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NLC, TUC suspends nationwide strike; reach agreement with FG

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The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress in the early hours of Monday called off the planned nationwide protest and strike following an agreement with the Federal Government.

The decision to suspend the strike came in after an eight hour meeting with the Federal Government on Sunday night.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige broke the news to reporters at the end of a marathon meeting, which commenced at 8:30pm on Sunday and ended in the early hours of Monday.

In a communique, the meeting agreed to set up a Technical sub – Committee to look at the increase in electricity tariff.

The committee was given two week to submit its report.

Ngige; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Minjster of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Power, Jeddy-Goddy Agba; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha signed on behalf of the federal government.

While NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; TUC President, Quadri Olaleye; Secretary-General of TUC, Musa Ozigi-Lawal; NLC Secretary-General, Emma Ugboaja; NUPENG President, Williams Akporeha; PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo; President NUEE, Martin Uzoegwu and President, SSAEAC, Chris Okonkwo signed on behalf of Organised Labour.

The meeting also agreed that the Power Distribution Companies should suspend the application of the cost – reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.

The meeting also agreed to revive the moribund National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) and be inaugurated before the end of 2020 to institutionalise the process of tripartism and socio dialogue on socio – economic and major labour matters to forestall crisis.

The Federal Government agreed to make available to Organised Labour 133 CNG/liquified petroleum gas (LPG) driven mass transit buses immediately to major cities across the country.

The communique reads: “To cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the Federal Government will implement the following:

“A specific amount to be unveiled by the FGN in two weeks’ time will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.

“Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

“Federal Government will make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the Country on a scale up basis thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.

“Housing: 10% be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.

“Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action.”

The meeting also agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.

“To address (1) above, NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50% completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.

“To ensure Commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

“A validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the Steering Committee periodically.

“Post rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the Nation’s refineries.

“The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.

“NNPC to expedite work on the Build Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of Petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.

“The Federal Government and its agencies to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” the communique added.

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Video: Senator Teslim Folarin house invaded, motorbikes, grinding machines, other empowerment materials carted away

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Senator Teslim Folarin’s house was on Saturday invaded by hoodlums.

Folarin is the lawmaker representing Oyo Central Senatorial district

According to reports, the hoodlums carted away with several brand new motorbikes.

They also carted away other new items, like freezers, grinding machines and other valuables.

The looting of the lawmaker’s home is coming on the heels of the looting of the home of various government officials and private businesses by hoodlums in various parts of the country.

At the time of writing this report, the lawmaker, who is said to be out of the country, was yet to react to the occurrence.

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Palliatives looted by hoodlums not owned by Oyo govt, say Commissioner, Gov’s Media Aide

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…’state to proceed with 5th round of palliatives distribution’

…as CACOVID rice supplier clears air, counts losses

The Government of Oyo State has denied ownership of palliatives looted by hoodlums in the early hours of Friday, October 23, 2020, at a warehouse located in Akobo area of Ibadan, the state capital.

The state government maintained that the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde would never short-change the people, urging members of the public to discountenance the allegations and misinformation being spread on social media.

The state’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters and chairman of the Food Security and Palliative Committee of the Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, Chief Bayo Lawal, stated these at the weekend, adding that the state is set to proceed with the fifth round of palliative distribution, which he noted was slowed down as a result of the nationwide protests.

A statement by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, quoted Lawal as explaining that the bags of rice looted at the private warehouse in Ibadan were not the property of Oyo State.

He said that Oyo State was not supplied rice as part of the palliatives from CACOVID and that it did not distribute rice as part of the palliatives distributed to the people so far.

Adisa, in the statement, explained that some hoodlums had mistaken a private warehouse belonging to a company that operates in Ibadan, as belonging to the state government and had attacked the property and carted away bags or rice, which they erroneously thought were being hoarded by the government.

He said: “One, investigations at the moment eventually reveal that there was nothing that concerns the Oyo State government in that warehouse. 

“Two, the warehouse belongs to a private individual who operates in Oyo State and was given a valid contract by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a coalition of private organizations that have been helping states and the federal government to fight COVID-19, to supply them to a certain number of states. 

“So, it was the rice that he procured on his own for repackaging that was mistaken to be Oyo State’s, that hoodlums looted.”

In his own explanations, the Commissioner stated that the state government could not hoard what it did not have, explaining that CACOVID only supported the state with cash, medical items and food items including Indomie and Spaghetti.

According to Lawal, the looted palliatives at the private warehouse, which consist of mainly packaged rice, did not belong to Oyo State, adding that the remaining items meant for the next round of palliatives in the state are stored at government’s designated warehouses.

He said that none of the state’s food items is stored outside the Secretariat.

He said: “It was really a big shock earlier this morning [Friday morning] when I started receiving calls alleging that food items meant for distribution to the masses were being hoarded. But when I enquired further, I was told that the bags of rice were looted in one of our warehouses in Ibadan, in Lagelu Local Government, to be precise. But I said it was not possible, because we don’t even have any warehouse outside the secretariat. 

“All the palliatives given to us were stored in our warehouses within the secretariat, not outside. Whatever is being circulated that Oyo State was hoarding CACOVID-donated rice is wrong and baseless allegation. Though the Coalition wrote and promised to give us 62 trailer loads of rice, up till today, 23rd of October, 2020, we have not taken delivery of a single bag of rice from them. We discussed it at a recent exco meeting and the Oyo State Governor is aware of this too. So, we don’t maintain any warehouse outside the secretariat.

“We want the public to know that though CACOVID gave us indomie, spaghetti, there was nothing like rice. We are still expecting their rice up till today. 

