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Minimum Wage: We’ll open budget to workers, says Ngige



Minimum Wage: We’ll open budget to workers, says Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator  Chris Ngige, has said the Federal Government would open up the 2019/2020 budgets for the leadership of organised labour, to enable both parties have a dispassionate discussions on the lingering consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage of N30, 000 approved for Nigerian workers.

New Telegraph recalls that the Federal Government has continued to draw attention to its inability to sustain the N580 billion labour was demanding as consequential adjustment. While noting earlier it may have to sack workers to meet labours demands, it had also raised concerns over the increase in personnel budget from N1.888 trillion to N3.08 trillion between 2016 and 2020.

Shortly before stepping into a closed door meeting with the leaders of organised labour yesterday in Abuja, Ngige explained that the meeting was called to herald another scheduled to hold today (Tuesday), in order to “soften the ground” to pave way for successful negotiations with the larger negotiation team to avert further breakdown in negotiations.

In his words:  “If we don’t soften the ground, bullets will fly and at the end of the day, we will come back to the negotiating table. That is why we are doing this as a pro-active measure.

“Part of my work is to ensure that there is a quiet industrial milieu; workforce brings out their full productivity and employers, businesses will not be disrupted. That is why we called you again.

“Tomorrow, we are going to do the mix grill meeting. That mix grill meeting tomorrow can be one hour meeting, it can be two hours, or it can be 12 hours, depending on what we are able to achieve today. I appeal to everybody to show some understanding.”

“We are going to discuss dispassionately. Nothing will be hidden from anybody. The books of government, I talked about it before, when I mean books they are budgets – 2019/2020, we will make it bare.

“I have warned them and I have advised them that if they come, they should be prepared to present their case, meaningfully and successfully. I will stay in the middle as an arbiter because that is what I am going to do in this instance.”

Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Amaechi Asugwuni, who noted that the actions and inactions of labour would be geared towards the clear position it has taken in line with the poor state of the economy, said labour was at the meeting with an open mind.


He however advised the Federal Government to avoid further delay in concluding the negotiations in order to ensure implementation of a new wage for workers in the country.

“We are here today with the full mandate of our members to actually represent their interest and to see to it that we do everything humanly possible to ensure that this minimum wage of a thing is put to rest because we have waited too long.

“We all know the consequences of delay is never fruitful and as such organised labour has come here with open mind in ensuring that facts are facts. Also, the situations are already known to us. The economy is biting and as a matter of fact, we must assist the process at this time in ensuring that we close it earlier than needed so that we can avert the unforeseen.”

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Handful of Hong Kong protesters surrender as varsity siege nears end



Handful of Hong Kong protesters surrender as varsity siege nears end

At least eight protesters who had been holding out at a trashed Hong Kong university surrendered early on Friday, while others searched for escape routes past riot police who surrounded the campus but said there was no deadline for ending the standoff.

The siege at the Polytechnic University on the Kowloon peninsula appeared to be nearing an end with the number of protesters dwindling to a few dozen, days after some of the worst violence since anti-government demonstrations escalated in June, reports Reuters.

Hong Kong’s new police chief, Chris Tang, who took up the post this week, urged those remaining inside to come out. He said he wanted a peaceful resolution.

“I believe people inside the campus do not want their parents, friends … to worry about them,” Tang told reporters.

“I hereby urge all people inside Polytechnic University to come out. We want to resolve the issue peacefully and do not set any deadline.”

Most of those who remain say they want to avoid being arrested for rioting or on other charges, so hope to find some way to slip past the police outside or hide on the near-deserted campus.

The mood on the campus was calm as the sun rose after a night where some protesters roamed the grounds in search of undercover officers. Others hid, terrified they would be arrested by infiltrators.

“We are feeling a little tired. All of us feel tired but we will not give up trying to get out,” said a 23-year-old demonstrator who gave his name only as Shiba as he ate noodles with egg and sausage in the protesters’ canteen.

“We spent yesterday trying to find ways to get outside but failed, so we came for some breakfast,” he said.

