Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (1104)

By Joan Nwagwu/ PM NEWS

Organised Labour has suspended its planned nationwide strike for two weeks over the recent hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price in the country.

The agreement was reached at about 2.53 am today.

Sen. Christ Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment said this while reading a joint communique on the resolution of the Trade Dispute between the Federal Government and the organised Labour on Monday in Abuja.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had threatened to embark on industrial action over the Federal Government’s refusal to reverse the hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price on Monday, Sept. 28.

The removal of the subsidy had led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kwh, while the price of petrol was increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.

Labour leaders at the meeting

Ngige said the resolution reached with the organised labour was an outcome of a fruitful deliberation.

According to him, on the issue of electricity tariff reforms, the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks effective from Monday, Sept. 28.

“The committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost reflective tariff.

“The technical committee membership included Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State Labour and Employment, as chairman, Mr Godwin Jedy-Agba, Minister of State Power, Mr James Momoh, Chairman National Electricity Regulatory Commission,

“Others were Mr Ahmad Rufai Zakari, SA to Mr President on Infrastructure, Dr Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Member, NLC, Mr Joe Ajaero NLC, Mr Chris Okonkwo, TUC and a representative of DISCOS.”

The minister said the committee should also look at the different Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC’s order and mandate.

Ngige, on the issue of the downstream sector deregulation, said all parties agreed on the need to expand the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the over dependency on importation of petroleum products

He said NNPC was directed to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.

According to him, the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) will be integrated into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

“The Federal Government and its agencies are to ensure delivery of one million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.

“A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organised Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” he said.

READ ALSO Secretariat sealed after hoodlums disperse labour leaders meeting in Rivers

Ngige also said on the issue of general intervention that the government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

He said the Federal Government would give the labour unions 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and ‘provide to the major cities across the Country on a scale up basis, thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.’

He said 10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance housing initiative would be allocated to Nigerian workers under the NLC and TUC.

According to him, a specific amount is to be unveiled by the Federal Government in two weeks’ time, which will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund that can be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC.

“This is for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting,” he said.

In his remark, Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President said that both the government and organised labour have looked into the issue of fuel price hike and what was needed to be put in place in order to address the issue of the increase.

“We have discussed the state of our refineries and how to achieve sustainable refineries.

“We have also looked at the issue of the tariff hike and other challenges.

READ ALSO Minimum wage deadline: NLC ask state council to standby

“We agreed to suspend the strike, and we agreed to also put a committee in place to work out lasting solution in addressing these challenges, including the issue of metering and importantly also is to bring about the issue of efficiency.

“We also reviewed the process of privatisation and other issues such as clear palliatives that were needed to be extended to our members and Nigerians to cushion the effect of these policies,” he said.

Wabba, therefore, called for social dialogue as a way of addressing issues of industrial relations, socio-economic issues and also issues of development.

According to him, the labour hopes that the communique will be implemented, and therefore, the decision of the organised labour as represented here is to suspend the action.

“We are going to convey our Central Working Committee meeting to present the communique to them,” he said.

Also, Mr Quadiri Olaleye, TUC president noted that based on the agreement signed between the government and the labour, the planned industrial action would be suspended for two weeks.

He added that the planned industrial action was called to draw the attention of the government to certain issues.

The communigue between FG and Labour:

Posted On Monday, 28 September 2020 16:11 Written by

By Frank Ikpefan, Abuja/ THE NATION

  • Electricity tariffs for renegotiation
  • NLC, TUC rethink industrial action

The Federal Government on Sunday night granted concession to Labour to avert the strike in protest against hike in petrol price and electricity tariffs.

An industrial action spearheaded by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) would have commenced on Monday.

But at an emergency meeting Sunday night at the Presidential Villa, the government agreed to suspend the electricity tariffs which the Distribution Companies (DisCos) announced on September 1, for two weeks.

A seven-man committee to draw up rates acceptable to all stakeholders was set up – to report back in two weeks.

The meeting, which started about 8pm, was on break at midnight.

The Federal Government team to the parley led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige. With him were Ministers of Petroleum Timipre Sylva, Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, Power (State) Goddy Jeddy-Agba, Labour and Employment (State) Festus Keyamo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.

In the Labour delegation were NLC President Ayuba Wabba; TUC President Quadri Olaleye; NLC Secretary Emma Ugboaja; TUC Secretary Musa-Ozigi Lawal and others.

Although the government said it had made a lot of progress regarding how to cushion the effect of subsidy removal, the issue of electricity tariff remained in the balance before the meeting went into technical session.

The government also agreed to provide some palliatives to cushion the effect of the decisions.

Some of the palliative measures include:

  • 240,000 workers to benefit from government agriculture loans;
  • 50,000 civil servants (Levels 01-04) to get N2.5 billion cash transfers meant for urban poor;
  • Mass housing scheme for workers through Micro-finance and Federal Mortgage Bank;
  • Solar power for five million homes
  • Mass gas-powered transit buses to convey workers to offices and for public use and hastened action on modular refineries.

In his remarks before the meeting went into technical session, Mustapha said government had resolved virtually everything that was on the desk in the area relating to deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil and gas and the increase in the tariff.

He said there were still outstanding issues with regards to power that were raised by labour as to the conflicting information they have regarding the tarrifs as applied in different areas under different power Distribution Companies (DisCos).

Mustapha said: “When we met last week, we had very robust discussions, we had very instructive insights into the issues.

“It was at that point that we decided that there should be some kind of validation exercise and it was at that point that the meeting stood adjourned.

