The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Benue, Mr John Ngbede, has appealed to pensioners in the state to be patient with the Gov. Samuel Ortom-led administration over their outstanding pension and gratuities.
Ngbede, who made the appeal at a press conference held on Saturday in Makurd said that government was making frantic efforts to clear the arrears of their pension and gratuities.
He said that part of government’s commitment to addressing the issue of pension and gratuities in the state was the constitution of Pensions Commission by the governor.
According to him, the commission comprises of men and women of proven pedigree, who are, themselves, retirees from the civil service.
”The commission, which was inaugurated by Gov. Ortom recently, is vested with the mandate of tackling holistically issues of pensions to retirees, both in the arrears and on due basis.
”It is, therefore, a thing of concern that the senior citizens could stage such protests shortly after the inauguration of that commission.
“The commission is theirs, and they ordinarily should have accorded some respect to it by allowing it to commence work without any hitch.
”By so doing, our respected retirees would have been seen as giving the commission, and by extension, the Gov. Ortom-led administration, benefit of the doubt.
”The state government had also paid over N18 billion as pensions and gratuities to the retirees from 2015 till date.
”The arrears of N11 billion owed the senior citizens by the previous administration has also contributed to the problem on ground, and this was reiterated by the governor while addressing the protesting retirees on Friday,” he said.
Ngbede said that it was a thing of concern to him that some chieftains of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) got themselves involved in the protests by the pensioners.
He particularly condemned the visit to the protesting pensioners by a former Police Commissioner, Alh. Abubakar Tsav.
“The involvement of Tsav in a matter of that nature may not come as a surprise to those who are aware of his history of serial attacks on the person of Gov. Ortom.
”Tsav’s voice has never, at any time, been heard condemning the herdsmen’s invasion, which is the worst tragedy to have befallen Benue in recent times.
“Also, he has neither visited the internally-displaced persons in the state nor shown any empathy towards them, but he has found it auspicious to visit protesting retirees. This, certainly, is not a humanitarian gesture,” he said. (NAN)
Group Gives FG 14-day Ultimatum to End ASUU Strike
By Gom Mirian, Abuja
The Save-Education-Campaign, Nigeria, has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet up with the ASUU demands for campuses to re-open or risk mass protest.
The group issued the ultimatum yesterday at a conference, tagged: “save – public – education campaign”, held in Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Comrade Vivian Bello lamented that the continued strike was an organized crime against students’ career and educational pursuits.
She further lamented the meager allocation for education sector in the country, said only N1. 29tn (7.9%) is budgeted for education in the year 2022 which is a far-cry from UNESCO’s standard recommendation of 26% minimum.
“We make bold to say, that if government will recognize the futility in its so-called insecurity-fighting campaign, change strategy and invest a greater proportion of the resources it is expending in the insecurity campaign in providing robust, efficient and quality educational system and structure and qualitatively educate its teeming citizenry, within a calculated period of time, insecurity will gradually die a natural death in Nigeria and the society will take on its hitherto regular and peaceful equilibrium
“We submit boldly that, Education can be a veritable panacea to insecurity in Nigeria,” she added.
In a communique jointly signed by the Co-Convener of the group, Comrade Dimeji Macaulay, the group damands that “the negotiation process of the strike action, including as led by the Prof Nimi Briggs committee, be immediately concluded and SIGNED.(We demand an end to the lingering foot-dragging).
“The IPPIS has been specifically described and pointed out with evidence, by the striking academic unions as problematic, inconsistent and fraudulent. The Platform should therefore be set aside while the proposed more credible alternatives; UTAS, U3PS deployed accordingly.
“We call for immediate payment of ALL withheld salaries of the striking academic unions. Having become aware of a proposed bill by the Senate to establish financial Aid Scheme for students; we demand that such proposed Scheme be clearly explained to Nigerians.
“We want to see a properly public funded education at all levels in Nigeria and not creating another looting avenue or portfolio for some unscrupulous mindless public officials.
“That in view of the gravity of the situation, we make a clarion call for unity and coming together of staff unions, students, workers and communities across the Country, to mobilize and get ready for civic mass actions to compel the government to take the necessary steps to end the strike and have the millions of our children and students, return to school to end the jeopardy of their Education and future.
“Therefore, we wish to state unequivocally that, If the strike action lingers, we will be forced to commence another round of mass protests Nationwide to bring an end to the unjust denial of innocent Nigerians their Right to Education”.
Bakers Threaten Strike over Rising Cost of Flour, Sugar
By Joseph Amah, Abuja
The Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) has threatened to withdraw their services nationwide, citing a hike in the price of bakery materials, neglect of by federal government and fleecing by regulatory agencies.
The association said this on Friday in a communiqué issued after a meeting of its national executive council in Abuja.
In the communiqué, signed by the association’s executives, led by Mansur Umar, its national president, the bakers said they would commence an initial two-week strike from July 13, 2022.
They said the cost of flour, sugar and other materials used in the bakery business had soared beyond the reach of many bakers.
The group also said efforts to get the government’s intervention in the matter had been unsuccessful, as there had been no positive response from the concerned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.
“Increase in prices of bakery materials, especially flour and sugar having reached unprecedented levels, for example, flour is now between N25,000 and N27,500, so also other ingredients,” it reads.
“The National Wheat Cultivation Committee already constituted is yet to be inaugurated after over one year. NAFDAC, SON, and NESREA have turned the bakers into money-making machines by charging our members outrageous levies even at this very challenging moment.
“Consequently, the NEC in session resolved that all zones, state, Local Governments and units of our association should commence full mobilisation of our members nationwide to embark on withdrawal of services starting from Wednesday, July 13, 2022, for an initial period of two weeks.”
The association, however, told its members to await further directives.
In March, bakers complained that the hike in diesel price and exchange rate volatility caused many of its members across the country to shut down their business operations.
Fuel Crisis: IPMAN Warns Members Against Sale of Fuel Above N165/litre
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has warned members of the association not to dispense Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, above the approved N165/litre pump price.
IPMAN in conjunction with the Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products gave the warning in Abuja following reports that many retail outlets had adjusted the price in their various pumps upwards above the government-regulated rate.
The factional National President, IPMAN, Chinedu Okoronkwo, admitted that members of the association had called for a hike in petrol price, but noted that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had released enough petrol.
The cost of doing business has changed, so it becomes difficult to sell at N165/litre.
He said, “Our members in Lagos were getting the fuel at N170 – N173/litre, that’s why they wanted price increased. It is only the NNPC that is importing the product.
“That is why we are thanking the NNPC for bringing the product to N143/litre. So, our members must sell the product at N165 which is the government-approved price.”
Okoronkwo further revealed that IPMAN and its partner had engaged the services of Benham Group to recover money owed them for the supply of petroleum products.
“Our business requires technology, that is why we brought a seasoned financial expert and we’ve been able to recover a lot of funds in other countries and Nigeria,” he said.
The IPMAN official added, “The incessant mishaps and destruction of trucks on the road, banditry and kidnapping is the reason we are bringing the insurance company to help us. Leaving the risk for the owner of the truck to bear will affect our businesses.”
On his part, the National President, Association of Distributors and Transporters of Petroleum Products in Nigeria, Mohammed Danzaki, said the NNPC had done a lot to import the product, “but the main issue is the transportation.”
He added, “We have not been getting our payments. That is why we engaged a financial expert, Benham Group, to recoup our money for Nigerians to get regular supplies in the fuel stations.”
The Chairman, Benham Group, Maurice Ibe, said the collaboration was to ensure stabilisation of fuel supply at the filling stations.
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