A Reuters reporter saw six black-clad protesters holding hands walk toward police lines, while a first aid worker said two more surrendered later.

The protests snowballed from June after years of resentment over what many residents see as Chinese meddling in freedoms promised to Hong Kong when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Protesters are calling for full democracy, among other demands.

Beijing has said it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong is governed. It denies meddling in its affairs and accuses foreign governments, including Britain and the United States, of stirring up trouble.

One older protester, who estimated only about 30 demonstrators remained, said some had given up looking for escape routes and were now making new weapons to protect themselves in case police stormed the campus.

The Chinese-ruled city has enjoyed two days and nights of relative calm ahead of district council elections that are due to take place on Sunday.

The government has said it is committed to proceeding with the elections and is monitoring the situation to ensure they can be held safely.

Tang said police would adopt a “high-profile” presence on Sunday and he appealed to protesters to refrain from violence so people felt safe to go and vote.

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Corruption charges: Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, defiant in face of ‘coup’



Corruption charges: Israel PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, defiant in face of ‘coup’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defiantly vowed to hold onto power after being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in connection with three separate cases.

He condemned the charges as a “coup” attempt against him.

“I will not let the lie triumph,” he said during a defiant speech.

Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive press coverage, reports the BBC.

“I will continue to lead the country, according to the letter of the law,” he added.

During a 15-minute tirade, Netanyahu accused the judiciary, police and others of plotting against him with “politically motivated” allegations.

“In this tainted process the investigators weren’t after the truth, they were after me,” he said, accusing investigators of extorting witnesses to lie.

Earlier, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he made the decision “with a heavy heart”, but said it showed nobody was above the law in Israel.

“Law enforcement is not a choice. It is not a matter of right or left. It’s not a matter of politics,” he said.

The announcement comes amid a political stand-off in Israel following two inconclusive general elections in April and September.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, Benny Gantz, said he had been unable to form a governing coalition with a majority in parliament. He had been given the opportunity to try after Netanyahu had earlier failed to do so.

President Reuven Rivlin asked lawmakers on Thursday to agree on a candidate for prime minister within 21 days and avoid an unprecedented third election in a year.

After the charges were announced, Gantz tweeted his support for the attorney general and law enforcement agencies, and wrote it was “a very sad day” for Israel.

What are the charges?

Attorney General Mandelblit said in February that he intended to indict Netanyahu in connection with three cases – known as Case 1,000, Case 2,000 and Case 4,000 – pending final hearings that eventually took place last month.

*Case 1,000: Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust in this case. He is alleged to have received various high-value benefits, including pink champagne and cigars, in return for favours for a wealthy friend. Netanyahu has said they were tokens of friendship and that he did not act inappropriately in exchange for them. The friend similarly denies any wrongdoing.

*Case 2,000: Netanyahu faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in this case. He is alleged to have agreed a deal with the publisher of a major newspaper to promote legislation to weaken a rival daily in return for favourable coverage. The publisher has been charged with bribery. Like the prime minister, he denies any wrongdoing. Both men have said they did not intend to promote the matters discussed in their meetings, and the legislation was not passed.

*Case 4,000: This is considered the most serious case because Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust. It is alleged that Netanyahu promoted regulatory decisions that favoured a leading telecommunications company in return for favourable news coverage from one of its websites, as part of an agreement with the company’s controlling shareholder. The prime minister has insisted experts supported the regulatory decisions and that he received nothing in return. The shareholder, who has been charged with bribery, also denies wrongdoing.

What happens next?

It is unclear what this means for Netanyahu’s future.

He is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise, and there is currently no legal barrier to him staying in office as prime minister.

It could take many months before the cases are brought before a district court. And even if convicted, Netanyahu would not be required to step down until the appeals process was exhausted – something that could take years.

However, correspondents say many will question the prime minister’s ability to handle affairs of state if he is simultaneously defending himself in court.

Non-governmental organisations may petition the Supreme Court to force Netanyahu to resign. The court has previously ruled that a cabinet minister charged with a crime must step down or be removed from office, and it would have to decide whether that should also apply to the prime minister.

