The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), has described as “laudable”, a recent Appeal Court judgement which overruled the payment of pension, gratuity and severance allowance to political office holders.
Mr Bunmi Ogunkolade, Head, Information Unit of the union, who reacted to the judgement in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Monday in Abuja, called for a refund of all monies already collected.
“The practice of paying such monies to them is not sustainable and should not be allowed. The NUP is very happy with the judgement outlawing it.
“NUP wants those concerned to ensure that all monies previously collected by these politicians be refunded to government’s coffers,” Ogunkolade said.
He opined that it was not morally right to pay an elected public officer or political appointee pension, gratuity or severance allowance for holding such an office for three to eight years.
According to him, this practice cannot be justified in the context of the nation’s current social realities.
“To even conceive such payment amounts to gross social injustice. For the present administration to be seen as being serious about fighting corruption, it must begin the process of recouping payments already effected,” he said.
NAN recalls that the Court of Appeal recently faulted the payment of either severance allowance, pension or gratuity to political office holders and political appointees, declaring that the practice was “morally wrong”.
A three-man panel of the court held that it was unjustifiable, in the face of the nation’s socio-economic reality, for some few politicians, who held office for not more than eight-years, to allocate huge public funds to themselves in the name of pension and severance packages.
The panel particularly wondered why the politicians should enjoy such packages while civil servants, who committed most of their active years to the service of the nation, were still denied their retirement benefits.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had made the pronouncement while ruling on an appeal filed by the Governor of Kogi State and three others.
The court, in its lead judgment delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, declared that it was “wicked and morally wrong for political office holders and political appointees, who helped themselves to public funds while in office, to claim entitlement to pension and severance allowances”.
Justice Agim declared: “I must state here that the claim for payment of severance allowance by those whose tenure has come to an end, is as unfounded as is morally wrong.”
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin
Amaechi fixes September for groundbreaking of Transport University, Daura
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Friday said the groundbreaking of the Transport University, Daura, would take place in Septemeber.
“We have agreed with contractors handling the university and the rail line to have the groundbreaking between September and October for the two projects.
He said the federal government was expecting contractors handling key road projects to hasten work to eliminate gridlocks, especially in Apapa area, Lagos.
He said the completion of the rail project would reduce gridlocks in Apapa and other parts of Lagos.
The minister said the fasctory to be built at Kajola would produce wagons and coatches and later locomotives, adding this would reduce import of the equipment from China.
“So, as part of the benefits, the company will build a factory in Kajola.
On the slow pace of the rail project, the minister linked it to insufficient funds and the absence of a cabinet to approve the payment.
As at May, the laying of the rail track had coverd 123 kilometers.
Edited by Angela Okisor
FG to enrol Newspaper vendors into N-Power Programme
The Federal Government has promised to enroll members of the Newspaper Vendors Association of Nigeria into the N-Power programme, to enable them acquire some skills.
Labour and employment minister Chris Ngige made the promise on Friday in Abuja when members of the Federal Secretariat branch of the association, led by its chairman, Desmond Obiagwu, paid him a courtesy visit.
Ngige commended the vendors for being good citizens by choosing to earn a decent living through newspaper vending, instead of engaging in criminal activities.
He expressed government’s desire to encourage them in their efforts, stating that government would enroll some of their members into the N-Power programme, a platform where Nigerians could access skills acquisition for development.
According to him, the vendors are also helping government through their work.
“Your association has helped the labour ministry because newspaper marketing is part of information dissemination.
“Through your activity, we get information on brewing labour unrest, and try to nip them in the bud through conciliatory meetings.”
Speaking earlier, Desmond Obiagwu, Chairman, Federal Secretariat branch of the association, had congratulated Ngige on his re-appointment, and wished him success in navigating the “tough” terrain of the labour ministry.
Obiagwu said that Ngige’s numerous achievements during his first tenure, including the approval of a new national minimum wage for workers, informed his re-appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari will not fail Nigerians – Presidency
The Presidency has assured Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari will not disappoint them in this second and last term in delivery of his promises.
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity stated this on Friday in Abuja.
Shehu was speaking on behalf of some aides of the President, who were given a special award of recognition ‘for their contributions in projecting a solid and impressive image of the President in the discharge of their patriotic service to the Nigerian people.’
The Presidential spokesman said the president was fully aware of the expectations of Nigerians.
