The family of immediate past Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Azubike Umezulike has said it will soon announce the burial arrangements of the late jurist who passed on in a private London hospital.
The first son to the late legal sage, Barrister Victor Chukwuka Umezulike said the burial rites would soon be released.
He asks for the public to continue to pray for the family at this extremely difficult time, while according the family privacy and respect as they mourn the exit of the great patriarch.
His daughter, Barrister Chisom Cynthia Umezulike also expressed appreciation to all and sundry whom she said have expressed condolences on the demise of the acclaimed legal luminary on Conveyancing, Adverse Possession, Land and Property Law.
Justice Professor Innocent Azubike Umezulike (OFR, FCIArb) apart from being the Chief Judge of Enugu State for over 13 years, was the second longest serving Chief Judge in Nigeria.
His lifetime would be remembered for receiving over 100 distinguished Legal Honour and Awards for excellence in service as a distinguished Judge of Enugu State High Court for over 23 years and who single-handedly authored and published over 23 books in these fields.
Appointed by the Federal Government of Nigeria to serve at the Supreme Court of Gambia in 1997, he was conferred with the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (OFR) and was also President and Chairman Failed Banks Tribunal Zone 6 Nigeria.
Among his numerous accomplished tasks included his Chairmanship of Visitation Panel to Enugu State University of Science and Technology; Chairman judicial panel of inquiry on land distribution and allocation in Enugu state; Chairman judicial inquiry on adoration ground tragedy.
He was also the Chairman Judicial Service Commission (JSC); Chairman Comprehensive Judicial Inquiry on Land distribution in Enugu State; Sub-Dean Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and a Visiting Professor of Property Law, Ebonyi State University.
Justice Professor Umezulike was a Visiting Professor of Property Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology; Secretary, National Committee for the Unification of Criminal Laws of Northern and Southern Nigeria; Secretary Ministerial Committee for the Revision of the Land Use Act; Senior Special Adviser to the Attorney General of Federation of Nigeria.
A Distinguished Senior Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Television Authority, the legal icon accomplished other tasks as Secretary, Task Force on Company Incorporated by Guarantee in Nigeria; National Leader, Nigerian Delegation to African legal consultative assembly held in Kampala Uganda.
TUC restates commitment to workers’ welfare
President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, has restated the commitment of the congress to improving welfare of the nation’s workers.
Olaleye, who is also the President of Food, Beverage &Tobacco Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (FOBTOB), stated this during a parley with the media, noting that most labour leaders were indeed junketing with politicians at the expense of embattled Nigerian workers, who they ought to be protecting.
Represented at the occasion by National Treasurer of FOBTOB, Aderogba Adebayo, he said: “The workers are the reason why we are in existence.But most of us in the Labour movement today have neglected our core responsibility of defending the right of Nigerian workers.”
He stressed that the new leadership of TUC was out to advance the interests of workers everywhere and urged all critical stakeholders to support it to achieve the goal.
Olaleye commended the cordial relationship existing between the congress and the media, urging newsmen to shun sensationalism but rather strike a balance in their reportage.
Nnamoko: Explore blessings that come with unemployment
As most Nigerian youths still get confused over what they should engage themselves in after graduation following difficulties in securing white collar jobs, a multi-tasking Nigerian journalist, author, evangelist and motivational speaker, Mrs. Gift Chidima Nnamoko Orairu, has advised them to redirect their energy towards becoming selfemployed by taking advantage of opportunities within their immediate environment.
Nnamoko, who has motivated a lot of youths into different spheres of positive engagements across the country through talk shows and editorial materials, said the perception by a section of people that Africa remains a continent riddled with only poverty and diseases was misleading as those who did not give up in their struggles have emerged successful in their chosen professions. Speaking with New Telegraph on her new book titled ‘‘Growing up in Africa The Beauty of Unemployment,”Nnamoko, who is currently based in Germany, said she decided to publish the book as part of her numerous approach to curbing youth restiveness in the country by way of reminding them of the need to engage themselves in areas where their talents can bring out the best in them. According to her, “who says Africa is only a continent where you find poverty, war, and diseases? As much as you have the bad and the ugly, you also have the good. If you are fixated on the negatives of life there is no doubt that you will miss the big picture.
Earlier this year, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), while looking at the state of entrepreneurship globally, published her annual report. “According to the report, the sub-Saharan Africa region has by far the highest number of people involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity, with Zambia and Nigeria leading the world rankings. There appears to be a growing wave of grassroots self-starters, who are taking risks and defying obstacles to bring their money-making ideas to life.
Armed with I can-do attitude, they are doing everything possible with the hope of succeeding like their counterparts outside Africa. “Like me, many of them dream of making it to Forbes list of Top African Entrepreneurs someday. From navigating a host of challenges to pursuing opportunities, these new breeds of young entrepreneurs are unrelenting and taking advantage of having grown up in Africa at a time their peers would have loved to be born outside the continent. In my journey as an entrepreneur, I believe there are ‘blessings’ that come with being unemployed. Many youths have given up just because they are without a paid job.
