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FG Committed to Implementing Agreement with Labour 

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The Federal Government says it is committed to implementing the agreements it entered with organised labour on the general welfare of workers and other issues

The government’s position is contained in a  statement issued by Mr Segun Imohiosen Director Information, office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on Tuesday in Abuja.

Imohiosen said the federal government reviewed the commitments made with the organised labour at a meeting attended by  the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and other dignitaries.

He disclosed that  substantial progress had been made in the agreements including payment of four months from six months wage award promised to the organised labour

“From the payment of wage award of N35,000 for six months, government had so far paid for four months up to  Dec.

31 2023.

“The  remaining two months of January and February, 2024 is being processed,” he said

The Director said the federal government had also inaugurated a 37-member Minimum Wage Committee to review and come up with an acceptable and sustainable minimum wage for the Nigerian workers.

“The Committee has so far held two meetings and discussions are ongoing,” he said.

On the provision of CNG Buses and conversion kits, he said government had so far made substantial financial commitments.

According to him, the buses would be rolled out in no distance time to alleviate the transportation challenges being faced by Nigerians.

He said government had implemented the suspension of collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Diesel for six months beginning from Oct. 2023.

On the leadership crises rocking NURTW and RTEAN, Imohiosen said government waded into the matter and the issue had been amicably resolved.

” The Lagos state government was mandated to address the matter and as we speak, the executive body of the union has been inaugurated and all contending issues  resolved.

“With respect to the outstanding salaries and wages of tertiary education workers in federal owned educational institutions, government has paid the four months outstanding salaries to ASUU in full.

“Action is ongoing with respect to other Unions as well.m,” he said

Imohiosen said over three million households, including vulnerable pensioners had benefitted from the N25,000 monthly conditional cash transfer.

He said over N68.3 billion had been disbursed before the temporary suspension of the programme.

“With respect to the issue of subsidised distribution of fertilizers to farmers across the country, government has made tremendous progress in this regard to ensure effective distribution to boast agricultural production.

“Government has constantly engaged various state governments and the private sector on the issue of the implementation of wage award for their workers.

To ascertain the level of rehabilitation of the refineries in the country,  Imohiosen said a joint visitation by government and organised labour was successfully was carried, Feb 21.

He disclosed that from the visitation, the Port-Harcourt Refinery is 80 per cent completed while production of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) would commence before the end of the year. (NAN)

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FG Revokes 924 Dormant Mining Licences as Minister Decries Racketeering

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The Federal Government has revoked additional 924 dormant mining licenses.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake announced this on Wednesday in Abuja as he decried the racketeering of the issuance of the licences.

He told newsmen that mining licence racketeering was impeding the development of the sector and obstructing genuine investors from showing interest in Nigeria’s mines.

Licences revoked were 528 for exploration; 22 mining leases, 101 quarry licences and 273 small-scale mining licences.

The minister explained that a grace period of 30 days was given to defaulters to rectify their statuses, and to state reasons for dormancy on the sites allocated to them in line with Constitutional provisions.

He said that 963 licences were published in the official gazette of the Federal Government in December 2023 awaiting revocation.

Out of these, only 39 of the listed licence holders responded to the warning as they either moved to site immediately or they stated challenges hindering their operations, he added.

Alake stated that the revocation of the licences was taken to sanitise and reposition the mining sector to boost Nigeria’s economic profile and to accelerate its industrialisation.

He noted that the “first-come, first-served’’ rule in the licencing regime was a disincentive for genuine investors as the rule prohibited issuance of fresh licence on a site already allocated.

The ministry revoked 1,663 mining licences in November 2023 because of failure by licensees to pay statutory charges and other dues to the Federal Government.

Alake said that following the revocation of the 1,663 licences in 2023, government received a lot of pressure to reconsider the punitive measure.

According to him, in response to the pressure, government issued a policy for defaulters to make restitution and show remorse in order to be considered for reinstatement.

He said that the restitution varied depending on the category of licence revoked.

“The highest, which is on mining attracts a restitution N10 million per revoked licence payable to the Federal Government.

“For the small-scale licences, the restitution is N7.5 million for reinstatement and for exploration licence, the restitution is N5 million,’’ Alake said.

The minister warned in his 2024 New Year goodwill message that more mining licences would be revoked for other categories of defaulters.

He warned also that Nigeria’s mining sector would not continue to suffer from low investments because of nefarious activities of individuals who bought licences for promising mine sites only to resell them at the illegal market.

