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Apapa: Waiting for ‘Next Level’

Apapa, Nigeria’s premier port city, has been in the news for the wrong reason in the last 10 years as the most difficult destination in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre. But life and living in the sprawling city continue because its inhabitants see hope of a better tomorrow.

Increasingly, hope is becoming synonymous with living in Nigeria. That is, however, understandable in a country that has been adjudged the headquarters of poverty and the 6thmost miserable in the world, all summing up the level of suffering in an otherwise well endowed and well located country.

Though President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘Next Well’ remains largely nebulous and confusing, Nigerians are settling with that mantra simply because it is predicated on hope of better things to come and, consciously or unconsciously, the citizens have allowed themselves to be guided and even ruled by hope which, in religious parlance, is called faith.

The Christian book which serves as a code of conduct for the faithful, The Bible, remains the best literature ever written by man, more so in the exactitude and authority of its teachings, especially as they touch on man and his condition, hopes, aspirations, expectations and even frustration.

When Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Roman converts (Rm 5: 3-5), admonished them to “rejoice in your suffering, knowing that suffering begets endurance; endurance begets character, character begets hope, and hope does not disappoint us,” little did he know that his admonition, given over 2000 years ago, would garner as much universal relevance as suffering has become a universal phenomenon.

In Nigeria, hope, as elucidated by Paul, is a potent survival weapon because it is the reason many families are still clinging onto life in spite of suffering that has pushed them to the brinks, almost to the point of implosion. Hope remains the reason many prisoners of conscience, such as Leah Karibu, have continued to endure excruciating pain.

That hope, which underlies Buhari’s Next Level, is also the reason Apapa, where pain is palpable, suffering is pervasive just as environmental degradation is deep, still retains residents and keeps business owners, port operators and motorists expecting a better deal in the Next Level.

One taskforce after another and several stakeholder meetings dating back to 2010 when Goodluck Jonathan was president and Mike Onolememen was Minister of Works, Apapa remains a national disgrace, according to Kabiru Gaya, chairman, Senate Committee on Works.

Since 2012, vehicular movement in and out of Apapa metropolis, which houses the major economic gateways, Apapa and Tin-Can Island seaports, has been tough as the traffic gridlock into the port city, worsened without any hope in sight.

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Alarmingly, the traffic situation continued to increase by the day as majority of the trucks going to the seaports and oil tank farms scattered all over the city were forced to pass through Ijora-Apapa-Wharf road, following the Federal Government’s inability to repair the failed Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, alternative access into Apapa.

Also, the failure of traffic managers put in place by the Federal Government to control traffic on the bridges and roads in Apapa, compounded the traffic situation. The situation was such that the recently introduced manual call-up system for trucks, to streamline the number of container-carrying trucks and trailers on the bridges to Apapa, also failed.

 investigation shows the Federal Government is yet to be committed to repairing the roads as well as ameliorating the plights of Apapa residents and port users, who spend substantial amount of their daily man-hour on the road, in order to have access into Apapa.

It has become very worrisome that government generates trillions of Naira from the ports annually, but has failed to invest a fraction of that revenue into the development of road infrastructure leading to the ports.

For instance, in 2017 and 2018 alone, available statistics revealed that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) generated over N2 trillion in revenue and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) declared revenue of over N350 billion. This is aside the hundreds of billions of Naira worth of revenue generated annually by agencies like the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

“Seaports in Nigeria are the goose that lay the golden eggs for the Federal Government, yet the government has failed to invest in the development of port infrastructure especially roads”, said Tony Anakebe, managing director of Gold-Link Investment Ltd, a Lagos-based clearing and forwarding company.

Anakebe noted that many Nigerians have lost their lives due to the risk involved in travelling on the bad roads in Apapa amid tankers and trailers. He added that government must wake-up to their responsibilities of fixing the roads and providing transit parks for heavy vehicles, if Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking must improve.

we also discovered that the persistent traffic congestion on the port roads has been piling up cost of doing business for shippers and manufacturers, whose goods and raw materials spend days and weeks before getting to their warehouses.

