Unilorin VC Debunks EFCC Rumours

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdulganiyu Ambali, has debunked reports that he and the management of the institution are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

There had been reports in the media that Ambali was being investigated by the EFCC and that he was walked out by members of the House of Representatives Committee on Education during his defence of the university’s 2016 budget before the committee.

The VC, who spoke with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Saturday, also said he was not walked out during his defence of the budget before the committee.

He stated that he presented the budget of the institution before the committee and it was well received.

$1.6m Of N4bn NIMASA Fraud Traced To Ex-NAF Official

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has traced $1.6m to a former Director, Finance and Accounting at the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore S.A. Yushau (retd.).

Yushau was on February 17 moved to Lagos alongside the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.), over a fresh investigation involving the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

As part of efforts to ensure improved security in the Nigerian maritime sector, NIMASA on August 26, 2013, signed an agreement with the Air Force with a view to providing effective air surveillance and monitoring of the nation’s coastal area.

Badeh, who was the Chief of Air Staff, signed on behalf of the Air Force while Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was the Director-General of NIMASA, signed on behalf of the maritime agency.

In furtherance to the MoU, N4.4bn (in dollars and naira) was reportedly transferred from the bank account of NIMASA to the air force. However, EFCC investigations revealed that the money was diverted to private accounts.

Yushau, who was the Director of Finance and Accounts when the MoU was signed, was said to have diverted $1.6m which was transferred to the air force account by NIMASA shortly before his retirement.

A top source at the EFCC told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity that out of the money, Yushau gave $800,000 to Badeh.

He, however, said Badeh denied receiving the money.

The source said, “We traced about $1.6m to Yushau who was the Director of Finance and Accounts in 2013. In his statement, he said he gave $800,000 to Badeh while Badeh gave him permission to take another $800,000 as a retirement gift.

“He (Yushau) said he spent part of the money on building a house in his home state in the North but the building collapsed. He said he invested the remaining money in some businesses so we are trying to see if we can recover some of his assets.

“However, Badeh has denied the allegations and we are still holding him.”

The source said the anti-graft agency had traced about five properties in Abuja belonging to Badeh but added that the retired military officer had denied ownership of the properties.

“We have traced about five properties we believe were bought by Badeh through proxies but he has denied ownership of all the properties. Badeh is really giving us a tough time.”

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the EFCC was making frantic efforts to finalise investigations into the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu.

It will be recalled that the commission on January 28 arrested Amosu alongside 11 officers for his alleged role in the $2.1bn arms scam.

The EFCC subsequently obtained a holding charge giving it permission to hold Amosu and other officers for 30 days.

The 30 days will lapse on Monday.

The source said, “We still have a lot of investigations to do and we are not sure if we will be able to arraign Amosu next week. If we cannot do that, we will approach a court to grant us an extension.”

The investigation on Amosu focused on how 10 contracts totalling $930,500,690 were awarded; the payment of N4,402,687,569.41 for unexecuted contracts; the procurement of two used Mi-24V helicopters instead of the recommended Mi-35M series at $136,944,000.00; and the excessive pricing of 36D6 Low Level Air Defence Radar at $33m instead of $6m per one.

The EFCC has already seized some properties belonging to Amosu worth over N500m while N381m was recovered from a company owned by Amosu’s wife, Omolara.

Efforts to get the reaction of the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone did not go through.

The Punch

Ex-CBN Governor, Sanusi, Tackles Osinbajo on Naira Devaluation

The Vice President, Prof. Yomi Osinbajo, on Saturday reaffirmed the position of the Federal Government that the country’s currency will not be devalued in spite of pressures to act otherwise.

But a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Sanusi, replied that delaying the devaluation was akin to postponing the evil day.

The positions were taken at a town hall meeting which Osinbajo held with his neighbours in Victoria Garden City on the Lekki-Epe axis of Lagos, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

Osinbajo, who insisted that devaluation was not on the table, said the CBN would operate in line with the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari after he was elected to come up with flexible exchange rate to be supported by strong monetary policies.

He said the foreign exchange policy of government was to stop unnecessary consumption of imported goods and promote local manufacturing.

