Minimum wage: Buhari meets with 36 state governors at Presidential Villa

Buhari meets with 36 state governors at Presidential Villa

By NAN

President Buhari on Friday met behind closed doors with 36 state governors of the federation on the lingering disagreement between the organised labour and state governments on the proposed N30,000 national minimum wage.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that some of the governors were represented by their deputy governors at the meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes.

President Buhari, had on Nov.19, held similar meeting with representatives of Nigerian Governors Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where the same issue of national minimum wage was deliberated upon.

Representatives of the Governors forum, who met with the president over the issue then, included governors of Zamfara, Lagos, Kaduna and Enugu, while the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige was also in attendance.

The Amal Pepple Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage, had on Nov. 6, submitted its report to President Buhari where it recommended N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

While receiving the report, the president expressed his commitment to ensuring the implementation of a new national minimum wage and pledged to transmit an Executive Bill (on National Minimum Wage) to the National Assembly for its passage within the shortest possible time.

However, the 36 state governors had since expressed reservation over the proposed N30,000 new minimum wage by the Amal Pepple committee, saying the state governments were not in a stable financial position to pay the new minimum wage.

The Chairman of the Governors’ forum and Governor of Zamfara, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, had on Nov. 15, told newsmen at the end of an emergency meeting of the governors in Abuja that payment of N30, 000 wage was not practicable.

To Oil the Wheel of Progress…

To Oil the Wheel of Progress…

Minister of State, Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu

By Simon-Kolawole, Email: simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com, sms: 0805 500 1961

I have a story to tell. In the 1970s, three governments set up national oil companies to engage in exploration, production and refining. Nigeria created the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Norway set up Statoil, and Malaysia established Petronas. Today, Statoil — now renamed Equinor ASA — and Petronas are among the biggest state-owned oil and gas companies in the world. Equinor ASA and Petronas declare profits in billions of dollars and are among the most valuable companies in the world. Equinor ASA operates in 36 countries while Petronas is doing business in 35 countries. They are doing well home and abroad.

Our own NNPC? Please don’t get me started. Even though many state-owned companies are doing well in many countries, the moment you insert “Nigeria” into the equation everything goes haywire. There is nothing the NNPC knows how to do well, apart from scams. To produce oil, it relies on retrogressive JVs and ridiculous PSCs. Also, NNPC cannot refine its oil because the refineries never work. (NNPC recently popped champagne to celebrate a petrol supply contract it signed with BP, a British company. We are that shameless.) NNPC cannot even import fuel — it has to do this in the form of importation contracts. NNPC outsources almost everything!

The truth is that even though Nigeria is regarded as an oil giant, we are not yet deriving up to 25% of the benefits that reside in the industry — benefits from exploration, benefits from production, benefits from refining, benefits from petrochemicals, and benefits from marketing. Our major benefit is the revenue from oil export that we share in Abuja every month before it grows wings and flies mostly into private accounts and waste bins. We pride ourselves as one of the largest oil-producing countries in the world, but in the real sense we are not the ones producing the oil. We are outsiders and scavengers in the industry. In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.

How can we take maximum advantage before fossil fuels become, as it were, fossilised? Two recent reports inspired my article today. The first is the campaign promise by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, to partially sell NNPC if he is elected president. Is that the solution? What is the solution? The second is Nigeria’s local content development policy which, after decades of rhetoric, has produced a major result in the building of the Egina vessel. But this has led to a war between Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria Ltd, the contractor, and Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL), the Nigerian local partner. This is no good news.

First, what can we do to turn NNPC into a world beater and derive more benefits from our oil? President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC candidate, believes in state ownership. He has not been enthusiastic about the reforms meant to free the oil sector from government control. He can argue that if Petronas (Malaysia), Petrobras (Brazil) and Aramco (Saudi Arabia) are doing well under state ownership, why not NNPC? Atiku, seen as more market-oriented, has promised to sell part of NNPC and privatise the refineries. Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, the candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and a liberal economist of note, has promised full-blast reform and deregulation.

My intention today is not to evaluate the campaign promises of the candidates as they relate to the oil industry. That I will still do at some point. Rather, I am more interested in asking this question: how can we get the NNPC to be productive, innovative and profitable — even if not at the level of the national oil companies that were established around the same time in the 70s? Should we sell or restructure NNPC? What should we do with the now-in-limbo Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which prescribes that government should sell off 40% of its interest within 10 years? Whatever the case is, something has to happen to NNPC. Life can’t continue like this.

