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FG, Labour meet to end minimum wage logjam

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The Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) and the representatives of the Federal Government are currently meeting to put an end to delays in the implementation of the new national minimum wage.

The meeting, holding at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, is expected to bring to an end continued disagreements in the percentage of consequential adjustments.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the new minimum wage bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in April.

At a meeting between the government and labour in July, the former had proposed a 10 percent increment for workers on GL. 7 to 14 and 5.5 percent for those on GL. 15 to 17.

Mr Richard Egbule, the immediate past Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, had attributed the delay in the implementation of the “consequential adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wage to the unrealistic demands by labour unions.

Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high, and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.

Labour, on its own part, had also turned down government’s offer, proposing, instead, 30 percent increase for workers on GL. 7 to 14 and 25 percent for those on GL. 15 to 17.

The JNPSNC had initially demanded for 66 per cent increment across board for all workers, basing it on the fact that the increase in wage from N18, 000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent.

Mr Lawrence Amaechi, an executive member of the labour group in the negotiating council, told NAN that public service workers were expecting government to finally agree with them on reasonable adjustments to the salaries for immediate implementation of the minimum wage.

Amaechi, who is also the National President, Nigerian Civil Service Union, said that the payment of the new minimum wage was long overdue.

He urged government to be proactive in order not to accumulate arrears which, he said, might result in another round of agitations by employees.

Amaechi said although the two labour unions – NLC and Trade Union Congress – were not part of the eight unions that made up the JNPSNC, their representatives had been invited as observers, should negotiations break down.

Both parties are expected to either agree with government’s proposed additions of 10 percent for GL. 7 to 14 workers and 5.5 percent for those on GL. 15 to 17 or come to a middle point away from labour’s demands for 30 and 25 per cent increase respectively.

Edited by Folorunso Poroye and ‘Wale Sadeeq

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NEMA launches National Disaster Risk Management Policy

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The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), on Friday, launched its National Disaster Risk Management Policy document in response to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 to 2030, adopted by UN member states in 2015, outlines targets and priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks.

Mr Mustapha Maihaja, Director-General, NEMA, while launching the document, said that the document is aimed at building safer and more resilient communities.

He added that the policy document concentrated on four priority areas namely: awareness governance, capacity and resilience, in order to support development of strong governance structures in the country.

Maihaja added that to build resilient and sustainable societies capable of addressing both climate and disaster risks, it was important to integrate risks, into development,planning and budgeting.

“Globally, disaster risk management has witnessed improved legislation, awareness, early warning systems, better preparedness, including establishment of sustainable structures and national platforms for disaster risk reduction.

“But, these have not been sufficient, to generate the transformational change required in risk governance.

“If we truly want to get ahead of the curve of humanitarian need and economic losses we must set up strategies to address underlying risk drivers.

“It is projected that if we continue with the current business as usual, an estimated amount of 3 trillion naira will be required to curb and respond to disasters across the 36 states in Nigeria in 2020.

“This will be mainly for providing short term relief and replacement of damaged infrastructures.

“To achieve this, we must deploy appropriate instruments and we have developed several plans and guidelines,”he said.

NAN reports that the event had in attendance, representatives of the Police, Fire Service, UNOCHA, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development among others.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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CPAN says 2019 UTME marred by biometric, browser failure

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The Computer-Based Test Centres Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (CPAN), has alleged that the 2019 UTME was marred by both biometric and browser failures.

The President of CPAN, Mr Maxwell Akwuruoha, made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.

Akwuruoha claimed that contrary to claims by the board that the examination was a success, the 2019 examination was marred by both biometric and browser failures from JAMB with most candidates denied the opportunity to write the test.

He said that more than 2000 candidates could not write the 2019 UTME due to the biometric and browser failures.

According to the body, many JAMB workers deployed on the examination days were either incompetent or connived to carry out malpractices.

“Biometric and browser failure, incompetence of technical staff, inadequacies in CBT centres and excesses in sales of novels, syllabus and brochures are some of the technical challenges that characterised the 2019 UTME exercise.

“Biometric enrollment as secured registration medium for UTME and Direct Entry candidates started in 2011, with the introduction of electronic testing actively in 2013 and absolutely in 2015.

“The introduction of technology as electronic testing saved huge costs, initially meant for printing question papers, syllabus, brochure, and logistics for delivery of same.

