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NGO Trains Benue Govt Actors on Conflict Management

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From Chris Gaga, Makurdi

As a step forward on its peace project, Search for Common Ground, an International non- Governmental Organization has organized a three day Conflict Transformation and Human Rights Training Workshop for government actors and other key stakeholders in Benue State.

The International Organization has being working on a conflict resolution project tagged,  “Transforming the Farmer-Herder Conflicts and Promoting Freedom of Religion and Beliefs in Nigeria’s Middle Belt” for almost  a year.

In a welcome address on Tuesday,  the Country Director of Search for Common Ground, Sher Nawaz, represented by the Zonal Coordinator, Olutoyin Falade said the workshop will enhance better synergy with government agencies on the aim of resolving the farmer-herder conflicts in the state.

“At Search, we are entering a phase of work that will have more engagement with the Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in order to give efficient and effective service delivery and adequate responses to threats on peace and security of our state and nation,” she noted.

Olutoyin explained that the “project since its inception has impacted lives and communities with positive changes in relationships, synergy amongst community members as well as community and government institutions for improved peace and security of all; the media platforms are working tirelessly to change the negative narratives in public domain; perceptions of individuals and group have been influenced positively”.

The Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Ngunan Adingi  who was represented by A Director in the Ministry, Mr Ben Ebe, described the workshop as apt and promised that the Ministry will continue to partner Search for Common Ground especially in the area of publicity.

In their goodwill messages, representatives of the Benue  State Planning Commission,  Mrs Iember Dagih, that of the Adviser to the governor on SDGs and NEPAD, Mrs Beatrice Shomkegh expressed hope that continued partnership with the NGO will make things better for the state even as they pledged to sustain their support to ensure that the peace project embarked upon succeeds in the state.

The representative of the Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS) in the State, A. O Ella, and that of the Nigeria Civil Defence, Peter Akpam assured of cooperation of security agents to the peace initiatives of the NGO in the State.

Stakeholders at the workshop frowned at the use of illicit substances by youths,  proliferation of fire arms , negative effects of climate, and political dominance over land acquisition among other issues as contributing majorly in fueling conflicts in Benue State.

The stakeholders also challenged government agencies especially security agencies to always put the country first above their  institutional biases that tends to pitch them against the collective goal of maintaining a peaceful society.

The State Coordinator of Search in Benue and Nasarawa States, Mr Joshua Chorbe told the stakeholders that the overall goal of the project was to contribute in preventing violence and destruction of lives and properties in the States.

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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