Osinbajo also said government met a falling revenue profile in May 2015, which was down by about 70 per cent, compared to the same period of the preceding year.

He also said in spite of the high cost of about $22 to produce a barrel of crude oil now selling at about $33, no fewer than 38 per cent of the foreign reserve was spent on importing petroleum products.

The vice president further said the previous administration was spending about N20bn on food importation annually, which reduced the nation’s foreign reserve drastically from about $40bn to about $25bn.

As a result, he said, the present administration was bent on diversification of the economy from crude oil to agriculture and solid minerals.

Osinbajo said the focus on agriculture was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice, poultry and palm oil production as well as develop the entire agriculture value chain to create wealth and jobs for the teeming youth.

However, Sanusi, a VGC resident, advised the government to either devalue the currency or stop the confusion between the official and parallel market exchange rates.

He said allowing an official rate at N197 per dollar, while the parallel market sold for over N300, was distractive.

“Naira is already devalued and government not accepting it is postponing the evil day,” Sanusi said.

The African Union Adopts Osun’s School Feeding For All Its Countries

The African Union is introducing the Africa Day for School Feeding on March 1 and has adopted home-grown school feeding as a continental strategy for enhancing the retention and performance of students while also bringing economic benefits to farmers and local communities.

By Daniel Balaban
Director and Representative
WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger
United Nations World Food Programme

Africa is an immense and very diverse continent. If one considers its 55 countries, there is a wide range of realities and particularities that are often overlooked. In the United Nations’ latest Human Development Report, for example, 12 African countries are considered to have a high or medium human development index (HDI), while at the same time some of the countries with the lowest HDI are also from the same continent. Given such variety in conditions, a single ‘silver bullet’ approach to setting policy can risk undermining local realities and missing the potential to foster ownership by the broader society.

Yet, when it comes to tackling food security and malnutrition, certain strategies have been proven to bring about results in very diverse settings, and school feeding is one of these strategies. Since the late 1960s, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) has incorporated school feeding into its food assistance strategies in Africa. In recent years, these efforts have combined with an increased interest by African countries in developing home-grown school feeding programmes that are connected to local agriculture, as a strategy to tackle undernutrition, enhance students’ performance and at the same time promote local development.

The WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brazil, a partnership between WFP and the Brazilian government, has been supporting governments in this endeavour since 2011 through South-South Cooperation, and there are remarkable results deriving from governments’ commitments to develop their own school feeding programmes.

Niger’s national programme is reaching over 190,000 students, with food procured from 7,000 local farmers. Mozambique set up a pilot project in 12 schools as a first step in the implementation of its national school feeding programme which is linked to smallholder farming. Other countries such as Benin have put in place strong normative and institutional frameworks and have carried out broad consultations with stakeholders to ensure involvement and ownership of new programmes. The Ethiopian School Feeding Task Force has engaged with the Brazilian government on how best to connect school feeding to other social protection programmes.

These efforts have now been taken up to the continental level by the African Union (AU), with a new push for national school feeding programmes made at the latest AU Summit on 31 January. The 54 Heads of State of the regional body decided to adopt school feeding as a strategy to enhance children’s performance in schools, boost income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.

The decision encouraged those countries that have school feeding programmes to continue their efforts. It invited other Member States to learn and adapt lessons from those running school feeding programmes so as to enhance access to and retention of children in school. It further called for the establishment of a multidisciplinary technical committee of African experts to undertake, with support from the WFP Centre of Excellence, a general study on the relevance and impact of school feeding in the African Union Member States.

The decision sets a new momentum for school feeding among African countries, as it endorses existing efforts and at the same time prepares the ground for building a body of evidence to inform and frame the development of a continental approach to the issue. In the framework of AU’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa, school feeding should be the subject of a separate programme, if not a full implementation strategy, as foreseen in its guiding document.

This decision also bears historic importance in light of the clout the regional body carries as the embodiment of African peoples’ aspirations. It brings renewed political commitment and may contribute to keeping school feeding high in governments’ political agenda.

