The meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour on the hikes in fuel pump price and the electricity tariff on Sunday ended in confusion as the labour leaders walked out of the parley in anger .
The dialogue which was meant to take updates on the implementation of resolutions reached during the three previous meetings ended abruptly barely 10 minutes after it commenced at the Presidential Villa banquet hall , Abuja .
The meeting had started at 8 .18 pm when the Trade Union Congress President , Quadri Olaleye , raised the issue of the latest hike in fuel pump price from N 160 to N 170 .
He insisted on the reversal of the hike before the meeting can proceed.
Olaleye said, “ Government is showing a high level of insincerity in discussions with us and is also putting us at risk with the people we are leading , with the masses . We find it difficult to move freely but the people in government are moving freely .
“ I came to the conclusion that the major problem we have in this country is insincerity and this cannot continue .
“ So, I want to put it to the government that if today’ s meeting does not look promising to solve those problems , honestly , we would mobilise to walk out of the meeting . The situation is getting tense and you are putting us at risk .”
Speaking in a similar being, the Deputy President , Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, also said the union had been under attacks over the slow pace of implementation of resolutions reached at the meetings with the government .
But the Minister of Labour and Employment , Chris Ngige, assured that the issue would be discussed during the business session and asked the media to leave the hall .
However, as soon as journalists were out of the hall, Ngige reportedly said the issue of palliatives would be discussed first while the labour leaders insisted on discussing the fuel pump price hike.
Following the disagreement, the labour leaders angrily walked out of the meeting which had in attendance the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha , Minister of State for Petroleum , Sylva Timipre , Minister of State for Labour , Festus Keyamo and others .
Addressing journalists outside the hall , the NLC General Secretary , Emmanuel Ugboaja , said the union leaders stormed out of the session because the government team was not willing to address the latest hike in fuel pump price which he said violated the understanding they had with the FG .
He added, “ We felt we should address the issue of petroleum prices before whether there is need for palliatives or not. On that strength , we felt we could not continue with the meeting whose agenda is wrongly prioritised .”
However, Ngige said nothing went wrong.
“ We felt that the item of increase in petroleum , having been listed at all as an additional item, would have satisfied everybody but they on that said they were calling for a recess . It is for me to re – invite them and I would do that within 24 hours , ” he said .
Customs Generates N1.6trn In 2020
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated the sum of N1. 562 trillion in the year 2020, NCS’s Public Relations Officer, Deputy-Controller Joseph Attah, stated in Abuja on Wednesday.
The amount generated was more than the target of N1. 380 trillion set for the organisation by the Federal Government during the outgone year.
Last year’s revenue was also in excess of the N1.342 trillion it generated in 2019, despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the economy during the period under review.
The feat, Mr Attah, said was “as a result of the resolute pursuit of what is right and willingness to adapt to changes brought about by global health challenges occasioned by COVID-19.”
He said that the service revenue generation profile has continued to rise, annually, as the ongoing reforms in the Service insist, especially its strategic deployment of officers, strictly using the standard operating procedure; strict enforcement of extant guidelines by the Tariff and Trade Department.
According to him, other strategies that aided the NCS were: automation of the Customs process thereby eliminating vices associated with the manual process; robust stakeholder sensitisation resulting in more informed/voluntary compliance; and increased disposition of officers and men to put national interest above selves.
He said that the partial border closure which has forced cargoes that could have been smuggled through the porous borders to come through the sea and airports also significantly contributed to raising revenue collection from ports.
“Before the commencement of the border drill on 20th August 2019, revenue generation was between N4 billion to N5 billion but now NCS generate between N5 billion to N9 billion daily.
“Diplomatic engagements that took place during the partial land border closure yielded many positive results, including a commitment to comply with the ECOWAS Protocol on Transit. Operationalisation of joint border patrols at both sides of the border.
“The teams are required to share intelligence and ensure prevention of transit of prohibited goods into the neighbor’s territory,” he added.
The image-maker said that the NCS would strictly implement the outcome of the diplomatic engagements as the land borders open for the movement of cargoes.