Allies of Netanyahu in parliament may seek to pass legislation that would grant him immunity from prosecution while in office, and allow lawmakers to overrule a possible Supreme Court ruling reversing that immunity.

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Navy veteran dead for 3 years before body found in his apartment



Navy veteran dead for 3 years before body found in his apartment

A Navy veteran who lived in Texas was dead for around three years before his body was found inside his apartment, officials said.

The body of Ronald Wayne White was discovered on the kitchen floor of his Dallas home by apartment complex staffers checking last week on units not using water, news station WFAA reported.

“What I can tell you is it is very clear when officers entered that he had been there for a while,” DeSoto Police Det. Pete Schulte told the outlet.

Police said 51-year-old White had paid his rent through an automatic withdrawal system linked to his bank account.

The third-floor apartment was new, and all of the windows had been sealed when he died, authorities said. Inside his home, there were diabetes medications, which were dated 2016, reports the New York Post.

“The way he was found, the way the apartment was arranged and so forth, there was zero indication of foul play,” Schulte told WFAA.

White’s family was shocked to learn that he had been dead for three years in the apartment.

“My biggest question is, how in the world could my son have been dead in that apartment and nobody knows anything?” said his mom, Doris Stevens.

Stevens said she became concerned when she was unable to reach him on his birthday in April 2017.

She was unaware that he was living in the complex where he was found dead and a search of past homes didn’t lead to any clues about his whereabouts, WFAA reported.

Authorities declined to launch a missing persons investigations, citing that he was an adult known to travel, she said.

“All them days, holidays, I just suffered. Because nobody wanted to help find him,” Stevens said.

She confirmed he suffered from diabetes, though it’s unclear how he died, the outlet reported. Toxicology tests have been ordered to determine a cause of death.

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Presidency lobbies Senate for Magu’s confirmation



Presidency lobbies Senate  for Magu’s confirmation


…alleges extortion of agencies, boards by lawmakers

Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits



There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari will re-nominate Ibrahim Magu to be confirmed as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This was even as the Presidency accused the members of the National Assembly of making monetary demands from the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government in the course of carrying out their oversight functions.

The Presidency, therefore, called on the leadership of the Senate to call to order, some of its standing committees allegedly involved in these indecorous extortions.

President Buhari had, during the 8th Senate, nominated Magu at two different times between 2016 and 2017 for confirmation in that capacity, but rejected by the Senate on account of unfavourable security report.

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), made the request for Magu’s confirmation if re-nominated during a courtesy visit on the Senate leadership.

Sagay said that the country needed Magu in substantive capacity as EFCC chairman in the ongoing war against corruption.

According to him, Magu has performed creditably well as acting chairman of the anti-graft agency based on records on ground within the last four years and should be considered for substantive capacity.

He said: “In sustaining the ongoing war against corruption in the country, we wish to appeal to the Senate to consider the speedy confirmation of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, who has done magnificent work so far in the years of being in that position and who will be a good companion to the legislature in achieving the aims of anti-corruption in this country.”

He also called for the passage of certain anti-corruption bills like the Special Criminal Court, and other similar bills, which would help the anti-corruption war and ensure that the fight was successfully done with speed and energy.

The PACAC Chairman, however, shocked the lawmakers during the visit when he confronted them that some standing committees of the Senate were extorting government agencies under the guise of oversight functions.

“We also want to bring before the Senate, some of the criticisms of the public in the area of oversight. There is this constant complain that members of committees demand some form of gratifications before they would visit a place or write anything favourable about the MDAs.

“We appeal to the leadership to look into it and ensure that the oversight work of the Senate does not involve anything that will be described as extortion,” he said.

He also cautioned the Senate leadership, and by extension, the National Assembly, to look into the issue of constituency projects in saving their image.

His words: “This issue of constituency projects has been a controversial one. I don’t want to express any opinion. All I want to plead is that you look into it and ensure that it is something of benefit to the constituents and constituencies of this country and not a subject of controversy anymore.”