He said: “The President is committed to making life better for the average Nigerian.
”At the end of the tenure, Nigerians will look back and say that they have no regrets for voting him.”
Shehu, however, solicited for the support of the media, especially young publications like The Reporters, whose platform presented the awards, in carrying out their responsibilities effectively.
“We cannot achieve this alone. We count on the support of the citizens. We count on the support of the media, particularly up and coming publications like yours and we are also assuring you of our cooperation when you call on us,” he said.
The Chairman of the publication, Abdullahi Sabiu, said the awards were given to the Presidential aides after a careful assessment of their roles in the sustenance of the Buhari administration.
Other aides of the President given certificates of recognition were; Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity; Ambassador Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, State Chief of Protocol; and Bayo Omoboriowo, Personal Photographer to the President.
Edited by Felix Ajide
Minimum Wage: Negotiations to continue Sept 4
The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), and representatives of the Federal Government will reconvene on Sept. 4 to continue negotiations on the new national minimum wage.
The Nigeria News Agency , reports that the negotiators adjourned to the new date to allow President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the disagreement of relativity and consequential adjustments on the new minimum wage.
The meeting, which held in Abuja on Friday, had the Permanent Secretaries of finance and labour ministries, as well as representative of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission in attendance.
Mr Lawrence Amaechi, one of the Labour leaders in the negotiations, told NAN that both parties had agreed to consider their stance and allow the President to decide on the issue.
“We have, however, adjourned till September 4, to get the outcome from the team expected to take our positions to the President,” he said.
Amaechi, who is also the National President, Nigeria Civil Service Union, said that payment of the new minimum wage was long overdue, urging government to be proactive to avoid arrears which could create another round of agitations by workers.
Mr Richard Egbule, the immediate past Chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, headed the government side.
NAN recalls that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in April.
In July, government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14, and a 5.5 per cent increment for workers on level 15 to 17, a proposal Labour outrightly rejected.
Egbule has, however, insisted that the 30 per cent increase for workers on levels 7-14, and 25 per cent for levels 15-17 demanded by Labour was “unrealistic”.
Edited by Chioma Ugboma and Ephraims Sheyin
President Buhari to TICAD7 in Japan – Presidency
By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Aug. 23, 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja on Sunday for Japan to participate in the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) holding in the City of Yokohama from Aug. 28 to 30.
A statement by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Friday, said President Buhari’s participation would be his second, having attended TICAD6 in Nairobi, Kenya, in Aug. 2016.
The presidential aide revealed that President Buhari would deliver Nigeria’s Statement during Plenary Session Three in which he will appraise Nigeria-Japan relations and takeaways from TICAD6.
He said the president would attend a State Banquet and also honour the invitation of Emperor Naruhito to a Tea Reception at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo.
“In addition to a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Abe, the Nigerian President will also attend some side-events and meet chief executive officers of some Japanese companies with huge investments in Nigeria,’’ he added.
Formed in 1993, the now triennial TICAD, which has been convened alternately in Japan and Africa since TICAD6, according to the organisers, is the largest international conference held in Japan which “provides an open forum that generates innovative discussion among various stakeholders on African development.”
Participants are drawn not only from African countries, but also international organisations, private companies and civil society organisations involved in development.
TCAD7 is expected to focus on Africa’s “economic transformation and improvements in business environment and institution through private investment and innovation; promotion of resilient and sustainable African society for human security; and peace and stability in support of Africa’s domestic proactive efforts.”
Nigeria has gained tremendously since her participation in TICAD6 at the highest level, during which Japan pledged 30 billion dollars investment “for the future of Africa combined with the private sector;” 10 billion dollars infrastructure investment, and 500 million dollars for vocational training of 50,000 Africans.
Since the Nairobi Conference, Japanese government and companies have been very active in supporting Nigeria’s agriculture, healthcare, electricity and youth empowerment.
President Buhari and his delegation are expected in Yokohama to push for broader Japanese assistance in the areas of science and technology, innovation, human resource development, education, agriculture, power, health and disaster risk reduction, among others.
President Buhari will be accompanied by Governors Babagana Zulum, AbdulRaham AbdulRazaq and Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Borno, Kwara and Lagos States respectively; ministers and other top government officials.
The President is expected back in Nigeria on Aug. 31.
edited by Sadiya Hamza