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FG Will Ensure Equity in Social Investment Programs – Uwais

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja


The National Social Investment Office (NSIO), will ensure a level playing field for all Nigerians in the execution of the Social intervention Programmes (SIPs) of the Federal Government, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Mrs Maryam Uwais has said.


Speaking in Kaduna while addressing Course 2 participants of the Kasshim Ibrahim Fellowship, a mentorship programme designed to groom future leaders in Nigeria, Mrs Uwais said structures have since been put in place to ensure that those who benefit from the various components of the social intervention programmes are captured based on merit.

She told the group of budding leaders drawn from various parts of the country that gone are the days when a privileged few in the society benefited from a government empowerment initiative designed to reach out to the poor.

“All applicants are encouraged to engage with the processes in place if they need a job. The programmes are open to everybody. You don’t need to know anybody to get enrolled into N-Power, for instance.
“Same procedure applies to the cash transfer program and other components. We have done similar programs in the past but such efforts were not as effective because the drivers at the time did not establish mechanisms and structures that aim at targeting the poorest of the poor”, she added. 

In a statement by NSIO Communication Manager, Justice Bibiye in Abuja on Sunday, the presidential adviser revealed that the process of developing a reliable Social Register in each State of the federation (and the FCT) was ongoing, noting that well-trained people were being sent to the various communities to identify the socio-economic needs of the people based on their circumstances and peculiarities.
Recounting the huge impact the SIPs are making on the beneficiaries, Mrs Uwais noted that “for the first time in a long while, a government in Nigeria has consistently budgeted definite amounts of money for its poor and vulnerable citizens, irrespective of their party affiliations and ethno-religious differences”.
“Poverty doesn’t know culture, party affiliation; it doesn’t know ethnicity or religion. Majority of Nigerians who are poor don’t even have voters card or know what is happening in the political circles. But government has a responsibility to each and every one of them. 
“You need to see how beneficiaries appreciate what we are doing. A woman  came with a big bag to collect just ten thousand naira. When we asked why, she told us she hasn’t had such an amount of money before and needed to be sure she could carry her money home, after payment.
“The cash transfer programme goes beyond cash payments, as community facilitators, who are staff within the LGAs, are trained to visit them every week, to teach them how to form savings groups, life skills, sanitation, nutrition and hygiene. 
“Indeed, due to the fact that the mentoring and support is embedded within the communities, we have confirmed that these beneficiaries have so far saved over N500 million, and are investing their energy and monies in productive activities such as farming, animal husbandry, poultry farming and rehabilitating community infrastructure”
Uwais, however, bemoaned reported cases of extortion of a few cash transfer beneficiaries by people who take undue advantage of their vulnerabilities, limited knowledge of banking procedures and use of gadgets to dupe them.
She also said that because cash payments come with several hazards, steps are being taken to address this challenge as the NSIO has started the process of mapping, to identify money agents and financial institutions that would facilitate the transfer of cash directly to the beneficiaries.
Mrs Uwais, a 1981 Graduate of Law from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had earlier shared her life experiences with the participants, urging them to always strive for excellence in all their endeavors.
She admonished them to rise above ethnic and religious sentiments and at all times put country first as they prepare to take up leadership responsibilities.
Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El Rufai thanked Mrs Uwais for honouring the invitation to speak to the young ones, describing her as a woman of great conscience and one of the few accomplished women in Northern Nigeria, who has made outstanding contributions towards humanitarian efforts and social justice in the country.
The Kasshim Ibrahim Fellowship, a brainchild of Governor el – Rufai, is a nonpartisan initiative with a mission to raise the next generation of leaders and prepare them for leadership through mentorship and a long period of exposure to the work environment.

Labour

FG Approves Pay Rise for Civil Servants 

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By Tony Obiechina  Abuja 

The Federal Government has approved 25% and 35% salary increase for civil servants across various consolidated salary structures.

In a statement by the Head of Press, National Salaries, Incomes, and Wages Commission, Emmanuel Njoku, the increases takes effect on January 1, 2024.

