- Power Sector Remains Challenged, Says Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Wednesday in Abuja said despite years of its privatisation, the power sector has remained handicapped in the delivery of required services to various homes and businesses.
The vice-president, who made these remarks in Eagle Square while delivering a presidential speech in commemoration of the Workers’ Day, however, promised that the current administration would alter the status quo.
According to him, the federal government would spend energy to reposition and re-engineer the sector with a view to enabling it deliver effective services to end users.
The vice-president also remarked that the federal government would reciprocate the re-election of this administration by Nigerians at the last general election by focusing on critical issues aimed at improving the living standards of the people.
He said this would be done by building infrastructure, roads, rail, hydroelectric power and simultaneously reforming key economic sectors of the country with a view to placing Nigeria on the path of economic growth and prosperity that is sustainable.
The vice-president further said in line with the theme of this year’s workers’ day, “Another 100 Years of Struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria,” the federal government would pay attention to the welfare of Nigerians especially those at the lowest wrung of the ladder in its economic planning and budgeting.
Furthermore, Osinbajo who emphasised federal government’s commitment to the daily wellbeing of its citizens including their social justice and dignity, pledged that the recently signed minimum wage bill would be thorough implemented by the federal government.
He said: “At the just concluded general elections, Nigerians and indeed Nigerian Workers gave our administration another mandate to govern them. We shall reciprocate this electoral gesture by focusing on the critical issues that will advance speedily and improve the quality of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians. These include the building of infrastructure, roads, and rail, hydroelectric power, and also reforming key driving sectors of the national economy in order to put the country on a sustainable path of economic growth and prosperity.
“We are especially committed to changing the narrative in the power sector. Today that sector, after it was privatized, still remains challenged in delivering power to many Nigerian homes and businesses. We must work as a matter of national importance and we are committed to doing so, to rework and re-engineer the sector for much more effective performance.
“So, for this administration, the theme: “Another 100 Years of Struggle for Jobs, Dignity and Social Justice in Nigeria’’ is not merely a headline for this May Day celebration, we truly believe that the Nigerian citizen, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid, must be the central focus of all economic planning and budgeting.
“The welfare and well-being of all these Nigerians who work everyday and render honest services every day is the true benchmark of our commitment as government and a people to social justice and dignity of all Nigerians.
“We will continue to commit ourselves to the cause of improving the lot of every working Nigerian and providing for those who cannot work. In this regard, the new National Minimum Wage, which Mr. President signed into law a few days ago, shall be fully implemented by the current administration.”
The vice-president who thanked the leaders of the organised labour for the understanding they showed during the tortuous negotiation process for the new minimum wage, also solicited their constant support and cooperation for the government.
He assured the workers that the federal government would continue to provide the enabling environment for productivity, industrial harmony, protection of their fundamental rights, urging them to rarely employ the tools of industrial action as weapons for resolving disputes.
“Let me once again express our deep appreciation to the leadership of the Nigerian Workers for the understanding showed during and after the negotiations of the new National Minimum Wage. We shall continue to provide the enabling environment for higher productivity, industrial peace and harmony, as well as a congenial atmosphere for effective collective bargaining amongst trade unions and employers, while also protecting fundamental rights and other lawful rights of the Nigerian people and especially people who are at work.
“Workers shall be called upon to play greater roles in supporting the government to attain all these goals I have stated. Industrial peace is central to economic stability. Every industrial disruption costs the national economy very dearly in money and man-hours that are lost.
“It is for this reason that I urge all actors in the industrial relations system to be more circumspect, patriotic and ethical in the use of industrial actions as tools for resolving workplace crisis and addressing grievances. Industrial actions, because of the huge economic and social costs, must be the last, not the first option for resolving disputes,” he added.
The vice-president recalled that when the current administration came on board in 2015, it was confronted with acute economic challenges.
However, he said despite such challenges, it was determined not to retrench any worker, a principle he said has been sustained till date.
According to him, instead of falling into the temptation of retrenching workers, it rather proceeded to provide bail-out funds for states to enable them pay workers’ salaries, pointing out further that the federal government paid outstanding pensions to former workers as well as various arrears and allowances that civil servants were owed.
The vice-president then proceeded to reel out what he considered as the achievements of the federal government particularly its social investment programmes which he described as the largest in Africa.
“On assumption of office in 2015, in spite of the daunting economic challenges, which confronted us at the time, we ensured that no worker was retrenched across the country. We further kept faith with this commitment by providing bailout funds for States unable to pay salaries and other benefits in order to pay accumulated arrears. We also released the Paris Club refunds owed since 2005 to make sure workers were not owed anything.
“We also ensured the payment of outstanding benefits of retrenched Nigerian Airways workers owed for decades. We also ensured the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), also paid arrears owed to parastatals and civil service pensioners covering 101,393 civil service pensioners on all grade levels and 76,310 parastatals pensioners across 186 agencies.