This is a debate worth having as the 2019 elections approach. Nigeria must begin to derive maximum advantage from the industry while stock lasts and while the world is still consuming fossil fuels. Our oil sector must be recalibrated to serve the interest of Nigeria, create real jobs and stimulate the growth of its subsectors as well as the other sectors of the economy. As things are today, our oil industry serves more foreign interests than it serves us. Just take a look at the companies making the most out of the various aspects of the chain and you will see that Nigeria and Nigerians do not figure prominently. In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.

And that is my second issue today: deriving utmost benefits from the sector through local content development. The world recently celebrated when Egina vessel sailed away to the Total deepwater oilfield, OML 130, which is about 200 kilometres offshore Port Harcourt, Rivers state. The acreage has deposits in excess of 550 million barrels of oil — one of the biggest you will find on the African continent. The deep offshore location means it would need a floating production storage offloading (FPSO) vessel. This was built by Samsung Heavy Industries in “local content” partnership with LADOL, led by Dr Amy Jadesimi as MD.

The good news is that this is the biggest local content project in our history after decades and decades of planning and talking and strategising about the policy. One significant progress we have made was setting up the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in 2010, which has seen to the involvement of more Nigerian companies in the logistics and engineering of the oil industry. Same year, Total Upstream, the operator of OML 130, awarded a $3.3 billion contract to the partnership of Samsung and LADOL to build the Egina FPSO. On August 25, 2018, the vessel sailed off to the oilfield. It is expected to add up to 200,000bpd to Nigeria’s oil output.

The bad news, though, is that the “local content” partnership that made this possible has hit the rocks, and this is not what you want to hear at a time we are campaigning for technology transfer to Nigerians so that we can become big players in our own oil industry. The Samsung and LADO crisis, which has produced a series of litigations, is capable of undermining the local content policy. The flagship project should be a thing of joy, a trophy we should display with pride. It should inspire more Nigerian companies to aim higher and become world beaters. A $3.3 billion procurement, engineering, construction and commissioning contract is not a joke.

What then is the problem? Samsung is demanding $1 billion extra payment from Total Upstream as claims for contract variation. The Korean company said there was “extraordinary increase in the quantities of structure and piping materials of the FPSO” because it had to improve on the initial work done by Nigerian engineers on the vessel. Although Total has already paid $500 million extra, Samsung wants an additional $500 million if not it would proceed with its claims of $1.6 billion at the London arbitration tribunal. The controversy almost marred the sail-off of Egina and would have delayed the December 2018 target for the commencement of production from the field.

Samsung had stopped work in July and headed to the courts but lost two cases and was practically forced by Nigerian authorities to complete work on the vessel and allow it sail or face the termination of the contract and a 10-year ban from working in Nigeria. Thankfully, the vessel sailed away on August 25, but the crisis is still ashore. The benefits of the Samsung/LADOL partnership, which are supposed to be long-lasting in the Nigerian oil industry, are now under threat. The partnership, named Samsung Heavy Industries Mega Construction and Integration Free-Zone (SHI MCI FZE), was expected to upgrade LADOL’s fabrication and integration facility at the free zone.

At the heart of Samsung’s dispute with LADOL is the claim by the Koreans that they invested $300 million in the fabrication yard — allegedly hiding the fact that Total had actually paid them $214 million for that purpose as part of the $3.3 billion contract. LADOL, reportedly unaware, was forced to cut down its interest in SHI MCI FZE from 80% to 30%. It also paid Samsung $40.5 million for its interest. However, it has since come out that Total Upstream paid Samsung for it. There are now suggestions that Samsung Heavy Industries is desperately seeking the $1.6 billion bonus in order to return to profit, having been suffering heavy financial bashing in recent years.

Somehow, there must be a resolution somewhere. Samsung no longer has access to the fabrication yard — the “landlord” is LADOL’s sister company, Global Resources Management Free Zone Ltd. While Global Resources says the lease has expired, Samsung maintains that it is valid till 2024. I am seeing a serious crisis here that needs to be resolved to keep the local content development policy smelling of roses. As far as I am concerned, this is the most beneficial policy we have had in the oil sector since we hit oil in 1956. We can argue over whether or not to sell NNPC, but we cannot deny that more local companies need to play big in the oil industry. We need to sustain the progress.