He said that intelligence gathered during the period and the introduction of the e-Customs whose components include installation of scanners at all entry points would enhance border security and boost national trade facilitation.
Mr Attah disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Finance has purchased three new scanners, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also expressing commitment to purchasing four additional scanners and to establish the control centre for monitoring all scanning sites in their bid to boost the national economy, especially agricultural sector.
“This means that within the next six (6) months, NCS will have about seven (7) functional scanners to be mounted at strategic entry points even before the full deployment of e-Customs components which will see to the deployment of 135 modern scanners,” the spokesman said.
He also said that seizures of 4,304 assorted items with a duty paid value of N28.287 billion were recorded within the period under review.
According to him, “These seizures include arms, ammunition, illicit drugs, used clothing, vegetable oil, frozen poultry, and foreign rice among others that have grave consequences on economic security and well being of Nigerians.”
FG To Start Administering Covid-19 Vaccines On Nigerians Soon
The Federal Government said it is planning to begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine on Nigerians before the end of March.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib disclosed this in a letter sent to Media Executives inviting them to a sensitization meeting on the COVID-19 vaccines.
The letter reads; “The management of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA wishes to express profound gratitude for your unflinching support to the ongoing effort to stop COVID-19 transmission in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency NPHCDA with the support of our development partners, is planning to introduce COVID-19 Vaccine from the 1st quarter of 2021, to protect the citizens and stop further spread of the virus in the country.
“This is to inform you that as part of the preparatory activities, NPHCDA has scheduled a sensitization meeting with Media Gatekeepers as critical stakeholders in this plan”.
The meeting which would good via Zoom is slated for this Friday.
Shuaib had at a briefing of the Presidential Taskforce PTF on COVID-19 in Tuesday said Nigeria will take delivery of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.
He said; “In the first phase through the COVAX facility, we expect to receive approximately 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and bioNtech vaccine by the end of January”.
According to him, Nigeria expects to receive free 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility being administered by ten Global Vaccines Alliance, GAVI.
“The second phase will be a combination of all the available approved vaccines currently in the market but this will cover only about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s population”, he added.
While Shuaib disclosed that to completely eradicate the pandemic, about 70 per cent of the total population needs to receive the vaccines, adding that only about 40 per cent will be vaccinated in 2021, while the remaining 30 per cent will be covered in 2022.
Shariah Council Applauds Demolition Of Sex Party Hotel
The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria has commended the Kaduna State Government for demolishing the hotel where the maiden edition of Kaduna sex party was to take place, saying such illicit act will incur the wrath of God.
The council also hailed the government for arresting the organisers.
In a statement on Friday by the Council’s Kaduna State chapter Chairman, Engineer AbdurRahman Hassan, they said the current merciless bloodletting through banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, and host of other vices, experienced in Nigeria are caused by immoral acts like the ‘Satanic’ sex party.
“Allah (SWT) stated categorically in Suratul Hajj verse 41, thus: “Those who, when We empower them in the land, observe prayer, and give regular charity, and command what is right, and forbid what is wrong. To Allah belongs the outcome of events,” they said.
“In line with this verse, the Council as an advocate of moral and social values commends the steps taken by the Kaduna State Government on the arrest of the organizers of the Satanic so called “Kaduna Sex Party” and the demolition of Asher Hotel at Barnawa, Kaduna.
“No doubt this kind of illicit act is one of the ingredients that is fueling the wrath of Allah (SWT) that we are inflicted with currently.
“The current merciless bloodletting through banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, and host of other vices, are as a result of our derailment from ideal moral and cultural values.
“While we commend the Kaduna State Government for this commendable act, we also call on the government to scan for such places where illicit acts are perpetrated in the state, such as ‘Ajagunle’ area, off Maiduguri Road, in Kaduna North Local Government, where ‘Nude’ clubs do exist.
“May Allah strengthen our leaders to do right, may He protect our Imaan,” the Shariah Council said.