In his response, the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, said that as far as confirmation of Magu was concerned, a re-nomination would have to be done by the Presidency in line with the rules of the National Assembly.

According to him, the same rules and procedures also apply to anti-corruption bills being requested to be considered and passed as they will have to be re- presented for that purpose.

“You have talked about passage of anti-corruption bills, you have come to the right place, but you will also do your work.

“This is a new Senate. Going by our rules and I believe that goes for the House of Representatives too, any issue that was not concluded in the last National Assembly, will have to start all over again.

“So, as far as we are concerned, those bills will have to come again and start to go through the process from the very beginning. We are ready, in fact, we are in a haste if those bills are ready for us to start working on them.

“On the confirmation of acting chairman of EFCC, there is no request before this Senate now for such confirmation. This is a new Senate and therefore, until there is a request to this Senate, there is nothing the Senate can do.

“And I want to assure you that any request that comes from Mr. President is a request that will make Nigeria a better place in terms of appointments or legislation and the Senate will act expeditiously to ensure that we play our part in the confirmation or passing of legislation appropriately.

“As for oversight, as far as I know, I am not a receipt of any complaint and I have been in this National Assembly for 21 years. But Mr. Chairman, if any committee asks for anything from any MDA, that is not appropriate, the law is there to take its full course.

“We believe that no committee or member of the National Assembly will go out of his way to ask for anything before undertaking an oversight,” he said.

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Protesters seek Oshiomhole’s sack as APC NEC meets



Protesters seek Oshiomhole’s sack as APC NEC meets
  • Edo APC NASS Caucus endorses chair
  • Obaseki kicks


Ahead of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) holding today, some aggrieved members, yesterday, stormed the party’s national secretariat in Abuja demanding the sack of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the party.

The protesters, numbering over 500, brandished several placards with various inscriptions accusing Oshiomhole of promoting rancour and de-marketing the party.

They claimed that Oshiomhole’s style of leadership has resulted into crisis in many states. They also argued that with APC in the hands of Oshiomhole, the party’s fortunes would continue to decline and members of the party will be worse for it.

Although the angry protesters made frantic efforts to gain access into the premises of the secretariat, security men prevented them from going through the gate.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Iyoha Toni Osakbovo, said the protest was geared towards saving the soul of the APC as a national party.

According to him, Oshiomhole was expected to uphold the party’s constitution, but has allegedly been working against it, leading to division in the party, especially in Edo State.

“I’m from Edo State and I am a member of APC Patriotic Stakeholders’ Forum. We have come to save our party, the person that we gave the mantle to uphold our constitution, we have realised that he is the person attacking the constitution.

“He swore to protect our great party, but so far, what we have seen is not what is working. He is the person attacking the constitution; he has factionalised the party in our state, Edo. As I’m talking to you now, he has created a faction in the party.

“We are begging Mr. President to come to our aid because the person that is supposed to uphold the constitution is now the person that is destroying the constitution. Our constitution is very clear, the National Working Committee (NWC) has no disciplinary power, but under Oshiomhole, the NWC is usurping the power of NEC. There is nowhere in the constitution that says NWC has disciplinary power, but how come under Oshiomhole the issues are now different? So, we are begging the president, it is time for us to start healing, enough of fighting,” he stated.

The protesters warned that if Oshiomhole refused to resign, they would mobilize more party members against his leadership.

However, the Edo State Caucus of the APC in the National Assembly, yesterday, passed a vote of confidence in Oshiomhole and wants him retained as the National Chairman of the party.

The caucus, led by Senator Francis Alimikhena, House of Representatives’ deputy majority leader, Hon. Peter Akpatason, Hon. Johnson Ogbunna and Hon. Julius Ihonvbere made the declaration yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja.

The caucus, which expressed displeasure over the crisis situation in the state, alleged that the “new culture of terrorism and political gangsterism” was designed to intimidate party members, officials and the general public as well as pave way for Governor Godwin Obaseki to obtain a second term by hook or crook.