==

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

BOKO SLAUGHTER

Anytime the military chiefs boast that they have “technically” conquered Boko Haram, the terrorists strike big — as we saw yet again in the devastating attacks on soldiers in Metele, Borno state, last week. Maybe they should talk less and do more. Maybe President Buhari needs to overhaul the military hierarchy if fatigue has set in. Some of them have been due for retirement ages ago! There is no doubt that we have made tremendous progress against Boko Haram in the last three years, but terrorism is a stubborn thing and we must never take our eyes off the ball. As for those politicising this tragedy, remember we are talking about human lives here. Empathy.

TRANSITION HOURS

Former President Goodluck Jonathan appeared to have scored an own goal in his recently released book, ‘My Transition Hours’. He listed Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, Chief Osita Chidoka and Hon. Warpamowei Dudafa as those who recommended “sundry alternatives” to conceding the 2015 election to President Muhammadu Buhari, whereas these were actually the doves who recommended only one alternative — concession — when the hawks were trying to turn him. Jonathan did not mention even one of the hawks, but some of us know them. Jonathan withheld too many vital details and the vague account has now caused a backlash. Blunder.

IRREGULAR MIGRATION

Celebrated columnist and prolific author, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi (“chairman” to some of us), released a timely book on irregular immigration (calling a spade a spade, we would say “illegal immigration” but political correctness would not leave us alone). ‘From Frying Pan to Fire: How African migrants risk everything in their futile search for a better life in Europe’ is not the usual “political thriller” that Adeniyi has become master of, but this may be the best work he has done yet in his writing career, coming at a time frustration and desperation are increasingly driving young Africans into their death across the Mediterranean Sea in the search for Godot. Catastrophe.

AND FINALLY…

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, governor of Osun state, on Thursday launched a 10-year development plan “to promote sustainable development through pragmatic, transparent, accountable and inclusive governance that mobilises human and material resources toward making the state a socio-economic and cultural hub of Nigeria.” Mr. Olalekan Yinusa, the commissioner for development, said the Osun Development Plan 2019-2028 was hinged on four pillars of economic development, capital development and security, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability. All this coming five days to the end of Aregbesola’s eight-year tenure as governor. Wonderful.

Credit: ThisDay

Guarding against Fraud in Banking System

Guarding against Fraud in Banking System

James Emejo and Nume Ekeghe write on the need to adopt measures to address online fraud and encourage financial inclusion

In August 2017, a Nigerian bank was defrauded by one of its clients. The client, one of the petroleum marketing and distribution companies, which also runs a hospitality business, applied for three point of sale (PoS) terminals to facilitate payments by customers at its fuel stations. The bank availed the company two terminals.

Later in the year, the company requested that the PoS terminals issued to them be re-configured for ‘online card-less entries’ (Card-Not-Present – CNP), which the bank granted but only one of the terminals was re-configured.

The ‘online card-less entries’ (Card-Not-Present – CNP) service is normally provided to hospitality businesses, where customers can call to make reservations while providing their card details.

The company claimed most of its clients are foreigners who call to make reservations.
However, soon after granting the service, a high volume of ‘Card-Not-Present’ transaction totalling N908,271,096, was said to have occurred through the PoS device, using foreign-issued credit cards. Upon suspicion of fraud by the bank, the PoS was deactivated. The transactions were later flagged as fraudulent and chargebacks were filed by the card issuers, but unfortunately, the funds had been transferred to various accounts in other banks.

Subsequently, the bank requested the client to provide documentary evidence of service delivery to the customers who purportedly used the cards, but the client could not produce such evidence.
This above story was narrated by the Director, Insurance & Surveillance Department at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr M. Y. Umar, during a recent workshop for financial journalists and select civil society organisations organised by the corporation in Benin, Edo State recently.

The story highlighted one of the biggest challenges in the country’s financial system today -fraud.
Based on data from the Central Bank of Nigeria, while the country continues to experience growth across payment channels, commercial banks in the country lost a total of N12.06 billion to fraud and forgeries in the first six months of 2018.

