Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday allayed fears that plans by his administration to phase out the yellow commercial buses, popularly known as Danfo would lead to massive job loss, saying that it would instead create more jobs in the transportation sector.
The Governor, who spoke at the May Day Rally held at the Agege Stadium to commemorate the 2017 Workers Day Celebration, said the Bus Reform Initiative, aimed at introducing over 5000 air-conditioned buses to replace the Danfo buses would open new vista of opportunities, while also redefining the means of road transportation in the State.
Responding to the fears raised by the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Lagos Council, Comrade Idowu Adelakun and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Comrade Francis Ogunremi on the implications of the initiative to drivers, conductors, mechanics and other artisans, Governor Ambode assured that it would benefit all Lagosians on the long run.
He said, “If Lagos is to be globally competitive, we need to change the outlook of the way the city runs. What is of paramount interest to this government is to make sure that every Lagosian has a comfortable means of moving from one point to the other. But I promise you there will be no job losses.
“The Governor is not interested in driving all the new buses. It is the same bus drivers, the technicians, the mechanics that will also still be employed and trained to use these new buses. Instead of job losses, we are going to employ more people for the greater number of the buses and it will make the city more beautiful and more comfortable for all our workers.”
Governor Ambode, who also addressed the request of the labour leaders on workers’ welfare, assured that as the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) continues to increase, his administration would work out modalities to improve the welfare of workers in line with his mantra of all-inclusive governance.
Cross River State government has paid its workers their May salaries to mark Workers’ Day.
Governor Ben Ayade, had on April 30 ordered that the May salaries of workers be paid.
This is not the first time that Ayade, whose cardinal priority had been the prompt payment of salaries, will be paying workers ahead of the due date which falls within the 25th of every month.
The first was in May 2016 when Ayade ordered workers to be paid on Workers’ Day, while the second was on December 1, 2016.
Workers in the state got two months salaries in one week, as salaries for April were paid a few days ago.
State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. John Ushie, said the union had advised against the payment of salaries in advance.
Ushie said, “We had advised the governor not to be paying salaries like this but he insisted. Maybe it is his own way of showing that he cares for the people. He feels he should make the life of the people better and he has expressed this by paying a month salary in advance.”
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has expressed satisfaction over the release of Mr Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Dr Victor Oye, National Chairman of the party said in Awka on Monday that the party was happy that the rule of law had been observed on the matter.
He described the freedom of Kanu as long expected, observing that although the bail conditions were tough, they were fully met.
“APGA is happy with the bail granted Mr Nnamdi Kanu and his eventual release from prison, this development we must say is long overdue.
“It is also good that at last rule of law is being observed and it is a step in the right direction.
“However, we are not comfortable with the bail conditions which the party views as stringent and punitive,’’ he said.
The APGA chairman decried the rising agitation and tension on the country, insisting that the situation could not be controlled by force but through strict adherence to principles of true federalism.
He said such agitations might persist in as much as the crucial national questions that gave rise to them remain unaddressed.
“All we need is justice, equitable distribution of national wealth, implementation of the Federal Character provisions in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“Once these things are in place, then ethnocentric interests and agitation will be drastically reduced,’’ he said.
Watchers and followers of American history would readily admit that one of the most enduring scandals of the Ronald Reagan Administration was the clandestine sale of arms to Iran, at the time a sworn enemy of the US, with some of the proceeds sent to a South American Rebel group in cash. This scandal, generally referred to as the Iran-Contra Affair, led to an unreserved apology to the American people by President Reagan on 13th August 1987.
In a slightly related circumstance, about 3 months to the end of the Barack Obama administration, news broke that the US administration had ferried over $1.7 billion equivalent in foreign cash to the Iranian government. The monies drawn from the Federal Reserve Bank, the equivalent of our Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were paid in “Swiss Francs, euros and other currencies”, the department of Treasury later confirmed.
The covert payment to Iran was also used as leverage to guarantee the release of four American prisoners.
One can also recall the scandal that broke in February 2000 when it was alleged that about US$20 million was paid in cash from Germany’s intelligence agency, known as the BND, to the favored political parties from 1974 to 1982 while Helmut Schmidt, a Social Democrat, was chancellor.
It is open knowledge that elite intelligence agencies like the CIA, MOSSAD, MI5 and others, mostly prefer to fund their operations in cash for ease and also so as not to leave money trails. It doesn’t matter what the operation is – whether it is to topple a foreign government, protect the homeland or counter-terrorism, etc., the mode of transaction is preferably cash. This is why their budgets are called black budgets – there dealings are opaque – no records – no receipts – It is that simple.
