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Assets Sale: NLC Plans Nationwide Protests, Enlists 20 Lawyers

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has said it will mobilise Nigerians for nationwide protests to resist the plan by the Federal Government to sell strategic assets under the guise of using the funds to be generated to get the country out of recession.

The President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, said the consequences of the proposed sale of the strategic assets would be more grievous if Nigerians did not stop the government from carrying out the policy.

He made the comment on Monday in Abuja while inaugurating a think-tank of the NLC and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, entrusted with the responsibility of leading the intellectual engagement with the Federal Government on the contentious move to sell the country’s assets.

According to him, the NLC is making preparations to battle the Federal Government in courts to prevent the planned sale of the assets, explaining that the congress had secured the services of 20 volunteer lawyers, who had offered their services to the NLC on the issue.

The members of the 10-man NLC’s ‘Think-Tank on Socio-Economic Issues’ are a former President of ASUU, Dr. Dipo Fashina; Prof. Toye Olorode, Dr. Mohammed Aliyu, Dr. Mustapha Usman and Dr. Isaac Nwogugu.

Other members of the committee are Dr. Yemisi Bamgbose, Mr. Issa Aremu, Mr. Sonny Atuma, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, and Mr. Auwal Mustapha, who is the secretary.

Wabba stated, “While it is important to rescue our country from the current economic recession, sale of our commonwealth and strategic assets is certainly not a move in the right direction, and all Nigerians must have the courage to oppose it.

“All the (national) assets are under threat depending on the interest of who is speaking; the NLNG, refineries, all the assets are presently under threat. If we work together, then we can try to defend these assets. It will take the effort of all of us to stop them.

“Nobody will buy what is not profitable. That is why people are looking in the direction of the most profitable.”

Wabba stressed that the problem with Nigeria was corruption, which had become endemic in both the private and public sectors, and not the economic model to use.

The NLC president believed that politicians, who stole so much money and had been hiding the loot, were looking for ways to buy the assets with their looted funds.

Wabba assured Nigerians that organised labour was united in the quest to preserve the nation’s strategic assets for Nigerians and future generations.

“We are sure of ourselves; this is of concern to every citizen. We should not allow the bidding of those few who don’t mean well for the country. On the issue of selling out, we are on the same page, we will do everything possible to try to work together.

“We shouldn’t be discouraged because of the fact that we envisage sabotage or an effort to undermine the struggle. In every struggle, there would be moves to sabotage such,” he added.

ACF, economists oppose sale of national assets

Meanwhile, opposition against the plan of the Federal Government to sell some national assets continued to mount on Monday as the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Nigerian Economic Society condemned the proposal, asking the Federal Government to rescind its decision to sell the assets.

The NEC stated that the decision of the government did not make economic sense in the face of the current challenges.

It faulted the argument by the government that the proceeds of the sale would be used to fund the 2016 budget, noting that the sale of the assets would further widen the level of income inequality in the country.

The President, NES, Prof. Ben Aigbokan, stated this in an interview with journalists on the forthcoming national conference of the society on Monday in Abuja.

Aigbokan described the approach being adopted by the government as “generationally irresponsible”.

The conference, scheduled to commence on Tuesday (today), has as its theme ‘‘The developmental state and diversification of the Nigerian economy’’.

The NES president added, “It is an irony that the government is planning to sell some of our national assets at this time because it is a contradiction of one of the policies of government, which is sustainable development.

“The economics of selling national assets now at a time of economic recession is very poor because we will not get a good value for these assets, because people understand that the county is in need of money.

“If you sacrifice our national assets now because we are in need of money, what do you leave for the future generations?

“So, generationally, it is irresponsible to sell these assets without subjecting the decision to a referendum because all Nigerians have a stake in them.”

Also, the ACF on Monday argued that it was needless for the Federal Government to sell off national assets to bail out Nigeria from its current economic woes.

The pan-northern socio-political organisation, through its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammadu Ibrahim, argued that the bloated allowances of public officers, which he said accounted for 40 per cent of the national budget, should be converted to capital allocation to boost the economy.