“But JAMB applied a fire-brigade approach during accreditation, especially with ad hoc workers who were not trained.

“It does not kill anybody to apologise that the biometric system actually failed. We had candidates that were prevented from writing the test because of biometric failures from JAMB.

” The system failed because some of the technical people sent to some centres by JAMB were incompetent. It is only noble that JAMB apologises to these children that were prevented from writing the examination.

“What we are saying is that the biometric solutions deployed by JAMB during the examination was not perfect,” he said.

Akwuruoha added that such technical challenges should not be allowed to happen during the conduct of the 2020 examination.

He called on JAMB to issue to its members a Memorandum of Understanding and adequate time for visitation and accreditation.

The CPAN president also said that the association was ready to partner with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to enroll candidates for the 2020 UTME.

JAMB’s Head of Information, Fabian Benjamin, while reacting to the allegations, described them as “cheap blackmail.”

Benjamin said that the board conducted biometric verification for about two million candidates.

“Let me assume, without conceding, that 2000 candidates could not be verified, what is the percentage of 2000 in two million?

“Every candidate that registered properly was verified. So for any candidate who was not verified, it is not as a result of biometric failure.

“Some of them registered in centres that were not approved and some of them did multiple registrations and were therefore blocked.

“If you accused us of examination malpractice, we will tell you that we have been delisting centres involved in that. None of them has ever come with allegations against our workers,” he said.

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Over 1000 FRSC special marshals delisted in 2 years — Lagos Coordinator

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More than 1000 dormant Special Marshals of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Lagos State had been shown the way out in the last two years, the State Coordinator, Mr Olusola Olojede, has said.

Olojede disclosed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency at the 2019 Sectoral Workshop of the volunteer arm of FRSC in Lagos.

NAN reports that the biannual workshop is themed: “Special Marshals Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”

“We have over 1500 special marshals in Lagos officially, we have removed so many people for inactiveness. Right now, we intend to recruit more than a thousand.

“If you are not active, we remove you. We don’t want people who just wear the kits for wearing sake.

“We have removed over a thousand in the last two years because in Lagos, we used to have over 3000 special marshals,” Olojede said.

He said that the workshop brought together Special Marshals in the state to share experience on how to improve service for more productivity.

He urged the government to help in maintenance of road infrastructure to reduce accidents.

He said that the FRSC volunteer group had done a lot to improve safety on the roads but more were still expected with increased commitment and dedication to the task of saving lives.

“We have done very well and we are going to do more. That is why after this event, we are going to try and get more special marshals recruited to take care of the traffic population in Lagos.

“The population in Lagos is huge, so we need to have more people,” he said.

The state coordinator urged road users to respect other motorists and be patient on the road to reduce rates of crashes and fatalities.

In his keynote address, Hyginus Omeje, FRSC Lagos Sector Commander, thanked the special marshals for volunteering to assist the corps in propagating road safety ideals across the country.

Omeje said: “This is a volunteer arm of FRSC, it is the second arm of the corps. I want to appreciate you for your sacrifices, spending your personal money to ensure safety.

“Special Marshals have contributed so much in term on traffic control and developmental projects. They have come to our rescue in so many ways. I appreciate them for all their selfless efforts and contributions towards road safety.”

In his remarks, Dr Sini Kwabe, National Coordinator of Special Marshals, said that the challenge of road crashes remained an issue and expressed regret that some marshals had died in the cause of rendering volunteer service of saving lives.

“We as special marshals must step up our game in order to stem the tide of road crashes. We must give back to the society as men of proven integrity.

“There is no doubt we need to improve on the standard of our activities. This is the responsibility we have chosen and we are not being forced to do it,” he said.

Kwabe, who noted that special marshals had contributed immensely to road safety, urged road users to obey traffic rules while government should also pay attention to safety on roads.

He commended the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, for lifting the ban on recruitment of new special marshals.

The event had in attendance hundreds of special marshals, past national and state coordinators of special marshals, officers and men of FRSC in Lagos, among others.

Edited by Wale Ojetimi

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Aisha Buhari inaugurates Kogi Presidential Lodge

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The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, on Thursday, inaugurated the Presidential Lodge built by Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, ahead of the APC mega rally in Lokoja.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the First Lady is expected to participate in the grand finale of the APC mega rally slated for Lokoja Stadium.