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If these consignments spend longer days in the ports without clearing, it compels shippers to pay more to shipping companies as demurrage for not returning the empty containers as and when due, and they also pay storage charges to terminal operators for occupying space in the terminal.

Recall that prior to port concession, Apapa port used to accommodate almost 60 percent of the trucks that are parked on the highway today. Then, truckers had holding bay inside the port, where they parked pending when they got another job after offloading the empty containers.

“Port terminals were concessioned, without reserving holding-bay for truckers to park”, said Jonathan Nicol, president, Shippers Association of Lagos State, who advised the incoming government to expedite action in building truck transit parks around the ports.

He said the parks would enable truckers and port authorities to make use of electronic call up system in streamlining the number of trucks coming into the ports vis-à-vis Apapa metropolis on a daily basis.

Pundits have also blamed the indiscriminate licensing and locating of oil tank farms around the Apapa metropolis for adding to the Apapa traffic problem, which port users and commuters face on the roads to Apapa.

Based on that, President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the next four years needs to either revive the refineries or make use of pipeline in evacuation of petroleum products to stop tankers from coming to Apapa.

“If the Federal Government reconstructs the bad portions of the roads leading to Apapa up to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway with these tank farms still here, the tankers will continue to convert the roads to park and Apapa problem will persist,” Anakebe said.

In terms of cost implication on haulage, it has been discovered that moving import and export cargoes in and out of the ports in Apapa and Tin-Can Island have more than doubled in recent time largely due to the persistent traffic congestion.

For instance, taking 20 foot containers from Tin-Can and Apapa ports to any warehouse in Lagos that used to cost between N80- N120,000.00, now cost N400,000.00; while 40 foot container that used to cost like N250,000.00, now cost N700,000.00

On the other hand, moving 20 ft and 40 ft containers from Lagos to the north that used to cost between N500,000.00 and N600,000.00; now cost between N900,000.00 to N1 million and N1.3 million in some cases while consignment to the south-east, which used to cost N250,000 now cost between N550,000.00 and 750, 000.00.

 findings have shown that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), the agency in charge of developing the rail system as well as rail operations, has failed to tap into the opportunities inherent in the movement of over 120 million metric tons of cargo available to be moved annually across the country.

As a result, businesses especially exporters and importers record losses due to high cost of moving their cargoes from either the hinterland to port cities or port cities to the hinterland.

Therefore, if the incoming government pays serious attention to having an effective railway system, shippers would save lots of money on haulage of cargoes.

“Time has come for the Federal Government to fully involve the private sector in the development of railway system. Over the years, the Federal Government has been making plans to concession the management of the railway to private operators. Thus, the need to fast track this move for greater benefit for Nigerian businesses,” said Emma Nwabunwanne, a Lagos-based importer.

There has also been the existence of multiple security checkpoints manned by officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Nigerian Army and other security operatives along the roads leading to the Apapa Ports, which has started taking toll on businesses.

READ ALSO : WHY THE ELITES HATE BUHARI

Originally, security operative were installed on the port roads by government to ensure sanity through proper control of traffic congestion within Apapa metropolis but the essence is becoming almost defeated as these officers use the opportunity to feather their own nest.

“These multiple checkpoints that came up in the last three years have helped in increasing the rate of corruption in the port system”, Anakebe confirmed.

“Corruption will continue to thrive in our ports if these checkpoints are allowed. It has become very absurd that when a Custom officer releases a container in Apapa, on getting to Area B, which is few meters away, the truck driver will encounter more than three Customs’ checkpoints and the cargo owner must grease their palm before passing,” he disclosed.

apapa

When Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President, came to Apapa and gave a 72-hour order to the security agencies to clear the gridlock on roads and bridges in the port city to no avail, all stakeholders, especially the residents and the stakeholders, knew that it would take long before respite came their way.

But disillusioned as they are, all eyes are on Buhari’s Next Level because, until the Senate Committee visited at the weekend to seek solution to the gridlock, nobody seemed to be interested, at all government levels, in Apapa and its choking problems.

