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Power Sector Remains Challenged, Says Osinbajo

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  • 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.

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.

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Air Passengers Drop as Domestic Airlines Resume Operations

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Number of Air Passengers Drop as Domestic Airlines Resume Operations

The number of air passengers dropped despite Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu lifting the curfew imposed to address looting and destruction of properties in the state.

The busiest airport in the country, Murtala Mohammed Airport, resumed full operations on Monday, however, passengers are cautious about flying, especially because of the tense situation across the nation.

Some of the officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria as well as those of domestic airlines confirmed that domestic passenger volume had been on a slow start since they commenced full operations.

Okwudili Ezenwa, the spokesperson for Dana Air, said “We are hoping that by next week, everything should have settled down because right now, people are still trying to be sure of their movements.

“Passengers are being cautious before they come out. So, things have not balanced. People are not leaving Lagos as such from the airport now; rather, they are being careful.”

He added, “In locations where no curfew was announced, other places will still have to feed such locations. So since we have curfews here and there, ultimately it affects areas where we don’t have curfew.

“But we hope everything settles down well before next week.”

Similarly, Stanley Olisa, the spokesperson, Air Peace, explained that even though domestic flight operations had resumed, passengers were still wary of flying.

Yes domestic flights have resumed out of the Lagos airport but it is something that is only picking up gradually,” he said.

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333,000 Artisans: FG Commences One-Time Payment of N30,000

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FG Begins One-Time Payment of N30,000 to 333,000 Artisans

The Federal Government on Monday said it has commenced a one-time payment of N30,000 to 333,000 artisans under the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Survival Fund.

In a statement issued by Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, disbursements were being done to verified beneficiaries of the Artisan Support Scheme.

The statement read in part, “In the first stream of payments starting today, beneficiaries are being drawn from the FCT, Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, Borno, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Abia, Rivers, Plateau and Delta States. They form the first batch of applications for the scheme submitted between October 1 and October 10.

“The MSMEs Survival Fund scheme is a component of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP, which was developed by an Economic Sustainability Committee established by President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2020.

“The President asked his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to head the committee which produced and is overseeing the implementation of the plan. “Under the ESP, the Survival Fund is generally designed to among other things, support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their different obligations and safeguard jobs in the sector.”

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Absorb Exited Npower Beneficiaries, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG

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Absorb Npower Beneficiaries of Batches A and B, N-power Youths Congress Tells FG

The N-power Youths Congress (NYC) has pleaded with the Federal Government to absorb the 500,000 exited Npower beneficiaries of Batches A and B and pay their outstanding allowances.

The National Coordinator, NYC, Comrade Joseph Enam Maga, stated this in Maiduguri during a press briefing held on Saturday at the NUJ Press Center.

He said thousands of exited beneficiaries are yet to be paid since the month of Match.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to offset all the outstanding allowances of Batches A and B and create a permanent job for them.

He said “It is a fact undisputable that thousands of beneficiaries have not been paid since the month of March.

“Promises upon promises have been made on this, but yet no positive result has been recorded. Sometimes I wonder what it takes for the data base manager of Npower to rectify this! Something that can be rectified in a couple of hours has lasted for seven good months now.

“Worst still, this is happening within this period of hunger and starvation because of Pandemic. We call on the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management to be human enough to respond to our request and give prompt attention to them.

“We equally wish to bring to the notice of Mr. President that Batch B Beneficiaries have not received their devices as was promised and signed at the commencement of the program.

“It is very sad that up to the disengagement of Batch A and B, nobody has come out openly to tell us what happened to our devices.

The coordinator paused to ask why are Nigerian youths being treated like nobody in their country? What have we done to be neglected like this?

“When the Humanitarian Minister was asked why we were disengaged at this critical time in historical epoch that corona virus is terrorizing the whole world, she responded that we were disengaged because it’s a two years programe that we signed.

“Then comes the question: why did Batch A stayed 4years? And if we signed for two years contract that warranted our disengagement, didn’t we equally signed to be given a device that would help us in our different places of primary assignment and equally increase of knowledge? Please we need answers ma. We need answers.

“We, the 500,000 batches A and B of Npower beneficiaries are calling on our government to respond to our demand. We don’t want to believe that it’s only a state of violence anarchy and doom will make a sane government to listen to her Youth’s grievances.

“Look at the Endsars protest for instance, after many lives have been lost and properties destroyed, our government decided to speak up. Niger delta militants were attended to when they resort to arms.

“The insurgents were given amnesty because of their terrorism. But we the innocent 500,000 graduates have been innocently complaining to our government but they paid deaf ears. We are law abiding citizens and we will continue to be law abiding citizens.

“We want Mr. President to understand that a hungry man is an angry man. We have really endured a lot. We need a quick response to our requests. We can’t be used and dumped like refuse. We refused to be used and dumped”, the National Coordinator added.

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