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Communique of the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Teleconference on COVID-19, Held on 26 March 2020

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His Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Arica, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, convened a teleconference of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government, ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit video-teleconference on 26 March 2020.

The Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government is chaired by President Ramaphosa and consists of: His Excellency, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of the Republic of Mali, His Excellency, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency, President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and His Excellency, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Director of the Africa Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, also participated in the teleconference.

In his opening remarks, President Ramaphosa emphasised that a continental coordinated response was more important than ever before in order to arrest the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that the development and spread of the COVID-19 has stretched public health systems beyond limits and caused an enormous global economic, social and humanitarian meltdown.

President Ramaphosa underscored the fact that poverty, poor sanitation, an existing disease burden, overstretched health systems and extreme urban population density mean that the pandemic could explode in an even more catastrophic way than has been seen thus far in Africa. Hence the need for urgent action in order to stem the tide. President Ramaphosa emphasised that the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and all health institutions should direct their efforts at stopping the spread of the virus.

The Bureau received a briefing from Dr John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who stated that the rapid spread of the COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health disaster. Dr. Nkengasong stated that the coronavirus has been spreading rapidly across the world, affecting 175 countries, with 470 000 confirmed cases and claiming more than 21,000 lives. He noted that 46 African countries have reported a combined total of 2,746 infections, 72 deaths, and 210 recoveries. He warned that the pandemic could explode in poor countries in an even more catastrophic way than has been seen elsewhere thus far.

The Bureau expressed grave concern about the rising local infections, in the context densely populated human settlements on the African continent.

Consequently, the Bureau underscored the importance of coordination across the continent and the necessity to exchange credible and real time information about the spread of the virus. The Bureau agreed to establish a continental anti-COVID-19 Fund to which member states of the Bureau agreed to immediately contribute US $12, 5 million as seed funding. African Union Member States, the international community and philanthropic entities are urged to contribute to this fund.

The Bureau noted the critical role of the CDC, and its under-funding. In this regard Member States of the Bureau agreed to contribute an amount of $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the CDC.

The Bureau expressed concern about the possible shortages of medicines and vaccines as factories close or countries retain supplies for their own consumption. In this regard, the Bureau underscored the vital importance of coordinating efforts to increase global production and improve the availability of medical products and equipment.

Given the limited health infrastructure in Africa and the reality that most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent are imported, the Bureau called on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.

The Bureau urged the G20 to immediately provide African countries with medical equipment, testing kits, protective gear to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Bureau urged G20 countries to provide an effective economic stimulus package that includes relief and deferred payments. In this regard, the Bureau called for the waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral debt, and the possible extension of the waiver to the medium term, in order to provide immediate fiscal space and liquidity to governments.

The Bureau also urges the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and other regional institutions to use all the instruments available in their arsenal to help mitigate against the scourge and provide relief to vital sectors of African economies and communities.

The Bureau expressed support and appreciation for endeavors of the Committee of African Health Ministers and paid tribute to the courageous efforts of all medical and health care officials on the continent engaged in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bureau urge all citizens of Africa to abide by national measures implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Member States of the Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government expressed their deepest appreciation to the Chairperson of the Bureau, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa for his timely convening of the meeting in order to develop a coordinated African response to curb and reverse the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Africa.

The Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government agreed to remain seized of this matter.

End.

AMA

Communiqué of the African Union (AU) Bureau of Heads of State and Government Teleconference Meeting held on 3 April 2020

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President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, and Chairperson of the African Union (AU) convened a second and follow-up teleconference meeting of the AU Bureau of Heads of State and Government, on 3 April 2020, to discuss the African response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The following members of the Bureau participated in the teleconference meeting: President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Republic of Mali, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, and President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat .

President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal, and President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Republic of Zimbabwe also participated in the teleconference. The Bureau received presentations from Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Chairperson Faki briefed the Bureau on actions undertaken by the Commission on recommendations from the Bureau meeting on Covid19 held on 26 March 2020.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC gave a continental update which highlighted rapidly increasing Covid-19 infection rates across the continent

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus emphasised the importance of acting now to test and to guarantee equitable access to test kits, masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs), vaccines and therapeutics as soon as they become available.