“We have more or less resigned to fate in the matters of Apapa; we have been told that things will get better when we get to the next level; even if we have our doubts, we have no choice but to believe them because all stakeholders, except the government which has all the powers, are at the end of their tether in terms of solution to this problem,” lamented a resident who craved anonymity.

According to him, the Next Level solution to Apapa gridlock should be looking at a whole lot of issues beginning with infrastructure and port access. Expectedly, the new Trailer Park on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway will be completed and opened by month end while the reconstruction of the expressway is underway.

But that will not be all. Though Ayo Vaughan, chairman,  Apapa GRA Resident Association says Apapa master-plan has been distorted, the Next Level approach to the problem should revisit its regeneration strategy which seeks to restore the original structure and feature of the port city.

“Revisiting the original master plan and following it through, just like providing the necessary roads infrastructure, may not be the solution to this problem, but just a part it. The numerous tank farms and indiscriminate building of structures even on rail lines have to be reconsidered with a view to doing away with them,” the anonymous resident said.

Source: By Chuka Uroko & Amaka Anagor-Ewuzie

The ministers we need as Nigerians

A month to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in office, Nigerians have begun to express concern over the calibre of individuals that would make the President’s cabinet.

Those who spoke with us said they expect to see ministers that would serve the Nigerian people above self, and also appointments that would be devoid of clannish and other parochial considerations.

Nigerians are indeed very inquisitive over the constitution of the next cabinet. The major concern arose from the deep perception that it has been largely four years of inactivity, occasioned by late appointment of ministers and seeming lack lustre performance by most of them. They would also like to see a deviation from the alleged nepotistic considerations that threw up some of the ministers and the faulty distribution of portfolios.

In his advice to President Muhammadu Buhari recently on the quality of ministers Nigeria needs at this time, Tunde Bakare, serving overseer, Latter Rain Assembly, urged him to appoint the best, brightest and fittest into his administration as he takes oath on May 29 for his second term in office.

Bakare was Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

He noted that Nigeria had enough assets for the development of the nation, expressing the optimism that with the right men on the driver’s seat at the various ministries, departments and agencies, Nigeria’s myriads of problems would become surmountable.

ministers

“I pray that President Buhari will do his best in the second term to appoint the best, the brightest and the fittest, so that you will see Nigeria turn around as we maximise the potentials of the nation,” he said.

One of the areas that attracted severe criticism to President Muhammadu Buhari in his first term ending May 29 was the late constitution of his cabinet. Smarting from the aroma of victory in 2015, the President was quoted as saying that he did not need ministers, who were “noise makers” but would prefer to work with civil servants.

Close to three months after his inauguration, Buhari had travelled to France, where he spoke exclusively to a local television.

When specifically asked if the absence of a Finance minister was affecting the Nigerian capital market and economy, he said: “It is what we know- and which we learnt from the western system. The civil service provides the continuity, the technocrat. And in any case, they are those that do most of the work. The ministers are there, I think, to make a lot of noise; for the politicians to make a lot of noise. But the work is being done by the technocrats. They are there; they have to provide the continuity, dig into the records and then guide us (those of us) who are just coming in”, he said, adding, “…I think this question of ministers is political. People from different constituencies want to see their people directly in government, and see what they can get out of it.”

When he eventually decided to appoint ministers, it came six months after the inauguration of his administration, a delay many people believed was a false start in an economy that needed urgent attention. The lost ground was never recovered. That Nigeria slipped into recession was also blamed on that delay.

The appointment also did not excite many Nigerians as most of those that made the list were not the quality of heads and brains that were expected to do the kind of magic the people had wanted to see, in line with the vaunted “Change” mantra.

Calls for cabinet reshuffle never struck a chord with President Buhari. There had been legions of speculations that the President was going to drop some ministers but they never came to pass.

The consensus opinion in the polity is that most of the ministers were there just to fulfil all righteousness as there were no signs of input in the government. Some of the ministers, it was argued, would never be removed as their current beat was a compensation for their huge financial contributions toward the election of the President in 2015.

