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Labour suspends planned strike as FG reverses electricity tariff hike [[PUNCH]

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have suspended the strike scheduled to commence today (Monday).

This followed an agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting which started at 8.30pm on Sunday and ended at 2:50am this morning.

After exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour centres, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, read the five-page communique signed by the representatives of the government and labour.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, amongst others signed on behalf of Organised Labour while the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and others, signed on behalf of the government.

Olaleye confirmed the development in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday morning.

He said, “Definitely correct. We just left a press conference. We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement. So, we are suspending for two weeks.

“We don’t need a notice again to re-convene if there is a need to do that.”

The parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC.

It would work for a duration of two weeks effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy “in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”

The members of the committee include the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) as Chairman; Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari as the Secretary.

Other members are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.

The committee’s terms of reference are to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.

“During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments,” the communique noted.

It also noted that the FG has fashioned out palliatives that would ameliorate the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The palliatives will be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.

The meeting also resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards.

It agreed that “an all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with labour represented”.

Zulum’s convoy: Army recounts how soldiers, policemen were killed [THE NATION]

The Army on Sunday recounted how four soldiers and 10 policemen were killed in an ambush on Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy.

It said four civilians were also killed in the ambush by Boko Haram and Islamic State (ISWAP) attackers in Barwati village on Baga route Friday.

This contradicts the 30 casualty figures given by unofficial sources at the weekend. The report said many were injured.

Zulum was not in the convoy during the attack, which has been condemned by Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari.

A military source said the bodies of the four soldiers were found in a bush more than 24 hours after the incident. The source claimed that the whereabouts of another soldier was unknown as of Sunday.

Zulum, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the  Progressives Governors Forum(PGF) and former Governor Peter Obi, in separate statements also condemned the attack but hailed the efforts of the military towards the restoration of peace to the state and the entire Northeast.

Zulum, said in spite of the “unfortunate” incident, he was “confident  that peace will return to Borno  State, the Northeast and Nigeria.’’

The Army, according to the statement by the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, said: “The convoy of the Borno State Civilians Relocation Committee comprising Armed Forces of Nigeria, Nigeria Police Force and Civilian Joint Task Force was ambushed by members of the BHT/ISWAP at Barwati village on 25 of September 2020.

“The attack/ambush was however successfully repelled by the gallant troops. Sadly, a total of 18 lives including four soldiers, 10 policemen and four civilians were lost during the sad incident.

“Troops on hot the pursuit of the insurgents successfully recovered three vehicles. Two of the vehicles belonging to the Nigeria Police that were earlier carted away by the terrorists during the attack are among. Similarly, one BHT gun truck was also captured.

 “The casualties recorded were as a result of the explosion from the multiple IEDs planted on the road by the terrorists.

“The Nigerian Army has since deployed bomb and IED disposal teams to ensure effective route scanning and clearance to forestall future occurrence.”

An undeterred Zulum said the “unfortunate incident” would not deter his plan to ensure the relocation of all IDPs to their ancestral homes.

He praised the fighting spirit of the security operatives in the Northeast and boasted that “we are sure that we are good to go”  on the resettlement of  some of the Internally Displaced persons in the state.

His words: “Although there was a loss of lives, which is very unfortunate, I am still  confident  that peace will return to Borno State, the Northeast, and Nigeria.

“What has happened is unfortunate, but this will never deter us from fulfilling our mandate on the safe return of IDPs to their ancestral homes. We shall remain resolute, we shall remain courageous, and we shall remain determined.”

IG Adamu directed the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of the Police Medical Services, Olubunmi Ogunsanwo, and Commissioner of Police, Borno State Bello Makwashi to ensure proper treatment  of   all the policemen  injured during the attack.

Adamu also reassured Nigerians, particularly Borno State people, that the morale of Police officers and other security agencies involved in providing security had not been dampened by the attack.

The PGF commiserated with Zulum and the families of the victims,   promising    to support  the  governor  in  ending insurgency in  his state and the entire Northeast.