The Bureau of Heads of State and Government commended the able stewardship of exemplary leadership of Dr Tedros in leading the global response to the pandemic.

The Heads of States highlighted the unprecedented threat that Covid-19 presents to the health of African citizens and to the continent’s hard-won developmental and economic gains. They also recognised the imperative to establish humanitarian and trade corridors in a spirit of African solidarity and integration.

Given the urgent need for medical supplies and equipment, the Heads of states called for international cooperation and support while up-scaling local production on the continent.

The Heads of States noted with satisfaction progress made in operationalising the African Union Covid-19 Response Fund established on 26 March 2020 to which members pledged the sum of US$12.5 million and an additional US$4.5million to the Africa CDC.

It was agreed to establish continental ministerial coordination committees on Health, Finance and Transport to coordinate in order to support the comprehensive continental strategy.

The Heads of States underscored the need for a comprehensive and coordinated continental approach, and to speak with one voice on Africa’s priorities.

Cognizant of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, the Bureau reiterated the need for rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is critical that these institutions review their current disbursement policies to display flexibility and speed, including raising the availability of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). The Bureau also echoed the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including, deferred payments, the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt in order to create fiscal space for Covid-19 response measures.

Lifesaving supplies including PPEs, masks, gowns, and ventilators and other support devices are urgently needed. The Bureau commended the rapid action coordinated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation in mobilising and distributing, with the support of the World Food Programme (WFP) and Africa CDC, over one million diagnostic tests, six million masks and 600,000 PPE items to all African Union member states in less than a week.

The Heads of States and Government strongly urged for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately respond to the pandemic and save lives. The African Union has repeatedly called for the lifting of these punitive sanctions, which the Bureau consider intolerable and inhumane in the present context.

It was noted that the Sahel region need special attention in the light of terrorist activity, and pledge solidarity with the countries in this region who have to fight the twin scourge of terrorism and COVID-19.

The Heads of States and Government thanked President Emmanuel Macron for his strong support for Africa during the Extraordinary G20 Summit. The Bureau expressed its support for the proposals he raised regarding a comprehensive approach to mobilising international support for Africa’s health, economic, humanitarian, and medical research priorities, which are aligned with the in African position. The Bureau also acknowledged the commitment of the People’s Republic of China for its support and solidarity with Africa.

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APO

Coronavirus – Africa: Communique Of The Bureau Of The Assembly Of The African Union (Au) Heads Of State And Government Teleconference On Covid-19, Held On 26 March 2020

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His Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union, convened a teleconference of the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government, ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit video-teleconference on 26 March 2020.

The Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government is chaired by President Ramaphosa and consists of: His Excellency, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of the Republic of Mali, His Excellency, President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency, President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and His Excellency, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Director of the Africa Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong, also participated in the teleconference.

In his opening remarks, President Ramaphosa emphasised that a continental coordinated response was more important than ever before in order to arrest the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that the development and spread of the COVID-19 has stretched public health systems beyond limits and

caused an enormous global economic, social and humanitarian meltdown.

President Ramaphosa underscored the fact that poverty, poor sanitation, an existing disease burden, overstretched health systems and extreme urban population density mean that the pandemic could explode in an even more catastrophic way than has been seen thus far in Africa. Hence the need for urgent action in order to stem the tide. President Ramaphosa emphasised that the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and all health institutions should direct their efforts at stopping the spread of the virus.

The Bureau received a briefing from Dr John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), who stated that the rapid spread of the COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health disaster. Dr. Nkengasong stated that the coronavirus has been spreading rapidly across the world, affecting 175 countries, with 470 000 confirmed cases and claiming more than 21,000 lives. He noted that 46 African countries have reported a combined total of 2,746 infections, 72 deaths,  and 210 recoveries. He  warned  that the pandemic  could explode in poor countries in an even more catastrophic way than has been seen elsewhere thus far.

The Bureau expressed grave concern about the rising local infections, in the context densely populated human settlements on the African continent.

Consequently, the Bureau underscored the importance of coordination across the continent and the necessity to exchange credible and real time information about the spread of the virus. The Bureau agreed to establish a continental anti-COVID-19 Fund to which member states of the Bureau agreed to immediately contribute

US $12, 5 million as seed funding. African Union Member States, the international community and philanthropic entities are urged to contribute to this fund.

