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NLC, TUC, Others Seek Review of Public Servants’ Retirement Age

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The Organised Labour yesterday called for the review of retirement age for all public servants from 60 to 65 years and from 35 years to 40 years of service.

It made the demand during this year’s Workers’ Day Celebration with the theme: ‘Workers’ Rights and Socioeconomic Justice’.

This year’s May Day celebration was the last held under President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.

The Organised Labour also demanded that an independent panel be set up to investigate the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu and his team over their conduct in the 2023 general elections.

The body demanded an investigation into the sending of N12 billion by the Ministry of Aviation to buy 10 fire trucks.

President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who spoke at the event, said equity, fairness and justice underpins the survival of societies and creates resilience for nations in the midst of upheavals and turbulence, noting that Nigeria needs the presence of this mass to jump start the process of development.

He said poor wages, abuse of workplace rights and privileges as well as unpaid salaries strip workers of their rights.

On his part, the President of the TUC, Comrade Festus Osifo decried the state of the economy, which according to him is on auto pilot, struggling to survive while those engaged to manage it have kept throwing filth and injecting toxins into it.

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He described as unfortunate, a situation which the country is led by men and women who delight in enacting policies that are detrimental to the progress of the nation, including the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) currency redesigning policy.

Attending the event are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello; and the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen.

The candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi was also in attendance.

Past and present leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) as well as those of other affiliate unions converged on the Eagle Square Abuja in commemoration of the 2023 May Day Celebration.

‘N30,000 Minimum Wage No Longer Useful’

President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Festus Osifo has said that the

currentN30,000 minimum wage has lost its value when compared to 2019 when the law to increase the wage was put into place.

He said this was because the nation consumes mostly imported things, meaning one would have to weigh the minimum wage against the value of the dollar today, as to fully comprehend the hardship that the average Nigerian worker has gone through, especially within the last year.

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Osifo, who stated this yesterday, being the International Worker’s Day, was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

He also revealed that the various levels of difficulties and hardship faced by workers in the last year, made it quite uninteresting.

“If you check that 30,000 naira as at then (2019), if you check the value, thirty thousand could give you like 2, 3, 4 bags of rice, but today, where are we relating to that?

“We spend naira but literally every thing we consume, we import, so when you check the value of that 30,000 naira as at then when the dollar was somewhere between 300 and 350, if you check it then the minimum wage was approximately $100. But today, if you marry that viz-a-viz what is happening in the parallel market, then it is somewhere around $50, so what this means is that the exchange rate has actually affected the value of the naira which literally determines the purchasing power in the market.

“Today we are in real crisis,” Osifo buttressed.

The TUC President further asserted that today the purchasing power of the average Nigerian worker has depleted, adding that this is why the TUC and other sister bodies have been clamoring for a change in the duration it takes for government to review minimum wage, which in Nigeria’s case is five years.

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According to him, with a high spate of inflation averaging 20 per cent each year, the Nigerian’s worker’s salary cannot remain stagnant.

He said what the Union is advocating is that as it is done in every other industry in Nigeria, there is a 2-year CBA negotiation, with salary adjustments considered within the same time frame. This practice Osifo said should be carried out more frequently to ensure that the Nigerian worker is not depleted.

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Again, Tribunal Steps Down Obi’s Petition

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For the third time, the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, was forced to step down hearing in the petition filed by Mr Peter Gregory Obi and the Labour Party, LP, against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The petition was stepped down by the court following a poor schedule of documents being sought to be tendered to establish the allegations of malpractices during the February 25 presidential election.

At yesterday’s proceedings, the court discovered that the documents were not properly scheduled as ordered by the Court.

In the drama that ensued at the point of rendering the documents from the 23 local government areas of Benue, a lot of discrepancies were uncovered.

All efforts to reconcile the anomaly and reschedule the documents were unsuccessful as the errors were beyond immediate solution.

To save the situation, counsel to Obi and the Labour Party, Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN, sought to use documents not filed to conduct the proceedings, but the move was rejected on the ground of illegality.

In the end, the court stepped down hearing of the petition and ordered the legal team to go and re-file the schedule of documents in line with the provisions of the pre-hearing report.

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The hearing of Obi’s petition had run into stormy waters three times, prompting the shift in the hearing of the petition.

At the time of this report, Peter Obi and the Vice Presidential candidate, Datti Baba Ahmed, were in the court as their lawyers were running helter-skelter to the Registry of the Court to file a new schedule of documents.

Meanwhile, the five Justices led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani hearing the petition have retired to their chambers to await when the legal team will put its house in order.

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In Maiden Meeting, Crush Oil Thieves Now, Tinubu Orders Service Chiefs

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday met with the Service Chiefs and heads of security and intelligence agencies and told them that he would change the security architecture of the country to blend with his philosophy to address the insecurity challenges across the federation.

