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TUC, FOBTOB Protest Against Shutting Down Alcoholic Sachet Drink Factories by NAFDAC

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The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Food, Beverages and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB) on Tuesday held a peaceful protest against the National Agency Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC)’s directive to shut down companies manufacturing alcoholic sachet drinks.

Reports says that the protest took place in front of NAFDAC’s office at Plot 1, Industrial Estate, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, Isolo, Lagos State.

NAFDAC in 2018, had given a directive to stop the production of alcoholic beverages and drinks in sachets and bottles below 200ml with effect from Jan.

31, 2024.

Also, NAFDAC had in January 2022  suspended the registration of alcoholic beverages in sachet as well as  small volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml.

This led to a two-day enforcement exercise which was recently carried out in Ota, Ogun State, leading to the shutting down of some factories.

The Vice-President of TUC, Mr Emmanuel Idogen, said that a lot of people had already been rendered jobless from the factories shut down by the regulatory agency .

Idogen said that though he was not against NAFDAC carrying out their duty, but to shut down the livelihood of thousands of people at a time of economic hardship was inhumane.

“We all know the economic hardship we are facing in the country presently. Price of fuel has increased, prices of food is increasing on a daily basis and there is inflation.

“Some of the people earn their living to feed their family and dependents from the factory that you have shut down.

“Invariably, there will be more families exposed to hunger and I believe this will have a negative impact on the society,” he said.

The vice-president said that many companies in the country,  as a result of the harsh economic indices of doing business, had been under strain due to limited available jobs.

“And now, you want to lay off thousands of workers into the labour market that is already overstretched.

“What do you expect them to do in order to feed and cater for the needs of their family?.

“We are appealing to NAFDAC to suspend the directive to shutdown the production of alcoholic sachets drinks for the posterity of the masses,” he said.

Idogen said that the Lagos State government raised the motion that alcoholic sachets were the cause of blocked drainage systems in the state.

“What about others like nylon bags, plastic bottles and other things blocking the drainages.

“To label alcoholic sachets as the sole contributor to the blockages of drainage would be unfair,” he said.

The vice-president also said that alcoholic sachet drinks was affordable and economical in quantity for those that don’t have enough money but still wanted to enjoy alcohol consumption.

“When you talk about the purchasing power of the masses, sachet alcoholic beverages is still more available for easy purchase.

“It is not everyone that has money to buy the expensive bottle so why are you trying to make life difficulty for the common man on the street?,” Idogen said.

Similarly, the Secretary of FOBTOB, Mr Anthony Oyagua, said that no fewer than 5,000 members had been put out of jobs and sent into the labour market.

“The labour market is already saturated and you have piled more problems on our nation’s economy by sending more people into that same market.

“This does not represent President Bola Tinubu’s agenda for the renewed hope,” he said.

Oyagua said that the action would affect workers, suppliers, customers and most especially the local, state and federal government whose revenue drive will also drop in tune of billions of naira.

“We appeal to NAFDAC to help take a second look at this policy of government and help save our industry from imminent collapse and protect the jobs of millions of Nigerians nationwide,” he said.

The Director, Drug and Evaluation Research, NAFDAC, Mr Kayode Amuda, said that the agency’s focus was to shutdown the alcoholic line production because of its negative effects on the society.

“Our critical focus is to protect the health of the nation because a lot of our children and youths have been made redundant as a result of easy access to these sachet drinks.

“We have been on the front burner of this message for long and have been telling the manufacturers about this impeding change but we keep on shifting goal post.

“However, we have to take a step toward enforcement and address this because it is ruining the life of our children and youths in the country.

“Our focus in NAFDAC is to put a stop to the production of alcoholic sachet beverages,” the NAFDAC representative said. (NAN)

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FG Revokes 924 Dormant Mining Licences as Minister Decries Racketeering

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The Federal Government has revoked additional 924 dormant mining licenses.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake announced this on Wednesday in Abuja as he decried the racketeering of the issuance of the licences.

He told newsmen that mining licence racketeering was impeding the development of the sector and obstructing genuine investors from showing interest in Nigeria’s mines.

Licences revoked were 528 for exploration; 22 mining leases, 101 quarry licences and 273 small-scale mining licences.

The minister explained that a grace period of 30 days was given to defaulters to rectify their statuses, and to state reasons for dormancy on the sites allocated to them in line with Constitutional provisions.

He said that 963 licences were published in the official gazette of the Federal Government in December 2023 awaiting revocation.

Out of these, only 39 of the listed licence holders responded to the warning as they either moved to site immediately or they stated challenges hindering their operations, he added.

Alake stated that the revocation of the licences was taken to sanitise and reposition the mining sector to boost Nigeria’s economic profile and to accelerate its industrialisation.

He noted that the “first-come, first-served’’ rule in the licencing regime was a disincentive for genuine investors as the rule prohibited issuance of fresh licence on a site already allocated.

The ministry revoked 1,663 mining licences in November 2023 because of failure by licensees to pay statutory charges and other dues to the Federal Government.

Alake said that following the revocation of the 1,663 licences in 2023, government received a lot of pressure to reconsider the punitive measure.