The Bureau noted the critical role of the Africa CDC, and its under-funding. In this regard Member States of the Bureau agreed to contribute an amount of $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the Africa CDC.

The Bureau expressed concern about the possible shortages of medicines and vaccines as factories close or countries retain supplies for their own consumption. In this regard, the Bureau underscored the vital importance of coordinating efforts to increase global production and improve the availability of medical products and equipment.

Given the limited health infrastructure in Africa and the reality that most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent are imported, the Bureau called on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.

The Bureau urged the G20 to immediately provide African countries with medical equipment, testing kits, protective gear to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Bureau urged G20 countries to provide an effective economic stimulus package that includes relief and deferred payments. In this regard, the Bureau called for the waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral debt, and the possible extension of the waiver to the medium term, in order to provide immediate fiscal space and liquidity to governments.

The Bureau also urges the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and other regional institutions to use all the instruments available in their arsenal to help mitigate against the scourge and provide relief to vital sectors of African economies and communities.

The Bureau expressed support and appreciation for endeavors of the Committee of African Health Ministers and paid tribute to the courageous efforts of all medical and health  care  officials  on  the  continent  engaged  in  combatting  the  COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bureau urge all citizens of Africa to abide by national measures implemented to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The Member States of the Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government expressed their deepest appreciation to the Chairperson of the Bureau, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa for his timely convening of the meeting in order to develop a coordinated African response to curb and reverse the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Africa.

The Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government agreed to remain seized of this matter.

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AMA

Communiqué of the Chairperson on the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and Chad

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The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, has learned with deep sadness of the deadly and quasi simultaneous attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram against a Chadian army position in the area of Boma, in the Lake Chad region, and a convoy of the Nigerian army in Konduga in Borno State,Nigeria.

During these attacks, 92 soldiers were killed and 47 wounded on the Chadian army side, and 70 Nigerian soldiers were killed. In this particularly painful circumstance, the Chairperson expresses his sincere condolences and total solidarity with the President of the Republic of Chad HE Idriss Deby Itno and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria HE Muhammadu Buhari, as well as to the defence and security forces of the two countries.These attacks are yet a further stark reminder that terrorism remains particularly aggressive in the Lake Chad basin, as it is throughout the Sahel region.

The Chairperson urgently appeals for continental and international solidarity with the countries of the Lake Chad basin and the G5 Sahel region who are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.

The Chairperson respectfully bows before the memory of the Chadian and Nigerian soldiers who fell in the field of battle. He also extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the wounded.

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Foreign

Afforestation: Great Green Wall to restore 100 million ha of land by 2030 — Communique

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The Great Green Wall, an Africa-led initiative against desertification, has announced bold targets to restore 100 million hectares of land and create 10 million green jobs across the Sahel region by 2030.

Partners of the Initiative announced the targets in a communique issued after a high-level breakfast meeting held on the sidelines of the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP 14) to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in New Delhi, India.

Co­-chaired by UN Deputy Secretary-General, Ms. Amina Mohammed, and Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, the event was facilitated by UNCCD in collaboration with the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall (PAGGW).

The partners raised concerns that 65 per cent of land on the African continent was still degraded and called for the initiative’s swift upscaling and acceleration to further advance social cohesion, climate action and economic development via a transformative ecological corridor that supports millions of lives.

The communique said that the large-scale landscape restoration of 100 million hectares of degraded land across 13 participating countries would help transform the lives of those living on the frontline of climate change and desertification.

It said that the creation of 10 million green jobs through sustainable value chains would also connect local producers to lucrative global markets

The project would also help in the promotion of clean energy, powering communities along the Wall to a brighter future and creating local economies that ensure land remains productive, it said.

The partners also agreed to adopt a more innovative approach and robust coordination mechanism required for real transformation and resource mobilisation, leveraging the region’s assets and the opportunities offered by the youth and women as the main drivers of change.

A joint commitment was made to mobilise technical and financial resources from public and private sectors through win-win partnerships, recognising that private sector investment remained vital in creating green jobs and wealth along the Wall and ultimately achieving the 2030 vision.