The President also said as far as he is concerned, ‘Nigeria should not go on her knees as a result of security challenges while other countries are working, moving forward and recording tremendous achievements.

Tinubu stated this in his maiden official meeting with Security and intelligence heads led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as the the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen.

Babagana Monguno (retd), who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting that lasted two hours, said the President has directed heads of security agencies to come out with their blue prints.

He ordered the security agencies to crush anyone involved in oil theft, stressing that his administration will not tolerate such menace.

“He is going to embark on a lot of reforms in terms of our security architecture, he is going to take a closer look at our misfortunes in the maritime domain, focusing particularly on the issues of oil theft, that as far as he is concerned, he is not going to tolerate oil theft wherever the problem is coming from it must be crushed as soon as possible,” he stated.

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He has already mandated the security agencies to come up with a blueprint as far as he knows and as far as he concerned, he doesn’t have the luxury of time; and whatever changes will be made have to be done as soon as possible.

“The President also has decided that whatever ventures the armed forces are going to be engaged in, they must carry along those operatives in the theatre. They must be well fed, well kitted, motivated and given all that they require.

He said it was an appraisal meeting for the President to get briefing on the activities of the different security formations and for him to tell them his own philosophy and what he expects from the security heads.

“The President and Commander in Chief of the armed forces has just concluded a meeting of the general security appraisal committee consisting of the Chief of Staff, Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, and heads of the intelligence agencies.

“This is the very first meeting he’s had with the heads of the security agencies. The meeting lasted for two hours.

“Having been briefed by the participants of the meeting, Mr. President, addressed prevailing issues confronting the nation in terms of insecurity and also mentioned his own philosophy towards dealing with national security issues.

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“First and foremost, he appreciated the armed forces and intelligence agencies and the wider paramilitary agencies for the work they have been doing in the past couple of years. Their sacrifice, their loyalty, and he also paid tribute to those who died in defending this country, from the great big menace of terrorism, insurgency banditry, oil theft, sea robbery, piracy, etc.

“The President has made it very clear that he’s determined to build on whatever gains that have been made and to reverse misfortunes and turn the tide in our favour.

“As far as he’s concerned, this country should not be on its knees struggling while other countries are working and achieving greater heights,” he said.

President Tinubu said in moving the country forward he needs the security agencies to redouble their efforts, stressing that his own philosophy is one of contemporary security measures dealing with the requirements of the time.

“He has made it very clear that he will not accept a situation in which our fortunes keep declining. And his own trajectory is that national security has to be coordinated, there has to be whatever…whether it is a basket system, but there must be a clearing house.

“All agencies must work to achieve one single purpose. Working at cross purposes and colliding with each other is not something that he will condone. He has made it very, very clear that all the security agencies must comply with the demands of coordination, with the demands of frequent consultations and also timely reports which must be acted on.

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“President has said clearly that he will do whatever is within his powers to enable the operational elements but the intelligence agencies must also make their work easy for them by providing the type of intelligence that they require to carry out the assignment,” the NSA said.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has mandated his security chiefs to draw up a fresh blueprint that would guide security operations in the country.

Tinubu, who met with the security chiefs in the country for the first time since assuming office, yesterday, said he had a personal philosophy about how security issues should be handled for effective results.

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Obi, LP Challenge Election Results in Rivers, Benue, Niger, 15 Other States

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The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 25 presidential election, Mr Peter Gregory Obi and his party confirmed to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday in Abuja that they would challenge the election results in 18 states only.

They held that they would not dissipate energies in the states where they won convincingly and without any dispute.

However, at the end of proceedings, Obi and his party tendered certified electoral documents obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC in only six states.

The documents, mainly, Forms EC8A, election results from polling units were admitted as exhibits to be used to establish their alleged riggings and other malpractices during the election.

Presiding Justice of the Court, Haruna Simon Tsammani admitted the documents as exhibits after they were tendered by Chief Emeka Okpoko SAN who represented Obi and the Labour Party.

Meanwhile, INEC, represented by Kemi Pinhero SAN, issued the documents and certified them as genuine but dramatically announced its decision to object to the admission of the documents.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shetima, who are 2nd and 3rd respondents and represented by Adebayo Adelodun SAN in the petition challenging their declaration as winners of the election, also hinted to oppose the admissibility of the electoral documents.

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Similarly, the All Progressives Congress, APC, represented by Chief Afolabi Fashanu, SAN, argued that it would raise objections against the documents.

Breakdown of the tendered and admitted documents showed that Forms EC8A were tendered in 15 Local Government Areas of Rivers State, 23 in Benue, 18 in Cross River, 23 in Niger State, 20 in Osun and 16 in Ekiti Local Government Areas.

A further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June today by the Court at the instance of the two petitioners.

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