There is still good news for you. Why spend all your life waiting to be employed when you can actually become an entrepreneur? I have also met lots of successful businessmen and other professionals who are on top of their careers. They started out on their own, some of them never having applied for paid jobs. This is not to say that they didn’t face challenges associated with doing business in Africa. I assume they may have found ways to cope with power outages and infrastructural deficits.
Despite the challenges, these acquaintances of mine are glad to find themselves in Africa at a time opportunities are springing up everywhere.” “For the most part of this book, you will read my interviews with a hand-picked number of them.
Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, student or recent graduate reading this book, I want you to believe in yourself, knowing that you can become successful if you work hard and smart. There are lots of lessons to be learnt, so don’t hurry through the pages.” She said in writing the book, which will be unveiled on November 19 at Oriental Hotel in Lagos, she painstakingly picked some individuals, who have succeeded in their chosen career from startups without losing focus.Specifically, she also advised youths not to be discouraged if their natural talents appear to be the dominant influence in their journey of life far more than their chosen profession, stressing that the positive results from such experience was now very common with graduates becoming high income earners and famous by turning comedians, fashion designers, musicians, master of ceremonies among others.
“I used to believe that all successful people were either born with silver spoons in their mouths or were lucky to have greatness thrust upon them. I guess I was only dreaming. In reality, that is not always true. The idea that only a few are gifted and can attain greatness is a big cushion for many to fall on and comfort themselves. When they fail at something they give up and simply say they don’t have the genes or talent for it. That’s much easier than thinking you have been lazy, inconsistent and undetermined in your pursuits. So what does the young mind or young person stand to gain by working towards greatness? What does it even mean to be great? “The individual potential in every man is such that it cannot be utilized to its full extent without bringing about greatness. Simply work towards fulfilling your fullest potential as a human being by performing your simple tasks excellently. Seek to always grow beyond your present barriers and limits and you will inevitably become great.
Ikechukwu: Nigerians should imbibe teamwork for business growth
Mr Daniel Ikechukwu, the Country Sales Manager of Forever Living Products (Nigeria). an organisation that has empowered Nigerians across the country, in this interview with Sunday Ojeme, speaks on how much collaboration and teamwork can lift Nigerian businesses to greater height
Forever Nigeria has really made waves and empowered Nigerians over the years; how would you rate this with a country like South Africa that is also very great in this respect?
In all honesty, Nigeria cannot be compared to South Africa, because presently, Nigeria has a population of over 200 million people, while South Africa has just 56 million. You also remember that the products we are dealing with are drinks, personal care products, products that people consume regularly; then you discover there is a large gap between the Nigerian and South African markets. However, when you weigh in on which country is hungrier for success, you find out that South Africans with a background of apartheid, know much more about collective struggle and how to fight as a team, and Forever is a team business. That is slightly lacking in Nigerians, as our people struggle with working as a team. Our people are yet to embrace the importance of team building in business, cooperation and collaboration
How did Nigerian Forever Business Owners represent the country during the just concluded global rally in Sweden?
They were fantastic. We registered our presence with 148 Nigerians in Stockholm. It was exciting to see Nigerians in our spectacular national colours of green-white-green and also our signature ankara attires. Everyone was amazing and regardless of the turbulent times in the economy, we represented our country well and gave a good account of Nigeria as a strong Forever country. Nigerians love the products and the business opportunity as these have positively impacted and are still impacting the lives of so many across the country. The event was excellent. It is our tradition in the Forever family worldwide to gather at a selected country every year for a general celebration of our independent Forever Business Owners (FBOs
Generally, what do you have to say about the global rally?
The global rally is unarguably the most exciting event in the Forever family. Some say the Eagle Managers’ Retreat is the most exciting but that is attended strictly by those who qualify, unlike the rally, which is open to everyone; both qualifiers and non-qualifiers. For this reason, more people generally get to attend the rally and even invite guests. However, for the qualifiers, the trip is all expense paid for two and the company even gives them money to spend while on the trip, which they can choose to either spend over there or just take back home. In addition to this, some FBOs also qualify for ‘Chairman’s Bonus,’ which is essentially a share in the company’s profit for the previous business year. In Stockholm alone, we had over 15,000 people gathered as a Forever family. The entire city was electrified by the presence of Forever.
What is the Eagle Managers’ Retreat all about?
The Eagle Managers’ Retreat (EMR) is another all-expense paid trip for two which our Forever Business Owners also qualify for yearly. The qualification is based not just on the level of business generated at the individual level, but also that generated by your team which you build and coach. It is an incentive that rewards team business-building. A major difference between the EMR and Global Rally is that EMR is attended strictly on qualification and is not open to non-qualifiers like the rally. Each qualifier is also entitled to bring along a partner since the company pays for two just like the rally. The Eagle Managers’ Retreat destination for next year is Bahamas.
What advise do you have for your FBOs?
Those who could not qualify for the global tally this year have another opportunity in 2020. The exciting thing is that the destinations for 2020 are great. For 41 years, the clamour has always been that Forever has taken people to all the continents but not to Australia. Now, that call has been answered. Our FBOs have the privilege to visit that continent, Australia. So, come April, 2020, all our business owners who will qualify will have the opportunity to visit Sydney, Australia. It is not a question of come and join, it is not a question of how old you have been in the business, it is about how many lives you are willing to change for the better. How many people can I meet before the end of 2019.