Some analysts have however, said that the problem of non-performance should not be blamed on the ministers as some of the ministers are allegedly unhappy at the way things are going in the government.

ministers

A credible source told us that it is the system rather than the ministers that should be blamed for the seemingly non-performance of members of the cabinet.

“I can tell you for free that some of the ministers are so dissatisfied with the state of things that they are eagerly waiting for the end of the term. I can tell you for free that many of them do not get to see the President one-on-one to discuss ideas, no matter how noble such ideas are. And they don’t dare implement anything without approval. So, people may think that all the ministers are in the same basket- without ideas. No, I tell you even those with brilliant ideas don’t get to implement them,” a source who claimed to be close to the corridors of power said.

The source also claimed that, “Things were so bad that even before the elections, a number of them wanted to resign, but you know here is Nigeria. People never resign in government no matter how frustrating things are, except they are being pressured to resign. There are layers of reporting. That you are a minister does not give you the unfettered access to the President. So, our ministers go through some powerful cabal, who have the ears of the President. They present to him only what they want him to hear and not what he should hear. That is the problem that we are in. I am not sure that pattern will change in the next term.”

READ ALSO : WHY THE ELITES HATE BUHARI

According to the source, “We have a number of ministers in the cabinet that are hotheads; people with a track record of good performance. But it appears they have been incapacitated in the last four years. They have been trying their best, but you know, a drop of water cannot make an ocean. Nigeria’s myriad of problems needs a radical approach. I wish something better will happen this time around, in terms of appointment and openness.”

Another issue that is agitating the minds of many Nigerians is the readiness of the President to shake off the cloak of nepotism that characterised his ministerial appointment in the first term.

Timothy Ayuk, a Lagos-based education consultant, urged President Buhari to avoid the huge mistake he made in his appointment last time.

“There were some obvious mistakes in the appointment last time, which unfortunately the President refused to correct despite all the hue and cry. For instance, his decision to assign threebig and most important ministries to one person. I am talking about the Ministries of Works, Housing, and Power to Babatunde Fashola. There is no doubting the fact that the former governor immensely contributed hugely to Buhari’s electoral victory in 2015, and there is also no doubt that Fashola is a good hand to handle a ministerial job, but saddling him with the three ministries was ill-advised,” Ayuk said.

He also said that had the ministries been split and assigned to other people, Nigerians may have benefitted better.

“In the real sense of the word, there are three ministries that Fashola is handling. Housing is a full-fledged ministry that demands all the attention that government should give it, considering the housing need in the country. Had these ministries being split and some parts given to other people, Nigerians would have been well-served. Fashola has done well, but he could have done better if he did not have so much encumbrances,” he further said.

Ayuk urged President Buhari to avoid such costly mistakes this time around.

“If we must really get to the ‘next level’, the President must get it right from the constitution of his cabinet- not only the personnel, but also he must be time-conscious. The delay of 2015 should not be repeated this time around. He must hit the ground running,” he said.

Recall that the decision of the President to sideline some sections of the country in the allocation of important portfolios attracted and have continued to attract criticisms.

Already, some party members have begun to tell the President to re-enact the lopsidedness in appointment that put the government and the party in bad light, but some pundits say that would be detrimental to the President and his party.

On the contrary, they have advised the President to broaden the base of appointment, choose those that can deliver and be ready to give them free hand to do their job.

Celestine Etim, a public affairs analyst, told us that 97-5 percent sharing formula used in 2015 in the appointment should be discarded in the interest of the country.

“Last time, the President operated on the formula he created- 97 percent against 5 percent, in favour of those he said gave him winning votes. But I am impressed by what he said shortly after he was declared winner of the 2019 presidential election, that he would run an inclusive government. If that is the case, he must look for the best hands from wherever they may be found. Nigeria needs to move forward. Things are just not okay; we can feel it. This is not time for politics. Politicking time is gone and should be seen to have gone for good. This should be the ‘doing time’. All the promises must be fulfilled and all hands must be on deck. No matter how little the votes from other zones were, they were the things that counted for the victory of Mr. President. We need Nigerians to work for Nigerians, not self-serving politicians,” Etim said.