“Adjourned in the sense that what do we do during these processes of the validation exercise which was supposed to run for two weeks and I believe this meeting can be narrowed to that this evening so that we can have a very quick resolutions to the outstanding matters and to allow you to go back to your respective constituencies.”

Wabba said the congress had not been served any court order.

“We are here again because when we met here on Thursday, we could not conclude the discussion. First is the fact that government presented their positions, we also presented ours. Therefore, it was concluded that there was need for consultation and the meeting was adjourned till Monday.

“As you said, this particular session was conveyed under emergency circumstance because all of us are committed to social dialogue, that is why we are here. Some of our colleagues missed their flights, so, they could not join us.

“I think it is good for me to respond to one or two issues. One is the judicial process that the honourable minister of labour mentioned. Let me say clearly, that as we sit here, labour has not been served any process.

“Let us not forget that because, we Labour unions are passionate about this issue, particularly the hike in electricity tariff, remember we had to seek judicial pronouncement and as I speak here, there is still a subsisting court judgement of the Federal High Court in Lagos that said the increase is illegal, therefore, it should be set aside. I’m not sure that judgment has been respected up till today.

“I’m not saying because of that, if there are clear-cut issues we cannot proceed. I think we must also understand the context. If we are on the negotiation table, and we have come to the table with open minds, and the commitment, I think we should emphasise the issues that are on the table instead of trying to divert our attention by referring to a process which are not known to us.

“We are ready for social dialogue and certainly as we said, we should actually start from where we stopped. I think that is how to make progress in a meeting.”

Ngige said the government had to convene an emergency meeting because of the court orders preventing tomorrow’s planned strike.

He said: “There is a new development, a judicial process was served on us by a civil society organisation asking us to make sure there is no strike. So we felt that because of those issues and our date to convene tomorrow (Monday) were no longer tenable.

The TUC President said it was wrong for the federal government to secure a court injunction when labour was already negotiating with it.

“We accept to be here because in the culture of Labour, whenever we have issues. I want to appreciate the government for coming to the table to dialogue with us and giving us the attention we require. That shows that we have some stake in this country too. It was wrong for government to have sponsored people to protest at the Unity Fountain that the labour movement should not go on strike.

“Labour is not afraid to go to court to challenge the injunction obtained by government but we have not been served.”

But Ngige asked Olaleye to provide proof that government sponsored some civil society organisation to obtain a court order to halt the planned protest.

“I know that he who alleges must proof, it is a very weighty allegation against the government, as far as I know, we are not aware of such a situation,” he said.

Posted On Monday, 28 September 2020 12:51 Written by

By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has visited former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to solicit their support to reclaim the presidency in 2023.

The delegation was set up by the National Working Committee of the party to visit founding fathers of the PDP to seek their support for 2023.

The delegation was led by Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed.

According to Mohammed on his twitter handle on Sunday, “Today, I led a delegation from the PDP 2019 General Election Review on an advocacy visit to meet with former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

PDP leaders on visit to Jonathan

“The delegation included former governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, former Minister Special Duties and Chairman PDP Ministers Forum Tanimu Turaki, Dan Masanin Gwandu (SAN) among others.

READ ALSO 14 million Nigerian children are out of school - Obasanjo

“The visit to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR is to intimate him on the activities of the committee and to seek his input and suggestions towards achieving our collective goal.”

The delegate also visited former President Goodluck Jonathan on the same mission.

Earlier, the PDP delegate visited former Senate President, David Mark.

Bala Mohammed with David Mark during the visit

“Today, I led a delegation from the PDP 2019 General Election Review Committee on an advocacy visit to meet with former Senate President, David Mark, GCON.

“The delegation included former governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, Former Minister Special Duties and Chairman PDP Ministers Forum Tanimu Turaki, Dan Masanin Gwandu (SAN) among others.

READ ALSO Obasanjo speaks again: I don’t care what people say about me when I die

“The visit to the former Senate President is to intimate him on the activities of the committee and to seek his support.”

Posted On Sunday, 27 September 2020 23:18 Written by

By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation; Eric Ikhilae; Frank Ikpafen; Sanni Onogu, Abuja; Chris Oji, Enugu; Nwanosike Onu, Awka; Sunny Nwankwo, Aba; Kolade Adeyemi, Jos/ THE NATION

  • NLC on Court Order: we’re ready to go to prision
  • TUC, civil servants vow strike will go ahead
  • Governors Forum, NLC parley fails to break deadlock

Organised labour is pressing ahead with its planned anti-fuel price hike strike across the country tomorrow despite spirited efforts by the federal government and the 36 state governors to stave off the strike.

Not even a list of palliatives offered by the federal government to the workers seems to be making any impression on them.

A peace meeting convened on Saturday in Abuja by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) with labour representatives yielded no fruit.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), which is organising the strike with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), said yesterday that there was no stopping the action.

Civil servants at federal and state levels declared their readiness for the strike despite the Friday warning by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Folasade Yemi-Esan, to workers on the payroll of the federal government not to join the planned strike.

Mrs. Esan cited the National Industrial Arbitration Court’s interim injunctions restraining the strike’s organisers from proceeding with their plan.

The President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Innocent Bola-Audu, responding to the warning yesterday, said that federal workers “are joining the strike. It is as simple as that.”

The federal government, in a last gasp effort to prevent the strike, has offered five categories of palliatives to the workers, including the extension of the N500 billion COVID-19 intervention funds to them.