Child labour: The battle for children’s rights
Not many people understand that every child has a right; children suffer gross violations inimical to their individual, societal and national growth development. REGINA OTOKPA looks at how far Nigeria has gone, 30 years after adopting the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC)
Its past 3pm, Precious Okoriwo calls out in one of the major markets in Abuja, “Aunty check here, come and buy your girdle and fine night gowns when you are done making your hair, they are not expensive,” she said in spattered English in between a mouthful of coke and fish roll, her first meal for the day and dressed in tattered clothing.
Based on statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Precious is part of the 15 million children in Nigeria categorized as a child labourer or modern slave.
According to the Country Director of the ILO, Dr. Dennis Zulu, 25 per cent of Nigeria’s 80 million children under the age of 14 are engaged in economic activities “and half of this population is children exploited as child labourers and those working in hazardous situations such as victims of child trafficking, domestic work, sex work, drug peddling and hawking.”
For the sake of these 15 million children in Nigeria whose rights are constantly trampled upon and have suffered grave injustice, world leaders including Nigeria through the United Nations Assembly, adopted the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC). The CRC, a comprehensive legally binding international human rights treaty ratified by 194 state parties except Somalia in 1989, seeks to protect the right, dignity and change the situation of children around the world by protecting the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.
Thirty years after, it is disheartening to note that millions of children in Nigeria still engage in multiple forms of labour to support their families’ livelihood.
To further worsen the situation, due to the hazardous environment fueled by insurgency, armed banditry and most recently kidnappings, children rights to life, education, health, protection and safety has been jeopardized.
The Child Rights Act, an off shoot of the CRC, was put in place in 2003 to serve as a legal documentation and protection of children’s rights and responsibilities in Nigeria. Divided into three, it covers the incorporation of the CRC and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights into the national law, acts as a legislation against human trafficking by forbidding children from being separated from parents against their will except when in best interests of the child.
However, despite all these strategies, as Nigeria and other signatories approach the 30 years anniversary of the CRC (#CRC@30nigeria) in November this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said all 17 states in the South and only eight out of the 19 northern states have domesticated the Act.
Providing a further breakdown of non implementation of the child rights law in the country, UNICEF’s Child Protection Specialist, Sharon Oladiji, said 12 northern states namely Sokoto, Kano, Zamfara, Kaduna, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Adawama, Gombe and the nation’s epicentre, the Federal Capital Territory, are yet to domesticate the Child Rights Act, after Nigeria ratified the CRC in 1991.
According to her, the eight northern states that have domesticated the Act are Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kwara and Kogi while Jigawa state which originally signed the act into law later repealed it.
Oladiji, who provided an insight to possible reasons behind the non implementation of the Act in the most northern states, believes there is a misunderstanding in interpreting the international obligations Nigeria entered into when the CRC was ratified, due to backgrounds or sociocultural norms, which first and foremost, fails to recognise every child has a right. “When we ratified the CRC, we were obligated to implement the provisions of the CRC. We were also obligated to adopt it into our national laws which is what the Child Rights Act has done.”
But according to the expert, one of the ways to correct such horrendous perception, was implementing the CRA right from the family setting, encouraging parents to take more seriously, adequate responsibility towards the provisions of their children’s needs such as quality education, nutrition, shelter, good clothing, healthcare provision such as immunisations, a peaceful and violence free home, birth registrations, giving children a listening ear amongst a host of other rights.
Oladiji maintained that majority of the problems engulfing the country with regard to child rights violation stemmed out of dysfunctional homes. “The huge problem we have is the family and home; when you raise a child well he goes out to become a good child, when a child has problems in the home he goes out and demonstrate it,” he said. “Two third of children in conflict with the law are from dysfunctional families where there is no father or mother, majority of them are brought up by single parents.
During the recent annual Children’s day celebration in the country on May 27th, UNICEF’s new Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, disclosed that the most disadvantaged children suffer the greatest challenge in having their rights fulfilled in accessing basic needs. This shouldn’t be the case because
It is important to note that the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders are not particularly excited about the state of things as far as child rights is concerned either. For them, it has been an uphill task bringing to fruition the total realisation of children’s rights especially in the rural terrains where a vast majority of people are illiterates.
According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, government has been giving attention to child labour, forced labour and modern slavery through existing national laws, ratification/adoption of International Conventions and Protocols, as well as National Policy Documents on child labour.
But expecting more from government 30 years after adopting the CRC, Acting Secretary, Social Development Secretariat of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (SDS FCTA), Safiya Umar, is perturbed that child labour, violence and abuse of children is on the rise, exposing children to risks not limited to accidents, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, health challenges and imbibing dubious behaviours which may likely metamorphose into criminal activities capable of jeopardizing peace and stability.
At a media dialogue on #CRC@30nigeria campaign in Lagos State, Director, Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) Federal Ministry of Information, Mr Olumide Osanyipeju who lamented the huge injustices suffered by children in the country, says the need to uphold the realization of the rights of children can never be overemphasized.
