The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, faulted President Tinubu’s plans, saying it runs contrary to the works of the Presidential Technical Committee on the removal of Subsidy.
NLC and TUC argue that it is not only undemocratic but shows that the President is merely setting up the committee as a window dressing for whatever purposes he has set out for himself, stating, “Any palliative payment must be in line with the agreement reached with labour in line with the technical committee meeting.”
Though the President and General Secretary of NLC, Joe Ajaero, and Emma Ugboaja, could not be reached, a senior officer of NLC who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “The issue is whether the President has trust and confidence in the Steering Committee set up or not. If he has a budget already, it means that he already has activities he has planned on his own. If he has that, what is the need of the Committees? The action of the President has actually undermined the credibility of his own Committee
“We believe that it is not only undemocratic but shows that the President is merely setting up the committee as a window dressing for whatever purposes he has set out for himself.
When you also look at what he has planned, to give N8,000 to households for six months which approximates to N48, 000, you ask yourself, can N48,000 address the millions of suffering the government has already inflicted on the poor? Will it make any significant impact in addressing the consequences already being faced by Nigerians? Will the suffering suddenly end after six months?”
On his part, the President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Festus Osifo, who also doubles as President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, simply said “Any palliative payment must be in line with the agreement reached with labour in line with the technical committee meeting.”
Corroborating, the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ASCSN, and TUC’s Deputy President, Dr Tommy Okon, said, “As far as I am concerned it is economic waste. What is N8,000 monthly to 12 million Nigerian households with this hyperinflation and socio-economic challenges?
“How did the government or the president determine those who are to benefit from the data deficit in Nigeria? I think the government should stop this ad-hoc and unsustainable programme.
“What form of poverty alleviation policy implementation strategy is this? Is it not proper to allow the Presidential Committee on Removal of oil Subsidy to conclude its assignment and arrive at a collective agreement with organized labour before embarking on any palliative care distributions? What the government is doing could amount to doing exactly what the previous administration did that yielded no positive impact on the economy and the citizens.
NASU’s raises concerns
Similarly, General Secretary of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, Prince Peters Adeyemi, said “Any effort geared towards the alleviation of the present hardship Nigerians are going through as a result of the President removal of subsidy and the harmonization of the exchange rate markets should be supported.
“However we need to know the criteria to be used in determining those that will benefit from the programme. We hope that this will not be another avenue for a few individuals to divert such money to their private pockets.”
Framework must be inclusive and transparent – CPPE
Also commenting, Director/CEO, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, said although vulnerable segments of the society deserve palliates, the framework must be inclusive and transparent.
He stated: “The vulnerable segments of the society deserve palliatives to mitigate the pains of recent reforms, especially the surging inflation. But the palliatives framework must be inclusive and transparent.
“We would additionally want to see concessions in taxation and import duties focusing on moderating food prices, energy costs, and transportation costs. Palliatives must go beyond cash transfers. There are serious limitations with regard to data integrity.”
N8,000 per month is an insult on Nigerians — Maritime group
THE Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria, MAAN, stated that the move by the Federal Government to pay 12million poor households N8,000 per household monthly is a far cry from the economic realities adding, “It is an insult on Nigerians.”
Speaking to Vanguard on the decision, Vice President of the association, Ms Jean Anishere Chiazor, said that the President has been ill-advised as that amount of money cannot feed a child in one month, talk less a family.
He stated: “N8,000 for 12million households; who identified the poor households; what yardsticks; who is a poor family; what are the requirements to qualify as a poor family entitled to N8,000.
“How much is N8,000 in Pounds or Dollars; What will N8,000 buy in a day for feeding. Start with Garri for the poor, one Olodo is N3,500, that cannot feed a family for a week if they eat Eba every other day. One Olodo of rice, equivalent to a paint bucket is N4,800 if not more because the price is always going up. So that comes to almost N8,000.’’
What can N8,000 do for a family of 4 in a month? —Prof Uwaleke
Reacting to the FG’s palliative, President, Association of Capital Market Academics of Nigeria, ACMAN, Prof Uche Uwaleke, said: “This is rather a sub-optimal option. The government should look in the direction of non-cash palliatives.
“With the current galloping inflation rate (official figures are understated), what can N8,000 do for a family of four in a month? And this is meant for only 12 million families (about 48 million persons, that is, assuming they are adequately targeted and the National Social Register is clean and updated) in a country of over 200 million people.
“The President is equally seeking approval of 800 million US dollars soft loan from the World Bank as part of funds to cushion the impact of the fuel subsidy removal. If we add this N500 billion to the N600 billion (assuming I & E average rate of N750 applied to the World Bank’s facility), that should give N1.1 trillion.
“Consistent with the principle of maximum social benefit in public expenditure, one way, in my view, to ensure this money reaches the grassroots is to divide it by 774 local government areas (LGA) in Nigeria, which translates to about N1.4 billion per local government, and transfer this sum to each Local government.’’
It’s a ploy to settle party members – Adonri
Commenting, David Adonri, Executive Vice Chairman, HIGHCAP Securities Limited, said: “N8,000 monthly as palliative to 12 million out of 130 million very poor Nigerians is immaterial. The policy is economically unwise and I suspect it’s a ploy to settle party members at the grassroot.
“FGN is in financial deficit and needs money desperately to exit its debt trap. This cash transfer is a sign of financial irresponsibility and lack of seriousness.”
No database to identify beneficiaries – Anchor Insurance boss
Reacting to the development, Deputy Managing Director, Technical of Anchor Insurance Plc, Mr. Adebisi Ikuomola inquired how government intends to go about distributing the money.
He said: “How will this money get to the poor Nigerians? Which data is used in fishing out these poor Nigerians?
“To be honest, the real poor Nigerians do not have bank accounts. That takes us back to the first question. Is this a way of adding funds to the elites? I strongly believe in investing that money in human and infrastructural development. I think that will make sure that the poor benefit from it.
“What database do we have of the poor? Who are the poor families identified? What can N8,000 do in battle against hardship presently experienced?”
Channel money to job creation, Nigerians are not lazy – Rights activist
Human rights activist, under the aegis of Ambassador for Peace and Enlightenment Foundation, Prince Saviour Iche, yesterday, said that Nigerians are not lazy people who rely on money palliative to survive but that jobs should be provided with enabling environment for them to earn a living.
Speaking to Vanguard on FG’s decision on subsidy removal palliative, he requested that government should disclose the criteria for selecting 12 million as poor households in a country of over 200 million people.
His words: “The federal government proposal of N8,000 monthly pay to 12 million Nigerian poor households is not feasible. Nigeria is more than 200 million, the question is how would they get these 12 million poor households and what can N8,000 do for these people whom the government claim are poor?
“In Alimosho where I stay, we have more than 10 million people who are poor. The government thinks that Nigerians are fools, it is under the same APC administration under Muhammadu Buhari that Minister of Humanitarian Affairs claimed that they spent billions to feed Nigerian children during the lockdown. The same Buhari administration was giving N500 billion every month to poor Nigerians by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN governor, that money never got to anybody.
“This is just one of their many strategies, this government should go to the market with that N8,000 and see how expensive food items have become in today’s Nigeria. A pet bottle of soft drink is about N200; a paint bucket of garri is about N2,000 and rice is between N2,500 and N3,000. So what do they want to do for poor Nigerian with N8,000?’’
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”