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Taraba Pensioners, Families Protest N30bn Unpaid Gratuity

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From Christiana Babayo, Jalingo

Pensioners in Taraba State have staged a protest to press home their demands for the settlement of their entitlements and a backlog of over N30 billion gratuity.    

The pensioners in their numbers, from the 16 LGAs of the state with some of their spouses and children converged on the State NUP Secretariat in Jalingo after which they trooped to the Government House Jalingo.

DAILY ASSET reports that the pensioners, who were not received at the Government House, made their way in and submitted a letter containing their grievances at the secret registry after which they proceeded to the Taraba State House of Assembly amidst tight security.

At the State House of Assembly complex, they presented the same letter to the Speaker of the House, Prof. Joseph Albasu Kunini.

Addressing Journalists, the state Chairman of NUP, Comrade Kefas Katan said they are demanding the Enrollment of over one thousand Local Government retirees who are yet to be captured for pension five to ten years after their retirement.

He said payment of gratuity had stopped in 2010, and implementation of the 33% pension increase was approved by the Federal Government in 2011 and implemented in most States of the Country but not Taraba State.

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The Chairman explained that they decided to stage the peaceful demonstration as the last resort because all efforts to tackle the lingering issue proved abortive.

Kefas Katan also warned that if the State Government fails to take any tangible measures to address their problems, pensioners in the State including members of their families will re-converge and will not leave the government house as well as the House of the Assembly until their demands are met.

He called on pensioners in the State to remain calm and wait for the next line of action by the State NUP which is not resting on its oars on the struggle for their welfare in the State.

Our Correspondent reports that the protesters were carrying placards with various inscriptions reading,  “We are tired of lies, false promises, and lip services of the Taraba State Government”, “Darius pay us all our entitlements”,  as well as “Darius, pays us all our pension and gratuities”, some chanted.

Recall that the pensioners in the state had staged a peaceful demonstration on June 18th, 2022.

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NEWS

Bello Inaugurates Planting of 3,000 Hybrid Shea Trees in Niger

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Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Wednesday inaugurated the planting of 3,000 hybrid shea trees aimed at increasing the number of shea trees for economic transformation of the state.

Bello, while inaugurating the project at the Beji Parkland in Kodo, Bosso Local Government Area of the state, explained that the project was a pilot scheme in collaboration with the National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN).

He explained that the global shea butter market had grown rapidly due to increased demand in making confectioneries, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, amongst others.

Bello said that the state with the highest number of shea trees in the world would harness the comparative advantage of the economic trees and the value-chain which had potential of engaging thousands of women and youths across the state.

He said that 3,000 of the trees would be planted in phase one of the project to cover 20 hectares of land in which each hectare would accommodate 150 seedlings of the shea trees.

“The shea trees have some distinctive features such as short gestation period of five to seven years from the traditional 15 to 20 years. It also produces quality shea fruits and in more quantities.

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“Therefore, this hybrid trees have the potential to turn around the economic fortunes of the state and Nigeria at large,” the governor said.

He noted that through commercialisation of the seedling nursery, youths and women would be trained and equipped, leading to the development of shea seedlings particularly in shea communities around the Beji Shea Parkland.

Bello appealed to the host community to protect the project, saying that the law prohibiting felling of economic trees in the state had been in place to punish individual or group of people engaged in felling of economic trees.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Environment and Forestry, Dr Daniel Habila, decried the level of deforestation by some individuals, saying that the project would change the narrative.

“The shea trees will not only bring economic benefits to the state but will bring climate change mitigation benefits that will minimise the environmental impacts from carbon prints,” he said.

In his goodwill message, Alhaji Muhammad Ahmed, the National President of National Shea Products Association of Nigeria (NASPAN), said the project was initiated due to prevent indiscriminate felling of shea trees.

Ahmed noted that the project was targeted to plant 10 million shea trees in the next 10 years.

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He said farmers would be allowed to farm on the Parkland while taking care of the shea trees, saying that the project would be spread across other communities in the state. (NAN)

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NPA seeks Partnership with Media to Publicise Port Activities

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The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has solicited partnership with the media to positively project its activities, particularly at the Calabar Port to Nigerians and the world.

The NPA Calabar Port Manager, Chief Festus Olumati, said this in Calabar on Wednesday when he received the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Cross River State Council in his office.

According to him, the insinuation that Calabar Port is dead is not true.