Some good news
No country in the world has fully adopted the CRC, as such, the rights of children are still being violated by all.
However, in the face of harsh economic conditions, Nigeria has made some commendable efforts; there are more children in school and a very good number of children are feeding well even though the Chief of Communication, UNICEF, Ellana Drakopoulos, equally says Nigeria is doing well in some aspects of the CRA but failing in some.
“The Convention on the rights of the child must be made known to everyone in order to ensure full protection and adoption of the CRC act. The need to ensure that children are empowered all round to take their pride of place in our society and the world at large. This is a realisation that all children have a right to better life, an opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potentials.”
UNICEF’s Children’s Day gift
During the Children’s Day celebration on May 27, UNICEF in its efforts to further move the CRC campaign, offered a remarkable gift “Passport to Your Rights” in child-friendly language captured in pocket format and expected to be owned by every Nigerian child by the year 2030.
The beautifully-designed passport containing the rights of a child beautifully printed on the pages, is to bring to an end, the massive exploitation of children.
Expected actions and possible outcome
This year is an important moment to see key players change the status quo to achieve an improved livelihood and wellbeing for children in the country but first things first, everybody including the children and adults, need to be aware of these rights in order to ensure they are fully implemented.
Another important step is integration of those rights by nuclear and extended families into the daily practices of raising children.
As the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration kicks off for another four years, government must change its mindset towards issues concerning children, change the value system and do things differently by putting laws in place to defend children in need of help and check perpetrators of child rights violations.
Job creation: ECOWAS seeks enhanced private sector role
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged member states to urgently implement policies on private sector participation to enhance job creation and encourage youth development. This formed part of recommendations at the close of the delocalised meeting of the Joint Committees organised by the ECOWAS Parliament in Conakry, Guinea.
The committees are Communications and Information Technology; Education, Science and Technology; Labour, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture. The parliamentarians urged the ECOWAS Commission to organise campaigns to sensitise youths on the economic goals of the region and understanding their role to play. Members of parliament also said it was pertinent for member states to intensify efforts to ensure projects in the region were geared toward sustainable regional integration.
In his presentation, ECOWAS Commissioner, Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Mr Mamadou Traore assured that the commission was committed to strengthening Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through its regional capacity building programmes. Traore said the commission was ready to address some of the challenges experienced in the region through its “new investment policy” coming up in December.
The commissioner said entrepreneurship and SMEs were the foundation of societies including ECOWAS and would provide inclusive development and decent jobs for the majority. He added that entrepreneurship and SMEs were opportunities to “turn our bourgeoning population into a dividend instead of a curse”. He, however, said that major challenges to the growth of entrepreneurship and SMEs in the region were due to insufficient capacity, poor business climate, general lack of access market and relevant finance, among others.
Economy: Labour seeks fresh positive perspectives
As President Muhammadu Buhari is certain to mount the nation’s saddle of leadership for another four years following his re-election, organised labour, under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), has advised him to come into office with fresh and positive perspectives to governance as it is in other developed economies
ASCSN, in a congratulatory message to the president over his re-election, said although the challenges ahead were enormous, it, nonetheless, believes that with hard-work, perseverance, and selfless service to the fatherland, the president will overcome and move the country to the next level as pledged during the electoral campaigns.
In a statement signed by Secretary-General of the association, Alade Bashir Lawal, it urged President Buhari to implement the new national minimum wage as soon as the Senate passed the Bill since the House of Representatives had already done so.
Lawal posited that the renewed pan-Nigerian mandate given to President Buhari and his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), was another trust bestowed on him and the party and expressed the hope that they would not disappoint Nigerians.
“We also wish to state that your re-election is indeed a manifestation of the undiluted love Nigerians have for you and the manner in which you piloted the affairs of the country in the past four years. You have indeed, through your actions, restored hope in the system and Nigerians from all persuasions have indeed through the electoral process said thank you for the modest achievements recorded so far in spite of the odds that confronted your regime when you came on board.
“Hope is, therefore, high that you will bring further fresh positive perspectives to bear on governance as is the case in the more advanced economies of the world. There is no doubt that the challenges ahead are enormous. We nonetheless believe that with hard-work, perseverance, and selfless service to our fatherland, you will overcome and move the country to the next level as you pledged during the electoral campaigns,” the union emphasised.
The ASCSN pledged its readiness to continue to nurture the harmonious working relationship which existed between it and the Presidency during the first tenure and prayed that God would grant the president the strength, wisdom, knowledge and power to carry out the onerous task of leading this nation at this auspicious period.
It commended President Buhari for keeping faith with the covenant he entered into with Nigerian workers not to send them to the oversaturated labour market through needless retrenchment and simultaneously ensured that salaries and allowances of public service employees were paid as and when due.
“You did not only keep these promises but also settled promotion arrears and outstanding salaries owed Federal Government workers by your predecessors.
We have no doubt whatsoever that those who were inadvertently omitted or were short-paid during the exercise will be settled soonest in order to bring this ugly chapter in the Federal Public Service to a positive end.
“Also, you promised that the Federal Unity Colleges (FUCS) would continue to remain a commonwealth and not sold to the greedy few amongst us as being canvassed by some politicians. You have indeed kept faith to your promise,” the union added.