Furthermore, AU recognition of school feeding as a vector for social development may also facilitate the allocation of resources to such programmes in national budgets, and eventually lead to the creation of new funding mechanisms.

With these prospects ahead, the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger is eager to continue its partnership with African countries to assist them in moving forward in food security and achieving Zero Hunger.

Tinubu Bags Honorary Uniabuja Doctorate Degree

Former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, and former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, have been conferred with honorary doctorate degrees at the Combined Convocation of the University of Abuja (UniAbuja).

NAN reports that former Chief Justices of Nigeria, Justice Idris Kutigi and Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, were also conferred with honorary doctorate degrees.

NAN reports that a total 25,878 students were awarded various degrees at the 15th to 20th combined convocation of the institution on Saturday.

Ekwueme was said to be unavoidably absent as he was represented by his daughter, Mrs Chidi Onyemelukwe.

In his speech, the Visitor, President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulated the Governing Council, Senate, Management and staff of UniAbuja for recording progress in achieving the objective for which it was set up.

Represented by Hajiya Hindattu Abdullahi, the Director, Tertiary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Buhari enjoined the institution to take research seriously as it was key to economic development.

He said it was pertinent to emphasise on the quality of teaching and research in Nigeria’s universities as it affected the quality of graduates from our universities.

“I therefore urge Nigerian universities to ensure that the quality of the graduates produced compares with graduates produced from other universities globally.

“Research should not be relegated to the background in our universities; rather universities should ensure that the education impacted is strongly influenced by research,” he said.

On his part, UniAbuja’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Michael Adikwu, said that the graduands had brought honour to the institution by distinguishing themselves in various fields of study.

“They comprise 20,461 undergraduate students and 4,261 postgraduate students spanning the 2009/2010 to 2014/2015 sessions.

“Eight undergraduate student graduands bagged first class honours; 2,324 bagged second class upper division; 11,180 bagged second class lower division; 6,647 bagged third class while 836 bagged pass.

“Of the total of 4,261 postgraduate graduands, 331 are graduating with Doctorate degrees, 2,233 with Masters’ degree and a total of 1,697 are Postgraduate Diploma graduands.”

Adikwu explained that UniAbuja was graduating five sets of students at the event because of the crises that engulfed the system over the last few years.

He said that normalcy had been restored to academic activities on campus through the intervention of the National Universities Commission and the Ministry of Education.

In his acceptance speech on behalf of the other recipients of honorary degrees, Tinubu thanked the institution’s authority for deeming them worthy of the award.

He said that UniAbuja symbolised national unity and epitomised a collective desire to build a strong nation.

“The institution must realise its important position in the educational salvation of our youth and the rejuvenation of our nation.

“I urge a continuous commitment to quality and excellence.

“The university, numbered among the new generation universities, must strive in the tradition of groundbreaking scholarship and research.

“In spite of the challenges of infrastructure and funding, the university must not compromise its academic standard,” he said.

The highlight of the event was the investiture of Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zazzau, as the Chancellor of the institution.

NAN

Buhari Makes Case For Hajj Stampede Victims

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the authorities of Saudi Arabia to come out with the outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna in 2015 during which 274 Nigerians were believed to have died.

Buhari has also made a case for compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba.

According to a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President raised the issues during the talks he had with Saudi rulers during his one-week official visit to the country.

Shehu said following the completion of talks with rulers of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, Buhari directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Hajj Commission to sit down with the Saudis to negotiate improved terms and conditions for Nigerian pilgrims performing the Umrah and the annual Hajj.

This, he said, followed the acceptance by the Saudi government to freely and openly discuss outstanding issues with Nigeria.

“President Buhari, among other things, requested the Saudis to conclude all issues with the Nigerian Hajj Commission, such as the undetermined outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna last year, where our officials believe that 274 Nigerian lives were lost.

“There is also the case of compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba and 35 others from the stampede whose DNA profile is feared to be missing.

“President Buhari equally charged the Ministry and the NAHCON to seek a reduction of fees associated with the Umrah Visa,” he said.

Among the 17 issues tendered at the initial meeting between the officials of both countries, Shehu said Nigeria appreciated the increase offered for Umrah pilgrimage but asked that the 76,000 seats maintained for the Hajj be also increased.

