From Chris Gaga, Makurdi
Pensioners in Benue State on Wednesday, began indefinite protest to push for the payment of their pension and gratuities.
DAILY ASSET reports that the pensioners carried placards and coffin with inscriptions such as, “Pensioners are not dead people”, “Pensioners will no longer die in silence”, Assembly members wake up from sleep and help pensioners”, etc
Last week, the senior citizens issued notice to the Benue State Government that they will be embarking on indefinite peaceful protest on Wednesday, September 4, 2019.
According to the Chairman of the pensioners, Peter Kyado, they were demanding immediate payment of outstanding pension arrears, both at the state and LGA levels; the payment of the monthly pensions; a monthly release of N1bn for the payment of gratuities till all the outstanding gratuities were settled, among others.
The pensioners, some of who carry mats with them said they “will be sleeping with the Governor in Government House; after all, it is Benue People’s House.”
John Awodi, who retired in 2005 as a Director in the Ministry of Works said he has been owed 19 months in pension and has not received gratuity since his retirement.
“I have children that are going to school. By next week, I have a bill of not less than Two Hundred Thousand Naira as school fees and I have no single kobo. It is not like I don’t work; I worked for my state and am now retired,” Awodi emphasised.
Esther Orshi retired in 2013. Since then, she has received no Kobo in gratuity and has been owed 25 months in pension.
“We are hungry. Suswam (administration) owed us six months and out of those six months, only three months have been paid to us. If you add that to the present situation, we are owed 25 months.
“So, we are going to stay in the Government House; which is the people’s house and tell the authority that we are dying.”
When asked how they are coping, Alhaji Jibrin Gyuse, said by the “grace of God, but that should tell you that many are no more.”
However, the Chairman, Benue State Pension Commission, Terna Ahua, said the Samuel Ortom administration was working to resolve the challenges facing pensioners in the state.
He explained that the problem of pension in the state cannot be solved in one day “even if you are a magician. This problem has been there for a long time.”
According to Ahua, what the Benue State Pension Commission was trying to do was to plan for those who are going to retire in future, and those who have already retired.
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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