According to the ASCSN, President Buhari had, on more than two occasions, approved bailout funds to the State Governments to enable them clear arrears of salaries and allowances owed their employees.
It urged the President to further beef up the welfare packages of workers in his second tenure by implementing the new National Minimum Wage as soon as the Senate passed the Bill since the House of Representatives had already done so.
“Mr President Sir, since no man is infallible, you may wish to reflect on your performance in the last four years and see if there are areas that need improvement in order to further enhance national cohesion, peace, prosperity, and development,” the union noted.
On its part, the leadership of Trade Union Congress (TUC) also congratulated the president over his re-election, describing it as resounding and well deserved victory.
According to the congress, “we equally rejoice with your party and of course the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for ensuring a free and fair election. For once, we are not derided by observers for incompetence in the electoral process.
“Your victory for our esteemed organisation is an eloquent testimony to the fact that Nigerians believe in you and have resolved to be taken to the Next Level. It was a keenly contested election, but we are glad that we attained virtually non-violent solution that has been applauded by many. We have no iota of doubt this victory would afford you the opportunity to consolidate on the socio-economic progress you have commenced in the past four years.
“Last Saturday election was not a case of winners and losers. There was no loser in the election. We were not in a war. We are brothers and sisters. As such, we appeal to you to be magnanimous in victory; embrace everyone irrespective of party affiliations, bring in good hands from across the parties to build a country we shall all be proud of.”
Getting rid of anti-worker governors
Despite the harsh economic realities in Nigeria, some state governors still have reservations over the adoption of N30,000 as new minimum wage for workers in Nigeria. REGINA OTOKPA dissects the governors’ claims and their responsibility towards workers’ welfare
For over a year, the issue of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers has been going back and forth, confronted with several hurdles. Every worker has a right to decent wage, which is expected by law, to be reviewed every five years to reflect and adapt to economic realities.
From a stand point of N65,000, organised labour, after series of meetings with the tripartite committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2017, had agreed to N30,000 as new minimum wage for workers.
Although this amount was jointly agreed and signed by all members of the tripartite committee consisting of representatives from the organised labour, the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and private sector employers, the NGF, in a swift move, suddenly insisted it could only afford to pay N22,500 as new minimum wage.
No going back
According to the President, United Labour Congress (ULC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, the offer by NGF to pay Nigerian workers a paltry sum of N22,500 as new national minimum wage was “not just contemptuous but negates the principles and spirit of social dialogue as envisioned by International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.
“It is therefore unacceptable and disdainful of the vast majority that makes up the nation’s workforce and indeed the masses that create the nation’s wealth. It immediately makes the N30,000 compromise figure an orphan.”
Similarly, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the sum was “unrealistic in the face of the harsh economic realities on ground.”
While the governors were insisting on an increment of N4,500 to the current minimum wage of N18,000, the National Council of States, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, with past presidents and the governors endorsed N27,000 as the new wage, but again, organised labour rejected the amount.
The General Secretary of NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, stressed that the council had no jurisdiction to determine another amount after the tripartite committee had submitted its report.
“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.
After a public hearing at the National Assembly, the House of Representatives overrode the N27,000 by approving N30,000 as the lowest wage payable to workers in the country.
The minimum wage bill having passed first and second reading at the Senate, was passed for third readings and referred to a standing committee led by the Committee on Appropriations for further legislative action.
Appeal for sympathy
But in recent developments, some state governors have insisted they are unable to pay N30,000 as new wage for their state workers.
At the just concluded 12th National Delegates conference of NLC, Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, had appealed to the conscience of Nigerians to sympathise with some state governors over their inability to pay the proposed N30,000.
“Many states are unable to pay salaries, not including Kebbi State, because we manage better. All the arguments about increase in wages and the clamour for a new minimum wage were compelling during the tripartite committee meetings. But I am sure that organised private sector will sympathise with what we are saying about the ability to pay.
“What do we need to do quickly so that workers can earn better and decent living? We are ignoring the most fundamental thing, which is the size of our economy, which leads to wider issue of globalisation.’’
Voting them out
From the onset, Wabba, who accused governors who claim inability to pay the new wage of wasting resources meant for workers and meaningful development on the purchase of campaign vehicles for the elections holding tomorrow and weeks to come, had directed workers to use their Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) against those saying they can’t pay N30,000 as minimum wage.
“We receive the lowest salaries in the world, while our president, governors, legislators, ministers and councilors are among the highest paid in the world. Every Nigerian provides electricity, water, road and security for himself,” he said.
“A new minimum wage is not a favour but a right; it is a crime to deny workers their rights. Give us our new minimum wage today. When it comes to salaries of political office holders, there are always enough resources, but when it comes to salaries of workers, the story changes.”
According to the Co- convener, Say No Campaign Nigeria, Jaye Gaskia, workers must be willing to flex their political muscles at the polls, to vote in leaders,who have their interest at heart.
Gaskiya, an activist, who spoke at a workshop organised by the Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN), noted that all over the world, there was no advanced economy where organised labour is not a major player in politics either by endorsing a party or floating its party to ensure the interests of its members were duly protected.