The CBN disclosed this in its ‘Draft 2018 Half Year Economic Report’ that was posted on its website recently.
According to the report, there were 20,768 reported cases of fraud and forgery (attempted and successful), valued at N19.77 billion in the review period, compared with 16,762 cases, involving N5.52 billion and US$ 0.12 million in the corresponding period of 2017.

“The actual loss by banks to fraud and forgery, however, amounted to N12.06 billion, compared with the N0.78 billion and US$0.03 million, suffered in the first half of 2017.

“The reported fraud and forgery incidences were perpetrated by both bank staff and non-bank culprits. The cases involved armed robbery attacks, fraudulent ATM withdrawals, draft defalcation, illegal funds transfer, pilfering of cash, stealing, suppression and conversion of customers’ deposits,” it had explained.

Reducing Financial Fraud
Umar, believes that with the advent of ICT, online crime has come to stay.
“It is difficult to successfully run/operate major businesses, financial, medical, academic, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, etc without the use of computers along with related software,” he said, noting that cyber-criminals are also always trying to improve their nefarious skills.

According to a Director, Consumer Protection, CBN, Mr S.K. Salam-Alade who was represented by Mr. Josephe Attah, the high incidence of fraud is usually as a result of weak security infrastructure in financial institutions and insufficient internal controls.
Furthermore, he attributed the development to the naivety of the average bank customer.

And, apart from the huge financial loss to consumers, financial institutions and the economy, online fraud also damages the financial system’s reputation, increases the risk of participating in its offerings. This, “threatens the attainment of the financial inclusion target of 20 per cent inclusion by 2020,” the CBN Director said. To combat the problem, he advised financial institutions to invest in the latest security technology solutions and effective communication of anti-fraud measures.

For Umar, continuous capacity building for end users, cooperation between actors/players, establishment of institutional framework for coordinating cyber security issue/efforts and review of related bills to further strengthen cyber security are essential.

Highlighting Opportunities of CIIE for China-Nigeria Cooperation
In addition, he said continuous public awareness and campaigns to educate the general public and the enforcement of the cybercrime laws should help to reduce online fraud.
He also called on the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to play a more active and leading role in the fight against the economy’s bottom-line.

Also, the Head, Financial Inclusion Secretariat, at CBN, Mrs Temitope Akin-Fadeyi, who also spoke at the workshop, urged media practitioners to collaborate with financial regulators in the country to educate depositors on financial literacy and inclusion.

Akin-Fadeyi, who was represented by Mr Joseph Attah, a member of the Financial Inclusion Secretariat, CBN, said, educating depositors remains a collective responsibility of all.

According to her, there is a growing perception by Nigerians that it is the sole responsibility of the regulators to educate depositors on financial inclusion. However, she said it was important for media practitioners to fully understand the concept of financial inclusion.
Akin-Fadeyi, therefore, urged journalists to partner with the regulators to properly educate Nigerians to ensure increased participation of financial inclusion in the country.

Improving Financial Inclusion
The incentives to fight fraud in Nigeria are numerous. But a very important one is the campaign to improve the number of people who engage actively with the country’s financial system. The more fraud that exists in the system, the less people will be convinced to join the financial inclusion train.
The National Financial Inclusion Strategy was launched in 2012 with the overall target of increasing adult financial inclusion to 80 per cent in 2020.

As at 2016, progress has been made with the percentage of adult Nigerians having access to formal financial services increasing from 36.3 per cent in 2010 to 48.6 per cent in 2016, while the percentage of adult Nigerians having access to bank accounts increased from 30 per cent in 2010, to 38.3 per cent in 2016.

According to the CBN official who gave a presentation on financial inclusion, the prospects for reaching 80 per cent inclusion is high with the presence of a formidable governance structure, a shared agent network expansion project with target of 500,000 agents by end 2019, target setting for states and financial service providers, a revised capital base for microfinance banks, the introduction of Payment Service Banks and the commitment of stakeholders and opportunities for partnerships.

Sustaining Digital Banking
Meanwhile, the Head, Digital Service Management, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mrs Chioma Mbanisi, reiterated the importance of digital banking in the country.

Mbanisi said the importance of digital banking cannot be overemphasised and should be further encouraged among Nigerians.
“The digital option is indeed radically better than the physical one and should be utilised, especially in this era,” she noted.
“Ideally, it allows instant access, extreme convenience, trial and tracking options, vast reach, offered to people at lower cost and automatic record keeping.”