“The rice, which was looted, belonged to a private company that happens to be a CACOVID vendor for other states. The supply comes from various vendors just like our indomie came from Lagos and the supplier also is from Lagos. There are other items too. Some even came from Edo State. So, I am not surprised that we have some of their vendors here too, but the bags of rice were meant for other states, not Oyo State.

“So, the public should be aware that the allegations and all the information being circulated about the state on the internet are not correct. We have the interest of our people at heart and we even used our own money. If we can use our money to ensure that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people got palliatives from their government, why should we deprive them if there is any donation from any organization? Why should we deprive them of the benefit of enjoying it?

“We are law-abiding citizens. We did not even buy rice. Among the items we gave out, the Oyo State Government did not give rice. All that we packaged were garri, yam-flour, beans, things we produce locally. We did not buy rice at all. So, if we did not buy rice and CACOVID that has been helping did not supply us rice, where is the rice now coming from? 

“This misinformation about the Oyo State Government hoarding rice is the work of the opposition to damage the reputation of the government. They are the ones spreading the rumour that the Oyo State Government is hoarding rice. You can’t hoard what you don’t process.”

Earlier,  the CACOVID vendor whose warehouse was vandalised, Mr. Alabi Femi Adeoye,  decried the untoward situation, stating that the looted rice at the warehouse were meant to be supplied to Abia, Cross-Rivers, Plateau and Taraba states.

He said that his company, which has been operating in Oyo State in the past five years, lost millions of Naira to the attack.

“Oyo State Government was not part of the states we were asked to supply by CACOVID,” he said, explaining how the looters swooped on his warehouse, vandalised it and carted away the food items especially the 1,850 bags of rice he procured.

He said: “On 30th of September, they(CACOVID) contacted us if we could handle the supply of rice for them. We have an interest in farming. We are farmers and we have a good network with every state. We told them we could handle it, which we were able to get the purchase order. 

“After that, we instructed our team to manage it from Ibadan, simply because we believe we can also generate revenue in Ibadan and create more jobs. We have farms in Ibadan and it has been profitable for us. And we have been able to employ a good number of the indigenes to manage our farms for us. So, these are the reasons why they gave us the job.

“Last week, we commenced this job to supply but, to my surprise, Ibadan was not captured as part of the states we should supply. We were asked to supply Abia, Cross-Rivers, Plateau and Taraba States. Other agents were given different states. I am sure one of the farmers was given Oyo State. So, we were asked to bring our rice from Kebbi and a part of Niger State. 

“We have been operating in Ibadan for quite some time. We have two warehouses in Ibadan; there is one on Iwo Road and the other is at Lagelu, which we have been managing for like five years. We have never witnessed an invasion like this because we have been so good to the community. Recently, we tried to construct about 500metres of road for them. So, I was surprised to see this kind of attack.

“But our facility was vandalized and food items worth millions of Naira were carted away. This is not a big concern to us, though we believe that these food items are meant for Nigerians but we were unable to get them to the appropriate quarters. However, property that was vandalized was worth millions of naira.”

He thanked men of the ‘Operation Burst,’ whose intervention, he said, helped to stop the total destruction of his company.

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Unemployment: We will engage youths through direct labour system, says Makinde

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…inspects Jankata-Bembow-Apata Road, via Akala Express

Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Friday, said that his administration would address the growing youth unemployment in the state by engaging a teeming number of them through a direct labour system for public works and infrastructure.

This step, he noted, will reduce the number of unemployed youths and keep them occupied and able to make ends meet.

The governor stated this while inspecting an ongoing road project at Jankata-Bembow-Apata Road, via Akala Express, Ibadan, saying the government needs to engage the youths, as, according to him, an idle hand is a devil’s workshop.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the governor made the position against the backdrop of youth restiveness in the last few days, stating that his government has heard the youths and that it will design a sustainable way to engage them so as to make them self-reliant.

He said: “Well, I will still say to the people of Oyo State that we have listened to the youths. We are designing a sustainable way to engage them, because I will continue to say that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. We have to engage our youths. We will design means. 

“One of the things we are currently considering is a direct labour agency that can absorb some of the youths, even if it is just for fixing our roads, putting our drainages in place. We just have to engage them one way or the other. 

“Also, from the agriculture standpoint, we want as many of them as possible to be attracted to agribusiness.”

While inspecting the road, which has been abandoned since 2011, but was re-started by his administration, Governor Makinde said that the road is quite strategic, adding that when it is completed, it will help to decongest roads and ease vehicular movement in the areas.

He added that despite the fact that the contractor handling the road has not been mobilized, he has demonstrated the readiness to do the work.

The governor said: “This project has been abandoned since 2011. It was started during Governor [Adebayo] Alao-Akala’s time and it is very strategic, because people going to Lagos from Abeokuta and vice-versa, can bypass Ring Road.

“If you are coming from Lagos and you want to go to Apata, you also don’t need to go through Ring Road anymore if this road is completed.

“The contractor has mobilised but we are still putting together the paper works for their payment. But, at least, even without payment, they have demonstrated readiness to do the work. I think we are on course with that road project,” he added.

Addressing the pockets of violence and youth restiveness in some parts of Ibadan, the state capital, in the last few days, Governor Makinde stated that the situation has been brought under control, saying that things had become better as people could move peacefully and do their business activities without any hindrance.

“Things are getting better. We passed through Beere, Yemetu, Challenge and we saw that people were just eager to carry on with their lives and go on with their business activities. I believe we are doing better,” he said.

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