The Guardian learnt yesterday in Abuja that the meeting with the president of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Bobboi Kaigama, was to avert the October 30 rally and November 6 nationwide strike by the unions.
It was also learnt that the scribe demanded a full account of what transpired during earlier negotiations with a view to engaging state governments on an acceptable figure ahead of the threatened industrial action.
Also, the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) has threatened to picket the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) over their alleged 12-month arrears in the wake of the 33 per cent pension increase of 2010.
NUP’s national president, Dr Abel Afolayan, also demanded a harmonised pension upon approval of a new national wage. Speaking yesterday in Abuja, he cited sections 173 (3) and 210 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to justify their position. Specifically, the provisions say: “Pensions shall be reviewed every five years or together with any Federal Civil Service salary reviews whichever is earlier.”
He pointed out that the last pension review was in July 2010 and the next ought to be 2015 according to extant law, adding: “In other words, whatever amount is approved as minimum wage for workers should also apply as minimum pension for pensioners. We believe that whatever is good for the goose is also good for the gander, as both workers and pensioners go to the same market for their daily needs.”
Afolayan held that it was sheer wickedness for any government officials to oppose an upward review of workers’ pay considering the economic realities in the country. He flayed the states for claiming to be financially incapable to pay the proposed new wage, saying their action contravenes the aforementioned sections of the constitution.The pensioners therefore gave government 21 days to defray the backlog.
APC Attacks Bayelsa State Government Over N80bn International Cargo Airport
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa said on Thursday that borrowing N80 billion to fund the International Cargo Airport by the State Government did not make economic sense.
In a statement by the Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr Doifie Buokoribo, the party criticised the project, saying, borrowing from the money market at the current interest rate was not sustainable but a ploy to siphon public funds.
It said the huge interests paid on the loan would stifle the state in the next eight years, adding that the project lacked vital intermodal network for easy accessibility.
APC alleged that the N80 billion project was executed at inflated costs, making it “clearly the most expensive airport project in Nigeria.”
According to the party, the project has taken a heavy toll on the welfare of civil servants and the infrastructural needs of the state.
Responding to the allegations, Bayelsa state Commissioner for Informaion, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the past administration in the state failed to give the people a desperately needed international airport between 2007 and 2011.
Iworiso-Markson said that the Gov. Timipriye Syla-led administration failed to attempt to build an airport in spite of the huge resources at the disposal of his administration.
According to him, the past administration used what should have been a laudable idea of an airport project to milk the state and siphoned billions of Naira into private pockets.
The commissioner challenged the APC to tell Bayelsa people and Nigerians what the former governor did with N300 billion agricultural loan the state took from the World Bank.
According to him, the past administration fritted away N3 billion Millennium Development Goal (MDG) funds made available to the state and foisted a bond obligation of N125 billion on the state.
Mimiko Withdraws From Presidential Race, Runs For Senate
Former Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has withdrawn from the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). He will now seek to represent Ondo South in the senate.
This was confirmed by the National chairman of the party, Dan Nwanyanwu, at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the party would approach the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw his name and file same for the Senate.
He cited the zoning of the president’s seat as the reason for Mimiko’s withdrawal.
In a move that appeared to have been well rehearsed, former Ondo State commissioner for works, Gboye Adegbenro, has dropped his senatorial ambition to allow Mimiko to replace him.
Adegbenro, who is the Ondo Central senatorial candidate of the ZLP, said in Akure on Thursday: “It became imperative that I bring to a close, my aspiration to represent Ondo Central Senatorial District at the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at this critical juncture.”
According to him, having consulted far and wide with his family, business associates, followers and constituents, he is bowing out before the full race commences in the interest of the party and state.
3 Soldiers Killed, Many Missing As Boko Haram Attacks Military Base
At least three soldiers were killed and several missing after a Boko Haram attack on a military base in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, military and militia sources have said.
Boko Haram fighters believed to be from the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province late Wednesday attacked the base in the town of Kareto, 150 kilometres (about 90 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri, AFP reports.
The militants temporarily dislodged troops from the base before being repelled with aerial support, the sources said.
“We lost three soldiers in the fight and several others are still missing,” a military officer in Maiduguri told AFP.
“The terrorists were smoked out of the base by a fighter jet which deployed to the scene,” said the officer who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the incident.
Troop reinforcements were sent to the base, the officer said. It was not clear if the jihadists took away weapons.
A civilian militia fighting Boko Haram in the area said troops withdrew to the town of Gubio, 60 km away, while Kareto residents fled across the border into Niger.
“The bodies of three soldiers were recovered after the attack,” said the militia who preferred not to be identified.
“More troops have arrived in Kareto but most residents have not returned,” he said.
It was the second attack on the military base in two years.
In April 2016, a Boko Haram raid left 24 soldiers wounded, according to military authorities.
Boko Haram jihadists late Wednesday also attacked Mammanti village, just outside Maiduguri, killing one person and burning the entire village before stealing hundreds of cattle, the local chief of the village and residents said.
“The insurgents came around 11:00 pm (2200 GMT) and opened indiscriminate fire,” Muhammad Mammanti, a resident, said.
“They killed one person and burnt the whole village and stole our cattle,” Mammanti said.
Earlier in the day a group of jihadists abducted seven women while working on a farm near the town of Bama, 70 km from Maiduguri, after killing their male escort, militia sources said.
Boko Haram has stepped up attacks on farmers and loggers in recent years, accusing them of passing information on the group to the military.
Despite the government’s insistence that the group is near defeat, Boko Haram has recently carried out major attacks on military and civilian targets, killing scores.
More than 27,000 people have died since the start of the insurgency in the remote northeast in 2009 and 1.8 million are still homeless.
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