However, Mbanisi, pointed out, although the means of banking transactions are advancing from an orthodox way to a more digitised way, there are still some challenges.

“To the traditional customers, mature citizens or bank customers that are “technologically challenged”, digital can be a nightmare because they feel that they are at the mercy of a bewildering maze of computer servers, gadgets, bots, jargons, channels,” she said.

“Imagine engaging a bank’s contact centre and talking to a chatbot that does not understand why you are worked up and is consistent in giving you programmed responses?”
Mbanisi, also said the use of digital banking had led to disloyalty by banks customers, cybercrimes, regulatory complaints, lack of trust, lack of technology and the challenge in the use of technology.

Besides, she said that digital banking could pose challenges to employment level in the country.
This, Mbanisi explained could cause bank staff to lose their jobs as a result of the advent of automated machines replacing human beings in the future.

Still, the benefits of digital banking, she stressed, reduces cost of transactions and makes banking convenient. She advised banks needed to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation if they are to capture more Nigerians into the banking industry.
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Credit: ThisDay

How to attract bank funding to your business

How to attract bank funding to your business

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

Ask any entrepreneur what is the biggest challenge in running his business and he will be quick to tell you that it is finance. This is because in recent times, finance has been identified as one of the most important factors that determine the growth and survival of any business.

Access to finance allows an entrepreneur to undertake productive investments, expand the business and also acquire the latest technologies, thus ensuring the business competitiveness.

Experts contend that a poorly functional financial system could seriously undermine the macroeconomic fundamentals of a country, thereby resulting in lower growth in income and employment.

Despite their dominant numbers and importance in job creation and poverty reduction, the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, have, traditionally, face difficulties in obtaining formal credit from banks.

This is because the maturities of bank loans that are extended to MSMEs are often limited to a period far too short to pay off any sizeable investment.

Moreover, banks in many developing countries have traditionally lent overwhelmingly to the government and other multinational companies, which offered less risk and higher returns

For instance, in recent times, figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria had indicated that the flow of credit from banks to MSMEs had not been encouraging.

This underscores the reason why the apex bank in a bid to improve access to affordable financing for MSMEs last year directed all Deposit Money Banks to contribute five per cent of their Profit After Tax annually to finance the sector.

Based on official statistics from the Bank of Industry, the funding gap for MSMEs is estimated at about N700bn.

Despite this huge funding gap, the MSME sector has provided employment to an estimated 60 per cent of the Nigerian workforce, thus making the sector the highest employer of labour.

The sector has not only created employment, it has also perform other vital roles such as accelerating rural development; stimulating entrepreneurship; mobilising private savings and harnessing them for productive purposes; and contributing to domestic capital formation.

Despite its various contributions to the economy, the major challenge facing many small and medium scale entrepreneurs still lies in the task of getting the needed funding for their businesses.

Besides funding, the growth of this sector according to experts has been hampered by low access to local markets, poor access to credit; poor information flow; discriminatory legislation and poor access to land.

Others include weak linkages with other business along the value chain; weak skills, knowledge, attitude and safety measures as well as lack of efficient hard infrastructure such as power, roads, and energy

But these according to experts could be overcome if these operators of MSMEs understand how to take advantage of micro-credit policies.

They said that since the financial sector is an evolving market, there is need for entrepreneurs to be abreast of various policies being unveiled from time to time by both operators and regulators of the banking sector.

For instance, most microfinance banks have various units and products that could assist in boosting the activities of MSMEs.

SMEs could benefit from MFBs by being brought into the financial cycle through inclusion into the financial system.

To be able to access bank loans, there is also the need for the business to be registered as an entity with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Equally important is the need to have a mission and a vision statement that would drive the effective implementation of the strategic objectives of the business.

Experts also said that a key factor that would determine the granting of credit by banks to any business is the level of proper book keeping.

They said this is vital because without it, attracting the interest of banks in areas of funding might be difficult.

A finance expert, Mr. Seun Onatoye stated that there “is a need for entrepreneurs to have bankable projects in order to enjoy credit facilities from banks.”

Onatoye, a Chartered Accountant, also noted that “there is a need for an entrepreneur to have integrity, capacity and a profitable business to benefit from banks lending.

