- Nigeria, S’Africa Denounce Xenophobia, Move to Bolster Relations
Both the Nigerian and South African Governments have denounced any form of criminality regardless of whom it is targeted at, especially in view of prevailing global economic situation which has resulted in the competition for scarce resources.
The formal denouncement wednesday was the fallout of a meeting of high level delegations of lawmakers from parliament of the Republic of South Africa and the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held at the South African parliament in Cape Town.
The parties had met to discuss matters of mutual interest and means to consolidate diplomatic relations between the two legislatures.
The delegations from the two sister legislative bodies were led by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Lechesa Tsenoli, and his Nigerian counterpart, the leader of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Hon. Feni Gbaja biamila.
The crucial meeting followed recent tensions between certain members of some communities and some foreign nationals in South Africa, a matter which featured prominently in the discussion particularly with regards to its impact on Nigerian nationals concerned.
The deliberations was characterised by frank, robust but cordial engagement, accordingly to joint statement signed by spokesperson of South African Parliament, Moloto Mothapo, and his Nigerian counterpart, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje.
Notably, the parties admitted that both legislative institutions had not paid sufficient attention to strengthening diplomatic relationships at the legislature level to forestall recent and previous unfortunate clashes between local and foreign nationals that affected Nigerian nationals, particularly the Nigerian businesses.
Nevertheless, both institutions committed to work collaboratively to continuously bolster existing relations and present a united front particularly in the context of economic challenges and rising global competition.
They also agreed to further engage on issues of mutual interest within the ambit of their constitutional powers.
Both countries had enjoyed close diplomatic relations bound by strong history. The people of Nigeria provided unwavering support and solidarity to the people of South Africa to unseat the last bastion of colonialism in Africa and usher in freedom and democracy.
Last year, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa was invited to address the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2013 the then President of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Jonathan addressed the joint sitting the South African Parliament, an indication of the strong ties enjoyed by the two countries.
It was recognised that South Africans are generally a welcoming people, a fact that is evidenced by a great number of South African communities which continue to live side by side and peacefully with their foreign counterparts.
PENGASSAN Embarks on Three-day Warning Strike
PENGASSAN Embarks on Three-day Warning Strike
Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) have embarked on a three-day warning strike.
The National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of PENGASSAN, who is also the Rivers State Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Fortune Obi, confirmed this on Wednesday August 12, 2020.
It would be recalled that in 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari had warned that all federal government workers not captured on the IPPIS platform by October 31, 2019 would not be paid their monthly salaries.
PENGASSAN members, not captured on the IPPIS platform, have withdrawn their services in protest against government failure to pay their salary for the past three months, saying that they were downing tools following the authorities’ insistence on compelling them to join the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The union insisted that the government had not done enough to convince them that the IPPIS was enough to handle the peculiarities of the environment they work, noting that it was wrong to lump them with civil servants on the IPPIS platform.
PENGASSAN also said that almost all avenues for negotiation had been explored, but there was no response from the government.
The union spokesman, Mr. Fortune Obi, said that apart from the fact that the IPPIS platform was not secure, it had failed to consider the difference between regular civil servants and oil workers.
He said: “It’s a three-day warning strike by members in the government regulatory agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum basically because of their inclusion in the IPPIS system, which we have rejected ab initio due to the various challenges we have had with it and the associated inefficiencies.
“PENGASSAN resolved about the system long ago. We want assurance that this system is robust enough to handle the challenges. We are saying we work in a peculiar sector where our members earn some allowances different from the civil service structure.
“Therefore, lumping us into that platform without capturing the peculiarities is unacceptable. Because of that, for the past three months, our members in these agencies have not been paid their salaries.
“We have said clearly that we work in a peculiar environment, where earned allowances are different from the civil service payment system. In the civil service, they don’t work offshore, they don’t work in tank farms, they don’t work in haulage system, so for personnel from the peculiar agencies, there are earned allowances. These are not captured in the IPPIS system.
“We need the guarantee that this system is robust enough to capture these issues. You can’t just go and implement something on a platform that is generally for civil servants and their structure. They must consider us as peculiar operators within the system.”
“We work in circles in certain locations. In the civil service, it’s not circle driven. So, if I am working in an FPSO located in the Gulf of Guinea and my work circle is 28 days in, 28 out, as I return, how am I going to get my earned allowances.