Participants exchanged views on a myriad of opportunities the region offered with emphasis on sustainable value chains, renewable energy and rural entrepreneurship, and stressed the importance of changing the narrative to underscore the Sahel as a “land of opportunities.”

It noted that the upcoming UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23 in New York would be crucial in further galvanising support to advance affirmative action for the Great Green Wall by 2030 and inspire a global restoration movement.

Participants in attendance included the African Union Commission, Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall, ministers from countries participating in the Pan African Agency for the Great Green Wall Initiative, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Heads of COP Delegation from UNCCD parties and the UN system.

Nigeria is a key participant in the Great Green Wall for Sahara and Sahel region, an Africa-led initiative against desertification launched in 2007 by the African Union to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes and transform millions of lives.

Once completed, the 8,000-kilometre-long wall and natural wonder of the world, stretching across the entire width of over 20 countries in the continent, would be the largest living structure on the planet.

Over $8 billion have been mobilised and pledged in its support by African countries and international partners under the leadership of the African Union Commission and Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall.
WOJ/OJO

(Edited by Mufutau Ojo)

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G20 financial leaders to stay vague on global trade in communiqué

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Financial leaders of the world’s top economies are likely steering  clear of promises to avoid protectionism in their communiqué on Sunday, amid an escalating trade conflict between the United States and China, officials said on Saturday.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s 20 biggest economies, the G20, are meeting this weekend in the Japanese city of Fukuoka to discuss the global economy.

“As for trade, the language will be reminiscent of previous communiques,” one G20 official familiar with the draft of the joint statement, said.

On the insistence of the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, G20 financial leaders replaced in 2017, a standard phrase about avoiding all forms of protectionism with a sentence that they would work “to strengthen the contribution of trade to our economies.”

A second G20 official, when asked if the new phrasing would be kept also this time, said: “Yes, most probably”.

Officials said the U.S.-China trade conflict was spilling over to other areas of discussions at the G20, making the drafting of the final statement increasingly difficult.

“If we go down this route, we risk clogging the G20,” the first official said.

China warned its companies operating in the U.S. on Tuesday they could face harassment from U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Beijing also rebuffed U.S. criticism of a Chinese trade white paper as “singing the same old tune”.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have nosedived in recent months due to a tariffs battle, U.S. sanctions against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and U.S. support for Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

“The G20 pledge not to use competitive devaluations to gain advantage in international trade,will remain in place, although the language on foreign exchange had not been finalised yet,’’ officials said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping are expected to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka later this month, to seek a deal that would end the trade tensions.

However, officials have said hopes for a solution were low.

Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye
(NAN)

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Germany unsure whether G7 leaders will agree on communique summit

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European states will present a united front on issues from Iran to trade and climate change at a Group of Seven (G7) summit starting on Friday but it is unclear if G7 leaders will agree on a communique at the end, a senior German official said on Tuesday.

The June 8 to June 9 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada, will begin with a working session on economic growth and trade – topical issues after U.S. President Donald Trump infuriated Canada and EU G7 members by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum.

“At this time, it is extremely important that we have such meetings. Whether there will be a communique or not I don’t know,” the official told reporters at a briefing.

“It would be rare for the summit not to issue a communique.’’

“Our aim is to get a joint communique but we have our positions which we will not give up,” the official added. “It is not easier than in previous years. .. We will see.”

Trump’s disdain for diplomatic niceties and his “America first” policies have created a rift with countries whose alliance with the U.S. dates to the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Asked whether Trump would come to the summit, the official added: “We have to expect so.”

Asked whether the summit could be the most difficult or even the last such meeting of the G7, the official replied: “I see no reason why it should be the last summit. Whether it is more difficult than all others, I will tell you at the end.”

Merkel would meet other leaders bilaterally at the summit but these meetings were still being worked out, he said.

The German government hopes that the U.S. may grant exceptions to European companies doing business in Iran despite abandoning the 2015 international nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Another German official said there was no question that the G7 would welcome Russia back to the club, adding there were still reasons to stick to the existing arrangement.

Russia has been excluded from the Group of Eight since 2014 after its annexation of the Crimea region and its relations with many Western nations have been strained over issues including its role in Syria and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Edited by: Fatima Sule/Silas Nwoha
(NAN)

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Health

Resident Doctors issue 14-day strike notice to FG

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The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Saturday said its members would proceed on total and indefinite strike if the Federal Government failed to address their demands within 14 days.