But labour says while it remains open to resumption of talks with government tomorrow, it is not “too keen” on the palliatives.

A highly-placed government source said: “The government has worked round the clock to put some palliatives in place to mitigate the effects of fuel price increase and the hike in electricity tariffs.

“We have limited resources but we are bending backwards to adjust to accommodate the workers’ demand without hurting the economy.

“For example, Nigerian workers will benefit from the N500 billion set aside for COVID-19 intervention funds in one form or the other. This is why we are also engaging the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in the talks with labour.

“The agriculture loans we are giving to 240,000 workers will be interest free to enable them augment their salaries. The nation’s constitution allows workers to own farmlands.

“Our appeal to Labour leaders is to avert any strike action which will further compound our economic challenges. We have lost so much to the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to leave the economy grounded.”

The source listed the palliatives as follows:

  • 240,000 workers to benefit from government agriculture loans
  • 50,000 civil servants (Levels 01-04) to get N2.5 billion cash transfers meant for urban poor.
  • Mass housing scheme for workers through Micro-finance and Federal Mortgage Bank
  • Solar power for 5 million homes
  • Mass gas-powered transit buses to convey workers to offices and for public use
  • Hasten action on emergence of modular refineries

A labour leader confirmed the palliatives offer to “meet one of our conditions’, but said: “We know that it is a game or a bait to stop us from going on strike.

Continuing, the labour leader, who requested not to be named, said: “This is not the first time the government will come up with palliatives which will be implemented haphazardly.

“The last time they imported buses from abroad, the policy did not last. All the buses have been grounded along Kubwa Highway in Abuja.

“They have also failed to realise that this agitation is not about workers but about the plight of all Nigerians.

“At our session, we took note of the palliatives, but we said before we get to this stage, suspend the implementation of electricity tariffs for one month to enable the technical committee to complete its assignment.

“On modular refineries, we said we are interested in order to check wastage of scarce resources on the turnaround maintenance of the nation’s moribund refineries.

“In fact, the government delegation claimed that two or three modular refineries will soon come on stream. They said the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has gone to inspect one of these refineries.

“We are for the deregulation of the oil sector, but with a human face. We supported the government’s position on withdrawal of oil subsidy, but we must look inwards to produce the fuel we consume locally.”

Labour Minister Chris Ngige was optimistic, when contacted yesterday, that the strike could be averted.

He said: “I am a conciliator between the two parties. I am aware the government has presented its proposed palliatives to the Labour leaders.

“We are hopeful that we will find solutions to all the demands in order to save the nation the agony of any strike action.

“We are hopeful that there will be truce at the end of the day. This is our nation; we have to work collectively to help it to wade through the present economic challenges.”

NGF: ‘we’re on path to resolving impasse’

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) held an emergency meeting with labour representatives in Abuja also as part of the effort to prevent the strike.

Although the NGF said at the end of the meeting that its members and labour “are on the path to resolving the impasse occasioned by the threat by workers to embark on industrial action’, there was no evidence in the communiqué issued at the end of yesterday’s talks that a compromise had been reached by the two sides.

The communiqué, which was signed by NGF’s spokesman, Abulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, reads in part: “The NGF Chairman explained that governors decided to wade into the ongoing negotiations with a view to broadening consultations and assisting to bring the impasse to an end, thus averting the impending strike action.

“He pleaded with the NLC that the timing of the action was inauspicious and could aggravate an already worsening situation if not averted.

“Dr John Kayode Fayemi emphasised that the plight of workers in the country was already in dire straits and that any action embarked upon by the union at this time would further worsen their situation as contained in the communique issued by governors after their first emergency meeting on Thursday, 24th September, 2020, since the outbreak of the pandemic and eventual lockdown of the country last March.

“The NGF Chairman said no one that is conversant with the prevailing situation in the country would disagree with labour and its demands, as it were, but pleaded that governors be given time to consult more broadly with the various stakeholders, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Vice President and the President.

“This, he said, would be top priority for the NGF and promised to head straight to the presidency once the meeting was over.

“The NGF Chairman expressed the hope that this gesture from the governors would also energise the leadership of labour to put a hold on their planned action.

“In conclusion, Dr. Fayemi stated that Government and Labour are not that far apart in the negotiation and the differences are not irreconcilable. According to NGF Chairman, “our President, who is always on the side of workers, will not be averse to the issues being raised, and I’m hopeful of an amicable settlement on the issues highlighted.

“On his part, the President of the NLC said the Federal Government violated the time-tested global process of dialogue and thanked the NGF Chairman for his efforts at ensuring that sanity returns to the negotiation table.

“When the cost of PMS rises, the cost of everything in the country rises with it, the NLC President explained.

“He agreed with the NGF Chairman and also praised him for agreeing to broaden the mechanism for consultation on the matter, saying “I praise you for showing a good grasp of this matter and I believe that if they had widened the mechanism for consultation and involved people like you, we wouldn’t have come to this pass.”?

At the meeting held at the Abuja residence of the Chairman of the NGF, Govrernor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, were Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba; Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Quadri Olaleye; the NLC General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboajah and the Director General of the NGF, Mr. Asishana Okauru.

NLC threatens to boycott talks with FG

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) threatened to boycott peace talks with government should it be served with any court order restraining it from going ahead with the strike.

Speaking to The Nation on the phone yesterday, NLC Vice President, Joe Ajaero, said: “The protest is by Nigerians and members of NLC and TUC are Nigerians, so let them injunct the whole country.