The meeting was said to have been led by Nigeria’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Fatima Abba Ibrahim and Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammed on the Nigerian side while the Saudi side was led by their Minister of Hajj Affairs, Dr.Bandar bin Muhammad al-Hajjar.

The two countries are expected to follow up on all the issues in the coming weeks.

US To Deploy Troops To Nigeria

The United States (US) has offered to send a special operations mission to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram, the US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) said on Friday.

In a statement by USAFRICOM, the US government expressed its readiness to work alongside the Nigerian army. “At the request of the Nigerian government, the SOCAFRICA (Special Operations Command Africa) component of USAFRICOM conducted a preliminary assessment regarding the feasibility of resuming a limited advise-and-assist mission alongside select Nigerian units,” USAFRICOM said in a statement.

According to Reuters, USAFRICOM said the proposals envisaged a “platoon-sized” team, typically meaning a group of between 12-30 troops. The proposals were also said to be pending approval from various governments departments and military officials.

This news is coming a day after Tukur Burutai, Nigeria’s chief of army staff, said troops had defeated the notorious Boko Haram sect responsible for kidnapping over 200 girls in April 2014. The New York Times earlier reported that the advisers would be based in Maiduguri, the most affected city in the northeast.

The US has been seen to be expanding its support for African countries over the past few months and has plans to enter a new security deal with Senegal. It has also been reported to have increased the number of elite special operations forces in Africa to about 1,200. Jennifer Cooke, Africa programme director at the centre for strategic and international studies, told the house foreign affairs committee that there is an urgent need to tackle Boko Haram. “There is an urgent need to prevent Boko Haram from regenerating and possibly coming back more virulent, destructive, and globally connected than before,” she said.

Ed Royce, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the proposals, adding that the US “can provide the high-level guidance that is crucially missing in the fight against Boko Haram”. The world’s most powerful country had said in October 2015 that it was sending 300 US military personnel to Cameroon to operate surveillance drones.

FG Pledges To Partner With Youths

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has assured that the Federal Government will partner with the youths to ensure the actualization of their God-given potentials.

The Minister gave the assurance on Friday night when he formally declared close the 4th edition of the annual Social Media Week, held at the Landmark Centre in Lagos.

”In our efforts to diversify our economy away from oil, I am confident that we have great options in the creative industry and the infinite possibilities that an empowered young Nigerian can spin. We will partner with the youths to make it possible for them to actualize their dreams,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said there is no better platform than the Social Media Week, which has garnered 5 million mentions on social media, and attracted 30,000 people, in addition to 500 speakers, over four years, to engage with the youths who, he said, formed the vanguard of those who helped to bring about the much-needed change in the country.

”In this respect, we hope to play a more active role in subsequent editions (of the Social Media Week),” he said.

The Minister, who also fielded questions from the audience on issues ranging from Boko Haram to tourism and the country’s image, congratulated the organizers of the gathering that provides the ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world.

Earlier, while welcoming the Minister, the Convener of the Lagos Social Media Week, Mr. Obi Asika, expressed the hope that the Federal Government would collaborate with the organizers to ensure that the 5th edition, to be held in 2017, is even bigger than the previous editions.

According to the organizers, the annual event features a central stage for keynotes and panels, multiple rooms for workshops, masterclasses and presentations, and an area dedicated to co-working, networking and interactive installations.

Social Media Week Lagos is the largest, tech, new media and business conference in Africa, with thousands of people participating annually.

Participants come from all over Africa and elsewhere around the world to explore a wide range of topics like education, business, entertainment, technology, art, banking and politics.

Saraki Explains New Vehicles Procured For His Use

The office of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has issued the statement below to respond to an exclusive story by PREMIUM TIMES, that Mr Saraki has taken delivery of new cars, worth over N300million.

Read full statement below.

“Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said only his official vehicle, a MercedezBenz, was changed and that the spare car in the convoy is the old one he inherited and has been using since he assumed office June last year.