According to him, in response to the pressure, government issued a policy for defaulters to make restitution and show remorse in order to be considered for reinstatement.

He said that the restitution varied depending on the category of licence revoked.

“The highest, which is on mining attracts a restitution N10 million per revoked licence payable to the Federal Government.

“For the small-scale licences, the restitution is N7.5 million for reinstatement and for exploration licence, the restitution is N5 million,’’ Alake said.

The minister warned in his 2024 New Year goodwill message that more mining licences would be revoked for other categories of defaulters.

He warned also that Nigeria’s mining sector would not continue to suffer from low investments because of nefarious activities of individuals who bought licences for promising mine sites only to resell them at the illegal market.

He added that the practice was tarnishing Nigeria’s image and was diverting funds that could be used for exploration to the illegal market to acquire licences at exorbitant prices.

Alake stressed that Nigeria was losing a significant amount of Foreign Direct Investment to the untoward practice. (NAN)

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Sokoto Assembly Adopts Motion to Establish Skills Centre for Displaced Widows

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The Sokoto State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, approved a motion advocating for the establishment of an Educational and Skills Acquisition Centre to support widows displaced by banditry and other security challenges in the state.

The motion, which was moved by Alhaji Abubakar Shehu (APC- Yabo) and seconded by Alhaji Atiku Liman (PDP-Silame), also urged the state government to repurpose the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre for the initiative.

Shehu highlighted that the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre, originally established by the State Zakkat and Endowment Commission in collaboration with Qatar Charity Organisations, could serve the purpose effectively.

He stated the importance of empowering widows and their children, emphasising the need to transition them from dependency to self-sufficiency.

“The conversion of the Centre into an Education and Skill Acquisition Centre for widows and children displaced by banditry is crucial to empower them economically and prevent them from becoming liability to the society,” he stated.

The lawmaker expressed concern about the sight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the metropolis, often seen begging without access to economic activities or education.

He said the proposed center would offer training in various skills such as catering, knitting, tailoring, cream making, welding, mechanics, carpentry and building, among others.

Shehu emphasised that funding for the centre should be a joint responsibility of the state government, Zakkat Commission, international donors and individual contributions.

Contributing to the discussion, Alhaji Bello Idris (APC-Gwadabawa North) stressed the importance of conducting a comprehensive census of IDPs in the state to ensure proper support and utilisation of the centre once established.

Following deliberations, Speaker Alhaji Tukur Bala conducted a voice vote, and the motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers. (NAN)

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Undertake Reforms for Functional Justice System – Tinubu Tells Judiciary 

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President Bola Tinubu has called on the nation’s Judiciary to embark on reforms that will ensure functional justice system and support economic growth.

Tinubu gave the charge on Wednesday when he declared open the National Summit on Justice, 2024, held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.

Represented by his Vice, Kashim Shettima, the President also emphasised the need for a legal framework that would guarantee basic human and political rights of individuals and provide security for all Nigerians.

According to him, much can be achieved when institutions of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, unite to acknowledge their challenges and brainstorm.

” This is with a view to proffering solutions to the problems bedeviling Nigeria,” he said.

The President, therefore, urged the judiciary to align its activities within the tenets of his administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

” Particularly as they relate to the priorities on inclusivity, fairness, rule of law, and anti-corruption stance, among other things”.

He said that his administration had pledged to be impartial and adhere to constitutional principles.

Tinubu said that the Summit availed institutions in the justice sector “with an opportunity to push boundaries by identifying needed system changes and critical reforms that would allow Nigerians to reap the benefits of huge investments in the sector.”

He explained that the Federal Government was determined to implement its policies and promises made to Nigerians for a renewed hope, through the instrumentality of the “law and the dictates of justice to create opportunities for our people.”

President Tinubu said that his administration made funding for the third arm of government a top priority, doubling it in the Renewed Hope budget 2024 by more that 100 per cent from 2023, budget.

” I urge the leadership of all justice sector institutions to seek a new direction and focus on outcomes by creating a justice system that truly responds to the needs of our citizens.

” I demand informed and coordinated responses to the identified challenges plaguing the effectiveness and efficiency of the sector.

” I demand performance so that Nigerians can feel and acknowledge the impact of your reform efforts.

“;Ultimately, the expectations are that law and justice should aim to ensure public safety, economic development, peaceful co-existence, and the well-being of our people.”

Earlier, the President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio commended the commitment of all stakeholders in the justice sector in building a consensus that would ensure a more robust judicial system.

He underscored the commitment of the National Assembly to a more vibrant and transformative justice system

He assured that the legislature would play its part by deliberating on the outcome of the summit in a bid to enshrine the outcomes into law.

On his part, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Okukayode Ariwoola, said giving the high expectations from the judiciary, undertaking a holistic reform of the sector had become necessary.

He noted that constitutional, statutory and operational reforms in the justice sector was imperative in meeting the aspirations and yearnings of the general public.

The CJN attributed most of the achievements recorded in the judiciary to the support of Tinubu administration, particularly in the enhancement of the welfare of judicial officers and improvement in their working environment.

In the same vein, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, emphasised the significance of the revised draft national policy on justice.

He noted that building a national consensus on the advancement of the justice sector has become necessary. (NAN)

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