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On the quality of ministers that Nigerians are expecting to see, the public affairs analyst said: “The President cannot go to the moon to get the ministers, they must come from among us. But he must look for those who have not spoiled themselves with politics or who have not been destroyed by politics. There are dangerous politicians with parochial views and reasoning, who only think about themselves and about their party. Nigeria of today needs broad-minded individuals who want the good of every citizen of this country, irrespective of party, religious or ethnic leaning. The country’s unity has been badly bruised in the last four years; we must speak truth to ourselves. So, the ministers must be more of unifying factors than divisive factors.”

Advising the President on the need to appoint credible hands, a pro-Buhari group, No Alternative to Buhari-Osinbajo 2019 (NATBO 2019), said that President Muhammadu Buhari must exercise great circumspect in the composition of his new cabinet.

NATBO in a statement by its National Coordinator, Vincent Uba, explained that the advice had become necessary in view of the expectations of the populace that the Next Level slogan of the APC would not just be a mere slogan but a battle cry that will launch Nigeria into unprecedented higher level of security of lives and property, economic growth and development devoid of corruption.

Source: By Zebulon Agomuo

‘Why the elite hates Buhari’

President’s ‘Next Level’ Means No Sacred Cows, Says Tony Momoh
As the closest ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, has revealed why members of the Nigerian elite detest the president and did all they could to prevent his re-election.

Momoh, who clocks 80 today, spoke in an exclusive interview , noting that the President takes decisions that hurt even his immediate family. And his take-no-prisoners-approach is something which the Nigerian bourgeoisie is not comfortable with.

The former minister, who is one of the National Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also disclosed that Buhari’s promise to take Nigeria to the ‘Next Level’ in his second term means there would be no sacred cows on his watch.

He took a swipe at retired military generals who were opposed to Buhari’s re-election, saying they wanted national assets to be given to them to plunder.

His words: “You know that things are really very tough and rough. And someone said that when the going gets tough, only the tough gets going. Everybody will have to be tough to get going. Buhari is not going to relax his hold on getting tough. He is not going to give National Honours to those who want to ruin this country. Anybody who owes this country a dime will repay it. Are you not aware that the first battle has been won?”

According to the former Editor, Daily Times, the first battle “is those who have nine lives laid down their lives to destroy this man and discovered that you could count up to nine but not beyond nine. How can military men who don’t belong in the same party with you tell you not to contest election? Is that democracy? The answer is no. And many of your colleagues (journalists) were supporting them. You are members of another party; here is someone who wants to contest election in a particular party and you said he shouldn’t contest because you want oil blocs with no commitment. You want national assets to be given to you. Who do you think you are?

“This man takes decision even if it affects his family. Is that what you are against? Things are going to be tougher my friend. That is the next level in the area of fighting corruption, rebuilding the economy and curbing insecurity. Are you aware that some top people are responsible for what is happening in Zamfara State? Do these herdsmen who kill people here and there have money to buy AK47 rifles? It’s the owners of the cattle that buy those weapons. So, this man is going to tackle anybody who thinks he has more right to exercise than the average Nigerian. Nigeria belongs to all of us. No sacred cows. That is the next level.”

 

Momoh reiterated that his support for Buhari was hinged on the fact that he was “laying the foundation for a Nigeria that must make a statement to the world in the next few years.”

He averred that there was nobody more prepared to lead the country at this moment than the President, noting: “Since the 60s, he has lived virtually everywhere in Nigeria in the course of his national assignments. He has performed in all his roles and he has never been found wanting in any role he performed. He has been very disciplined. This is the type of people who will grow the world in the next few years and the foundation is being laid and there is nothing anybody can do about it.”