The statement added that the augmentation applies to the six remaining consolidated salary structures, namely the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure, Consolidated Research and Allied Institutions Salary Structure, Consolidated Police Salary Structure, Consolidated Para-military Salary Structure, Consolidated Intelligence Community Salary Structure, and Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure.

Also approved for augmentation is the pension of retirees enrolled in the Defined Benefits Scheme within the aforementioned consolidated salary structures.

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Labour

Tribute to Chief Frank Kokori

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By Joe Ajaero

We at the Nigeria Labour Congress are deeply saddened by the passing away of Chief Frank Kokori at 80. Our hearts are with his biological  family and the NUPENG family where he was General Secretary. To them and other associates, we offer our condolences.

Chief Frank Kokori was Executive Secretary of OMPADEC which later metamorphosed into NDDC among other national appointments held by him.

He was announced as  Chairman of  the board  of  NSITF but denied that role by some of the powers that be.
He instead chaired the board of Michael Imoudou National  Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS) where he made his impact.
This was his last national assignment.

 Chief Frank Kokori will be remembered for many things but top on that list was  being among the Labour leaders that gave their all in order for our  country to have democracy.

For his  stoic and heroic struggle for the enthronement of democracy, he was arrested and detained by the military  alongside other Labour leaders  for spells  of time under inhumane conditions.

Before his arrest and detention by the Abacha -government, Kokori was in the vanguard of Labour leaders who fashioned an alliance with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) on the understanding that then Congress President, Comrade Pascal Bafyau (now of blessed memory) would be vice president to Chief Abiola. Although Chief Abiola (due to circumstances) beyond his control) did not keep that part of the bargain, organised labour gave him their generous and unflinching support. This, coupled with Chief Abiola’ s own credentials gave him coast to coast victory at the polls in the freest election in the history of the country.

Nigeria Labour Congress was similarly  in the vanguard of national resistance when the military scuttled Chief Abiola’ s election or victory. It was in execution of that resistance that Chief Kokori among other Labour leaders was  arrested and incarcerated while others were hounded out of the country. The “lucky” ones were only put on the security watch list and were routinely harassed at their homes, airports and at public functions considered by the State to be subversive. At the risk of sounding immodest, among those arrested and incarcerated at such functions at Ilorin were Comrades Joe Ajaero and Chris Uyot, Deputy General of Congress. There were several others who suffered differing indignities for fighting for democracy.

Even while some of its leaders were in detention with Chief Abiola,  Labour leaders did not give up on their struggle for enthronement of popular democracy. 

For their  “obduracy”, the organised labour paid a heavy price. The  Nigeria Labour Congress and NUPENG for instance, were  illegally dissolved by the military and their assets seized. Sole Administrators were appointed to oversee their affairs until 1999!

It is in light of this that we find it a big irony  that those who collaborated with the military yesterday while Labour was in the trenches would have the audacity to say today that Labour has no business in politics. It is a shame they are allowed to eat  their cake and have it because quite a number of them  through the roof or the back door are in government or positions of influence.  And clearly, the  dilemmna in which we have found ourselves as a people and as a nation cannot be divorced from this  syndrome of opportunism and messiah complex…same faces, same cases, same places ( Akinola Aguda).

Chief Kokori, a dogged and fearless fighter has played his role and gone, history has the next chapter. 

Meanwhile, while the wheel of history turns, we urge the federal government and the Government of Delta State to immortalise him, for what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

 Comrade Joe Ajaero is President, Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC)

      President

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Aviation

Passengers Stranded as NLC Locks Down Abuja Airport

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By Idris Umar Feta Abuja

Many air travellers were left stranded following the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Thursday.

A combined team of NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) blocked both the entry and exit ways of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The protest was part of the series of actions that the two labour unions say they would zero in on Imo, following the attack on the NLC president, Joe Ajaero.

The NLC and TUC had on Tuesday, declared a nationwide strike, which will commence on Tuesday, November 14, due to the face-off with the Imo State Government.

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