The ACF argued that selling off national assets to service the economy was completely “unwise” as such move never yielded the desired results in the past.

The statement read in part, “The growing calls by some prominent politicians and business tycoons on the Federal Government to consider the selling of strategic, viable national assets as an option to take the economy out of recession at this material time are inappropriate.

“Past privatisation did not yield the desired result in terms of judicious use of proceeds by the government or management of the assets by the new owners. Moreover, the amount to be realised is not worth the exercise.

“Government enterprises like the Nigeria Airways, Nigeria National Shipping Line, Ajaokuta  Steel Company, NITEL, PHCN, etc, that were sold to selected Nigerians and their foreign collaborators in the spirit of privatisation, only succeeded in converting public enterprises to private ones, and some later became comatose. The ones that survived, their service delivery cannot be said to be better.

“ACF therefore considers it unwise for the Federal Government to contemplate the selling of our major national assets like the crude oil refineries, federal airports, NLNG, while we can use them as security against needed funds to boost the economy, as the recession is considered to be temporary.

“In addition, ACF wishes to suggest that unnecessary allowances of public officers and overhead cost that form over 40 per cent of our annual budget should be converted to capital allocation to boost the economy.

“This is the time for national sacrifice in order to bequeath an enduring legacy to the next generation. Positive change usually comes with painful necessary sacrifice.”

On its own, the National Union of Textile, Garments and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against the sale of the nation’s assets.

A member of the National Executive Council of the NLC, Mr. Issa Aremu, in a statement in Kaduna on Monday, said Nigeria was not short of resources, arguing that the nation lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels”.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

Kenya Partners Private Sector and Development Partners to Outline Roadmap towards Achieving Energy Efficiency Goals

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Barclays Plaza, Kenya

The Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Energy (MOE) today launched the Kenya National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (KNEECS or The Strategy) placing Kenya firmly on track toward sustainable consumption and production including renewable energy generation.

The Strategy was developed in collaboration with key stakeholders including the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) with support from the World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

To date, Kenya has made significant progress in energy efficiency and conservation. In 2006, MOE and KAM signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC). Its activities include undertaking energy audits of industries, SMEs and public institutions on behalf of MoE, provision of capacity-building in energy efficiency and conservation, public education and awareness activities and administration of the annual Energy Management Awards (EMA). CEEC has achieved over KES 13 billion (USD 152.8 Million) in energy cost saving equivalent to 2014.8 GWh, translating into a deferment of a 230 MW power plant.

The Strategy now seeks to guide the country further towards achieving its established Energy Efficiency (EE) goals within a defined timeframe. These goals are reducing the national energy intensity by 2.8% per year, and enabling the country achieve a 30 per cent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2030 relative to Business as Usual (143 MtCO2e) and meet its national targets for Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) by 2030.

Through the adoption of The Strategy, the country is expected to use less energy to produce goods and services without compromising on quality and quantity. Further, The Strategy will promote the use of technology that requires minimum energy to perform the same function and adoption of changes in behavior that encourage citizens to use a reduced amount of energy in their daily undertakings.

The Strategy sets targets for five key sectors to achieve its objectives, all of which are to be accomplished within a five-year timeline up to 2025: Households, Power Utilities, Transport, Buildings and Industry & Agriculture. Under the Households Sector, energy efficiency in domestic power consumption is expected to increase by 3%. This will be realized by increasing the number of household appliances such as television sets, subjected to Minimum Energy Performable Standards (MEPS) from the current six to ten and increasing the use of improved efficient biomass cook stoves by 50% of all households currently using biomass cook stoves. In the Utilities Sector, the strategy focuses on reducing transmission and distribution system losses from 23 to 15 % .The Strategy recommends the installation of 1 MW of energy storage facilities, whereby a total KSH. 5 Billion in investments will be required for implementation of energy conservation measures. Further, in the Transport Sector, improvement of fuel economy, increasing the share of electric vehicles to reach five per cent and raising the number of passengers using commuter trains from 116,000 to 150,000 per day are proposes. Similarly, the Building Sector has six targets while the Industry & Agriculture Sector has two.