I have never read or heard in the news where the central banks of these governments are being vilified and hounded for funding these duly approved cash requests except of course lately in Nigeria. Why is this so? Your guess is as good as mine – the politics of power.
The Central Bank of Nigeria is the banker of the federal government and its corresponding agencies. The relationship we have with our banks is same one that these government agencies maintain with the CBN. For example, if I write you a cheque and you take it to the bank for payment, the teller will simply pay you, if my account is funded and the signature(s) match. In fact, sometimes you are asked, “How do you want your money – N1000 or N500 notes”. The teller is not going to ask you what you intend to do with the money nor will they ask the account owner why he/she is giving money to the person withdrawing.
I am using this simple analogy to highlight the disgraceful and dangerous plot being executed by some powerful but disgruntled persons to continue to taint and discredit an institution as sensitive as the CBN because it made duly authorized payments to security agencies for clandestine operations. Even though the cash payment being investigated now occurred during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, reliable sources within the intelligence and financial industry confirm that this practice of paying cash to intelligence agencies such as the NIA, NSA, SSS, and Defence Ministry, is so routine that it has undoubtedly continued under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. If indeed this administration found it so horrible that the CBN pays cash to these agencies, why did it continue this practice? Your guess is as good as mine—politics? Giving a dog a bad name so as to kill it?
The disgraceful infighting amongst our so-called elite security agencies which has led to washing of their dirty linens in public is a huge embarrassment to not only the federal government but to Nigerians in general. (Let me leave this for future discuss but suffice it to note that the Osinbajo Panel and President Buhari should heed the warnings of Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi on this matter).
For those who have not read the Sunday piece by the respected foreign affairs professor and former Foreign Minister, let me quote some paragraphs:
“External intelligence officers, otherwise called spies, do not operate under the same operational penalties as domestic intelligence officers.
“Under no circumstances should the report of the panel in as far as it relates to the activities of the NIA be made public and no more leaks from the panel… Normally, foreign intelligence activities are shrouded in secrecy, and not in the glare of publicity.”
“… Countries go to incredible lengths to hide the identities of their agents both domestic and foreign and their operations. No receipts get issued. Budgets are called black budgets because they are never publicly acknowledged.”
The CBN since its founding in 1958 has been paying out cash to government and its agencies to fund various operations whether they are covert or otherwise. This practice has been standard under all Presidents including this one. The CBN since the past leadership of Roy Pentelow Fenton through Clement Isong, Adamu Ciroma, Paul Ogwuma, Lamido Sanusi and now Godwin Emefiele at various times have paid out millions of dollars in cash to the federal government and security agencies to fund one operation or another. In fact, I gathered that Nigeria’s last intervention in The Gambia that led to the eventual peaceful ousting of strongman Yahyah Jammeh from power in January was funded by tens of millions of dollars in cash provided by the CBN to the Defence/NSA.
My point is, we must stop this silly culture of destroying the integrity of our revered institutions because of selfish interests and agendas. If any person or group wants to take up issues with how Nigeria’s funds are being spent then it must channel that effort to the right office and not the CBN. The CBN is just a bank – it has a civic and constitutional duty to pay when a mandate is presented with all approving signatories verified and of course with the account holders’ account funded accordingly.
*** Austyn Ogannah is the Publisher of THEWILL Newspaper (www.thewillnigeria.com) and an advocate of governance.
The much anticipated HERE photo exhibition organized by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) in partnership with Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER) was officially launched yesterday, Sunday April 30, 2017 at the Silverbird Galleria, Lagos.
The photo exhibition is aimed at using pictures to tell stories of people who have suffered from sexual abuse.
While describing the exhibition, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, Executive Director, Stand To End Rape Initiative, mentioned that when she was abused seven years ago, there was no organization to stand with her through the entire process. This served as a motivation to start up an organization aimed at telling stories of those who have been sexually abused and to support them through the entire recovery process.
“The Here campaign is for those who have been sexually abused but are not able to tell their stories physically, through this exhibition we are helping them tell their stories using pictures” Osowobi said.
Jumoke Sanwo, Creative Director, Revolving Art Incubator, said she hopes the exhibition generates the right conversation that will influence positive actions from law makers, law enforcers, and the community, that’s what they are trying to communicate.
While addressing guests at the exhibition, Olumide Makanjuola, Executive Director of The Initiative for Equal Rights mentioned that it is an avenue to talk about the sexual abuse straight people and members of the LGBT community go through daily in the society.