Others, according to him, include the need to register one’s business, accurate book-keeping, and vision and mission statements.

All these according to him, will have to be based on the company’s strategic intent.

“Managing your own business is not the same thing as having a career. Business is a way of life and as such a business plan is the compass that directs a company in the desert of challenges.

“Business owners can easily derail if not guided by a plan that will make their project bankable.

“Any SME that wants to attract the interest of banks in areas of funding will also need to be subjected to appraisal because it is on the basis of appraisal that we know how profitable the business is and how much will be needed,” he added.

Credit: The Punch

Buhari approves N30,000 as new minimum wage

BREAKING: Buhari endorses N30,000 minimum wage

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday endorsed N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

He said this while receiving the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The report was submitted by the committee’s chairman, Amal Pepple.

Buhari has also promised to send a bill to the National Assembly to effect the change from N18,000 to N30,000.

Credit: The Punch

Minimum wage: Labour suspends strike as committee meets Buhari today on new figure

Labour suspends strike, tripartite panel submits report to Buhari today

•Tripartite panel submits report to Buhari today
•New minimum wage to be unveiled on Tuesday
•Partial compliance in varsities as ASUU begins strike
Olalekan Adetayo, Ade Adesomoju,Leke Baiyewu, Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi, Ochei Matthew and Enyioha Opara

Organised labour has called off the nationwide industrial action scheduled to commence on Tuesday (today) to press home workers’ demand for a new national minimum wage.

The National Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, announced the suspension at the end of the 10pm meeting of the tripartite committee set up to come up with the new minimum wage on Monday.

Wabba said the decision to suspend the action was reached after agreements were reached and documents signed.

“Having reached this position and agreements signed, the proposed strike action is hereby suspended,” the labour leader said.

Wabba, however, refused to disclose the figure of the new minimum wage arrived at by the committee.

He said the figure would only be made public after the committee’s report would have been presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by 4.15pm on Tuesday.

He, however, said only one figure would be presented to the President.

The Chairman of the committee, Amma Pepple, expressed delight that their assignment had been concluded.

“I am happy to report to you that we have concluded our assignment and we will submit our report to the President by 4.15pm on Tuesday.

“We will reveal the figure at the presentation,” she said.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, thanked members of the committee for doing a wonderful job.

He described the process as a long journey.

“The committee has worked assiduously to reach the conclusion,” he said.

Earlier, the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government to come up with a new national minimum wage for the country concluded its assignment on Monday.

The committee chaired by a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Amma Pepple, had recommended two figures, N24,000 and N30,000, for minimum wage.

Pepple disclosed this to journalists at the end of the committee’s marathon meeting held to beat the indefinite strike action declared by labour unions and scheduled to start on Tuesday.

In the process of negotiation, state governors said they could only pay N22,500; the Federal Government proposed N24,000 while the labour and organised private sector settled for N30,000.

The labour and the Federal Government did not shift ground at the Monday meeting.

Pepple said the committee would present the two figures to the executive arm of government which will take a final decision after due consultation.

She said the final decision would thereafter be sent to the National Assembly.

“We have concluded but we have a little challenge about Chapter 5 of our report. That is the section where we report the negotiation and the figures we used for negotiation and the figure that we concluded on.

“The committee came up with two figures. The Federal Government suggested N24,000 and labour as well as the organised private sector gave a figure of N30,000.

“There is no stalemate. We have finished and we have signed the report but what we are insisting on is that the strike should be called off. We are waiting for the President to give us a date to submit the report. The report will go through a process. It will go through the Federal Government as well as the National Assembly.”

On the industrial action scheduled to commence on Tuesday, Pepple said, “We have pleaded with them (labour leaders) to call off the strike and they have said they are going to consult. So we are likely to come back. We shall be reconvening at 10pm.”

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, also told reporters that the government was making progress.

He insisted that the N24,000 figure of the Federal Government was based on ability to pay and sustainability, stressing that the state governors who proposed N22,500 would have no choice but to adopt the Federal Government’s figure.

The minister said, “We are making progress. The governors’ figure should be the figure of the Federal Government. We are just trying to carry them along; otherwise, the Federal Government speaks for the government.

“The figures are standing but you know that there are other processes. It will get to the National Economic Council, Council of State and then an Executive Bill will be sent to the National Assembly.

