a globally accepted mechanism for dispute resolution.

‘’While it should be noted that various ILO Conventions, recommendations, international treaties and local legislations guarantee certain rights and privileges to social partners, a call for mass action or civil disobedience is certainly not one of them.

“We urge the government to, as a matter of urgency, take immediate steps to ameliorate the economic trauma being faced by workers, Nigerians and organized businesses. It is no gainsaying that many businesses are shut down and many others are on the verge of closing down, which will exacerbate the current unemployment rate and drag many further down the poverty line.

“We strongly request that a coordinated implementation of the various pro-growth and other palliative schemes should commence, without further delay, at the federal level to complement the efforts of some state governments and organized businesses.

“The need for transparent communication and the building of national consensus at this difficult time cannot be over-emphasized.

“Recent events that portend serious danger for the survival of sustainable enterprises, decent work, national development and our industrial relations system as a whole necessitated this urgent call.

‘’The parlous state of the economy and the recent mobilization for strike and civil action by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, is not only worrisome but also calls for urgent action by government and other stakeholders.

“Freedom of association is a fundamental and structural characteristic of the International Labour Organisation, ILO. In fact, without employers and workers, organizations that are autonomous, representative and endowed with the necessary rights that guarantee the defence of the rights of their members, and the advancement of their common welfare, the principle of tripartism would be impaired and chances for greater social justice would be seriously prejudiced.

“However, the rights enjoyed by social partners are premised on the basic understanding and respect for the social and economic rights of others.

“The complex employment inter-relationship between successive Nigerian governments, organized labour (NLC/TUC), and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, NECA, has been challenging, especially between government and organized labour.

“The goal of the interrelations to facilitate sustainable enterprise, decent work and economic growth and assist all parties to achieve their objectives, is menaced by incessant conflicts and numerous threats of strikes.

“While industrial conflict is inherently built into these inter-relationships, there are credible institutions, legislations, regulations and guidelines in place to arrest it and ensure sanity within the context of the labour and employment ecosystem.

“In view of the recent call by the NLC for strike and mass action, and the urgent need to protect the objectives of sustainable enterprise, decent work and national development, it is our candid view that social partners must respect the established institutions created to adjudicate and arbitrate labour matters in the country.

‘These institutions include but are not limited to the National Industrial Court, NIC; the Industrial Arbitration Panel, IAP, etc. Neglecting these institutions could potentially compromise our labour and industrial relations system and framework, with grave consequences for the economy.

“It is important for social partners to deference their jurisdictional and operational limits. A call for ‘strike and mass action’ by any social partner at this difficult time, in furtherance of the achievement of its objectives, could potentially cause a breakdown of law and order, with attendant risk for organized businesses and the nation as a whole.”

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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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