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FG Approves 11.7B Increase In Salary Scale For NIMC Staff

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved new conditions of service and salary scale for the staff of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami who disclosed this during the formal presentation of the approved conditions of service to NIMC staff in Abuja said it was a significant departure from what was currently obtainable.

Pantami said NIMC conditions of service was a comprehensive document, saying that it would serve as the machinery through which the commission would articulate and implement its personnel policies and programmes.

According to the minister, the NIMC plays a critical role that impacts the lives of every Nigerian and for people legally resident in the country.

“In light of the foregoing, it is imperative that the vibrant NIMC staff who are tasked with managing one of the nation`s most sensitive and critical assets are provided with the enabling environment to play this pivotal role efficiently and effectively.

“The first step I took on the personnel matter was to advise the Director-General to set up a committee to review the existing policies at the time.

“Following the submission of revised draft conditions of service by the committee, I scheduled arrays of consultations with relevant authorities,” he said.

Pantami said it was challenging rallying all and sundry to understand the exigency of the NIMC plight, and to bring everyone on board considering the economic contractions witnessed in recent years and other pressing national projects.

He, however, said with persistence, determination and most importantly the support of Mr. President, the new salary scale and conditions of service were approved.

“The conditions of service include information about the NIMC, its core functions, offices and departments and the reporting structure as well as employment eligibility, categories, grade level classifications and staff obligations.

“Categorisation and eligibility for leave, promotion and career progression matters, pension and retirement benefits for all categories of staff, as well as robust staff emoluments, amongst others.

“Every chapter and sub-heads have been dutifully explained in simple and direct terminologies,” the minister said.

He, however, said members of staff of the commission nationwide and across different cadres were implored to study and imbibe these conditions, the associated and complementary instructions, and notices and to become familiar with all procedures guiding their professional conduct.

“It becomes imperative to lay a strong foundational ID system for the country that can generate reliable and continuous data for policy and decision making, as well as accurate statistics for developmental planning and progress measurement.

“It is hoped that the approved conditions of service and the salary scale would serve as a veritable tool to re-engineer the operations, structure, and enhance NIMC’s overall functionality, productivity, and performance in line with the Nigeria Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS),” Pantami said.

He said one of the major challenges in the supervision of the NIMC was the poor working condition of the staff since the inception of NIMC in 2007.

Pantami said multiple attempts had been made to change the narrative of the staff emoluments without success, saying the process towards achieving a functional condition of service for the commission had commenced since 2010.

“Successive administrations have made efforts to institute a statutory personnel policy that accentuates the NIMC’s enormous mandate and humongous service offering to the Nigerian people.

“These previous attempts, although strong-willed, were unsuccessful, leading to disenchantment amongst the commission’s workforce and loss of competent and highly skilled personnel to other agencies and organisations within and outside Nigeria.

“For an evolving digital economy like ours, foundational identity will provide a universal multipurpose system capable of supporting the needs for an inclusive legal identity to ensure citizen’s access to social services and effective undertaking of their civic responsibilities,” he said.

He enjoined all staff to ensure diligence, security consciousness and dedication for the seamless operation and integrity of the National Identity Management System (NIMS).

The Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, expressed appreciation to Mr. President for the speedy assent and approval of the new condition of service and salary structure.

“This is a demonstration of the President’s faith, belief and support for the laudable achievements of the commission in recent years.

“This will provide further motivation, hope and confidence in the NIMC to do more in the future, ” he said.

He also appreciated the support and uncommon leadership of the minister, saying his leadership had been tremendous and quite remarkable.

Aziz said under his stewardship, NIMC had pushed the boundaries of excellence in achieving unprecedented enrolment records and tackle seemingly difficult challenges.

The Postmaster-General of NIPOST, Mr. Ismail Adebayo, said the welfare of staff enhances productivity, as well as spur them to double their efforts.

The postmaster-general, who was represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Yahaya Rufai, said the improved, well-packaged welfare of staff is an antidote to corruption.

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Travel

High Altitude, Higher Prices: Domestic Airfares Jump 150%

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Nigerian air travelers are reeling from a dramatic increase in domestic airfares with prices skyrocketing by 150% over the past year.

This surge has forced many passengers to reconsider their travel options, opting for road transport despite the risks involved.

Passengers like Dare Adepoju, who frequently commutes between Lagos and Abuja for business and family visits, have expressed frustration.

“It’s unsustainable,” he lamented. “With flights nearing N200,000 for just an hour, I’m exhausted.”

Social media is abuzz with similar sentiments. Akinloa Adejuwon tweeted about the tough choice between costly flights and unsafe roads, highlighting the dire situation many Nigerians face.

The fare increase is attributed to a limited number of operational aircraft. Airline Operators of Nigeria revealed that many planes are grounded due to maintenance needs and lack of access to foreign exchange for repairs.