Momoh advised those who think he was making a mistake in supporting the president to have a rethink. “My eyes are open materially, intellectually and spiritually to know what is happening in God’s Creation; and I don’t take any step blindly. So, those who think that I am following anybody blindly or ever followed anybody blindly should really think twice and look at the steps I have taken. I have no human hero.”

Source: By  Onyedika Agbedo

TUC Believes New Minimum Wage ‘ill Aid Workers

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has said the new N30,000 minimum wage will give workers a sense of belonging.

In a statement TUC commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Minimum Wage Bill into law.

Its President, Bobboi Kaigama and Secretary-General, Musa-Lawal Ozigi, said the new wage will in no small measure give workers a sense of belonging, saying the organised labour appreciated its approval, but that its gains have been eroded by inflation as prices of commodities have gone up when employees were yet to receive the new wage.

“The N30,000 monthly National Minimum Wage that we are asking for a family of six, amounts to less than N50 per meal per person. It is exclusive of utility bills, school fees and many others.

“Given our extended family system as Africans, we are also expected to assist parents, in-laws, relations and friends, who have lost their jobs,” the TUC said.

The union called on the 9th Assembly to prevail on governors to pay workers their salaries and pension to retirees as and when due to avoid crisis in the industrial sector, adding that it appreciated the government, the lawmakers and Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA) for seeing reason with workers.

Source: The Nation

Nigeria Needs $200bn To Reduce Energy Gap – Shell

Shell Nigeria Exploration & Production Co (SNEPCo) Managing Director (MD) Bayo Ojulari has said between $40 billion and $200 billion Nigeria needs to bridge its energy gap.

He said a nation without a secured energy system could not claim to have power.

In his presentation titled: “Nigeria’s energy security and sustainable development in Nigeria: The way forward”, at the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum 2019 in Abuja, Ojulari  lamented that 70 per cent of the country’s installed electricity capacity is lost without reaching consumers.

According to him, because of aging equipment and vandalism, 70 per cent of the populace has less than four hours electricity daily.

He said: “Energy is not standing alone, it is about its impact on the society.”

Ojulari said in the next 10 years,  energy demand is expected to double, adding that by 2050, solar could emerge as the dominant power energy source. But oil and gas need would continue.”

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group managing Director Dr Maikanti Baru said despite abundant oil and gas reserves, the country still experiences shortages in electric power.

According to him, based on Nigeria’s Energy consumption current forecast, statistics showed an increase from 6GW in 2015 to 30GW by 2025. The primary source of the current power supply, he added, is hydro and gas.

Baru insisted that the future consumption, which is expected to drive growth by 2025, would need aggressive development of gas and renewable projects to meet the exponential demand.

Source: By John Ofikhenua

Fed Govt, states yet to comply with 18% pension increase

Five years after the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 mandated employers in the public and private sector to increase pension contribution rate to 18 per cent, the federal and state governments are yet to comply with the law, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria (PenOp) said yesterday.

Speaking during its quarterly press briefing in Lagos, its President, Mrs Aderonke Adedeji said the public sector is still contributing 15 per cent, representing 7.5 per cent employer contribution and 7.5 employee contribution as against 18 per cent stipulated by the PRA 2014.

Mrs Aderonke who is also the Managing Director of Leadway Pension Limited said this is unlike the private sector where there is more compliance by contributing the stipulated 18 per cent monthly.

She said under the defunct PRA 2004, the rate of pension contribution for employees was a minimum of 15 per cent of monthly pay.

This, she said, is shared into two – 7.5 per cent each to be paid by the employer and the employee.

These, she said had been reviewed upward by Section 4(1) of the PRA 2014, to a minimum of 10 per cent for the employer and minimum of eight per cent for the employee, thereby making it 18 per cent of an employee’s monthly emolument.

She said: “The public sector has not yet complied. The still pays 7.5 employee and 7.5 per cent employer contribution. But we see compliance from the private sector at a higher level than the public sector.

“The industry has continued to grow. The total pension assets under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) are about N8.7 trillion as at March and we have 8.5 million customers. Acceptance of the scheme has continued as fast as we saw during the commencement of the scheme. There has been some growth and we will like to believe that this will continue.”