Apparently linking the protest to the crisis rocking the party in Edo State, the lawmakers advised Governor Obaseki to immediately issue another proclamation as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and have all the 24 elected members of the State House of Assembly properly inaugurated to enable them to duly represent their constituents and make invaluable contributions to the growth and development of the state.

They also urged the governor to stop forthwith all forms of intimidation and harassment of elected officials, appointees and perceived enemies.

“We the APC caucus in the National Assembly, hereby without hesitation, express our undiluted and absolute confidence in the sterling and patriotic leadership of the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, who has been doing excellently well and just won two tough elections with landslides.

“We advise Governor Obaseki and his management to appreciate the damage they are doing to the state and APC with their undemocratic and unorthodox political actions and to retrace their steps.

“When the majority of the Executive came together and suspended the APC state chairman for anti-party activities, poor judgement and gross dereliction of duties, the governor organised a kangaroo meeting to suspend not just those members from the party, but also the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.

The lawmakers also expressed concerns over the insinuation from Governor Obaseki and his team that the 15 out of the 24 members of State House of Assembly who were allegedly not loyal to him, planned to impeach him.

While condemning the terror unleashed against the 15 lawmakers at Golden Tulip Hotel in Benin City by thugs led by the Governor’s Chief Security Officers, the caucus maintained that: “This action was followed by wanton acts of violence, intimidation, gross violation of the rights of citizens and the use of hate speech on anyone perceived as being opposed to the governor.

“In fact, within a short time, all those perceived not to be loyal to the governor and his deputy were sacked from their jobs. These included commissioners, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants, and supervisory councillors. Four local government chairmen were framed on dubious grounds and also removed from office.

“The governor and his deputy abridged the rights of APC members to freely associate and organise themselves and threatened the leaders of the Edo Peoples Movement (EPM), a socio-cultural pressure group within the party. Their businesses were marked for demolition and their homes monitored by thugs.

“The shameful acts of indiscipline and political rascality displayed by the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Phillip Shuaibu during the first convocation ceremony of Edo University, Iyamho when he mobilized thugs and motorbike riders to what ought to have been a serene ceremony, was just one more effort to step up the culture of intimidation, arrogance of power and uncivil disposition by the custodians of state power and a failed effort to humiliate the National Chairman of the APC,” the caucus said.

But two members of the APC caucus, Hons. Patrick Aisowieren and Dennis Idahosa have dissociated themselves from the press conference held by the caucus and the vote of confidence passed on the National Chairman of the party.

When contacted on the development, Aisowieren and Idahosa denied knowledge of the press conference, saying they were not aware of it.

“I am not aware of it,” Aisowieren simply said via a text message. For Idahosa, he said: “I didn’t attend any caucus meeting today as stated in the press statement.”

Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has dismissed the purported endorsement of Oshiomhole ahead of the NEC meeting.

According to him, the statement credited to a faction of the Edo Caucus in the National Assembly was the handiwork of Oshiomhole’s media aides “who are hell-bent on spewing falsehoods and propagating alternative facts to hoodwink the public. The statement should, therefore, be disregarded in its entirety.”

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We’ll meet labour’s Dec deadline on N30,000 wage – Govs



We’ll meet labour’s Dec deadline on N30,000 wage – Govs

Nigerian governors have given assurance that they would meet the December 31 deadline given by the organised labour for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage to workers.

The governors, who met Wednesday night under the umbrella of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), also called on the National Assembly to follow due legislative process before the passage of the hate speech bill before it.

Deputy Chairman of the forum, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto who addressed newsmen at the end of the meeting, disclosed that negotiations on the new minimum wage have begun at state level.

“Various state governments have been engaging with their branches of Nigerian Labour Congress. I’m sure it is work in progress. Before December, all the states must have finished working out the details on the issue of minimum wage across the federation.

“We are very much committed to the welfare and wellbeing of our workforce and, therefore, we shall continue to ensure we do our best on what needs to be done,” he assured.