“Tonight has been amazing, because it has been an avenue where we can talk about everything without holding back, but realizing that there is a problem. It is amazing that we can tell the stories of people who have suffered from sexual abuse, abuse from the public and the police because of their sexual orientation,” Makanjuola said.
“I’m also inviting everyone to be here during the closing on May 14, let’s have conversations about sexual abuse and rape, because you never know, it could happen to anyone,” he added.
The exhibition also featured a panel discussion which featured media personality, Arit Okpo; writer, Titilope Sonuga; and Head Psychotherapist of STER, Amanda Iheme.
The exhibition is now officially open to the public. It will stay open till Sunday May 14, 2017.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has on Sunday, threatened to mobilise Nigerians against governors and some National Assembly members. This is in a reaction to governors and lawmakers pushing the bill which seeks to remove the National Minimum Wage from the exclusive to the concurrent legislative list.
The bill which scaled through first reading before the House,is set for second reading on the floor of the House where members will debate on it.
In a report in The Nation newspaper, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, accused some members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum of sponsoring such an anti-workers’ legislation. He stressed that labour would explore every legitimate legal means to protect workers. “We have done in the past and we are going to deplore it,” said Wabba.
“All over the world, minimum wage is on the exclusive list. We are talking about protecting the most vulnerable group, that is the principle and philosophy. It is an ILO core issue under decent work agenda. It is a core ILO issue that all countries are conformed to.
“So, first is that it is the level of ignorance because he thinks that it is only for the state. No. It is for the self-employed for those that are from the private sector to protect the most vulnerable people from being exploited from false labour and slavery. That is why minimum wage law is there.
“It is a core ILO convention and in many countries of the world, including capitalist economy. As capitalist as the United Stated (U.S.) is, they have a minimum wage law.
“So, we must first understand the concept. It is not the state government. It is all employers of labour generally, both private and public. So, for public sector, who fixes their own? That is why it is a tripartite issue. I think that there is a level of ignorance he has demonstrated in this without even knowing what minimum wage law is all about.
“First, we condemn it in its entirety. We are going to respond immediately and effectively. Two, let him also go back to the archives. This issue was introduced even by some cabals within the Governors’ Forum at the last constitution amendment and it was defeated.
“It went to a referendum and it was defeated. So, we should start from where we stopped and not to take us back to areas we have actually advanced on.”
Wabba said that millions of Nigerians who are self-employed and those working in the private sector will be subjected to undue exploitation if the national minimum wage is removed from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
“Who will regulate the case of the self-employed; for instance now, you are self-employed, you are not working under either the state or the federal government where you can even negotiate.
“So, the implication is that once you remove that from the exclusive list, workers will be exploited. We are not even talking of the maximum, we are talking about the minimum.
“Assuming the alteration bill sells through in the National Assembly, what will organised labour, especially the leadership of the NLC, do? It will not said through because we will stop it at all cost. Nigerian workers will not accept this.
“The proponent of the bill, Ayeola Abayomi Abdulkadir (APC-Lagos), seeks to alter the Second Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by deleting item 34 from the exclusive legislative list and renumbering the existing item 35 as item 34 and subsequent items accordingly.”
The Senate may have perfected plans to withhold the confirmation of nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of the lawmakers’ strategies for a showdown with the Presidency.
According to a report in Punch newspaper, the upper chamber of the National Assembly is considering placing an “embargo” on approval of appointments by the President until the legislature and the executive resolved the lingering crisis between them.
It was gathered on Sunday that the Senate would make the move based on the recent comment by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who said he agreed with human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), that Section 171 of the Constitution empowers the President to make some appointments without National Assembly’s approval.
An impeccable source in the leadership of the Senate told our correspondent that a constitutional crisis was brewing in the country.
According to the source, the legislature and the executive have conflicting interpretation of the Constitution on their powers and responsibilities.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while an intervention by the judiciary would be needed, the executive should go to court and not the legislature.
The Presidency and the Senate had clashed over the retention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite the rejection of his appointment by the legislature.
The Senate had, on March 28, 2017, suspended the consideration of the 27 nominees by the President as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission for two weeks.
The move was to protest the Presidency’s insistence on Magu as the acting Chairman of EFCC.
Osinbajo had ruled out the possibility of Buhari replacing Magu with another nominee, adding that the President did not find the DSS report, which was the basis for Magu’s rejection, as a strong reason to replace the EFCC boss.