The Association stated this in a communique issued at the end of its virtual 40th Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) and Scientific Conference.

The communique signed by NARD National President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu and Publicity Secretary,  Dr  Egbogu Stanley was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Kaduna.

The NARD 40th OGM was held under the theme: ‘Health inequalities and social determinants of Health in Nigeria.’

NAN reports that the virtual OGM, attended by 74 Chapters of the association from across the country, deliberated on issues affecting the nation’s health care system and welfare of its members.

NARD calls on the Federal and State governments to provide adequate personnel protective equipment such as N95 respirators, gloves etc. to all health workers.

NARD also demands immediate recall of the sacked resident doctors at Jos University Teaching Hospital and payments of their salaries.”

According to the association, 26 resident doctors at the Jos University Teaching Hospital were illegally disengaged without recourse to the law governing Residency training.

 “The association also demands for universal implementation of the Residency Training Act in both Federal and State Teaching hospitals.

 “NARD demands immediate implementation of the revised hazard allowance, and payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance,” the communique said.

OGM resolves that urgent steps be taken to ensure that the fate of our members at the State Tertiary Health Institutions be improved through engagement with the various state governments and relevant stakeholders.

The association enjoined the Federal Government through the National Assembly to ensure full capture of the residency training funding in the 2021 Appropriation Act.

It also demanded  for payment of arrears of the consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage to it’s members at both Federal and state tertiary health institutions.

The Association condemned what it called “the illegal deductions in salaries” of members by some state governments and demanded  for immediate refund.

NARD observes the slashing of salaries of our members at state tertiary health institutions with particular reference to Kaduna state government that cut the salaries of health workers by twenty five percent.”

It also called on security agencies especially in Lagos, Delta  and Abuja to stop the harassment and assault of doctors while carrying out their legitimate activities.

OGM observes non implementation of the revised hazard allowance, the non procurement of life insurance, non-payment of the death benefits claims and COVID

19 inducement allowance of doctors in various health institutions.

NARD observes non-payment of arrears of the consequential adjustment of new minimum wage to some of her members.

It also observed with concern, the non-implementation of revised CONMESS and skipping arrears by some state governments in various state tertiary teaching hospitals.

The NARD noted the shortage of medical staff especially resident doctors in most health institutions across the country and called on the government to address the problem.

Edited By: Shuaib Sadiq/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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General news

Labour, Civil Society flays deduction of salaries of workers, pensioners by Kaduna Govt, other States

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The Labour Civil Society Situation Room on COVID-19 has criticised the arbitrary deduction in the salaries and pension of workers and pensioners by the Kaduna State Government and other States.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Chairman of the Labour Civil Society Situation Room, said this in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting on Thursday in Abuja.

The meeting was held to review the recent developments pertaining to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on the economic front.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reviewed the decision by the Kaduna state government and a few other states to deduct the salaries of workers in their states, including healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 challenge.

“Even worse is the threat by Gov. Nasir El-Rufai to sack affected workers if they go on strike.

”This anti-worker practice championed by the Kaduna State government violates the fundamental principles and rights at work.

“These principles and rights are key components of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) global labour standards and are also codified in our laws.

”The infringement of these rights is a crude abuse of power and akin to modern day slavery.

“Wages are binding contracts which cannot be unilaterally or arbitrarily reviewed. It is unfortunate that while some states are giving incentives to workers at this time of grave health emergency, in line with global trend.

The Kaduna State Government is taking away from workers and pensioners. This is nothing but a full-blown industrial tyranny,” he said.

Wabba said the situation room was behind the ultimatum by workers in the affected states for a reversal of the unjust decision, adding it fully stands by workers’ resolve to embark on strike, if their demands were not met.

He said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room demanded that the state governments must reciprocate Federal Government’s gesture in granting moratorium on repayment of budget support palliatives by paying workers and pensioners their full entitlements.

“We also renew our calls for investigation on how states used the palliatives and Paris Club refunds.

“We demand that private sector employers should stop the retrenchment of workers in the guise of COVID-19 as such moves would only impair efforts geared at economic revitalisation,” he said.