“The nationwide protest by all Nigerians, community leaders, students will go ahead as planned. You can get a (court) order against the NLC but I am a Nigerian and other Nigerians will come out and protest. There are things you don’t injunct.

“If there is any injunction, then the meeting of Monday will not hold. If they go ahead to serve us with injunction, they have closed all avenues for dialogue.

“Bad laws must be disobeyed. You are injuncting me for imposing tariff on me? The person must be joking.

“I think by tomorrow or on Monday they should open up all the prisons. Nigeria people will occupy them. Why are they wasting time with injunctions? Let them bring prison sentences directly.

“Those (petrol and electricity hikes) are anti-people policies, including using the courts to subvert the will of the people. And on a daily basis that they bring these injunctions, they aggravate the situation and we will not be party to any further meetings on this.

“If the courts can solve their problem, let them go ahead with the courts. I don’t think we will continue with the dialogues.”

Strike will go on as scheduled, TUC insists

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) said there was no going back on the planned strike.

“Why do you think the strike will not go on?” was the answer from TUC president Quadri Olaleye yesterday when he was asked whether the strike organisers would reconsider their position.

His words: “We are discussing with government. They fixed a meeting for 3pm on Monday as at today (Saturday). Why do you think the strike will not go on? They (government side) adjourned the meeting till that date.

“If we were the ones that adjourned, we would have said let us wait till after the meeting on Monday. But they were the ones that adjourned.

“We gave them 24 hours to reconvene the meeting and they said they could only reconvene on Monday by 3pm.

“So automatically, the strike will start except otherwise stated.”

He said about 45 civil societies as well as market women had been mobilised for the industrial action.

Also, the President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Festus Osifo, said the association had reached out to its branches, telling them to prepare for the strike.

He said a letter directing the branches to mobilise for the strike was dispatched on Friday.

Osifo said: “Absolutely, because we are affiliates of TUC. So, as long as TUC has called for strike, we just have to join. It is an obligation.

“It is mandatory for us to join as long as the strike is called by TUC. Definitely, we will.

“We issued letters yesterday (Friday) to the branches (state chapters).”

The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE), the Joint Action Front (JAF), Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), aviation unions, among others, have declared their interests in the strike.

Also joining the strike is the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) which has directed its members nationwide to get ready for action.

The General Secretary of PASAN, Comrade D.D.Y. Suleman, in a circular to its members, said the strike became necessary following the recent increases in electricity tariffs and the pump price of petrol.

The circular was addressed to all organs of PASAN, including the Central Working Committee (CWC) Members, National Executive Committee (NEC) members and all PASAN members across the country.

Civil servants to FG: court can’t stop Monday’s protest/strike

The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) said no court injunction would prevent tomorrow’s planned protest by workers.

ASCSN National President, Innocent Bola-Audu, said federal workers would join the industrial action declared by organised labour.

The ASCSN boss said workers had already been mobilised to execute the strike on Monday.

Asked if civil servants would join the strike, the ASCSN President said: “Yes, we are joining the strike. It is as simple as that.

“Our members have the directive to begin strike on Monday. You know the strike should have started since the 23rd of September, 2020 but we had to also align with our brother, the NLC, and we have not given them any other contrary directive from the last one we gave them, which was on the 22nd of September, 2020 and we told them that by 28 of September, 2020 the strike is going on.

“The Federal Government should understand that labour operates under strict international rules and regulations.

“The Federal Government cannot inflict pains on Nigerian workers and then they now run to court to seek an injunction and say we should continue to feel the pains because court has granted them an injunction.

“It is the right of the workers to protest – the International Labour Organisation Convention, 89 and 144 and where processes are properly served. Running to court will not save the situation.”

The head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folasade Yemi-Esan had, on Friday, warned workers on the payroll of the federal government not to take part in the strike in view of the interim injunctions issued by the National Industrial Arbitration Court restraining the strike organisers from proceeding with it.

Her words: “Sequel to the call by the Labour Unions for workers to embark on industrial action from Monday, 28th September, 2020, the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) wishes to inform all public servants that the Federal Government team is currently engaging with the labour unions with a view to resolving all contentious issues and avert the planned industrial action,” she said.

“Furthermore, it is important to note that there is a court injunction granted by the National Industrial Court (Suit No. NICN/ABJ/253/2020) on 24th September, 2020, restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria from embarking on any form of industrial action pending the hearing and determination of a Motion on Notice.

“Accordingly, all officers on Grade Level 12 and above and those on essential services are hereby strongly advised to be at work to perform their official duties.”

It was business as usual yesterday in some of the 36 states including Lagos, Ogun, Enugu and Plateau states despite threat by labour to call out workers on strike on Monday to protest the recent hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs.

Commercial activities were conducted normally in many parts of the states but panic buying and withdrawal of money from automated teller machines (ATMs) were observed in some others.

Some residents of Lagos, Ogun, Enugu and Plateau states went about their normal business oblivious of the planned strike.

In Enugu, the people were more concerned with the reopening of schools in the state which incidentally coincided with the date of commencement of strike action by labour.

There were no indications of panic withdrawals.

An attendant at a supermarket along the ever busy Agbani Road, who gave his name simply as Mathew, said they were not experiencing any panic purchase.

“People are making their normal purchases as at now. There is no indication of panic purchase,” he said.

Residents of Plateau State appeared not to be under any pressure ahead of the strike. There was no noticeable panic withdrawal by customers, even as the ATM spots witnessed few customers withdrawing money.