Tambuwal said the governors are not in support of the death penalty proposed in the hate speech bill before the National Assembly.

He expressed the belief that the National Assembly would hold a public hearing on the bill and follow due process of lawmaking so that Nigerians could express their views.

“They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever may be the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill,” the governor further advised.

The governors, however, expressed support for the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from five to 7.5 per cent, and said it is to increase revenue base of both the federal and state governments.

“We are appealing to those who probably have no proper understanding of contexts of those bills to kindly have a rethink of those bills and reflect on quantum of works ahead of us as a country and states.

“We need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, invest in education, healthcare and every sector of our national life.

“There is urgent need of more revenue in Nigeria. So I appeal that we should show more understanding with the Federal Government in that regards,” Tambuwal pleaded.

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Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits



Buhari orders security agencies to crush bandits

…says Nigeria’s security situation unpredictable


President Muhammadu Buhari has described the current security situation in the country as unpredictable.

The President stated this yesterday while reacting to heightened acts of violence and kidnapping in parts of the country.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said Buhari ordered security agencies to be on the alert and crush the bandits.

Commending the security agencies for their dedication and sacrifices, President Buhari directed them to “redouble their efforts and make life uncomfortable for the bandits.”

“You should spare no effort in breaking the backbone of these savage mass killers and don’t hesitate to attack them with merciless intensity until they are crushed and ultimately defeated,”  the President said.

The President charged the security agencies not to allow the bandits to hold Nigeria to ransom.

Buhari said: “In view of the unpredictability of the security situation, our security forces and the communities affected should be ever more alert because these murderous and remorseless criminals would take advantage of your complacency and strike again.

“The bandits should, under no circumstances, be allowed to hold the country to ransom on account of security loopholes which they seek to exploit to strike at their victims. The criminals always look for loopholes in our security system in order to remain in business and active, but we shouldn’t give them the space to achieve this diabolical objective by pre-empting them.”

President Buhari added that “complacency is a hidden or unnoticed enemy that we shouldn’t take for granted, because doing so could weaken our strategies.”

He called on security agencies and communities under threats of bandits’ attacks and kidnappings to be more vigilant and alert in the light of the latest incidents in Enugu, Zamfara, Adamawa, Katsina and Kaduna states.

The President, however, noted that the affected communities also have a responsibility to help the security agencies with the critically important human intelligence in order to stop the bandits in their tracks.

According to the President, “The bandits maintain networks of informants among the communities they attack. By identifying and reporting these informants to the authorities, it would be by far easier to foil the bandits before they reach their intended targets.”

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Failed banks’ depositors to get N354.8bn



Failed banks’ depositors to get N354.8bn
  • NDIC earmarks N120.3bn to assist lenders
  • Each account holder to get N500,000 each



The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has planned to spend N354.848 billion in the 2020 budget as payout to depositors of failed banks in the country.

The managing director of the corporation, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim disclosed this during a budget defence session with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Banking and Currency.

Represented by the executive director (operations), Prince Eghatise Erediauwa, the NDIC boss said out of the N354.8 billion, N247.65 billion is for depositors of deposit money banks (DMBs), while N107.198 billion is for primary mortgage banks (PMBs) and micro finance banks (MFBs).

In the document presented to the committee, N500,000 and N200,000 will be paid per depositor in both DBMs/PMBs and MFBs respectively.

The corporation explained that the sum is N96.081 billion or 37.13 per cent higher than the provision of N258.767 billion made in year 2019, saying “the increase is to cater for the deteriorating condition of some problem banks.”

A provision of N120 billion and N300 million is made for DMBs and MFBs/PMBs respectively in the 2020 budget to cater for financial assistance to eligible insured institutions that may apply for it at an estimated interest rate of 15.50 per cent (MPR 13.50 per cent plus 2 per cent).

“The provision of N120.3 billion is lower by 14.26 per cent than the 2019 budget of N140.300 billion in year 2019,” he said.