Speaking on the workshop theme: ‘The New Minimum Wage Question in an Election Year,’ Gaskiya, who argued that governors’ claim of being unable to pay N30,000 as new minimum wage was arising from sheer irresponsibility to the affairs of the people, said even if the present revenue sharing formulae was reviewed, some states would still owe salaries.
“For state governors who are saying they cannot afford N30,000, the problem with payment of salaries and pensions is not a resource problem, it is not because there is no resources, it is because of the failure of governance,” he said.
“I led a study where we looked at the amount of extra budgetary resources that have gone to government in the last three years; the Paris Club refund, which was struck at about N1.3 trillion, the various types of bailout funds two different types and the negotiation of bad loans from short term loans to long term 30 years loans and all of that. All of these monies and monies from the LNLG’s that have never come in before that went to the states, if you put all of these together, in the last three and half years, 36 state governments of Nigeria have shared close to N4 trillion that is not part of their annual budgets and yet they are owing salaries.
“The problem is how to reform governance and when a governor says I have more priorities than paying workers’ salaries then it tells you that governor understands nothing about governance because the civil service is the engine of governance. The public service is the service delivery arm of governance what else is the purpose of governance if it is not to deliver services. If you are saying that the workers and the institutions that are meant to deliver public services are not a priority then what are you doing. It is a sheer lack of understanding of governance.
“The private sector understands that if you want this economy to get out of recession particularly right now, you need to have workers who are right now earning monies that are disposable that can enable them buy the goods that are being manufactured by industries.”
Workers are the driving force of the economy, therefore, going forward, there is need for federal and all state governments to move away from the class struggle and make workers’ welfare an utmost priority.
With the elections holding tomorrow, it is indeed time for workers to move beyond sentiments, ethnic or religious factors to ameliorate their welfare by casting their votes wisely.
Election: Labour warns FG against intimidation
As the country prepares for general elections with the presidential slot coming up this Saturday, organised labour, under the aegis of Trade Union Congress (TUC), has warned the Federal Government against any form of intimidation.
In a communique issued after its National Executive Council meeting in Lagos yesterday, the NEC-in-session called on the Federal Government to avoid all form of intimidation and be transparent in the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
In particular, it called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be as impartial as possible and having the interest of all Nigerians at heart.
TUC, in the communique signed by its President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, and the Secretary General, Comrade Musa Lawal Ozigi, also called on the police, the military and other security agencies to be professional in discharging their duties since no position is worth the blood of innocent civilians.
On insecurity, the congress reiterated the rate of insecurity in the country. It, therefore, called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts to make sure that killings, kidnapping and insurgency are totally wiped out to save the country from total collapse.
It also decried the planned increase in the cost of acquiring international passport and driver’s license, saying the increase of both documents by the Federal Government was uncalled for.
It, therefore, called on the Federal Government to maintain the status quo and formulate policies that will be more beneficial to the masses.
The labour group, however, commended the Federal Government on the fight against corruption in the country, saying, however, that it should respect the rule of law while doing so.
On the proposed minimum wage, TUC commended the House of Representatives for approving N30,000.00 in the country.
It, therefore, called on the Senate to do the same without any further delay.
The Congress also reiterated that the law establishing National Law Advisory Council (NLAC) should be reviewed to include major stakeholders, e.g TUC, saying that the NEC-in-session would no longer tolerate the violation of trade union rights of its members to representation, collective bargaining and be consulted on labour matters in the country.
New wage: Ominous signs as crisis deepens
As organised labour flatly rejects the N27,000 proposed by the National Council of State, observers are watching with keen interest developments expected to unfold in the day ahead, Sunday Ojeme reports
The peak of reconciliation between organised labour and the Federal Government crumbled again within the week as the ‘final’ endorsement of a new minimum wage for workers by the later created a wider gulf rather than cementing the ill-tempered relationship that have existed for months.
Labour and Nigerians alike had waited with bathed breath for an end to the crisis as the Federal Government finally accepted the report of the Tripartite Committee on New Minimum Wage, and subsequently promising to transmit same to the National Assembly on January 23.
These two positions taken by government were able to calm labour’s fray nerves as they had mobilised on two occasions to create disorder through industrial action.
With series of warnings sent across, and the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is bent on not seeing the forthcoming elections disrupted, he quickly capitulated to labour’s demand by first accepting the report as well as agreeing to transmit same to the lawmakers.
In all, however, labour’s hope was dashed again as the National Council of State (NCS) emerged from its meeting to announce a double minimum wage for the country with the Federal Government staying put on the proposed N30,000 while N27,000 was arranged for states and private sector employers.
The reaction from the leadership of the top three labour centres, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC), in rejecting the NCS’s spilled with acrimony.
To say the least, the follow up in the last few days remains tell-tale signs of an impending major confrontation between the warring parties over an issue that is expected to have been done away with by now.
First to fire the salvo in this regard was the NLC with the General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, saying that the council of state had no jurisdiction to determine another amount after a Tripartite Committee had submitted its report.
“It is abysmal of government to be delaying the submission of an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and by wrongfully adopting N27,000 through the council of states,” he said.