The Terminus and Gada Biu foodstuff markets in Jos, the state capital, also did not witness unusual activities.

A house wife, Mrs Ruth Charlie, said: “Oga, this thing you’re telling me, I’m not even aware of any strike.

“I just came to the market for my normal buying of foodstuff for the family. Even if they go strike, it will be like COVID-19 lockdown. I beg, let them leave the poor Masses alone to manage their life.”

The Nigeria Labour Congress NLC in Anambra State says it is ready for the planned strike on Monday over increment in electricity tariff and petrol price

The State chairman of NLC, Comrade Jerry Nnubia, told The Nation that the union would hold a rally at Aroma Junction in Awka, Anambra State tomorrow, adding that they had started mobilising the workforce in the state to that effect

When The Nation visited some of the markets like Eke Awka and some of the banks, people were seen in clusters discussing the situation.

Posted On Sunday, 27 September 2020 14:01 Written by

The Federal Government on Saturday appealed to organised Labour to shelve its planned strike, saying it will only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the appeal in Lagos at a meeting with the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliate unions had called on workers to embark on an indefinite industrial action on Monday over the price of petrol and electricity tariff.

Mohammed, however, said the two necessary price adjustments in the petroleum and power sectors were inevitable because of dwindling resources as the country had lost 60 per cent of its revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He disclosed that the Federal Government spent N10.4 trillion on fuel subsidy from 2006 to 2009 and N1.7 trillion to supplement electricity tariff in less than five years

The minister reiterated that the government can no longer afford the cost of the subsidies, especially under the prevailing economic conditions.

“Revenues and foreign exchange earnings by the government have fallen by almost 60 percent due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector.

“There is no provision for subsidy in the revised 2020 budget. So where will the subsidy money come from?

“Remember that despite the massive fall in revenues, the government still has to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects,” he said.

According to the minister, citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that have lasted for years.

“Between 2006 and 2019, a total of 10.4 trillion naira was spent on fuel subsidy, most of which went to fat cats who either collected subsidy for products they didn’t import or diverted the products to neighbouring countries where prices are much higher.

“Instead of subsidy, ordinary Nigerians were subjected to the scarcity of petroleum products.

“They endured incessant long queues and paid higher to get the products, thus making the subsidy ineffectual,” he said.

The minister added that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the government had been supporting the industry.

“To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost N1.7 trillion especially by way of supplementing tariff shortfalls.

“The government does not have the resources to continue along this path.

“To borrow just to subsidise generation and distribution, which are both privatised, will be grossly irresponsible,” he said.

Mohammed added that in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, only customers with a guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity would have their tariffs adjusted.

He said the industry regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), would ensure that those who get less than 12 hours supply experience no increase.

In addressing the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing, the minister said that a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for no fewer than five million Nigerians.

According to him, the government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who are not connected to electricity at all.

“As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to five million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.

“This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system,” he said.

Reacting to the complaints on the timing of the two adjustments, Mohammed said the government is not insensitive to the plight of the citizens.

He explained that the adjustments were just a mere coincidence.

“ First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on March 18, 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

“Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made.

“Like Mr President said at the opening of the last ministerial retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation.

“We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people. But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon,” he said

He said the deregulation of the petroleum sector would save the country trillions of Naira which could be used to provide modern infrastructure for the benefit of the people.

Mohammed added that the deregulation would spur investments in the petroleum industry, especially in the building of local refineries which would result in lower fuel prices.

He also noted that the service-based electricity tariff adjustment and the ongoing work by a German company, Siemens, to boost power supply in Nigeria would help end the perennial power problem in the country.

The minister thanked Nigerians for their understanding and appealed to them to bear with the government.

COURTESY: GUARDIAN.NG

Posted On Sunday, 27 September 2020 02:09 Written by

Edo State governor Godwin Obaseki has said he risks losing his integrity if he returns to the All Progressives Congress.Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the meeting with President Buhari, Obaseki dismissed suggestions that he was set to leave the PDP for the APC, which he said would amount to going against President Muhammadu Buhari’s gospel of integrity.

“[Buhari] said that he wants to leave a democracy that is built on integrity, accountability and hard work. Those were his words and I subscribe totally to that,” Obaseki told journalists after meeting Buhari on Friday morning.

“I couldn’t have contested on a party, won on that party and then consider moving to another party.

“It is not the kind of thing to do; it’s not the right thing to do and I am sure you will not encourage me to do that.”

He, however, pledges loyalty and support to Buhari, whom he said was instrumental to his reelection as Edo State governor.

Obaseki said: “You would recall a couple of weeks before the election, I came to see you and you assured me that we were going to have a free, peaceful and credible election. That is what we had during the election of 19th September and the whole world has acclaimed that Edo election was perhaps one of the best conducted in recent times in Nigeria. This could not have been possible without your insistence that the right things be done, and for that, we want to say thank you very much.”

Obaseki dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following his disqualification from the party’s gubernatorial primaries.

Obaseki also said he was not disposed to replace former APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as the new godfather of Edo politics, saying “I should he dealt with accordingly,” if he attempts to do so.

The newly elected Governor dismissed the idea of godfatherism in the polity, adding that the concept was outside the purview of the constitution of Nigeria.

“In the case of godfathers in our politics, I have said in several fora that the whole concept of godfatherism is very dangerous to our democracy,” Obaseki said.