“This is in addition to arrears paid to pensioners in the police and customs service in 2016 and 2018. Our administration also settled the issue of benefits of Nigerian Armed Forces and paramilitary personnel who were dismissed and later pardoned for participating on the side of the secession in the course of the Civil War from 1967-1970. All of these veterans have now been paid their benefits.
“Our social investment programmes is the largest of its kind in Africa, and it is directed at ensuring that we are able to provide opportunities in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy,” the vice-president submitted.
Samsung, Vision Care Begin Fresh CSR Activities, Earmark 12,000 Masks for Nigeria
Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria Limited (SHIN) and Vision Care, an international relief organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness, have launched fresh Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to help Nigeria mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Vision Care is a member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), and participant of ‘VISION 2020’, a global initiative of the IAPB and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Vision Care has since conducted more than 25 Vision Eye Camps yearly and has grown into an international non-profit organisation serving 38 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Central-South America.
Since 2015, SHIN has worked with Vision Care in the yearly Eye Camp as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to provide free cataract surgeries to Nigerians who cannot afford the payment. SHIN has been sponsoring the eye surgeries of Nigerians on a yearly basis.
In 2019, SHIN sponsored the eye surgeries of at least 115 Nigerian patients and 224 outward patients as part of its CSR in Nigeria.
Since it started the programme, SHIN has sponsored the eye surgeries of 572 Nigerian patients, 1,593 outward patients and has also donated glasses to 99 patients.
Due to outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the yearly Eye Camp for 2021 had been called off to adhere to Federal Government’s measures in response to the virus.
Consequently, SHIN and Vision Care came up with a fresh CSR initiative this year to donate 496 bags of rice (25kg) and 12,000 reusable face masks to three states in the country to fulfill their commitment of contributing to the society.
The items will be delivered later this month.
The three states that will benefit from the donation are Lagos, Kano and Bayelsa states.
Out of the 496 bags of rice, and 12,000 facemasks, Lagos will receive 96 bags of rice and 200 masks.
SHIN also stated that Kano State will receive 200 bags of rice and 5,000 masks, while Bayelsa State will get 200 bags and 5,000 masks.
“This is an additional CSR activity from SHI in addition to SHIN’s donation of 5,000 COVID-19 test kits from Korea. The washable masks that the head office has purchased from Korea are certified to retain its effectiveness against COVID-19 transmission for up to 50 washes,” SHIN said in a statement.
Senate Summons NICON, AIICO, Others Over N17.4bn Pension Remittances
The Senate Public Accounts Committee has summoned the management of the NICON Insurance Plc, AIICO Insurance and other insurance companies over their alleged failure to remit N17.4bn pension fund to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.
The Senate hinged the summon on the 2016 report of the Auditor-General for the Federation which unraveled the alleged non-remittance of N17.4bn pension fund to PTAD.
Appearing before the panel on Monday, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, informed the lawmakers that PTAD took over the assets and liabilities of the defunct pension offices without a formal handing over.
She said, “On taking over, the directorate wrote all underwriters to make returns and remit whatever amount that was in their custody into a CBN dedicated account.
“Some of the underwriters responded to the request while some did not.
“The bank certificate of balances, accounting statements, three years financial statements and policy files requested by the federal auditor were not handed over to PTAD at the time of consolidation.
“It is worthy to note that we discovered that N17.4bn which comprised of cash, securities and properties from the nine insurance underwriters was unremitted as a result of the letter PTAD sent to them.
“These figures represent the claims by the underwriters with regards to their indebtedness.
“In order to ascertain the true position of legacy funds in custody of underwriters, the directorate appointed a consultant in 2018 who carried out forensic audit of nine out the 12 insurance underwriters and produced a final report on the recovery of the legacy funds and assets for PTAD.”
Sterling Homes Plans To Reduce Housing Deficit
Sterling Homes Limited has said it is committed to working with the government through private public partnership to reduce housing deficit in all the geo-political zones in the country.
The Managing Director, Mr Kunle Adeyemi, said this during an event on the company’s rebranding organised as part of its 10th year anniversary in Lagos on Friday.
During the event, the company while expressing commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction, unveiled its new logo with colours to define its mission and objections.
“We want to be present in all the six geo-political zones on Nigeria by providing affordable luxury homes, excellent torch. So for us, there is a need for us to rebrand and have a new direction and vision.
“We want to partner with the government on the present housing deficit; we want to embrace a public, private partnership with the government to reduce the deficit in every geo-political zone.”
The managing director said that one of its unique selling points was its after sales services which was top notch.
He said it ensured that its customers were taken through the journey of actualising their dreams of becoming home owners.
While noting that everyone deserved to have a comfortable home despite the economic situation, he said it had designed a structure payment plan with zero interest in some cases to help intending home owners.
He said it also had provisions for high breed options and developing areas to accommodate various income levels.
Before the end of the year, he said, Sterling Homes would be establishing new presence and projects in other regions.
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