Igbo Group To Ngige: Don’t Disparage Bola Tinubu, Tenders Apology

A socio-political group, Umuigbo Progressive Network has urged the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige to be mindful of his utterances so as not to be misconstrued by the citizens.

This is coming on the heels of his comments on the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. 

The group with core objective to pursue the political interest of the Igbo race in an apology statement to the National Leader signed by its National Coordinator, Barrister Oscar Obi, said that Senator Ngige should have responded to the questions and issues raised by the House of Representative’s Panel and not digress to the extent of him submerging the name and person of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, whom the group maintained is a recognized political leader in Nigeria and there is practically none or very few like him in the nation’s political landscape.

Recall that Ngige, at an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives to discuss the suspension of the management of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), traded words with a member of the Committee, Hon. James Faleke.

Mr Ngige, while throwing a jab at Faleke, said he is in the same age bracket as Senator Tinubu, “So you are near my age, at least I am seven years older than you. I’m the same age with your mentor in Lagos, Asiwaju. And I was governor with him at the same time. He was a senator, I was a senator. I am a two-time minister, he isn’t a two-time minister.”

The group, in a swift response chided Ngige for his comments on Asiwaju Tinubu, saying whatever it is Hon. James Falake said or did, “he represents the House of Representatives at that very material time.”

“Senator Ngige is one of the leaders of the APC in the South-East. If he felt there was a need to launch an attack, it should be directed at the questions and issues and not against personality. The Committee is a representative of Nigerians and not an individual,” the group said. 

The group stressed that nothing in Ngige’s expected response to the issues raised by the ad-hoc Committee of the House had warranted the mentioning of Tinubu’s name.

“Senator Ngige should before comparing himself with Asiwaju remember that it was the same former Lagos Governor he ran to several times to breathe life into his already dead political career. Both were Senators but the republic they both served is different.

“And talking about achievements, the story of today’s economic and infrastructural transformation of Lagos State cannot be told without the Asiwaju. He is the one that laid the foundation of what we are seeing today in Lagos State.

“Asiwaju choose not to be a Minister because he believes in investing in human and giving them room to grow unlike Ngige who takes everything that comes to Anambra to himself. Today we can point at Asiwaju’s mentee serving in high capacity but how many people have Ngige mentored in the entire Igbo land?”

The National Coordinator appealed to Senator Ngige to watch his utterances, considering his status in the society. 

The group further condemned the incessant attack on the Legislative arm of government by the Executive saying its one too many. 

“Occasions like this should remind us that the National Assembly is a sovereign representation of the Nigerian people and have the constitutional duty to conduct oversight on the activities of the Executive branch of government. The sordid acts of some members of the Executive to disparage the entire lawmaking arm of the country should be widely condemned by all.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his Ministers and appointees against further provoking the legislators. This 9th Assembly is one that has shown cordial and harmonious relationship with the Executive and utterances like that of Ngige could impede the Next Level agenda of President Buhari,” the statement read.

On the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) probe, the group said “We wish to remind Mr President that all Nigerians are watching with keen interest and await the outcome of the probe. He should ensure that any indicted person(s) face the full wrath of Law and the monies returned. The people of the Niger Delta deserve better.” 

Touching on Security, the group condemned the incessant killings of Nigerians on daily basis and urged President Buhari to “sack the Service Chiefs as a matter of urgency and save what remains of the morales of our young soldiers.”

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I’m Not Afraid Of Suspension – Ngige Replies Oshiomhole

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, says he is not afraid of being suspended by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said this in response to the threat issued by Adams Oshiomhole, chairman of the APC, over the inauguration of the board members of federal agencies and parastatal under his ministry.

The parastatals and agencies are the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), National Productivity Centre (NPC), and Michael Imoudu Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS).

Oshiomhole had threatened to move against the minister if the inauguration did not take place within a stipulated period.

The APC chairman said under his leadership, the party will not tolerate ministers who abuse their office and disrespect President Muhammadu Buhari by refusing to carry out his directives.

But faulting Oshiomhole’s comment at Aso Rock on Wednesday, Ngige said the APC chairman was talking out of ignorance.

He explained that the board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) was yet to be inaugurated because of reports of alleged diversion of funds to the tune of N48 billion.