The current situation sees airlines like Ibom Air and Air Peace charging up to N238,000 for a one-way ticket between major cities.

This price jump, from about N51,000 last year, reflects the severe challenges the industry faces.

Capt. Roland Iyayi, a senior member of the Airline Operators of Nigeria, pointed to the shortage of aircraft as a primary cause.

“Making forex available to airlines is crucial for resolving this crisis,” he stated.

As the industry grapples with these challenges, passengers continue to hope for relief. The aviation sector’s future hinges on addressing these issues, ensuring safe and affordable travel for all Nigerians.

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Education

Southern States Skeptical as NELFund Disburses First Loans

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The National Education Loan Fund (NELFund) officially launched on Wednesday, a significant step in providing financial aid to students across Nigeria.

However, the initiative faces skepticism, particularly from the southern states.

President Bola Tinubu inaugurated the first tranche of funds, amounting to N32 billion, aimed at empowering Nigerian youth and breaking financial barriers to education.

The NELFund portal has registered 164,000 students, with 103,000 applying for loans.

Despite the promising start, many southern states remain doubtful about the fund’s implementation.

Akintunde Sawyerr, NELFund’s Managing Director, acknowledged these concerns, citing data challenges in verifying indigent applicants as a primary hurdle.

Sawyerr highlighted the lack of comprehensive data needed for credit assessments. The fund relies on bank verification numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), and educational institution data to determine eligibility.

More applications have been received from northern states, where students have shown greater confidence in the fund.

Sawyerr pointed out that skepticism in the south might stem from uncertainty about the program’s viability.

NELFund offers two types of loans: educational fees paid directly to institutions and upkeep loans for student stipends.

The focus is currently on government-owned institutions to ensure a smooth rollout.

President Tinubu emphasized education as a critical tool against poverty and insecurity, linking the nation’s challenges to a lack of educational opportunities.

He reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive growth through education.

As NELFund continues its rollout, efforts to address data issues and regional skepticism will be crucial. By building trust and ensuring transparency, the program aims to support more students nationwide and foster a fairer society.

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Travel

UAE Lifts Visa Ban on Nigerians, Introduces N640,000 Non-Refundable Application Fee

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has officially lifted the visa ban imposed on Nigerian passport holders, effective July 15.

However, this positive move comes with a substantial caveat—a new non-refundable visa application fee of N640,000.

The announcement, made following bilateral discussions between Nigerian and UAE authorities, ends a prolonged period of restricted travel between the two nations due to diplomatic disputes and financial issues.

New Visa Regulations

Under the new guidelines set forth by the UAE government, Nigerian passport holders seeking to travel to the Emirates must adhere to several stringent requirements:

  1. Application Fee: Applicants are required to pay a non-refundable fee of N640,000 for visa processing. This fee represents a significant increase compared to the previous $100 fee before the ban.
  2. Document Verification Number (DVN): Before applying for a visa, applicants must obtain a Document Verification Number (DVN). This number is valid for only 14 days from issuance or until the visa application is processed, whichever comes first.
  3. Application Process: The application process for UAE visas remains stringent, emphasizing the importance of meeting all specified criteria to enhance the chances of approval.

Public Reaction and Outcry

The introduction of the N640,000 visa application fee has sparked widespread criticism and public outcry among Nigerians, particularly on social media platforms. Many have expressed their discontent, labeling the new fee as exorbitant and financially burdensome, especially in light of economic challenges facing the country.

Social media users have taken to various platforms to voice their concerns:

  • @firstladyship: “It is obvious the UAE don’t want Nigerians. They reluctantly unbanned the Nigerian passport, but slammed a hefty N640,000 on Nigerians. Guess what? The money is nonrefundable & has expiration date. This is see finish.”
  • @Peco3D: “This is just extortion in fine words. Shameless.”
  • @Comr_lucky1: “This is exploitation and shameful if allowed by Nigeria government.”

Government Response

Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information and National Orientation, announced the lifting of the visa ban and emphasized that Nigerian passport holders are now eligible to apply for visas to the UAE.

The government has acknowledged the concerns raised by citizens and assured them of continued engagement to address the issue.

Background

The UAE had imposed the visa ban on Nigeria approximately two years ago amid diplomatic tensions and financial disputes.

Efforts to resolve these issues included discussions and negotiations between the Nigerian and UAE governments, leading to the recent breakthrough in visa restrictions.

Despite the imposition of the N640,000 visa fee, the lifting of the ban represents a step forward in diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the UAE, potentially paving the way for enhanced bilateral cooperation and economic ties.

As Nigerian travelers navigate these new visa regulations, reactions continue to pour in, reflecting the broader impact of international relations on individual mobility and economic opportunities.

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