In their reactions, members of the committee demanded details of the funds proposed for IT infrastructure, softwares as well as huge variable between what was spent on staff cost of N20 billion between 2018 and 2019 against the N31 billion proposed in the 2020 budget.

Meanwhile, chairman of the committee, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha (APC, Abia) has acknowledged the receipt of the approval granted to the NDIC Chief Executive Officer/MD, Ibrahim, to embark on overseas medical treatment, hence ruled that the delegation, led by Prince Eradiauwa, should present the budget.

Recall that the committee had, last Monday, declined to attend to the budget insisting that the MD appears himself to defend it.

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Reps probe $396m spent on refineries’ maintenance



Reps probe $396m spent on refineries’ maintenance

The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate $396.33 million spent on turnaround maintenance of the nation’s three refineries in four years.

The decision was taken after adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Ifeanyi Chudy Momah (APGA, Anambra) titled, “Call for investigation of the $396.33 million allegedly spent in four years on turn around maintenance of the nation’s three refineries.”

Presenting the motion, Momah said that Nigeria’s three major refineries, situated at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, with an installed capacity of 445,000 barrels of oil, enough for domestic consumption and export, had not performed optimally.

He said that the underperformance was due to a combination of factors, including corruption and inefficiency in the running of the refineries which regular “turn around maintenances” have been mismanaged over the years.

“The House observes the assertion by the Nigeria National Resource Charter (NNRC) in the report that the NNPC spent a whopping $396.33 million between 2013 and 2017 to carry out repair works under the “Turn Around Maintenance” (TAM) scheme on its three decrepit refineries at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.

“Also observes the claim that the NNPC also spent N276.872 billion on operating expenses of the refineries between 2015 and 2018, as well as $36 billion on the importation of petroleum products between 2013 and 2017.

“Informed that the three refineries contribute less than 10 per cent annually to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and they are also among the league of refineries with the highest operating costs worldwide, as their consolidated capacity utilization dropped to 6.1 per cent at the end of September 2017.

“Concerned that the strategic goal of establishing local refining facilities and its associated supply chain as a socio-economic game-changer that will result in national development has continued to elude the country’s oil and gas industry.

“Further observes that going by the reckoning of the NNRC, the $36 billion the country spent on importation of petroleum products in the last four years could have built four brand new refineries of similar capacity for the country with the same 650,000 barrels per day processing capacity as the refinery that Dangote Group is currently building in Lagos State,” the lawmaker said.

While adopting the motion, the House called on the Federal Government to consider divesting a certain percentage of its shareholding in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries to competent investors under the transparent and fair bidding process.

It mandated its committee on petroleum resources (downstream) to conduct an investigative hearing on the processes of the “turn around maintenance” (TAM) at the Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries by the NNPC between 2013 and date and report within two months.

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Tension as APC holds NEC meeting



Tension as APC holds NEC meeting

There is palpable tension at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting today.

Yesterday, some party members had protested at the National Secretariat of APC demanding the sack of the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

According to them, the only thing that would save APC from untold disaster is to ask Oshiomhole to resign.

In preparation for the NEC meeting, the National Working Committee (NWC) members had met thrice this week.

The party could not release any official agenda for the meeting.

Sources close to the party said the meeting would review the campaign and conduct of the general election.

Also to be discussed, according to the source, would be the crisis in the party that had pitched the NWC members against themselves and also against other party leaders.

The source stated that the issue of how to have a formidable NWC would be central at the meeting.

According to him, the vacant position in the NWC would be replaced.

The vacant positions of the NWC to be filled are: Deputy National Chairman (South), National Secretary, National Auditor, while the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuiabu and National Vice Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir are on suspension.

Few months ago, when the NWC members visited President Muhammadu Buhari, he asked them to go and put their house in order.

The President also said that it was high time he started taking interest in the party.

Among those that would be attending the NEC are the leadership of the National Assembly who are members of APC.

This would be the first time they would be attending the APC NEC as the party had not held a NEC meeting since they were inaugurated in June.

When asked about the agenda of the NEC meeting, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said that the agenda had been reported in the media.

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