By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja
Some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the federal government on Monday, temporarily, heaved a sigh of relief, as the ongoing probe on job racketeering by the House of Representatives, was shut down following the planned strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC).
The planned industrial action by the Organized Labour was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 5th and Wednesday 6th September, 2023.
Speaking at the supposed resumed hearing on Monday, Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi (APC-Plateau) explained that the hearing was postponed to enable all the MDAs invited, prepare and make their presentations.
Only on Friday, the panel had announced Monday as its next adjourned date, after taking the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Vice Chancellor’s of federal Universities.
At the Friday hearing, the Committee of Vice Chancellors had conveyed the position of the Vice Chancellors on the purported extortion and bribery allegation claims against the House Adhoc committee, stating that the allegation was not only untrue but very mischievous.
The Vice Chancellors, who denied ever bribing the committee to escape the probe, said rather, they were eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the work of the committee as they have confidence that it would help them address the issue of manpower shortage in the Universities.
Vice Chancellor, University of Jos, Prof. Ishaya Tanko who spoke on behalf of the Vice Chancellors when they appeared before the committee said to his best of knowledge money that were sent by some Vice Chancellors was meant for a foreign exchange for them to attend international workshop organised for them in Bamingham, the United Kingdom beginning from Tuesday, September 5, adding that the publisher did not get his facts correct
He said “During our last meeting, we requested for two weeks because some of the universities did not come with some of the documents required from them.
“But we read the very disturbing media publication and I can say that the Vice Chancellors are not part of that. The Vice Chancellors have not provided any bribe to anybody.
“What I recalled happened was that the next day, there was a workshop for the Vice Chancellors and because there is another international workshop organised for CVCNU, I recalled that a number of people were looking for estacode in form of foreign exchange that will enable them travel.
“I also remember that a number of Vice Chancellors were looking for where to get foreign exchange that is reasonable considering the fact that it is difficult to get DTA to travel. I can confirm that majority of the Vice Chancellors are going to travel between Saturday and Monday because the training os commencing on Tuesday in Bamingham.
“Somebody suggested that gentleman and suggested that Vice Chancellors who wish to source foreign exchange from him can transfer some money to him to get foreign exchange to travel.
“To say that Vice Chancellors are transferring money for bribe is completely out of context and not true. Who ever made the publication refused to find out the fact before going to press. They should have contacted some of the Vice Chancellors to find out the purpose for which they made those transfers.
“I want to assure the committee that we have hope and confidence in this committee because as we speak, I can tell you that more than five programmes of the University of Jos are in danger of not receiving accreditation because of this issue of employment.
“So, we are looking forward to this committee concluding it’s work so that the challenges relating to employment in Nigeria universities are addressed so that we can continue to provide the quality manpower we need for the development of this country”
Prof. Tanko said the university system in the country is during a major crisis as a result of lack of employment, but expressed their commitment to working together to ensure that the University system continue to stand on the integrity and mandate for which it was created.
He said “When this committee invited us to a meeting with regard to issues of employment, and other issues, we as Vice Chancellors were very happy that we were invited to offer our perspective because the public university sector is actually in crisis with respect to employment as we speak.
“Infact, majority of public universities has not bad the opportunity to replace some some of the Professors that we have lost especially before the period that this committee is investigating. We felt that is a great opportunity for the university sector to address some the challenges that we are having in getting the required manpower for the running of our universities”.
Acting Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) John Maiyaki said the publication on the bribery allegations was regretable noting that the NUC has confidence in the mandate given to the committee to help in resolving some crisis in the education sector regarding job racketeering.
He said “ Chair, Honourable members the online social media publication is regrettable, whatever the substance is we do not in any way wish that this will impede on the excellent ties and relationship between this vital arm of government and the Nigerian University system. This is one system that holds a lot of promise for the Nigerian University system.
“In every country university system occupy a special place in the life of a Nation and we believe the task is too Herculean for one sub sector alone to handle and that’s why we look up to the National Assembly, we also look up to the future so that we can together create that game changing opportunity for the country.
He said however that the University community will not allow the publication to affect what he described as strategic relationship and partnership existing between them and the National Assembly.
Given their submissions, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi said the committee has resolved that it would not be distracted from the central issue it was put in place to address.
According to him, the publication was aimed at diverting the attention of the committee, saying “as far as we are concerned, we maintained our stand that it is a sponsored publication so that this committee will lose focus from what it is supposed to do.
He said it was not the mandate of the committee to investigate the allegations but to investigate the selling of slots, employment imbalance, job racketeering and many other fraudulent activities that is being done in our public service.
He however said that the committee had written to anti corruption agencies and the EFCC to investigate the link between the account and any member of the committee.
He disclosed that Members of the committee have resolved to take legal action If investigation by the anti graft agencies failed to link the account number to any member of the committee.
Passengers Stranded as NLC Locks Down Abuja Airport
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.
Strike: FG Okays 30 Days Implementation of MoU with Labour
The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Wednesday approved a 30 day implementation plan for the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU between the Federal Government and the Organized Labour.
The government also is taking a decision against any external interference in unions activities by external bodies.
This is as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong alongside the Minister of State, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha have met with the factional leaderships of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, presided over by President Bola Tinubu, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Lalong said a Memorandum was presented to the council on the implementation of the agreement with labour.
He said, “We presented a memo from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the memo was basically on the agreement between government and the labour. You are already aware that 15 items are parts of the agreement.