“And that is why when we came into the political fray 2006/2007, the mantra then was to get rid of godfathers from our political life. The reason is simple, the godfather has no constitutional responsibility, the godfather acts outside the constitution and controls people who are constitutional players. So, if we allow that sort of situation to continue, it will be worse than military rule.

“When people who have nothing at stake, no checks and balances just arbitrarily decide that this is the way the constitution should be interpreted or constitutional players should operate, that’s why problems come in.

“God forbid I become a godfather, I should be dealt with accordingly because it’s dangerous to the concept of democracy.”

On how he plans to go about unifying the Edo people after such exchanges of hurtful words during the campaigns, he responded thus: “It is really unfortunate that there was so much bitterness and I can assure that most of it did not come from my camp because, we were not desperate but that is neither here nor there.”

Posted On Friday, 25 September 2020 14:27 Written by

Eric Ikhilae, Abuja/ THE NATION

A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari for sending the names of 11 lawyers to the Senate for screening as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In a judgment on Wednesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the President acted in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution when he forwarded the names from the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the Senate.

Justice Ekwo said the only instance where the President can forward NJC’s recommendation to the Senate, in respect of a High Court judge’s appointment, is when it relates to that of the head of the court, like the Chief Judge.

The lawyers are: Abubakar Useni Musa, Edward Okpe, B. Abubakar, M. Francis, Jude Nwabueze, Josephine Enobi, Christopher Opeyemi, Mohammed Idris, Maryam Aliyu, Fashola Adebowale and Hamza Muazu.

The judgment was in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2020 filed by Oladimeji Ekengba against Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Senate, the President of the Senate, the Clerk of the Senate, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the NJC.

Justice Ekwo said: “The issue is straightforward. It is whether the first defendant (the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) acted in compliance with the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to have sent the names of the 11 persons recommended for appointment as judges of the High Court of the FCT, Abuja to the Senate for confirmation.

“Looking at the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), I find that there is no power or authority, express or implied, given to the first defendant (the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) to send names of persons recommended to him for appointment as judges to the Senate for screening.

“All that the first defendant needed to do was to send the names of the appointees to the seventh defendant (the NJC). The requirement for confirmation by the Senate would only have been necessary and constitutional if the seventh defendant recommended a person to the first defendant for appointment as the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as provided for in Section 256(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“To state it clearly, the act of the first defendant, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) sending the names of the 11 persons appointed by him to the Senate for confirmation was done in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”

Justice Ekwo proceeded to grant two of the reliefs sought by Ekengba . One is a declaration that, by the provision of Section 256(2) of the Constitution, the President “cannot abdicate his duties and responsibilities to the Senate for appointment of persons as judges of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.”

The judge equally declared that the names of the individuals nominated by the NJC for the appointment cannot be subjected to the screening and confirmation. He held that forwarding of the names to the Senate was contrary to and in breach of Section 256(2) of the Constitution.

He added: “As can be seen, this judgment affects only the act of forwarding the names of the appointees to the Senate, which was done in contravention of the provision of Section 256(2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It does not affect the swearing in of the appointees.”

Posted On Thursday, 24 September 2020 12:32 Written by
By Kazeem Ugbodaga/ PM NEWS

Nigeria’s former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has returned to Mali to continue negotiation with key stakeholders as the troubled nation begin plans for restoration of civilian administration.

On Monday, Mali’s former Defence Minister, Colonel Bah N’Daw (Rtd) was named the Interim President of the troubled nation.

N’Daw will oversee the 18-month transition period in which election is expected to be conducted to usher in a new democratically elected government in Mali.

Mali’s junta leader, Colonel Assimi Goïta is the Vice President of the 18-month transitional government.

However, Jonathan, who heads ECOWAS Special Envoy in the Mali crisis, on his twitter handle, said he returned to the West African nation on Thursday afternoon for further consultations.

READ ALSO Jonathan, ECOWAS leaders arrive Mali

“We returned to Bamako this afternoon to continue consultations with key stakeholders as Malian authorities begin the implementation of their plans for the restoration of a civilian administration.

“The ECOWAS mediation team expects to have fruitful engagements,” he said.

Posted On Thursday, 24 September 2020 00:26 Written by

By Joseph Jibueze, Dep. News Editor and Frank Ikpefan, Abuja/ THE NATION

Labour on Tuesday set Monday for “unprecedented mass action” and “total strike” to get the government to reverse the hike in petrol pump price and the increased electricity tariffs.

The Nigeria Labour Congress National Executive Council (NEC) took the decision at a meeting with members of the National Administrative Council, Presidents and General Secretaries of affiliate unions and state council chairpersons and secretaries.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) whose ultimatum to the government ought to have expired yesterday, shifted it till Monday to concur with the NLC on the commencement of industrial action.

Following the withdrawal of subsidy, the price of petrol rose to between N159 and N162 per litre at the pump at the beginning of this month.

The Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) raised their tariffs two days later, having been prevented twice by the government on April 1 and July 1.

The government said it played no role in the new price regime because market forces are now determining the rates.

But labour rejected the new rates and threatened to call out workers on strike. A government delegation led by Minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige, met with Labour leaders last Tuesday.

The meeting agreed to reconvene Thursday to resolve the issues and agree on sucour for Nigerians.

But the NLC and the TUC are not persuaded that Thursday’s meeting would address the issues, given their resolution on Tuesday.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who read the communique of the meeting, said: “NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation.

“This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens.

“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed but counter-productive.

“NEC also observed that the privatisation of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result. Whereas, the entire privatisation process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.

“Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatisation process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.

“On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, this particular issue had been on the table for more than three decades and the argument has not changed.