A statement by the Chairman of the PGF, Abubakar   Bagudu , appealed to the Federal Government to immediately provide more logistics  for the security agencies in the Northeast.

Fed Govt shifts ground in bid to stop Labour strike [THE NATION]

The Federal Government on Sunday night granted concession to Labour to avert the strike in protest against hike in petrol price and electricity tariffs.

An industrial action spearheaded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) would have commenced on Monday.

But at an emergency meeting Sunday night at the Presidential Villa, the government agreed to suspend the electricity tariffs which the Distribution Companies (DisCos) announced on September 1, for two weeks.

A seven-man committee to draw up rates acceptable to all stakeholders was set up – to report back in two weeks.

The meeting, which started about 8pm, was on break at midnight.

The Federal Government team to the parley led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige. With him were Ministers of Petroleum Timipre Sylva, Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, Power (State) Goddy Jeddy-Agba, Labour and Employment (State) Festus Keyamo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.

In the Labour delegation were NLC President Ayuba Wabba; TUC President Quadri Olaleye; NLC Secretary Emma Ugboaja; TUC Secretary Musa-Ozigi Lawal and others.

Although the government said it had made a lot of progress regarding how to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, the issue of electricity tariff remained in the balance before the meeting went into technical session.

The government also agreed to provide some palliatives to cushion the effect of the decisions.

Deepening digital economy amid COVID-19 [THE NATION]

Nigerians from all walks of life will remember 2020 as the year of the pandemic as they continue to count their gains and losses. In this report, BLESSING OLAIFA examines efforts to bring more Nigerians on board the digital platform by regulatory institutions.

 Technology innovations and acquisitions come with different challenges; depending on the environment; the people and the approach the government of the day adopt to achieve set objectives.

In modern times, technology innovations and solutions have become competitive, a driving force for human advancement in all fields of endeavours. It is for this reason that government established institutions, agencies and departments to be on the lookout for innovations, or to monitor and regulate developments as well as develop policies for promotion and advancement of innovative technologies.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world began to witness a new normal as adjustments had to be made on the way and manner services are rendered and delivered across all spectrum of the economy to ensure safety of citizens and minimise the spread of the pandemic; particularly at community level. In Nigeria, one of the agencies that responded to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic was the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). The pandemic provided an opportunity for it to push the quest for a digital economy forward.

The performance of the national economy, according to the statistics rolled out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Q2, 2020 the performance index later showed that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector make some inroads into the efforts of the Federal Government to diversify the economy.

According to the NBS, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) dipped by 6.1 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms during the period, particularly as the World’s economy also shrank due to the pandemic which forced a total shutdown of economic activities globally.

The nation’s non-oil sector contributed 91.07 per cent as against the contribution of 8.93 per cent to the GDP by the oil sector. Significantly, the ICT sector contributed 17.83 per cent to the total real GDP that is about 54 per cent higher than its contribution in the previous year and, in the preceding quarter with a total contribution of 14.07 per cent to the GDP.

The push for digital economic transformation is expected to promote online business transactions, improve the production of goods and services, especially from person to person, industry to industry and institutions to institutions. Such efforts will not only create job opportunities but in the long-run also improve productivity.

Going by the NBS statistics, the efforts to diversify the economy was not in vain. Similar developments are seen in education, agriculture and health sectors as players embraced digital platforms to promote production and provision of needed services.

However, it is necessary to stress that even with the performance of the ICT sector and the efforts to get things moving again despite the harsh economic meltdown occasioned by the pandemic, it is not yet Uhuru considering the various age-long challenges within and outside the industry.

How Nigerians can save country from break-up, by Osinbajo [THE NATION]

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday said Nigerians need to collectively address the challenges militating against nation-building to avoid breakup.

Osinbajo spoke in Abuja at the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja during the nation’s 60th Independence inter-denominational church service with the theme: Together… Come, Let Us Rebuild…

With the challenges facing the country, the Vice-President stressed the essence of showing love to fellow Nigerians, adding: “Fortunately for us in Nigeria, our walls are not yet broken but have cracks that could lead to break, if not properly addressed.”

He urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to provide good leadership to make Nigeria better country.

Osinbajo, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said: “The theme should serve as a clarion call to Nigerians to be prepared to contribute their quota to national development.

“We need love for this nation. We need selfless love to rebuild Nigeria. It is only that kind of love that can help us as Nigerians to rebuild the cracks that we have in our walls, in our country Nigeria.

“We need it for that the Nigerian who resides in the country or outside, who is crying to God to give him everything it takes to use the abundant opportunities in the country to address our challenges of nation-building.”

CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, attributed the security crisis in the country, among others, to the selfishness of most Nigerian leaders.

He said: “What is causing our pains in Nigeria is selfishness. Most of our leaders and many others are selfish.”

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Sunday assured the residents that his administration will continue to deliver the dividends of democracy and remain focused on implementing its agenda for the growth, development, and prosperity of citizens.

The governor spoke at the special thanksgiving service to commemorate the 60th Independence anniversary celebration at Chapel of Christ the Light at Alausa in Ikeja.

The governor was represented by his wife, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Sanwo-Olu advised the residents to rededicate themselves to the nation’s unity and continue to live in peace with one another in love.

The governor urged them to support government’s policies and programmes to take the nation and state to greater heights.

Drawing his statement from 1Thessalonian 5:17, he urged fellow Lagosians to remain steadfast, hopeful, focused, disciplined, and pray without ceasing.

“As we join fellow compatriots across the nation to celebrate our nation’s Diamond Jubilee, it is my prayer that as Diamond signifies beauty, the Almighty God will beautify our lives as individuals, families, state and country. He will continue to guide, direct our path, lead us aright and release His manifold blessings upon us,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong said Nigeria will rise above its current challenges to fulfill its divine mandate as the largest black nation in the world.

Speaking at a church service to mark the 60th Independence anniversary at St. Monica Catholic Church, Rantya, Jos, the state capital, the governor said there is a lot to celebrate, despite some of its challenges.

He said: “The responsibility of making Nigeria great belongs to all of us that dwell in it. It is our country and we have no other. While we hold accountable those in public offices – whether elected or appointed – who have been given the assignment of leadership to be accountable, fair, just and proactive, we cannot fail to support them. Failure to support them because of differences of religion, ethnicity, politics and other affiliations will keep all of us running in circles and down.”

God will punish me if I was involved – Ex-minister accused of stripping staff naked [THE NATION]

Former Minister of State for Petroleum, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, has called on God to “punish” him, if he was involved in the stripping of four workers at his hotel in Effurun, Uvwie council area of Delta state.

In a press conference held at his country home in Oginibo, Ughelli South council area of the state, Gbagi stressed that the said staff were not employees of the hotel, but “freelancers”, adding that there are records to show to the fact.

The ex-minister has been in the news for the dehumanizing treatment meted on four staff, comprising three women and a male, identified as Gloria Oguzie, Victor Ephraim, Roselyn Okiemute and Archibong Precious, in the past week.

Several rights groups and activists have taken to protest, calling for the arrest and prosecution of the hotelier.

The Inspector General of Police in a statement in Abuja, on Friday, assured that the Police had commenced investigation into the matter and would ensure justice is served, no matter whose ox is gored.

Olorogun Gbagi, however, attributed the trending video and photos to the handiwork of political detractors seeking to truncate his plans to contest for the 2023 gubernatorial race in the state.

“There was nothing as you have read, that happened. The people you saw in those pictures are not staff of my hotel. Legally, documentarily, they are not staff of the hotel. They are freelancers.

 “Were you to do a forensic analysis of the video for my body on those pictures, and you find me there, I will resign from politics.

“I invited the Police from Ebrumede to take them. I will never descend to do such (strip people naked). It was politically motivated. I will not strip anybody’s daughter naked or strip any person.