When asked if he would comply and if he was not afraid of suspension from the party, Ngige said, “How? In a party that we formed and brought them in? The man is talking out of ignorance. I’m not afraid of suspension.”

Ngige had earlier written to Oshiomhole over the issue

He said: “Our national chairman, I am in receipt of a letter referenced APC/NHDQ/ GEN-S/28/018/003 dated July 11, 2018, which was sent from your office and received by me on July 12, 2018. Ordinarily, I would not believe the letter was from you except for the barrage of media statements that came before I saw the letter. I read the contents of this letter with both amazement and utter disbelief.”

The minister said he had reconstituted three boards out of the four agencies and parastatals under his ministry, but has not been able to constitute the board of NSITF because of cases of financial malfeasance, which have put the agency under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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Oshiomhole Threatens To Expel Two APC Ministers Over Failure To Inaugurate Boards

National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has threatened to expel Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika, for failing to inaugirate respective boards under their ministries.

Speaking with State House correspondents on Monday, Oshiomhole reiterated his resolve to return to internal discipline to the APC.

Recall that Ngige have refused to inaugurate boards of parastatals under his ministry, several months after they were appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Sirika, on his own part, is also yet to inaugurate some boards under his ministry.

Mr Oshiomhole had written to Mr Ngige asking him to inaugurate all board members appointed under his ministry.

Mr Ngige, however, replied and stated that he had inaugurated three boards in the ministry but would not be in a hurry to inaugurate that of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), because of an alleged N40 billion corruption scandal by the former board.

Mr Oshiomhole said “If the minister refuses we will suspend him from the party.”

Oshiomhole, in his response to the leter said: “For me it is the height of mischief for any minister, you cannot purport to be an honourable minister and you act dishonourably and nobody is greater than the party.

“And if the President condones disrespect for his office, I will not condone disrespect for the party. And when we expel the minister we will prevail on the president that he can’t keep him in his cabinet; people who have neither respect for his own decisions nor have respect for the party without which they would not have been ministers,” he said.

“It is the same green pen that made them ministers that appointed these boards that they are refusing to swear in. And it is absolutely illegal for a minister in a democracy to prey on the powers of the board because the laws establishing those institutions are clear, that the boards have procedures to follow.

“So, when a minister sits in his office to appropriate the powers of the board in a democracy, not in a dictatorship, award contracts that didn’t go through boards, those are clearly abuse of office for which they are liable.

“I am convinced that what they are doing is not with the endorsement of Mr. President. Over the period they have tried to drop the president’s name but I tell them it is the same authority that appoint these people.

“So, we are informing them that it is either they comply to the president’s instructions or they comply with the party’s position or they go and administer outside the government,” the Chairman added.

Mr Oshiomhole said APC leadership only has respect for ministers who recognise that they are a product of a political party “and we are not negotiating that.”

“If they did that in the past, under our leadership we will not tolerate it. They either comply or we will expel them from the party. When we expel them we will find out how a government can keep a rebel in the cabinet. There is no question about that,” he said.

 

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FG To Reconsider 500% Tariff On Beverages

The  Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has assured members of the National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Joint Employers and Workers Association that the Federal Government will review the newly introduced 500% excise duty on locally produced alcoholic beverages to save the sector from imminent collapse and forestall the consequent loss of about two hundred thousand jobs.

“You have written to the Federal Government through me that the increase in excise duty on alcohol and beverages will create job losses because once you add a new cost and pass it on, there will be consumer resistance, resulting in low patronage whereas the products coming from overseas that are being smuggled in which are cheap, will take over the market. It is a statement of fact.”

“I have passed your complaints and luckily we have a listening President who wants the good of all Nigerians. He will definitely ask the Minister of Finance and the economic management team to review the tariff. We cannot afford to create poverty and job losses here while promoting abundant jobs in other countries. Job losses are not part of this government and will not support the 500% tariff increase.  ”

Sen. Ngige stated this during a visit by the leaders of the association who were in his office on a Save Our Soul (SOS) mission.

The Minister said the Economic and Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government was partly tailored towards job creation rather than losses, saying that the Executive Order No. 1 and 4 was for job creation as well as ensuring that jobs created were done by the locals. He added that the cardinal place job creation and protection occupy informed the administration’s fidelity to non-declaration of redundancy in the Federal Ministries and Agencies, hence no retrenchment of workers.