To this end, an emergency National Executive Council meeting has been called for Friday to weigh on the deadline given to government within which to submit an executive bill to the National Assembly, which also goes with a warning that workers should not be held responsible for any development after its NEC meeting on Friday.
On its part, TUC believes the council of state’s decision, though advisory in nature, is weighty enough to give semblance of authority to the decision.
President of the congress, Bobboi Kaigama, said: “This decision must not be allowed to stand because it will set a wrong precedence for the future: ie, after statutory bodies have done their jobs, council of state will now sit to review it.
“Let it be known that N30,000 minimum wage is a product of negotiation, not legislation, not advise and not a decree. Minimum wage issue therefore, is moving to a new theatre, the National Assembly.
“We expect the representative of the people if really they are to do the needful during the public hearing.”
ULC was not left out in the rejection as its president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said the decision reached on the minimum wage by the council of state was shocking.
Corroborating NLC’s position, he also agreed that the council of state does not have the power to approve or confirm minimum wage for the country.
“ULC rising from its just-concluded Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Lagos rejects in its entirety the proposed N27,000, which is contrary to the N30,000 agreed by the national minimum wage tripartite committee and which has since been submitted to the President.
“We want to state that workers are workers everywhere whether at the federal level or at the state level.
“They all have the same challenges; go to the same market, same schools and much more they suffer the same fate. You cannot, therefore, pay them differently.
“We will, however, in the next few days in consultation with other labour centres if they are still in the struggle for a just national minimum wage take steps to ensure that the interests of Nigerian workers as it concerns the national minimum wage are protected.
“The only honourable path he should tread is to transmit the N30,000 figure as agreed by the Tripartite Committee and even the President on the day of submission of the committee’s report,” Ajaero said.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that the days ahead may be unsettling for the Federal Government as it has to contend with the outburst from labour amid tension in the polity already being generated by political activities.
New Telegraph had predicted last year that an end to the minimum wage crisis appeared not to be sight, as unfolding developments revealed that politics has been deeply entrenched in whatever promises government made.
The setting up of an all-inclusive New Minimum Wage Review Committee had given Nigerian workers a ray of hope as they believe that the current administration under President Buhari was out to make a difference by improving their welfare through a new wage.
The confidence reposed in the whole arrangement also reflected among members of the committee, who put everything into work to ensure the assignment was quickly done, delivered and acceptable to all the parties involved.
Despite the commitment and expectations, signs were, however, in the air that the Federal Government had been making mere political pronouncements just to pacify Nigerian workers as regards implementation of the new wage.
There have been fears within labour circle that the Federal Government was likely to renege, not only in paying the recommended wage but also failing in implementing the process in the third quarter last year as promised, which turned out to be true.
While labour had prepared itself to battle the Federal Government over its failure to transmit the report by the Tripartite Committee on New Minimum Wage to the National Assembly in the New Year, the governors came out hard to maintain their stance of not paying the proposed N30,000.
Not prepared to mince words over the issue, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, and Governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, said paying N30,000 wage was impracticable.
Yari said the proposed wage would be paid if labour would agree to downsizing of the workforce across the country or Federal Government accedes to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.
He alleged that the tripartite committee did not include governors’ submission of N22, 500 in its proposal to Buhari ‘because it said that the governors’ decision came late.
Although the governors are yet to make their stance known in the current dispensation, their silence might be a reflection of acceding to the national council of state’s proposal as they were duly represented at the meeting.
The minimum wage crisis had dragged long enough for all to believe that it would be finally settled not just this quarter but this month even as a major party to the conflict, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), gave the Federal Government up till January 1 this year to begin implementation.
The failure to smoothen things out becomes more devastating as the Federal Government and the committee had, last year, given assurance that the new minimum wage would be implemented by the third quarter of 2018 with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, restating the same position during NLC’s 40th year anniversary.
Ngige would, however, reneged on the promise later, saying that the committee on the new national minimum wage was expected to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to government for deliberation.
Prior to this summersault, the labour leaders had cautioned the Federal Government on renegotiating what had been concluded by the committee as well as shifting the date of implementation.
Specifically, the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, had noted that labour would resist any move to renegotiate the minimum wage at any level.
He said: “We are battle ready against public and private organisations that would refuse to conform to the new minimum wage. As the benefits of a new minimum wage cannot be over emphasised, an increase in the minimum wage will pull many workers out of poverty.”
As the decision of the Federal Government opens another vista of conflicts over the minimum wage issue, it is advisable for it to toe the path of honour and rectify issues on time in order to forestall more industrial crises in days to come.
2018 hallmarked by minimum wage crisis
The Nigerian labour atmosphere during the outgoing year was literally held down by new minimum wage battle between government and organised labour. Sunday Ojeme reports
For the outgoing year, no other issue dominated labour more than the now controversial minimum wage standoff between the leadership of organised labour and the Federal Government.
Even with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) being on strike as well as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) marking its 40th anniversary, which it prepared for with all fervour, the counter attacks with government over the new wage appear to have downplayed other events within the labour circle.