“This, to me, is just a distraction. I am resolute, I am contesting in 2023. Let God punish me if I touched any of the girls or was involved in their stripping. I am prepared. I know what they are planning,” Gbagi stated.

He further disclosed that he had not received any invitation from the Police and that he “will graciously attend any invitation of the Nigerian Police.”

Buhari submits PIB to National Assembly, scraps NNPC, PPPRA in new bill [PUNCH]

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has transmitted the much awaited Petroleum Industry Bill 2020 to the National Assembly and has proposed the creation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

The bill, which was sighted by our correspondent on Sunday, also proposes the scrapping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the  Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency.

The bill states that the NNPC Limited will be incorporated by the Minister of Petroleum, who together with his finance counterparts, will determine   NNPC’s assets and liabilities that will be inherited by the new firm.

Section 54(1, 2 and3 )) reads in part, “The Minister (of Petroleum) and the Minister of Finance shall determine the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC to be transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries and upon the identification, the minister shall cause such assets, interests and liabilities to be transferred to NNPC Limited.

“Assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC not transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiary under subsection 1 of this section shall remain the assets, interests and liabilities of NNPC until they become extinguished or transferred to the government.

“NNPC shall cease to exist after its remaining assets, interests and liabilities other than its interests, assets, and liabilities transferred to NNPC Limited or its subsidiaries under subsection 1 of this section shall have been extinguished or transferred to the government.”

According to Section  53  of the bill,  the minister shall “within six months from the commencement of this Act, cause to be incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, a limited liability company, which shall be called Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC Limited).

“The minister shall be at the incorporation of NNPC Limited, consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted which shall form the initial paid-up share capital of the NNPC Limited and the government shall subscribe and pay cash for the shares.

“Ownership of all shares in NNPC Limited shall be vested in the government at incorporation and held by the Ministry of Finance incorporated on behalf of the government.”

The bill also proposes the establishment of an agency known as the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission which will be responsible for the technical and commercial regulation of upstream petroleum operations.

Section 4 of the bill states in part, “There is established the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (the commission) which shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal.

Present cracks may lead to Nigeria’s breakup, Osinbajo warns [PUNCH]

The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said Nigeria may break up if efforts are not made to address the cracks.

He said efforts to mend the crack may be opposed, but such opposition would be defeated with focus and consistent prayers.

Osinbajo gave the warning on Sunday in Abuja at an interdenominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary.

The Vice-President was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, at the National Ecumenical Centre, where the anniversary service held.

In attendance were representatives of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi- Esan; permanent secretaries, military officials, members of the diplomatic community and other senior government officials.

Referencing the biblical story of how Nehemiah championed the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem, Osinbajo said, “The story should be a challenge to every Christian in Nigeria. It’s only that kind of Nehemiah’s love that will make us, as Nigerians, to rebuild the cracks we have in our walls today.

“For us in Nigeria, Nehemiah should be taken as a metaphor for those Nigerians who either reside in Nigeria or outside, to cry to God to use the abandoned opportunities in Nigeria to address our challenges of nation building.

“Fortunately for us, our walls are not yet broken but there are obvious cracks that could lead to a break if not properly addressed.

“Nehemiah started with fervent prayers, seeking the face of God and pleaded with his king to allow him return to Jerusalem to rebuild the broken walls because wall signifies peace, security, contentment and prosperity. It signifies the essence of the state of the nation.

“There’s an urgent need for a Nehemiah in our country, Nigeria, today. And like Nehemiah faced opposition in his efforts to rebuild the walls, any Nigerian that desires to rebuild Nigeria must also be ready to face stiffer opposition which will come in torrents. It can only be diffused by consistent focus and prayers.”

The Vice-President, however, expressed optimism that the 60th Independence anniversary could herald a rebirth Nigeria, saying “no group is more prepared for this task than our religious bodies.”

Wike, Amaechi exchange words at Supreme Court justice’s burial [PUNCH]

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Saturday engaged in a verbal fight at the burial of a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, in the Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state.