“Reacting to the claim by Premium Times that the Senate President has taken delivery of vehicles worth N330m, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Special Adviser, stated that it was wrong for Premium Times to classify vehicles provided for security agencies like the police and State Security Service by the National Assembly management for their operations as vehicles bought for the Senate President.

“It is an obvious fact that the official and spare cars that the Senate President inherited and has been using are old and have been malfunctioning. There are instances like the day Dr. Saraki visited Keffi for the marriage of the daughter of Senator Abdullahi Adamu and another day at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport that the spare vehicle broke down. In both instances, the spare vehicle did not return home with the convoy. The same vehicle had malfunctioned at the Presidential Villa and National Mosque on different occasions. It is for this reason that the Senate President approved that instead of providing two vehicles for him as he is entitled, only one should be bought to replace the official vehicle while the old official car should be converted to spare car.

“Also, if the National Assembly Management chose to provide operational vehicles for Security Agencies, should that be presented as if they are personal or official vehicles meant for the use of Dr. Saraki? These are vehicles that cannot be used for other purposes and by other people. The Senate President also have no control over the security vehicles.

“It is also surprising that despite the fact that Premium Times in the same story reported that the order for the vehicle was made in December, it chose to calculate the value of the vehicles based on current exchange rate of the Naira to the dollar. This is obviously a mischief aimed at making the figure look huge and justify the screaming headline.

“The press should avoid deliberately inciting members of the public against public officials. The Senate President and his colleagues are conscious of the economic situation in the country and will continue to act responsibly and responsively.

“Just last week, Dr. Saraki was informed that the Ministry of FCT in its 2016 budget proposed a N6 billion estimate for the construction of the official residence of the Senate President. He outrightly rejected the proposal and directed Senator Dino Melaye, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT to bring down the cost to one billion Naira. He said that it should be made known to the Ministry that if it cannot construct the building with N1 billion then they should leave out the project entirely till after his tenure. He said he will rather stay in his present abode. Senator Melaye had already acted as instructed as indicated in the report his committee presented to the Appropriation Committee.

“It should therefore be noted that if Dr. Saraki can demonstrate frugality and responsible leadership in a matter that saved the country so much money, how can it then be presented as if purchase of cars is a big issue that he cares so much about? Those who know the antecedent of the Senate President know that there is no type of vehicle that can excite him at this stage in his life”, Olaniyonu stated.

Normalcy Returns To Parts Of Borno

The long deserted parts of Borno State are once again having signs of life as people are gradually returning back to their homes following the improved security and sustained victory against Boko Haram terrorists.

This finding was made yesterday when the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, toured parts of the state while visiting various troops’ locations, where he expressed satisfaction with the performance of troops fighting insurgency in the northeast.

“Things has drastically improved and as you can see, life is returning back to normal and people are now encouraged to return home. If you have come here few months back, it’s a ghost town,” a soldier said.

It was also observed that while socio-economic activities have picked up in most of the towns and villages visited but the signs of Boko Haram devastation still persists.

“You can see that most of the buildings, especially the schools, Police stations were burnt down and a whole Local Government Headquarters was sacked but today things has improved and the rest is left for the government to rebuild,” an officer noted.

One of the areas visited by Buratai was the Army Headquarters (AHQ) Special Forces Battalion located at Gajigaram, in continuation of his tour of front lines.

The Army Chief used the opportunity to commend the battalion’s quick response to distress calls and for its efforts at containing the activities of insurgents around the area.

He expressed satisfaction with the successes recorded as a result of the troops’ patrols and clearing operation in the general area.

Earlier at the 7 Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) Brigade, Baga, Buratai commended the efforts of the troops in curbing the activities of the insurgents in the area.

The COAS urged the commander and troops from security agencies involved in the operations not to relent in their efforts to end the curb the activities of the insurgents in the area.

He assured the commander and their troops of government’s efforts to provide all the needed logistics to enable them effectively consolidate on the successes recorded in anti-terror war.

Buratai, who visited Baga in the company of Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Maj-Gen. Yushau Abubakar, and Deputy Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj-Gen. Leo Irabor, amongst other, was received by commander of the brigade, Brig.-Gen. Jamilu Sarham and other senior security officials at the area.

