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No More Hardship on Nigerians, Buhari Declares

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By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja 

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday assured Nigerians that the Federal Government would not inflict additional hardship on citizens

Rather, he said his administration would keep seeking ways to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians by creating a more enabling environment for everyone to thrive.

President Buhari made the declaration when he received the new executive of Trade Union Congress led by its President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye, at the State House, Abuja.

The President said the Federal Government remains committed to the implementation of the national minimum wage, pointing out that the inaugural Federal Executive Council meeting held on Wednesday, focused on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which included discussions around the new minimum wage.

He said, “On fuel prices, I agree with you on the need to eliminate corruption and inefficiencies in the sector.

I want to assure you that, as an Administration, we have no intention of inflicting any additional hardship on Nigerians,’’

“During our first term, we secured the nation’s territorial integrity and continue to protect the lives and properties of our citizens. We introduced various economic stimulus packages that support businesses and traders at all levels, promoted backward integration programmes especially in the agricultural sector to enhance our food security while creating jobs.

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“We embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure development and rehabilitation projects this country has seen in decades. We also introduced the largest Social Investment Program in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“Although these programs and many more successfully lifted Nigeria out of recession, the full impact is yet to be felt. In the next four years, we shall sustain this momentum and by the grace of God, lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty,’’ he said.

Buhari, who noted that his administration will work hard to improve the livelihood of citizens, said most of the inherited challenges were avoidable, if some previous governments had been keener on investing on infrastructure and human capacity.

“The points you raised are all interconnected. The lack of power and infrastructure due to decades of under-investment led to the closure or inefficient operations of a number of factories across the country. This meant the private sector was unable to create jobs fast enough to cope with our increasing population.

“You will agree with me that, all these challenges and many more were long ago left unattended to, thereby leaving the country in the mired state we inherited. You all will also testify to having seen and experienced what we have put in place as an administration to address these challenges,’’ the President added.

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In his remarks, the President of TUC advised the Federal Government to pay more attention on the welfare of Nigerians by avoiding increase of fuel price and ensuring implementation of the National Minimum Wage, which had been delayed by negotiations on the consequential adjustments.

“We are, however, disturbed that the enthusiasm is turning into a nightmare,’’ he said, urging the President to focus on poverty reduction and improving security.

Olaleye assured the President that TUC will support the government as it tackles challenges facing the country, commending him for increasing the internally generated revenue, steps on the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Labour

Group Gives FG 14-day Ultimatum to End ASUU Strike

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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).

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“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”.

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Business News

Bakers Threaten Strike over Rising Cost of Flour, Sugar

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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.

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“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. 



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Business News

Fuel Crisis: IPMAN Warns Members Against Sale of Fuel Above N165/litre

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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.


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.

The cost of doing business has changed, so it becomes difficult to sell at N165/litre.


“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.

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“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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