As early as February, Nigerian workers were assured by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that by the third quarter of the year, they would begin to enjoy a minimum wage increase from the current N18,000.
To ensure a crisis free approach, the Federal Government acceded to the creation of a New Minimum Wage Committee to look into the review.
The all-inclusive committee, inaugurated last November, commenced work with enthusiasm all in a bid to ensure workers’ dream of earning improved wage started on time.
Ngige had given assurance to Nigerian workers that implementation of a new minimum wage in the country would be done, saying that the committee set up for that purpose by the Federal Government had already started work.
“This is a constitutional issue and the constitution makes provision for the minimum wage to be reviewed every five years and we are on course,” he said.
“The committee will decide what the minimum wage will be and it is a tripartite arrangement comprising the government, employers and employees. So, the Nigerian workers should hope that we have their issues at heart.”
However, the promises began to derail gradually as the third quarter drew close; although labour had nursed the fears that the Federal Government would likely renege not only in paying the recommended wage but also failing in implementing the process in the third quarter of the year as promised.
Discordant tunes over the implementation made waves after the Federal Government reneged on its earlier promise.
To complicate issues, the minister said that the September date was just a date to conclude deliberations by the committee, saying that it was making steady progress on its assignment.
According to him, the committee on the new National Minimum wage is expected to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval before an executive bill is sent to the National Assembly on the issue.
This was, however, contrary to his position in February that the implementation would begin by September.
Similarly, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had earlier made a promise at the 2018 May Day celebration that the Federal Government would expedite action to ensure that a new minimum wage is ready by the third quarter of the year.
However, the situation came to a head again when the labour rooted for N30,000 as the new wage, which the federal and state government rejected.
The major protest and nationwide strike, which followed the rejection, tore into the country’s business and social strata within the two days it lasted, as the Federal Government promised to look into labour’s grievances by accepting the report of the committee and subsequently transmitting same to the National Assembly.
The wait became too long for labour as it promised to embark on another strike if the government failed to do the needful within a specific period.
A communiqué issued at the end of national leadership meeting, said almost two months after the submission of the report, which included a draft bill, no bill has been submitted to the National Assembly for passage into law.
The communiqué signed by the leadership of the three labour centres, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Comrade Joe Ajaero, United Labour Congress (ULC), said Federal Government was planning to set up a high-powered technical committee, which is alien to the tripartite process and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions on national minimum wage setting mechanism.
It added that the national minimum wage committee was both technical and all encompassing in its compositions.
Ayuba, who read the communiqué on behalf of others, also clarified that the new national minimum wage was not only for public sector workers but also for those in the private sector.
The labour leader, therefore, resolved that the Federal Government should transmit the new national minimum wage bill to the National Assembly on or before December 31, 2018.
“We reject in its entirety the plan by the Federal Government to set up another high-powered technical committee on the new national minimum wage. It is diversionary and a delay tactics,” he said.
“Nigerian workers are urged to be vigilant and prepared to campaign and vote against candidates and political parties that are not supportive of the implementation of the new national minimum wage.”
He also declared that organised labour would not guarantee industrial peace and harmony if after December 31, 2018, the draft bill is not transmitted to the National Assembly, stressing that it also serves as a statutory notice for organised labour to recall it’s suspended nationwide industrial action.
Besides, the wage crisis members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are also on indefinite nationwide strike.
ASUU president, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, listed the reasons for their action to include failure on the side of the government to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the union and the federal government in 2017.
He also mentioned that renegotiation with ASUU, which the government intentionally ignored with impunity was part of the reasons for the strike.
In the same vein, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) also went the way of ASUU by embarking on an indefinite nationwide strike.
The ASUP National President, Usman Dutse, said the Federal Government had failed to implement the 2009 and 2017 agreements it reached with the union.
He said the contentious areas, which necessitated the strike included the non-implementation of the NEEDS assessment report of 2014, non-payment of salaries in many state-owned polytechnics, pension deductions and other statutory deductions from staff salaries.
During the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the number of unemployed Nigerians rose by 3.3 million to 20.9 million in the third quarter of 2018 (Q3’18).
Unemployment and underemployment report for Q3’18, indicated that year-on-year (YoY) the rate of unemployment rose by 3.3 million or 19 per cent to 20.9 million in Q3’18 from 17.6 million in Q3’17, while on quarterly basis, it increased by three per cent from 20.3 million in Q2’18.
The report showed that unemployed and under-employed female population far outpaced that of the men folk. Expectedly, the rate of job losses in the rural areas also far outpaced that of the urban centers with the rate of unemployment in the rural center increasing by 7.5 percent, while there was a 2.2 percent decrease in unemployment in the urban center respectively.
The report said: “The unemployment rate accordingly, increased from 18.8 percent in Q3’17 to 23.1 percent in Q3’18. The total number of people classified as unemployed, which means they did nothing at all or worked too few hours (under 20 hours a week) to be classified as employed increased from 17.6 million in Q4 2017 to 20.9 million in Q3 2018.”
For the year under review, not much was achieved on the side of government, especially at the centre, as the promised increase in minimum wage from the current N18,000 approved over five years ago remains futile amid the campaign that the economy had exited recession.
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