He said that the port recently received a large vessel and is currently expecting more of such vessel.

The port manager noted that this was coming after three years, saying that efforts were being made to see that importers nearby patronised the port.

Olumati said, “You will recall that activities at the Calabar Port were boosted recently as a general cargo vessel berthed with 204 heavy-duty trucks, pipes and other containers.

“The port is still viable and of economic benefit to the state and to Nigeria and it is safe for berthing, hence the need for customers to patronise it to clear their general containers.

“The significance of the berthing of this vessel is to tell the world that Calabar port is active and working. The rumour going round that nothing is happening in Calabar Port is not true.”

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Olumati said that some infrastructure were being put in place to ensure the safety of vessels and others patronising the port.

“We have installed 36 buoys to give proper direction to vessels coming into the port and also security boats and marine police have been approved for the port,” he stated.

Speaking on the need to patronise the port, the manager said that the management was talking with stakeholders.

“We have resumed discussions with importers in Aba, Nnewi, Anambra and others to make them understand why they should start patronising Calabar port.

“The Nigerian Export Processing Zone was built in Calabar because of this port and not because of Port Harcourt.

“It will make more meaning for importers around here to patronise Calabar port instead of Lagos or Port Harcourt,” he said.

On the dredging of the port, he said that it would resume once the issues around it were settled out of court.

Earlier, the NUJ Chairman, Mr Gill Nsa, promised the management of the port that newsmen would be fair and just in their reportage of the port’s activities. (NAN)

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Envoy Lauds NADDC for reviving Automotive Industry

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The Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, Mr Husaini Moriki, has commended the Director-General of the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Mr Jelani Aliyu, for reviving the Nigerian Automotive Industry.

Moriki made the commendation during Nigeria’s delegation meeting with key Japanese automotive manufacturers in Japan.

According to him, Aliyu had successfully brought many reform initiatives to the industry that have yielded results in terms of investment capacity building of Nigeria’s auto industry players.

The ambassador, therefore, urged the Japanese companies to identify areas of focus that the companies would like the Nigerian government to intervene in.

Moriki added that the intervention will be aimed at providing a better business environment

He said that this cannot come at a better time than now when the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) and the Auto Policy were being reviewed by the council.

He urged the Japanese companies to collaborate with the council in training of Nigerian youths at the 18 Automotive Training Centers built by the council across the country.

Speaking earlier, the NADDC boss called on Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Suzuki and Yamaha to set up mega production and assembly plants in Nigeria.

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According to him, Honda West Africa, Nissan/Stallion, Toyota/Elizade, Mitsubishi/CFAO, Suzuki/Boulos, Isuzu/Kewalrams and Yamaha/CFAO were already building vehicles in the country.

Aliyu said, “these larger investments would come at a time when the need for diversification in Nigeria is paramount to the country’s economy as the population continues to grow.”

The DG added that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, was also opening up Africa-wide opportunities for Nigerian automotive manufacturers.

“The discussions with the companies were very fruitful, with strong potential for the various manufacturers to significantly increase their operations and market footprint in Nigeria.

“This will contribute at an even higher level to the growth and
sustainability of the Nigerian Automotive space,” Aliyu dis.

He added that the council had engaged an international firm, KPMG, to support with the review of the Auto Policy.

This, he said, is in order to beef it up to the current pattern of global and regional automotive production and distribution.

He said: “KPMG is getting good support from the AAAM – African Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

” As soon as the draft policy is done by KPMG, it shall go as an executive bill to the National Assembly.

“The Senate and House Committees on Industry are giving their full support towards having this reviewed policy be backed by a legal framework.”

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While highlighting some of the key areas of the reviewed policy, Aliyu said ”when the draft becomes law, it would further boost the financial advantages of local production/assembly.

“It will also provide clear import duty differential between locally
assembled vehicles and those imported fully built and also provide tax waivers.

“Other key areas would include facilitating the establishment of dedicated customs corridors/services, provision of single digit capital financing for both manufacturers and buyers.

“It will also entail mandatory government patronage, all in favour of local production/assembly,”Aliyu added.

On his part, the Chairman, House of Represenatatives Committee on Industry, Mr Enitan Badru, promised to provide necessary legislative support to the new auto policy.

He said,”so that it gives the investors the confidence and stability to invest in Nigeria.”

Badru underscored the importance of the vehicle financing scheme, saying it would bolster the purchase of locally produced vehicles. ( NAN )

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