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Strikes: FG Meets Organised Labour, Others Saturday

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The Federal Government has scheduled a special meeting with representatives of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, their affiliates as well as members of Civil Society Organisations as one of the ways to end incessant industrial actions by workers.

The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents after a meeting he held with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.

Ngige said at the meeting slated for Saturday, officials would disclose the true state of government’s financial account to the labour leaders so that they can appreciate the challenges facing the nation.

The minister, who briefed the President on the recent strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors which was suspended on Thursday, said Buhari had approved the meeting with the labour leaders.

He said, “The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organised labour.

“All government institutions that have to do with the finances of government will join us to meet with them and show them the books.

“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon (Friday), the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations.

“The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday), so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today so that we do this meeting tomorrow.

“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. They will also table their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, so that we look at them.”

On the recent hike in electricity tariff and the public outcry that followed, Ngige said, “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band R1 and R2.

“Even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.

“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”

The minister said representatives of unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions would also attend the meeting to table their positions on some issues.

He added, “The tripartite unions of university system including some colleges of education and some hospitals; Non-Academic Staff of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the National Association of Academic Technologists, we have invited them to a meeting.

“The leadership met with me last week and the major thrust of the challenges they have is on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system.

“They claimed and alleged that the IPPIS system is over deducting some line items like taxes, the Pay As You Earn taxes they claim the IPPIS system is charging more than they supposed to debit.

“They also claimed that some allowances that are peculiar to the university system like responsibility allowance, hazard allowance, field trip allowance and education of children allowance, that the IPPIS has stopped all of them.

“At the government level, we have discussed and we now want to do a special session with them, they come with their facts and the Accountant-General will lead his team, the National Salaries and Incomes and Wages will also come and the Ministry of Labour will lead and then we discuss and find out who is treating the other unfairly,” he explained.

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Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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Nigeria Needs $2.3tn To Address Infrastructure Deficit, Says FG

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that the country need $2.3tn to address its national integrated infrastructure masterplan.

He said this in Abuja on Thursday at a town hall meeting themed: ‘Nigeria’s infrastructure revolution: Road to a new future’, organised by Business Hallmark.

According to him, the 23-year masterplan (2020-2043) is for the development of infrastructure including roads, railway network and maritime sector.

The event was chaired by a former national chairman of the All Progressives Congress and former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

Mustapha said, “Conscious of the economic disruption caused by 2016 recession and COVID-19 as well as challenges of previous reforms, the Federal Government revised the 23 year (2020-2043) national integrated infrastructure masterplan that identified critical enablers.

“For the 23-year period, $2.3tn will be required, translating to about $150bn annually and the private sector and other partners have to provide 56 per cent, while Federal Government and state governments will provide 44 per cent of the share of the investment.

“The Federal Government has made important strides towards providing much of our infrastructure and has, in recent years, conducted several infrastructural reforms.

“Specifically, we are extending and upgrading the nation’s railway network and introducing more locomotive couches. The port sector has been converted to landlocked model and terminal.

“Similarly, Public Private Partnership style infrastructure company with an initial seed capital of N1tn envisaging to grow over time to N6tn in assets and capital has been established and will soon commence operation.

“It will be one of the premier finance entities in Africa and will be wholly dedicated to Nigeria’s infrastructure development.

“The reduction in Nigeria’s infrastructural gap will also give the country a competitive advantage under the newly signed Africa Free Continental Area Trade Agreement.”

The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, deplored the water crises in Nigeria saying no community in the country enjoyed water supply always.

He said, “In 1992, 30 per cent of the Nigerian population was enjoying pipe-borne water and as of 2015, it had dropped to seven per cent.

“In 2015, we were at 68 per cent national coverage for access to water and as of today, we are at 70 per cent and maybe by the time the result for 2021 comes out, we might be at 71 per cent to 72 per cent.

“As for water quality, 90 per cent of water consumed, including water from the boreholes, are contaminated and water is the basic necessity of life.”

Oyegun, in his contribution at the event, said six years going, the performance of the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had been mixed.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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