“Whether it is the name of full deregulation or subsidy removal, what is obvious is that it is fuel price hike and this has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has spiral effects which include the high cost of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.

“While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally, NEC also concluded that government has business in doing business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people and if in other countries, governments are maintaining refineries, and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.

“In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by the Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labour centres.”

Dr Ngige said the Federal Government would meet again with Labour on Thursday as talks to avert a strike continues.

He said: “We are engaging with them. We’re going to engage further by Thursday with the NLC and TUC.

“The government opened the books to them during our meeting last Tuesday. They agreed to brief their members, but if they are not satisfied, we’ll continue to engage them.”

Ngige said a nationwide strike would hurt all Nigerians, including members of the Organised Labour.

“If the economy is shut down, all of us will lose. Nigeria is not Chris Ngige’s or President Buhari’s country. It belongs to all of us. We’ll continue to explain it to them.”

On the hike in pump price, which is one of the bases for the proposed strike, Ngige said the new rates were dictated by global oil prices.

He said: “Petrol is already on modulation. The price will fall as it did in March. It is on modulation, which is part of deregulation.

“We’ll meet. We don’t want anything that will cause more financial pain to workers.”

Reaffirming their commitment to the strike plan, TUC President Quadri Olaleye and Secretary-General Comrade Musa-Lawal Ozigi, appealed to Nigerians to get ready for the “unprecedented mass action”.

It resolved to work with the NLC and civil society allies to execute the strike rather than doing it alone as previously planned.

“Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today (yesterday) has been shifted to 28th September 2020 for effective and maximum effect.

“We want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector, to bear with us while the industrial action lasts.

“There is no need for the pains we bear. It is a needless one. They ask us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs. Services are not rendered yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills.

“You will recall that this government during its electioneering campaigns in 2014 told the world there is nothing like subsidy. We were told that they will build refineries. All that is history now.

“We run a mono-economy and any hike in fuel automatically will have an adverse effect on us, yet successive governments tow that path because they are not creative.

“As at today, about eight states are yet to commence the payment of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment even though the President signed it into law on April 18, 2019. We have written letters to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue but all to no avail. Sometimes we wonder if these people have a conscience at all.

“The Congress hereby appeals to all Nigerians to get ready for the unprecedented mass action against corruption, obnoxious policies, rape and other violent offences, breach of the collective agreement, unemployment, etc.

“We also call on the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, etc to support our struggle by placing indefinite visa ban on our political leaders whose stock in trade is to loot and impoverish the masses and the country. We can no longer take it. Enough is enough!”

Posted On Wednesday, 23 September 2020 17:44 Written by

Voting pattern in previous Edo elections – Study

By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu

If the voting pattern in previous elections in Edo is anything to go by, Edo South Senatorial District, which is the Bini-speaking part of the state, may likely determine the outcome of Saturday’s governorship election.

A detailed study by the non-governmental organisation, YIAGA Africa has given an overview of what to expect, going by the patterns in previous elections.

In 2016, the highest proportion of votes came from Edo South; 49 per cent of the votes cast during that election came from the district.

This is compared to Edo North and Edo Central, with 32 per cent and 19 per cent of the votes cast respectively.

Similarly, in 2019 general elections, 47 per cent of the valid votes cast came from Edo South while Edo North and Edo Central recorded 34.4 per cent and 18.2 per cent respectively.

Six local governments — Oredo, Ikpoba/Okha, and Egor in Edo South and Etsako West, Akoko Edo, and Owan East in Edo North — accounted for half of total votes cast (50 per cent).

Five per cent of total votes cast were declared rejected votes in the 2016 governorship election.

In 2016, the turn out was 32 per cent, while the percentage for 2019 general elections was 28 per cent.

Edo North, with 486,969 registered voters, had 199,500 voters or 41 per cent accredited for the election.

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This is in contrast to the situation in Edo South which had the highest voting population.

The district had 1.09 million registered voters then, but only 303,148 or 27.8 per cent of them were accredited to vote during the contest.

Benin City in festive mood ahead of guber poll

By Raymond Mordi

Two days to the governorship election in Edo, the atmosphere on the streets in Benin City, the state capital, is electric.

Security has been deployed in several parts of the city ahead of the contest.

It is evident that an important event is impending.

For instance, the road that leads to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), where the sensitive materials that would be used for the election are being kept, have been cordoned off with traffic restricted to one part of the road.

These developments, in addition to increasing floods caused by torrential rainfall in the city, has led to heavy traffic in different parts of the city.

On Wednesday evening, a group of women spotting a uniform made from ankara fabric, were seen along Federal Avenue, GRA, Benin City, carrying bags with the logo of a particular political party.

One of the passers-by on the street said they had just been mobilised to go out and canvass for votes in their respective areas.

There is heavy vehicular movement on major roads in the capital city, particularly the Airport Road with the increasing influx of people into the state for the election.


PSC to policemen: operate within the law in Edo or…

By Nicholas Kalu, Abuja

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has cautioned police officers deployed for the Edo governorship elections to operate within the law or face sanctions.

It said it has already deployed a high-powered monitoring team to Edo to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties during this Saturday’s election.

According to a statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations of the Commission, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, the team is led by Bar. Rommy Mom, a Commissioner representing the Human Rights Organizations and Austin Braimoh, representing the Media.

The Commission has also released dedicated telephone numbers for complaints and commendation on the conduct of Police during the exercise, Ani said.