“The Federal Government figure of N24,000 is noted and it is also weighty because it is based on ability to pay and sustainability.

He added, “The labour is satisfied. We have done the needful and we have crossed the Rubicon. The only aspect we need to do now is to fix an appointment to present the report to the President.

“We are reconvening tonight because that appointment has to be made. Mr President has gone home; he is not just sitting idle. We have sent message to the place and we are making necessary contacts. If we get the appointment now, we will reconvene and decide what to do.

“The state governors have no choice now because they have attached themselves to us as the supreme sovereign, they are the minor sovereign.”

Representatives of the labour union that attended the meeting have yet to speak with journalists as of the time of filing this report.

While some of them left and insisted that they would not talk until after the meeting slated for 10pm, some others remained at the venue of the meeting.

The Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, who represented governors on the committee also did not talk to journalists before leaving the venue.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed; and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, also refused to talk to journalists.

The two ministers left the venue earlier than others.

While the reconvened 10pm meeting of the tripartite committee was still ongoing, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, on Monday night ordered all workers to ensure they resume at their duty posts on Tuesday.

She said the order became necessary because the National Industrial Court had restrained the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on strike from Tuesday as scheduled.

The order was contained in a circular titled ‘Notice of court injunction on proposed strike action: Directive for compliance’ and dated November 5, 2018.

The circular was signed on behalf of the HOCSF by the Permanent Secretary, Service Welfare Office, Mrs Didi Walson-Jack.

She asked all Permanent Secretaries to ensure strict compliance with her directive.

The circular read, “The attention of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been drawn to the order of interim injunction by the Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria dated November 2, 2018 restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their members from embarking on or taking part in the strike or industrial action to commence on Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

“In view of the above, I am directed to inform you that all staff are expected to continue to report at their duty posts to carry out their duties pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

“All Permanent Secretaries and Heads of extra-Ministerial Departments and Agencies are to bring the content of this circular to the attention of their staff and ensure strict compliance.”

Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday appealed to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress to consider the rot, he claimed, his administration inherited and call off its planned strike.

Buhari made the appeal at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, when he received members of the Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria led by Ambassador Oladapo Fafowora.

The appeal came barely 24 hours to the commencement of the indefinite industrial action called by labour unions to press for a new national minimum wage.

Buhari said the workers needed to show more understanding.

“President Buhari also appealed to the Nigeria Labour Congress to consider what this government inherited and the more it is doing with fewer resources in putting the economy right,” a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, read.

Buhari assured Nigerians that his administration would sustain investments to upgrade and develop the country’s transport and power infrastructure.

He said, ‘’There is no part of the country I haven’t been to, having attempted to be President four times. I know the condition of our roads. The rails were literally killed; there was no power despite the admittance of some previous leadership that they spent $16bn on the sector.

“Today, we are getting our priorities right and we believe that of the three fundamental issues we campaigned on, security, the economy and fighting corruption, we have remained very relevant and Nigerians believe we have achieved something.”

Buhari’s appeal came just as the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja, also on Monday, rejected a request for a fresh order to stop the organised labour from embarking on its planned strike scheduled to commence on Tuesday (today).

The court presided over by Justice Sanusi Kado also refused to grant a prayer for an order to compel the government to immediately commence the process of adopting N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

Justice Kado said it would be unnecessary to make another order stopping labour from embarking on the planned strike having earlier made a similar one in a case brought to the court by the Federal Government on Friday.

The Federal Government had filed its suit following the threat by the organised labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, and the United Labour Congress, to embark on strike if its demand to increase the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000 was not met.

Contrary to the labour’s demand, the Federal Government said it could only pay N24,000 as minimum wage and the state governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, had stuck to N22,500.

The lingering dispute between government and the labour prompted the Federal Government to seek and obtain the court order to stop the strike. Labour however denied receiving any notice or order from any court.

The fresh ex parte application seeking to stop labour from embarking on the strike and to also compel government to commence the process of paying the N30,000 minimum wage was filed by a civil society group, Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International.

The group’s lawyer, Mr Okere Nnamdi, at the Monday’s proceedings, informed the court that he filed his client’s ex parte motion alongside other processes on November 1.

He urged the court to grant the prayers, including the one seeking an order of substituted service of the court processes on the governors joined as the 10th to the 45th defendants in the suit.