The COAS also inspected facilities at the brigade headquarters including the health centre, kitchen and the brigade bakery.

Other facilities inspected by the chief are a standard helipad to aid medical evacuation and delivery of logistics to troops around the area.

Buratai also met with troops from other security agencies and foreign military personnel serving under the Multi-National Joint Task Force.

In another development, the Army Chief commiserated with the people of Dalori over the recent attack by Boko Haram at the camp of displaced persons.

He assured them of improved security in the area and urged the people to always volunteer information that would lead to arrest of more insurgents.

Buratai, had on Wednesday during the maiden meeting with the Borno Elders Forum (BEF), at the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC), Maiduguri, declared that the war against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) in the North East had now entered into mop up phase of the operation.

He stated that their target of defeating Boko Haram had been achieved except for few setbacks of which the military was determined to complete clearances of the terrorist remnants.

According to him, two out of the three targets set by the military in the quest for successful Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Insurgency (CT COIN) operations in the north east, had been achieved. He listed the targets achieved to include military defeat of Boko Haram, and the ongoing rescue of all terrorists’ hostages with Chibok girls as a top priority.

He said: “The three things we promised you, two have been carried out. The first task is to defeat Boko Haram and I want to tell you that as at today Boko Haram has been defeated. When I said defeat it doesn’t mean that there won’t be hick ups here and there but we are doing the mop up operations. So we are at the mop up phase of the operation. We are also making efforts to rescue those who are being held hostage at some marked locations. We hope to rescue the Chibok girls but our target is not just limited to the Chibok girls but all the hostages.

ThisDay

Largest Federal Allocation Earner, Akwa Ibom Gets 21-Day Ultimatum From NLC

The Nigerian Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom State chapter, has given the state government a 21-day ultimatum to resolve all pending labour grievances or risk industrial action.

The NLC described the government as being insensitive to the plights of civil servants in the state and accused it of blackmailing the organised labour and stifling its economy as measures to thwart industrial actions.

The state executive council of all industrial unions, under the NLC, after its meeting on Friday in Uyo, accused the present administration of not recognising the existence of labour in the state.

The state NLC Chairman, Mr. Etim Ukpong, said the meeting was necessitated by the state government’s unwillingness to address the backlog of workers’ grievances in the state for over six years.

He said, “The state government fails to take into account the plight and lamentation of workers, especially in the public sector and their dependants despite constant pleas and demands of labour, especially the NLC.

“Rather than engage the leadership of organised labour collectively in dialogue and ensure a balance of interest, where the workers would not be short-changed, government has resorted to divide and rule tactics by trying to blackmail the labour movement, ignore the workers by hiding behind the economic leanness of the time.

“You would recall our persistent cries for the government to address workers’ plight such as payments of gratuities to local government retirees and workers living and dead since 2009, payment of leave grants to teachers, local government workers and workers in the parastatals, many of them dating back to 2012, and harmonisation of retirees’ pensions in line with the law which stipulates upward review of pensions after five years, or whenever there was a new minimum wage in place.”

He listed other issues to include the release and implementation of promotions to civil servants, payment of promotion arrears, refund of 7.5 per cent deducted from workers’ salaries in the name of contributory pensions scheme, which was abrogated by the state House of Assembly two years ago, payment of salaries to teachers absorbed from taking over community schools since 2013, payment of salaries to civil servants, nurses, doctors, house officers and other health workers employed since 2014.

The NLC, in a communiqué released at the end of the meeting, also canvassed the recovery of over N1bn owed Akwa Ibom State indigenes by the Federal Government, which was removed from ALSCON in Ikot Abasi, recovery of primary schools counterpart funding from the Federal Government, payment of arrears of four months salaries to local government workers in Ikot Ekpene, two months salaries to workers in Abak, and a month arrears to workers in Ikono, Ini and Uruefong Oruko local government areas.

He said, “As we speak, nurses working in local governments are being owed the same arrears. Teachers employed and sent to junior secondary schools under State Universal Basic Education Board must be paid. The Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had rejected them and asked them to go to state secondary education board. As I speak, they have not got December salary.”

The Punch