“The Commission wishes to advise that all Police Officers on electoral duty in Edo State must operate within the law and rules of engagement as any infractions on the laws/rules guiding election policing by any officer will be investigated and appropriate sanctions given.

“The Commission has however received assurances from the leadership of the Police charged with maintaining peace and order during the election in the state that every security arrangement has been put in place to ensure a hitch free and peaceful polls,” Ani said.


Oredo, Ikpoba/Okha, Egor, Etsako West top in PVCs collection

By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu

An analysis of registered voters and permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) collection rate by the various local governments suggests that Oredo and Ikpoba/Okha have the largest voting population.

According to a study carried out by YIAGA Africa, Ikpoba/Okha has the highest of registered voters, which stands at 315,410.

But, ironically, Oredo which has 313,553 registered voters is leading in terms of PVC collection; 240,197 persons have collected their voters card, against 214,822 for Ikpoba/Okha, which has the highest number of uncollected PVCs.

The two councils are in Edo South Senatorial District.

Egor Local Government, which is also in Edo South, is third in terms of registered voters and PVC collection rate. Egor has 219,832 registered voters, with 158,817 PVCs collected and 73,356 uncollected.

Among the districts with a huge voting population is Etsako West and Akoko Edo, both in Edo North Senatorial District. They have 160,137 and 119,254 registered voters respectively.
Akoko Edo has the least percentage of uncollected PVCs in the state. Only 3,911 or 3.2 per cent of PVCs are uncollected in the council.
Ova Northeast with 143,009 registered voters also has an appreciable high voting population. Out of the above figure, only 29,842 PVCs are uncollected in the council.
Igueben, in Edo Central, is the local government with the least voting population. It has only 46,828 registered voters, with as much as 11,840 or 25.2 per cent uncollected.


Group applauds UK, US decision to sanction election riggers

By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu

An advocacy group, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement Africa (YIAGA) has hailed the decision of the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States’ governments to impose sanctions on Nigerians who undermine the electoral process and invite violence.

The Chairman of YIAGA Africa’s Edo 2020 Election Observation Mission, Dr Aisha Abdullahi made the remark yesterday at a press conference in Benin City, the Edo State capital ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.

Dr Abdullahi said the action of the two countries is consistent with YIAGA Africa’s call on the international community to continually hold political leaders and institutions to account for their commitment to the people and the democratic process.

She said this year’s election is defined by strong-arm tactics and violence.

Her words: “Clearly, the stakes are high in the September 19 governorship election as typified by the state of pre-election violence and the level of desperation on the part of political actors to not only delegitimise the process but ensure they secure political power at all cost.”

The non-governmental organisation, which is dedicated to reforming Nigeria’s election system, classified two-thirds of the 18 local governments in Edo State as hotspots and flash points of violence, due to the frequency of violence, arms proliferation, and a spike in cult groups’ activities in those local councils.

Abdullahi added: “The violence rhetoric and strong-arm tactics employed by the two major parties for campaigns created a tense atmosphere environment and a climate of fear which informed peace talks initiated by the Obaseki of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, and the National Peace Committee headed by the former Head of State, General Abdulsami Abubakar.”

The YIAGA Africa board co-chairman said the group will deploy its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology at the polling units to enhance the credibility or otherwise of the Edo election.

This, she added, would help to provide timely and accurate information on the conduct of accreditation, voting and counting. Through this method, she said, YIAGA Africa would independently verify official results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The group said it would deploy 500 stationary observers to a representative statistical sample of 250 polling units and 25 mobile observers located in all the 18 local governments in the state.


PHOTOS: Distribution of electoral materials begins

By Isaac Jimoh Ayodele


PHOTOS: Massive deployment of security in Benin

By Isaac Jimoh Ayodele


Group identifies potential flashpoints of violence

By Raymond Mordi, Bisi Olaniyi and Precious Igbonwelundu

A non-governmental organisation, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) Africa has identified potential hotspots and flashpoints of violence ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday, the Chairman of YIAGA Africa’s Edo 2020 Election Observation Mission, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi said based on the report of the group’s observation carried out ahead of the poll, two-thirds of the local governments in the state are potential flashpoints of violence.

These, she said include Etsako West, Etsako East, Etsako Central, Owan West, and Akoko Edo, all in Edo North Senatorial District.

Others are Oredo, Orhiomwon, Egor, Ovia Northeast, and Ikpoba/Okha in Edo South, as well as Esan Central, Esan Northeast and Esan West in Edo Central.

Dr. Abdullahi said YIAGA Africa’s study suggests that the spare of violence and insecurity in the pre-election period may discourage voters from turning up on Election Day.

She said the state is witnessing a surge in cult groups’ activities, especially in Ikpoba/Okha, Etsako Central, Owan West, Esan West and Ovia Northeast local governments.

She added: “This is mainly attributable to an entrenched subculture of violence built around well-known strongmen, thugs, touts, gangsters, and cultists on the one hand, and widespread belief that elections cannot be won or smooth governance guaranteed without strong-arm tactics and the support of potential thugs.

“The situation is direr because of the proliferation of small arms and other weapons, which is evident in the free use of firearms at campaign venues.”

The group’s report also condemned physical violence towards women in Etsako Central, vandalism or destruction of property belonging to a candidate or his/her supporters in Oredo, Orhiomwon, Igueben, Etsako Central, Esan Northeast, Ikpoba/Okha, Egor, and Esan Southeast local governments.

Posted On Thursday, 17 September 2020 16:15 Written by
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