Speaking to our correspondent on Sunday, the National Assembly source stated, “There is going to be a constitutional crisis in Nigeria because the Senate is now at a crossroads on what to do with the nominations made by the President for which he is seeking the confirmation by the Senate.
“Going by what Osinbajo said on Magu, it means that the nation’s Presidents from 1999, who sent nominations to the Senate for confirmation, had all breached the Constitution. Even Buhari, who has been sending nominations to the Senate, was not properly advised.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki had, at the plenary on Wednesday, read three letters from Buhari, seeking the confirmation of some of his appointments, including three non-career ambassadorial nominees,
The President, in another letter, sought confirmation of the appointment of five members for the board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The President also wrote the Senate separately to seek the confirmation of the appointment of the Chairman, National Electricity Regulation Commission.
Also, the lawmakers have yet to screen and confirm the two ministerial nominees sent to the Senate by Buhari.
The source added, “They may not (be considered, including those of the CBN, NERC and others just sent to the Senate, because of the claims made by the Vice-President. He spoke as if he was speaking the mind of the President.
The source added, “They (Presidency) should proceed to court to seek endorsement for their position. It is their business to go to the court, not the Senate’s. The Vice President has already stalled the nomination and confirmation processes by his unguarded statements.
“He somehow agreed with Falana that there is no need for legislative confirmation for the appointments. With the Section 171 claim by the Vice-President, the Senate is now at a crossroads on whether to go on with the confirmation (of appointments) or adopt the new claim by the Presidency.
“The National Assembly follows established laws, which have been used for all dealings with the other arms of government. If they now have a contrary view, they should go to court.”
But a member of the Senate expressed his anger over the plan in an interview with our correspondent.
The All Progressives Congress lawmaker lamented that some recent decisions by the chamber were not enjoying the support of most members.
The lawmaker said, “Between you and I, that is rubbish. The issue of Magu is rubbish; the issue of (the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service) Hameed Ali is rubbish.
“If some of us insist on Magu’s removal and Ali should appear before the Senate in uniform, how does that put food on the table of Nigerians? And we are supposed to focus on what can improve the life of the average Nigerians; we are not doing that. But we are busy with Ali, Magu and other issues. It is so unfortunate.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comments on the latest development.
While he did not return our correspondent’s calls on Saturday, the lines indicated that they had been switched off on Sunday.
But the Vice-Chairman, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said the Senate would address all issues relating to the relationship between the lawmakers and the Presidency.
He said, “By Tuesday, Senator Sabi (Abdullahi) will speak on the issue as reflected by the joint decision of the Senate. Nobody can take any individual position (on the matter); the Senate will take the position.”
When asked to speak as the deputy spokesman for the Senate, Murray-Bruce replied, “Sabi will take that position because I have not gotten any official communication from the Senate and I don’t have any opinion (on the matter).”
President Buhari had set up a reconciliatory committee chaired by Osinbajo, which has as members ministers, who were at a time, members of the National Assembly as members.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; and Samaila Kawu (House of Representatives) are also members.
But while the Presidency said the panel had started to meet with the Senate leadership, Saraki had denied such meetings, saying the committee was not necessary.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comments on Saturday and Sunday.
The All Progressives Congress has challenged the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Yusuf Lasun, to prove that his claims of alleged threat to life is true or stop the blackmail against the State of Osun.
In a statement, on Sunday, by the APC Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, alleged that Lasun, who is one of the leaders of the party in the state, was behind the theory that Adeleke was poisoned.
The statement reads: “This (allegation) is a wolf cry and political gerrymandering, which cannot amount to a threat to life. There is no fragment of truth in all Lasun claimed, and it appears to have been the product of a very sick-minded person.
“We hereby state unequivocally that the Deputy Speaker and his band of delusional propagandists are mere opportunists clawing to the death of our late party leader and illustrious son of Ede, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, to create smokescreen and score undue political relevance for themselves.
“Alas, without searching further, Hon. Yusuf has, without any iota of doubt, revealed himself to us that he is the chief sponsor and promoter of the irritating blackmail against the government of the state of Osun that the late Senator of Osun West Senatorial District was poisoned. This, in its entirety, is illogical and irresponsible.”
Recall that Senator Isiaka Adeleke died on Sunday, April 23, after complaining of leg pain.
The Constituency Relations Officer of the Deputy Speaker, Niyi Ogunsola, had on Saturday, accused the APC chairman and some former commissioners of threatening Lasun’s life.
The media aide to the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Wole Oladimeji, in his reaction, challenged the APC in the state to prove that his principal was behind the outcry that Adekeke was poisoned by the state government.