But the judge immediately cut in, asking the lawyer if it would still be necessary to proceed to hear the application, in view of the Friday’s order made by the same court.

Okere conceded that he was aware of the order made by the judge on Friday.

But Nnamdi argued that his ex parte motion was different from that of the Federal Government, save for the prayer seeking an order stopping the planned strike, which is contained in both applications.

The judge insisted that the court having, on Friday, granted an order to stop the strike, there was no longer any form of urgency in the matter, and as such, it was not necessary to compel the government to start the process of adopting the N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

Following the judge’s explanation, the plaintiff’s lawyer applied to withdraw two of the prayers having to do with the request for an order stopping the planned strike and the other seeking to compel the government to pay N30,000.

Strike threat causes panic

In response to the workers’ strike, residents of Asaba and environs on Monday abandoned offices and stores to besiege various bank galleries in Asaba, the state capital, to make withdrawals ahead of today’s strike.

Our correspondent’s survey across the state revealed that there were unusually long queues of customers withdrawing money from virtually all the Automated Teller Machines of commercial banks, especially within the Asaba metropolis.

One of the customers, simply identified as Okechukwu, said he was shocked to see such an unusual crowd, despite the fact that neither the state nor the local councils had paid the November salaries.

Another customer, Mr Monday Jindu, told The PUNCH that attention was shifted to the ATMs because of the failure of some of the banks to attend to the customers.

“I enter inside the bank, the queue is long, even the PoS inside the bank was not working and I came back to ATM again, yet unable to dispense cash. The problem is that tomorrow is strike, so coming back tomorrow is another issue because no money will be in the ATM.

“I have gone to three banks this morning to withdraw, I couldn’t, some banks that have up to three to four ATMs, only one will be working which cannot serve the crowd.”

An old woman who did not want her name in print said she had to join the long queue despite health challenges because there were rumours that the banks might fully join the strike.

“I am here to withdraw the little balance I have in my two accounts before the money in the ATMs is exhausted. I had spent all I have on my children who went to school on Sunday.” she said.

Credit: The Punch

Minimum wage latest: Committee adjourns till 10 pm as stalemate ensues over new figure

BREAKING: Stalemate as minimum wage committee adjourns till 10pm

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The meeting of the tripartite committee set up to come up with a new national minimum wage has ended in a stalemate.

The Chairman of the committee, Ama Pepple, told journalists at the end of their marathon meeting that they would be reconvening at 10pm.

She however said the committee arrived at two figures of N24,000 and N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

She said the committee had appealed to the labour leaders to call off the strike and they have promised to consult and revert when the meeting reconvened at 10pm.

But the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the meeting at 10pm was meant to get appointment on when the report will be submitted to the President.

Credit: The Punch

Minimum Wage: Organised Labour insists on strike despite court order stopping action

Minimum Wage: Organised Labour insists on strike despite court ruling

NAN

The Organised Labour has insisted on embarking on a nationwide strike over the non-implementation of N30, 000 as the new National Minimum Wage, in spite of the National Industrial Court ruling in Abuja.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Abuja has restrained the organised labour from proceeding on nationwide strike on Friday.

The nationwide strike by organised labour is scheduled to commence on Nov. 6 over the new National Minimum Wage for workers in the country.

According to Wabba, we are not aware of any court ruling and we have not being served any notice.

“We have just concluded our joint organ meetings of the Central Working Committees of the Labour Centres of the NLC, Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) here in Lagos.

“The meeting is the final preparation for a full engagement with the government on the new National Minimum Wage and we have taken our decision to go on the strike.

“Our decision is to go ahead with the nationwide strike unless the government does the needful,” he said.

Also, Mr Musa Lawal, TUC General Secretary, also told NAN said the centre was not was aware of any court ruling concerning the planned strike by organised labour.

“We are not aware because we have not been served any court order; we have taken our decision and we are going to stand by that,” he added.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) had issued a communique after its meeting claiming that state governors can only pay N22, 500, as the new national minimum wage.

The organised labour has reiterated its position that any figure below N30, 000 would not be acceptable to labour.

Labour had earlier called on its members to mobilise in preparation for the commencement of an indefinite strike on Nov. 6, unless necessary steps are taken to adopt the recommendation of the Tripartite Committee.