Amaechi, who is the Minister of Transportation, while speaking at the funeral service, lamented what he term the rising insecurity and political intimidation in the state, saying the state was back to the time of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader, who is now the traditional head of Okochiri town in Okrika LGA of the state.

“You have lost your voice. The sage (the late justice) has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was governor, I gave people voices, but they have blocked those voices.

“Everyone is scared. We are going back to when Ateke held sway. We are going back to the period where we run away from our people. We are back to a period when nobody could speak. But from next year, I will begin to speak, if nobody wants to speak.

“We are all here because we need to bury a man God has blessed. I have stopped travelling because of bad weather, but I told myself I must be here because of Justice Whyte.

“If you knew Justice (Karibi-Whyte) very well, you will know I was close to him. I was one of the few people he mentored,” Amaechi stated.

Wike on his part described the late Karibi-Whyte as an epitome of unshakable integrity, civility and dignity, but noted that comments credited to Amaechi were embarrassing.

Responding to Amaechi, Wike who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Emeka Woke, said the minister had lost touch with developments in the state, adding that since the launching of Operation Sting by his administration, the security situation had improved greatly.

God destined my re-election to serve Edo people –Obaseki [PUNCH]

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has said God ordained his re-election to enable his administration to continue the development of the state.

Obaseki said this at a thanksgiving service organised by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, to appreciate God for making his re-election and that of his deputy, Philip Shaibu, possible.

The governor said, “I must thank God for what he has done not only for me and my colleagues but for the people of Edo State.

“There is no doubt we would not have been here without the support of the Almighty and the people of the state.

“I must also thank my deputy for being truthful, honest and steadfast despite the brunt and danger to him and his family. We know what we went through to achieve victory.

“The judiciary is the bastion of our democracy by interpreting the constitution correctly. I must commend them for doing the job and upholding the tenets of their noble profession.”

While thanking God for the peaceful conduct of the election, Obaseki commended the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies, as well as Edo people for working together to ensure that the election was free, fair and credible.

He also commended his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, for providing him and Shaibu a platform.

BBNaija 2020: Laycon Wins N85m Grand Prize [LEADERSHIP]

After a hectic 70days(10 weeks) in the 2020 Big Brother Nigeria lockdown Season 5 Reality TV Show, that got people all over Africa and beyond glued to their TV sets and gunning for their preferred housemate, Olamilekan Agbelesebioba aka Laycon who had been singled out as the most energetic and intelligent housemate with a huge fan base, beat Dorathy , Nengi , Neo and Vee to clinch the ultimate grand prize of N85m at this year’s Africa biggest reality show tagged “BBNaijaLockdown2020.”

The grand prize which includes a N30m cash prize makes this season’s winnings the biggest since its debut back in 2006 and highest prize for a reality TV show on the continent.

Laycon will be going home with a whooping sum of N30m cash prize; a two-bedroom apartment courtesy Revolution Plus; a top of the range SUV from Nigerian automaker, Innoson Motors; a trip to Dublin courtesy Guinness; home appliances courtesy Scanfrost; a trip to Dubai packaged by Travelbeta; a year’s supply of Indomie noodles, Munch it and Colgate toothpaste; a year’s supply of Pepsi, a branded chiller and a trip to watch the UEFA Champions League finale; and a brand new Oppo mobile smartphone.

Laycon beat fellow Housemates, Dorathy, Nengi, Neo and Vee with a blistering 60 per cent to win Big Brother Naija 2020.

Laycon Icons (fans) took to the street as the announcement was made to celebrate him. They shouted “We are Icon! “We are Icon!” As passersby looked with amazement.

He has been penciled down to feature top rated stars like Don Jazzy, Wizkid, Olamide, Davido, Rema, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade and many more collaborations in the industry.

Starting off at the biggest finale , Fireboy DML, Rema , Mayorkun and Davido brought down the House with epic performances that would be remembered for a long time.

The first housemate to be evicted on the final day was Vee followed by Neo. Nengi got the booth the Dorathy before Laycon was announced the winner of season 5.



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