“What the IOCs do is to book it into their system, we need the assurances, otherwise leave us where we are currently because that same application we are using currently is domiciled with the accountant general. So why the change to a system that’s not reliable?
“Low cadre persons can break the security of that system, it’s not robust enough. We have made frantic efforts to call the attention of government to our people’s peculiar issues. Nothing is done.”
Obi added that if after three days, the demands of the protesters are not met, it will become a nationwide issue to be handled by the national body of the union.
COVID-19: World Bank to Support Nigerian Frontline Healthcare Workers With $114.28m
World Bank Strengthens Nigerian Response to COVID-19
The World Bank has once again approved another $114.28 million financing for Nigeria to improve its COVID-19 response time and further curb the spread of the virus in Africa’s most populous nation.
The multilateral financial institution said the money will help Africa’s largest economy prevent, detect and respond to the threat of ravaging COVID-19 better.
In a statement titled “Nigeria to boost states capacity for COVID-19 response” and released on Friday, the lender said the fund includes $100 million credit facility from the International Development Association and $14.28 million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The statement reads, “Through the COVID-19 preparedness and response project (CoPREP), the government of Nigeria will provide grants to 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory as immediate support to break the chain of COVID-19 local transmission and limit the spread of coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.”
The lender, however, stated that grants for states would be based on the adoption of COVID-19 measures and strategies. In particular, the strategies must be in line with the ones put in place by the Federal Government.
“CoPREP will enhance the institutional and operational capacity for disease detection through provision of technical expertise, coordination support, detection, diagnosis and case management efforts in all states and the FCT as per the WHO guidelines in the strategic response plan,” it stated.
The bank added that it would help the Federal Government in such response capacity through the training of frontline healthcare workers and provision of the necessary equipment to aid their work, strengthen public healthcare network for emergencies and generally improve their response efficiency.
Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director, Nigeria said, “Nigeria has ramped up its efforts to contain the COVID -19 outbreak, but more needs to be done at the state level, which are at the frontline of the response.”
Mismanagement of Public Funds and Resources Will Destroy Nigeria, Says Stakeholders
Some concerned stakeholders have said the broad-based financial misappropriation, abuse of public office by Public Officeholders and unchecked borrowing will destroy the nation’s present and future if not checked.
According to Auwal Musa, the Executive Director, CISLAC, who spoke at a stakeholders’ dialogue on ‘Policies, Gaps and Alternatives in Fiscal Transparency in Private Sector Governance,’ organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Transparency International (TI), with support from OXFAM’s country office in Nigeria, abuse of power and financial recklessness as been going on for far too long.
Musa said, “This has been going on for too long, and every singular effort from the citizens is termed as hate or unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the consequences of this anomaly are staring us in the face on a daily basis and are on the increase. Increased poverty; banditry allegedly occasioned by rising unemployment; and unpatriotic citizens trooping into leadership positions to perpetuate the looting and misappropriation due to no oversight and punitive sanctions, not to mention health, infrastructure and societal decay. The list is inexhaustible.”
He also implored the Government that in order to reduce the excessive misuse of public resources, mismanagement of finances and strengthen the financial management system, the holes that encourage people to evade and undermine the collection of taxes must be bridged and in-depth economic improvement devised to close policy gaps.
“There are many areas in which the government can increase its revenue drive. For instance, in the Oil and Gas sector, there are a lot of gaps as a result of lack of a clear legal framework through the PIB, which will enable the sector to be more efficient, transparent and competitive. Again, the oil theft needs to be blocked; other areas like maritime revenue can be harnessed in these sectors.
“Also, the government should block the areas where revenues are supposed to be collected and are not collected. For instance, the audit report clearly shows how the government is losing revenue.” he said.
The stakeholders urge policymakers to look for other sources of revenue that can guarantee development in Nigeria.
Also, speaking at the event was the Programme Manager, Tax, Justice, Environment and Conservation of Nature, CISLAC, Chinedu Bassey, who said one of the reasons to strengthen the Nigerian financial management system is to stop people from stealing and mismanaging resources meant for development.
Iheme Madukairo, the Manager, Large Tax Audit, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), advised Nigerians who evade taxes to stop such act that the law will take its course.
He said “Enforcement is out there, sleeves are rolled up to do the job that we are mandated to do by the act and sooner or later, we will catch up with them. The sanctions have also increased by virtue of the finance act. The penalty has been increased, once it is found out that it is a deliberate act to breach the law, the law will take its course.”
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