The Managing Director, Police PFA, Dr. Hamza Sule Wuro however added that the Federal Government and private sector employers are employing new workers daily and PFAs are opening pension account for the employees.

“For instance, the Federal Government employed 10,000 policemen last year and they opened new accounts with different PFAs.”

Source: By Omobola Tolu-Kusimo

Reps Member Accuses Obasanjo of Selling Apo Legislative Quarters to Fund Third Term Agenda

A member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Agbonayinma (APC, Edo), has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of selling the Apo Legislative Quarters because of his third term agenda.

The lawmaker stated this in Abuja on Wednesday while contributing to a motion by Segun Adekola (PDP, Ekiti), on “A Call for Change of Name of Apo Legislative Quarters to Reflect Current Reality.”

According to Agbonayinma, it was wrong to continue to refer to the buildings as “legislative or legislators’ quarters” since they are no longer housing sitting lawmakers, insisting that the former president sold what belongs to all Nigerians for his selfish interests.

“Mr. Speaker there is no monument. Obasanjo sold the quarters because of his selfish third term agenda. He sold what belongs to all Nigerians because of his selfish interests.‎ So, there is no monument

However, Simon Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) raised a point of Order 9, Rule 1, which he said mandates “lawmakers to confine their contributions to matters relevant to the issue at hand.”

“What has this issue to do with third term agenda?‎,” Arabo queried.

Earlier, Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun (APC, Osun) had argued in support of the motion on the grounds that the word “legislative” had to be replaced with “legislators” to depict the main purpose of the buildings.

Pally Iriase (APC, Edo) said there was no need to change the name of what he called “one of Nigeria’s national monuments which would remind posterity of our history.”

Meanwhile, Adekola, while leading debates on the motion, had called on the House to consider changing the name of the quarters to reflect current reality.

Consequently, when put to voice votes by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the ‘nays’ had their way and the motion was thrown out.

Source: By Ozibo Ozibo

Kenya’s national government solar power project kicks off

The national government of Kenya has kicked off its ambitious project meant to provide solar energy and cash transfers to over a million Kenyans in 47 counties with pilot projects starting in Kilifi and Garissa counties.

The Swedish government is funding the ‘project dubbed Mwangaza Mashinani’ program with the sole aim of ensuring that most vulnerable people in the country are not left behind as homes are connected to solar power.

Beneficiaries

The first beneficiaries to the project are Kilifi and Garissa counties which have already received US $1m donation from the Swedish government to pilot off the mega project and is expected to be fully implemented in a year’s time. Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Anna Jardfelt, who witnessed the launch, said the electricity from the project is meant to reach to the poorest communities.

Mrs. Jardfelt explained that it took them along time to identify the two counties because there was a criteria they were using to establish the households and communities that were to pilot the project.

This, she added was made possible with the help of Unicef. Regional Development Ms Jardfelt said in the pilot phase, 1,500 households from the two counties are set to benefit. She further revealed that after the launching, they will evaluate the project in one year’s time to see how it has worked out and if it will have succeeded they will also reach out to other counties.

Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi and his Garissa counterpart Abdi Dagane witnessed the launch and later signed an MoU on the project. Mr Saburi said that they are delighted with the project as the targeted area is a remote one which never expected such kind of development. Over 30,000 people in Kilifi County will benefit from the Mwangaza Mashinani project

Source: By Fouma

The looming hunger, poverty time bomb

AMONG many others, two prominent Nigerians during the Easter weekend, raised the alarm over threats posed by hunger and poverty in Nigeria.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Gani Adams, drew the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari to the twin threats at different fora, urging him to do something drastic to address them.

President Buhari Emir Sanusi, who spoke at the 36th Aminu Kano Annual Memorial Symposium at Mambayya House, Kano, said poverty and hunger are twin evils that clearly define backward countries. Adams participated in a conference in Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday last week where the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, claimed that life had improved in Nigeria under Buhari’s watch.