Wabba said that the Labour Civil Society Situation Room applauded the Federal Government for reversing the directive by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to place workers on half salaries based on the claims of shortfall in revenue owing to COVID-19.

“This is the way to go for all employers in the public and private sectors in order to protect the livelihood and dignity of workers.

“The continued incidence of job losses, income deprivation and denial of the means of livelihood for workers by some employers in Nigeria on the excuse of COVID-19 is a source of worry to us,” he said.

The NLC president therefore said that Labour Civil Society Situation Room recommended that for immediate term, governments should adopt a measured approach to the fallout of COVID-19.

Wabba said government should not cut down on budgetary allocations to education, health, agriculture and infrastructure as these sectors were critical for the needed economic rebound and growth.

He also said government should unfreeze the embargo on public sector jobs, adding that hike in user access charges on public utilities should be shelved for the next six months.

“Given the abuse of security votes by many political office holders. we call for the scrapping of security votes from public budgeting in Nigeria.

“We call on political office holders to reduce their salaries and allowances in order to free up finances for other areas of national developmental needs.

“We also call for an end to medical and education tourism for elected public officials and their families.

“We call for an immediate stop to the practice of borrowing to finance consumption.

“We call for foreign loans where necessary to be tied exclusively to capital projects with feasible income and debt repayment potentials cum projections,” he said.

Wabba also called for accelerated disbursement of palliatives and loans to workers in the informal sector.

He said that this should be transparent, inclusive and monitored by mass-based groups, adding that the conditions for access to the loans should be minimal to deepen access.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room also recommended that the budgetary and planning process in Nigeria should be overhauled to become more socially inclusive, citizens-centred, value objective and reflective of real national developmental needs.

“We call on the National Assembly to set in motion legislative processes to deliver the promises of Chapter Two of Nigeria’s Constitution.

“On the budget process, we must cut our cloth according to our materials. We must discard the use of assumptive and deficit budgets that cannot be funded by available resources and heavily dependent on local and foreign loans especially for recurrent expenditure.

“We call for the resuscitation of Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex, proper governance for our solid minerals sector, revival of moribund textile factories and other manufacturing concerns as a demonstration of our commitment to economic diversification,” he said.

Wabba said the Labour Civil Society Situation Room reiterates its commitment to defend jobs, wages and livelihoods.

He added that all interventions in this crisis must be geared at enhancing productivity, stimulating economic growth, promoting diversification of the economy and mobilising and empowering national productive forces.

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Politics

NGF to engage AGF on financial autonomy for states’ judiciary, legislature

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The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has said that its Legal Committee would engage the Attorney- General of the Federation to reflect on the implications of the recently passed Executive Order 10, 2020 on governance at the sub-national level.

The forum disclosed this in a communiqué signed by its Chairman and Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, issued to mewsmen on Thursday in Abuja, after its 9th COVID-19 teleconference meeting held on Wednesday.

The NGF Legal Committee, according to the communiqué, comprises the governors of Sokoto State Plateau and Ondo State.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday signed into law an executive order, granting financial autonomy to the legislative and judicial arms across the 36 states of the country.

The order also mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source, amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.

It stated that the governors also at the meeting deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The governors also resolved to interface with the Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, to incorporate the contributions of state governments in the Economic Sustainability Plan as a national response to the COVID-19 crisis.

This, according to the communiqué, will be done through the NEC Ad-Hoc Sub-Committee on COVID-19 comprising the governors of Kaduna State as chairman, with governors of Kebbi, Ebonyi, Ogun, Nasarawa State, Edo and Jigawa as members.

It noted that the NGF chairman briefed the governors on coordination activities with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, multilateral and bilateral partners and the private sector through the Coalition Against COVID-19 that were targeted at improving the COVID-19 response of the state governments.

It added that the governors also received brief from Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Nigeria on the one billion dollar COVID-19 crisis facility and update from Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director of Aliko Dangote Foundation on activities of the coalition.

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum thereafter resolved to
“interface with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on the billion COVID-19 crisis facility approved for the country at the request of the Federal Government by the AfDB, to embark on the delivery of projects that will meet the needs of Nigerians in health emergency assistance, agriculture and food security, among others.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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