Alongside these sectoral targets, Kenya aspires to strengthen implementation of energy efficiency and conservation measures. All involved agencies will mobilize resources to improve access to finance for energy efficiency projects and accelerate actualization of the Strategy, particularly the Directorate of Renewable Energy and CEEC. Gender-focused and targeted approaches will be implemented for inclusive participation and benefit. Additionally, awareness creation, citizen engagement, training and capacity-building will be implemented. This Strategy, therefore, calls for private and public sector players to mainstream energy efficiency and conservation in education by establishing a long-term mechanism to achieve a high level of government and public awareness on their importance. This will be accomplished by bolstering relationships and engagements among ministries, inter-ministerial forums, county governments, national governments and climate change units countrywide.

Ultimately, the KNEECS will contribute significantly to the essential areas outlined in the Big Four Agenda of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for all.

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Nigerians Say No to Fuel, Electricity Hike, Stage Protest

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Nigerians Protest Increase in Fuel and Electricity Prices

Following the decision of the Federal Government to increase fuel price and raise electricity tariff after increasing Value Added Tax (VAT) by 50 percent, Nigerians have taken to the street of Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, to protest the persistent increase in prices despite low earnings and global pandemic that have rendered most Nigerians jobless.

This is coming a day after the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the nation’s inflation rate increased by 13.22 percent in the month of August.

The protesters called the government’s recent hikes despite the negative impacts of COVID19 and surged in the unemployment rate to over 27 percent an anti-people policy and therefore demanded a revised policy.

The protesters, who gathered at the Ojuelegba area of Lagos, said while nations are injecting funds into their economies to ease the effect of COVID-19 on their citizens, Buhari led government is compounding Nigerians suffering amid insecurities.

Experts have blamed the decision to raise prices on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. According to economic experts, the two multilateral financial institutions do not loan nations fund without forcing them to adopt their policy.

They identified some of the policies directed Buhari to implement as the unification of the foreign exchange market, Electricity tariff increase and subsidy removal even though Nigeria’s macro fundamentals are presently weak with foreign revenue falling with weak oil price and plunge in demand for the commodity.

 

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NLC Cautions National Assembly Against Resurrecting Water Bill

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Nigeria Labour Congress

NLC Warns National Assembly Against Bringing Back Water Bill

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the National Assembly leadership against passing the Water Resources Bill into law.

This was disclosed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement released in Abuja on Monday, titled, ‘Do not ambush Nigerians.’

It would be recalled that in 2018, there was outrage over the bill when the eighth National Assembly was divided over it.

But on July 23, 2020, the bill resurfaced at the National Assembly as the House of Representatives referred it to a “committee of the whole,” for third reading and passage.

Last week Thursday, Prof Wole Soyinka, a playwright and social critic; and organisations such as the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum, also warned the Federal Government and the National Assembly against resurrecting the bill.

Wabba in the statement said that the nation is already facing a lot of challenges, saying it would be costly to cause fresh and unnecessary controversy.

He said, “Information in the public domain has it that the National Assembly leadership is working surreptitiously with vested interests outside the assembly to pass the bill without due legislative process.

“Although the National Assembly is constitutionally vested with law-making, we warn against the National Assembly ambushing Nigerians.

“We equally warn against legislative abuse or betrayal of Nigerians as this is what it will amount to if the bill is passed or caused to be passed without public engagement and scrutiny. Already, the sentiments expressed against this bill are too grave to be brushed off.”

Wabba, therefore advised that the bill should not be pass into law “because of the danger it portends to national unity.”

He said, “In the light of this, we state unambiguously that the National Assembly should listen to the voice of reason by resting this bill.

“As a pan-Nigerian organisation, we would continue to work assiduously for unity, development, justice and accountable leadership.”

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