He added that the practice was tarnishing Nigeria’s image and was diverting funds that could be used for exploration to the illegal market to acquire licences at exorbitant prices.

Alake stressed that Nigeria was losing a significant amount of Foreign Direct Investment to the untoward practice. (NAN)

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Sokoto Assembly Adopts Motion to Establish Skills Centre for Displaced Widows

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The Sokoto State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, approved a motion advocating for the establishment of an Educational and Skills Acquisition Centre to support widows displaced by banditry and other security challenges in the state.

The motion, which was moved by Alhaji Abubakar Shehu (APC- Yabo) and seconded by Alhaji Atiku Liman (PDP-Silame), also urged the state government to repurpose the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre for the initiative.

Shehu highlighted that the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre, originally established by the State Zakkat and Endowment Commission in collaboration with Qatar Charity Organisations, could serve the purpose effectively.

He stated the importance of empowering widows and their children, emphasising the need to transition them from dependency to self-sufficiency.

“The conversion of the Centre into an Education and Skill Acquisition Centre for widows and children displaced by banditry is crucial to empower them economically and prevent them from becoming liability to the society,” he stated.

The lawmaker expressed concern about the sight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the metropolis, often seen begging without access to economic activities or education.

He said the proposed center would offer training in various skills such as catering, knitting, tailoring, cream making, welding, mechanics, carpentry and building, among others.

Shehu emphasised that funding for the centre should be a joint responsibility of the state government, Zakkat Commission, international donors and individual contributions.

Contributing to the discussion, Alhaji Bello Idris (APC-Gwadabawa North) stressed the importance of conducting a comprehensive census of IDPs in the state to ensure proper support and utilisation of the centre once established.

Following deliberations, Speaker Alhaji Tukur Bala conducted a voice vote, and the motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers. (NAN)

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Undertake Reforms for Functional Justice System – Tinubu Tells Judiciary 

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President Bola Tinubu has called on the nation’s Judiciary to embark on reforms that will ensure functional justice system and support economic growth.

Tinubu gave the charge on Wednesday when he declared open the National Summit on Justice, 2024, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.

Represented by his Vice, Kashim Shettima, the President also emphasised the need for a legal framework that would guarantee basic human and political rights of individuals and provide security for all Nigerians.

According to him, much can be achieved when institutions of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, unite to acknowledge their challenges and brainstorm.

” This is with a view to proffering solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria,” he said.

The President, therefore, urged the judiciary to align its activities within the tenets of his administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

” Particularly as they relate to the priorities on inclusivity, fairness, rule of law, and anti-corruption stance, among other things”.

He said that his administration had pledged to be impartial and adhere to constitutional principles.

Tinubu said that the Summit availed institutions in the justice sector “with an opportunity to push boundaries by identifying needed system changes and critical reforms that would allow Nigerians to reap the benefits of huge investments in the sector.”

He explained that the Federal Government was determined to implement its policies and promises made to Nigerians for a renewed hope, through the instrumentality of the “law and the dictates of justice to create opportunities for our people.”

President Tinubu said that his administration made funding for the third arm of government a top priority, doubling it in the Renewed Hope budget 2024 by more that 100 per cent from 2023, budget.

” I urge the leadership of all justice sector institutions to seek a new direction and focus on outcomes by creating a justice system that truly responds to the needs of our citizens.

” I demand informed and coordinated responses to the identified challenges plaguing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector.

” I demand performance so that Nigerians can feel and acknowledge the impact of your reform efforts.

“;Ultimately, the expectations are that law and justice should aim to ensure public safety, economic development, peaceful co-existence, and the well-being of our people.”

Earlier, the President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio commended the commitment of all stakeholders in the justice sector in building a consensus that would ensure a more robust judicial system.

He underscored the commitment of the National Assembly to a more vibrant and transformative justice system

He assured that the legislature would play its part by deliberating on the outcome of the summit in a bid to enshrine the outcomes into law.

On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Okukayode Ariwoola, said giving the high expectations from the judiciary, undertaking a holistic reform of the sector had become necessary.

He noted that constitutional, statutory and operational reforms in the justice sector was imperative in meeting the aspirations and yearnings of the general public.

The CJN attributed most of the achievements recorded in the judiciary to the support of Tinubu administration, particularly in the enhancement of the welfare of judicial officers and improvement in their working environment.

In the same vein, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, emphasised the significance of the revised draft national policy on justice.

He noted that building a national consensus on the advancement of the justice sector has become necessary. (NAN)

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