” I inaugurate this building for the use of all serving presidents in future. I also thank the Almighty Allah that I’m opportune to be the one to inaugurate the project.

”I’m equally happy to be the first wife of the president to occupy the building,” she said.

Mrs Buhari expressed the need for proper maintenance of the edifice.

She commended the people of the state for their continued support for the APC government in the state.

NAN reports that the event was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and Wife of Vice-President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo.

Others included Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, Gov. Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State, and the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, among others.

Edited by ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Accident bureau releases preliminary reports on Air Peace incidents

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The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) has released the preliminary reports on serious incidents involving three Air Peace aircrafts.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Commissioner for AIB, Mr Akin Olateru confirmed the development to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos.

Olateru said the reports released included the serious incident involving Air Peace Limited B737-300 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BUK at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on May 15.

He said also released was the report on the serious incident involving the airline’s B737-500 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BRN at Port Harcourt International Airport on June 22.

He added that the bureau released the report on the serious incident involving Air Peace Limited B737-300 aircraft with nationality and registration marks 5N-BQO at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on July 23.

He said: “The preliminary reports are not the final reports as they contain details of the initial facts, discussions and findings surrounding the occurrences.

“This include information gathered from witness statements, flight recorders, Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) Data, Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) data, and preliminary inspection of the accident sites and the wreckages.

“Therefore, the investigations on these serious incidents are still ongoing and final reports on these occurrences will be released at the conclusion of these investigations.”

A source told NAN that part of the report contained the following observations.

“For the May 15 incident: According to the Initial Findings of preliminary report of this serious incident, the flight crew were certified and qualified to conduct the flight in accordance with applicable regulations and the aircraft landed on runway 18R at 19:34 hrs.

“The aircraft was taxied to the apron and the passengers disembarked normally.

“However, AIB was notified three weeks after the occurrence via a phone call by a passenger that was on the incident flight and a post-incident inspection of the aircraft showed substantial damage to the aircraft structure and its No. 2 engine cowling.

“Plus, the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) recording of the occurrence was overwritten.

“There is nothing concrete yet because it is only a preliminary report.”

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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FG says other options available for social media regulation

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The Federal Government says, apart from enacting new laws, there are many options open to it in regulating the social media.

The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Thursday in Abuja at a meeting with the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP).

He said the government could leverage on technology, working with the big techies like Facebook,Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram to check the spread of fake news and hate speech.

The minister, therefore, said ”it is premature for anyone to say that there are enough laws already to deal with social media deviants”.

He said the process for the social media regulation would not be a unilateral process because government would carry relevant stakeholders along.

“Let me announce here that we have just kick-started the process.

“We have dispatched letters inviting representatives of the media, civil society, technology and security experts, online publishers, bloggers, relevant agencies of government, etc, for this purpose.

“It will involve all stakeholders coming together to chart the path forward. In essence, the committee we plan to set up will determine the best option for us to use,” he said.

Mohammed said from Oct. 29, when he announced government plan to sanitise the social media, there had been intense debate on the issue.

“This is a welcome development because the announcement has pushed the issue of the social media to the front burner and we can only benefit from such debate.

“We have been monitoring the debate. Some analysts and commentators have supported our plan, while others have opposed it.

“An interesting part of the debate has been that even those who opposed the regulation have acknowledged the dangers inherent in the irresponsible use of the social media, especially by anarchists and non-patriots.

“We thank everyone who has spoken out, and we hope the debate will continue,” he said.

The minister said that contrary to opinions from certain quarters, the planned regulation was not aimed at stifling free speech and muzzling the media.

“The fear of stifling free speech or muzzling the media is totally unfounded. We have no such plans.

“As we speak, people are on the social media criticizing the Administration. We have no problem with that, because it is part of democracy.

“This is a democracy and there should be plurality of opinions.

“But our concern has to do with the abuse of the social media by those who are bent on spreading fake news and hate speech, and the dangers inherent in that for our national peace and unity.

“We have no hidden agenda,” he said.

Mohammed said that while government welcome a robust debate on the issue, the criticisms in certain quarters would not stop it from going ahead with sanitising the social media space.

He said Nigeria was not alone, countries including Germany, UK, Singapore, China, South Korea, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia were doing something about the social media.

The minister solicited the support of GOCOP in the national campaign against fake news and hate speech.

Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz

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