“But we went beyond mere agreement, we told them that something different this time is happening because one, part of the agreement is to file it in the court of law which we have set the process already.
“And the other one was the presidential approval. There cannot be any presidential approval more than the Federal Executive Council. So we presented them to the Federal Executive Council. We analyzed each and every aspect of the agreement and to show the genuineness and also provide for harmonious and good industrial relationship and that was why it was presented and it was approved for implementation.
“It was agreed that within 30 days, there must be evidence of implementation and that was the basis of presenting to the Federal Executive Council the memo and the Federal Executive Council also approved it and within this 30 days, we will go on with the implementation of the agreement between labour and government.”
Fielding on the item six of the MoU which was the government alleged interference in the activities of the democratically elected leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW and the mandate to him (Lalong) to resolve the crisis in the union on or before October 13, the Minister said he had already met with the various factions
He said, “Item six in the MoU is about interference specifically with issues that were about road transport workers. Immediately the next day, we embarked on meetings between the two organisations.
“As of today, they have already reached out and have concluded that of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, today they are making a report to the ministry about their agreement because they went into agreement too and we are also going to get back to their parent association.
“The next one is the NURTW. Last week we were with them. Of course if some of you were there, you knew why we postponed it, I reminded them that we are keeping to the date of the agreement but they said they cannot strictly keep to the date because it is very important to them that we realized the aim. So we shifted the meeting till tomorrow. Today, we are going to get the report, by tomorrow we will fix a meeting.
“The reason why we presented these items to the Federal Executive Council is for them to note and approve that after these things we will not want to be tolerating interference into union activities.”But those that are pending are within the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment. Our own is to dispense with conflicts and we are going to continue to do that and these two items we have mentioned, were really the particular things they hammered on when we met. By God’s grace in the next few days, those ones are going to be sorted out.”
Minimun Wage: NLC Demands N200,000 Monthly for Workers
By David Torough, Abuja
For Nigerian worker to get close to near favourable living conditions, the minimum wage should be jacked up from N30,000 to N200,000, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero has suggested.
Ajaero who spoke to journalists on Sunday said his projection was based on the prevailing socio-economic situation in Nigeria.
He put the dollar equipment of his suggestion to $200.
The NLC President explained, “The least paid worker in Nigeria should get a minimum of $200. It’s not even up to $10 a day.
“I’m not talking of $10 per hour. It’s not up to $10 a day. So, if you even put it at $7 a day, that was at the international…”
“But even if you bring it to the cost of living index and then you decide to situate it — look at transportation, if we assume that a worker doesn’t have a car, we assume he will enter three drops to work — we assume that he will enter three drops back.And N2,000 is settled minimum if he doesn’t enter bike to get to where he is living because none of our workers lives in the city centre.
“Now, if you look at this N2,000 for 30 days, you see almost N60,000 or even N50,000 if you want to remove the weekend. You look at his accommodation. Since he’s living on the fringes, you can give him close to N20,000 if he must live in a two-room apartments or whatever in a decent place for him and his family. Now you look at feeding.
“Even if you put him on one loaf of bread, husband and wife with four children, one loaf of bread in the morning, no tea, no sugar — situate it about N1,000. You look at their lunch, even if you give them N200 per lunch, you are going to get another N1,000. You can equally look at their dinner at N200 without meat, for 30 days, that’s almost N3,000.
“For 30 days, you have about N90,000. If you add N90,000 to almost N60,000 we already have about N150,000.
“Now, I’m not talking about school fees. If you look at school fees for four children, even if they are in kindergarten, there is no way you will not have almost N200,000. Now, if you divide that N200,000 by three months and that makes up a term, you will be having about N65,000.
“You have already passed N200,000. You are doing all these things that the children and the wives and others are not even entering motor to anywhere. You are doing this thing because they will not be sick throughout that period. You are doing this thing that they will not even eat meat or any diet.
“You are doing all these things that they will not wear clothes whichever way. So, if you go to the cost of living index, you will discover that N200,000 cannot even sustain that family. But it will sustain them by the time you do one or two things.
“If what we are pushing, the CNG or even electric whatever, if you bring down transportation cost, if you have an effective transport system, you bring down transportation cost. If you have a school system that guarantees free education, it will bring down that cost. If you have a healthcare facility, that would have taken care of the health of such people. Then N200,000 can work.”
According to Ajaero, “But if you don’t have any of these, even that N200,000 will be a mess. But we are equally looking at that N200,000 based on what the mysterious economists are talking about that you need to bring inflation and whatever down. So, all things being equal, that’s the only way you can do it without creating unnecessary inflation but, at least, they could be able to go to the market.
“These things I mentioned, there is no soap for them to bathe, there is no toothbrush, there are no clothes, there is nothing.
“So, you can see that that is the actual projection, plus or minus. That’s what is going to inform our decision.
“Whether you are going to look at it from an inflationary trend or the cost of living index, the reality cannot bring it less than N200,000.”
NLC and its counterpart, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) suspended action on the eve of their planned indefinite strike slated for October 3 after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the federal government bordering on their demands.
Chief among the concessions that prompted the suspension of the strike was the Federal Government’s offer of N35,000 monthly to its workers for six months.
Ajaero has since described government’s deal as Promissory Note because none of the agreements that preceded the suspension of the industrial action could be fulfilled immediately.
The strike was suspended for 30 days on many demands like adoption of CNG as an alternative to petrol, making refineries work and getting the ceiling off for the provisional wage increase to go round for all workers.
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