Although the fact of pervasive hunger and poverty in the land should be pretty obvious to any serious leader, the clarion call from these leaders who interact with the grassroots everyday should be taken very seriously.

As of February 2019, the World Poverty Clock recorded that 91 million of the nearly 200 million Nigerians live in abject poverty, with the country already classified as the “the poverty capital of the world”.

Emir Sanusi, in his address at the symposium, affirmed the long-established fact that much of the poverty is pervasive in the North as only “20 per cent” of the extremely poor live in the Southern parts.

It is also obvious that the widespread hunger verging on famine is not only an offshoot of poverty itself, it has been exacerbated in recent years by an escalation of insecurity across the land.

Edo, firm strategise on poverty reduction, capacity building The entire food belts of Nigeria in the North East, North West, North Central and Southern parts have been under siege by Boko Haram Islamist insurgents, the so-called bandits, armed herdsmen militias, kidnappers and other violent armed groups.

Many farming communities have been displaced and are living either in refugee camps or have fled to larger towns for safety. Insecurity is fuelling poverty and hunger in a way never seen before, not even during the Nigerian civil war. Insecurity, poverty and hunger have become elements of a self-reinforcing vicious circle rapidly pushing Nigerians towards the edge of the precipice.

We call on newly re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari not to dismiss the distress signals coming from the grassroots as mere rants of disgruntled political enemies.

The situation is dire and real. Buhari must use his renewed mandate to turn the security situation around for the better to enable Nigerians return to their communities and produce food to feed our people.

If urgent steps are not taken and soon, we fear that alternatives may be patently unbearable. The time to act is now.

Source: Vanguard

Nigerian least paid worker needs N41,327 to maintain 2011’s purchasing power

For Nigerian lowest paid worker to purchase, in March 2019, the same amount of goods and services bought in August 2011, the employee would need to earn at least N41,327.88 monthly,  calculations have shown.

Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new National Minimum Wage Bill of N30,000 into law. However, although the N30,000 new minimum wage represents an increase of 67 percent from the previous N18,000, its real value remains lower compared to the N18,000 when the amount was approved in 2011.

As a result, Nigerian workers would not be able to purchase more goods and services today compared to the last time the national wage was hiked, no thanks to inflation that is fast diminishing the value of the workers’ pay and their purchasing power.

In August 2011, the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government agreed to pay a new minimum wage of N18,000 in nominal terms. At that time, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the composite changes in the prices of consumer goods and services purchased by households over a period, was 122.3.

If the effect of inflation was taken into consideration by dividing the nominal minimum wage by the CPI for the period and multiplying all by 100, the real income of Nigerian lowest paid worker, as at August 2011, would be N14,717.91.

The amount continued to fall as the nation’s CPI, a measure of inflation rate, sustained its upward trend over the years on a monthly basis.

Eight years after, figures obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show the CPI rose more than double to 280.8 as at March 2019, plunging the worth of Nigeria’s N18,000 minimum wage to N6,410.26 in real terms. But with the recent national wage hike, the inflation-adjusted value of the nation’s new minimum wage was bolstered to N10,683.76.

This shows that to maintain the August 2011 purchasing power despite the impact of high inflation, Nigerian lowest paid employee is expected to earn N41,327.88.

The amount, which indicates the real value of August 2011’s N18,000 in March 2019, was obtained by dividing the previous nominal wage by the corresponding CPI and multiplying all by the current month’s CPI figure.

Similarly, the new N30,000 minimum wage is lower in value when compared to the previous N18,000 in dollar terms as at August 2011.

Official exchange rate data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that the average exchange rate of naira to the United States dollar in August 2011 was N150.2/USD, implying N18,000 was equivalent to $119.84.

Nigeria’s currency, however, fell in value against the US dollar in March 2019 as the average exchange rate of naira to the dollar for the month depreciated to N305.92/USD. Going by this, the new minimum wage represents only $98, more than 18 percent lower than employees’ salaries in 2011.

Source: By Oluwasegun Olakoyenikan

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