He further assured the delegation that the Federal Government through the Custom and Excise Department was working round the clock to tame the activities of smugglers so as to save local industries.

Earlier in their address, the leader of the delegation and the Acting General Secretary of the Union, Mike Olarenwaju,  said the 500% tariff increase by the Ministry of Finance on their products was counter-productive as the measure was an assured destruction of the sector.

“It will kill investments, it is already creating palpable fear in the operators, jobs losses is looming while imported products will displace local goods for reasons of smuggling and cheapness,” he appealed to the Minster.

He, therefore, explained they were on SOS to the Hon. Minister to save the sector from going the way of the textile industry as well as prevent the loss of about 200, 000 jobs with the attendant economic and social consequences.

They further raised fears on the displacement of workers by the creeping automation regime in the industries to which the Minister assured that the demerits of new technology will be modulated by policy of compliance to Corporate Social Responsibility Policy in order to give jobs to the locals where the industries are sited.

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FG To Begin Implementation Of New Minimum Wage

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said implementation of the new national minimum wage would commence in the third quarter of this year.

Ngige said this at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Abuja.

“Well, we all know the economic situation of the country as of today. The negotiation committee has members from all the tripartite bodies, which means the government cannot force its way. The committee has received memoranda from all the critical stakeholders and should begin the implementation of a new minimum wage in the third quarter of this year,” he said.

Early this month, the Federal Government had said it would prepare a supplementary budget to take care of workers’ demand for increase in salaries when the new minimum wage proposal was eventually approved.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, had stated that the fact that there was no provision yet in the 2018 budget proposals currently before the National Assembly to cater for the planned increase did not, in any way, suggest that the government was not willing to increase the workers’ salaries.

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FG Unveils Burial Arrangement For Former VP Ekwueme

The federal government has announced the burial arrangement of former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who died on Sunday November 19, 2017.

Briefing Journalists on their arrangement in Abuja, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who  is also the Chairman of the Presidential Burial Committee, stated that while the body arrives from London on January 29, he would be finally be  laid to rest on February 2, 2018  in his country home, Oko- Anambra state.

The Committee was set up by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on 5th December, 2017, for the purpose of giving the late former Vice President a befitting State Burial.

SGF who was represented at the Committee’s media briefing by the Minister of Labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said that the two weeks burial ceremony starts from January 19, 2018 with memorial service at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina Lagos.

He added that there will be a Parade of Honour at the Presidential Wing, of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja where the body will be received on arrival.

 

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Ngige Distances Self From INEC Rerun In Anambra

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has distanced himself from the Anambra Central Senatorial rerun election, describing it as Kangaroo and a charade.

Recall that INEC had declared Chief Victor Umeh of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as winner of the election, and announced the All Progressives Congress  (APC), with Sen. Chris Ngige as candidate, was second with 975 votes.

However in a statement made available to pressmen Ngige, who contested the senatorial seat in the 2015 general elections asked his supporters to shun the poll, stressing that he was not in the race.

The minister who said he had in 2016 written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that he was no longer interested in the race, threatened to drag the electoral umpire to court should the commission publish his name as a candidate on the ballot paper for the poll.

His statement read in part,” the attention of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment that INEC has listed his name in the rerun election being conducted by the INEC on January 13, 2018.

For the information of the general public and voters and my numerous supporters in Anambra-central Senatorial District I’m not participating in the said election which can be described as a charade.

“I had since by a letter dated 11th January 2016 withdrawn from this rerun when it was earlier scheduled for March 2016, in accordance with the provisions of sections 33 &35 of the Electoral Act 2010 for personal and family reasons.
“My party APC promptly wrote the commission of its intention to organise a primary election for my substitution.
“A primary monitored by INEC was organised at Awka and the name of a new candidate that emerged was promptly submitted only for INEC to reject the new candidate on 29 January.

“My party the APC and INEC is in the Court of Appeal, Abuja, over this obnoxious and illegal action of INEC, with hearing on the matter fixed for 23rd of January which is still within the armbit of 90days ordered by court only for them to fix an ‘election’ for 13th in order to give an unfair advantage to the APGA candidate to go ‘unopposed’.

“I have met with INEC on this issue and I’m using this forum to inform everyone that I’m not participating in this Kangaroo election and listing my name on the ballot will earn them a litigation because it’s an illegal action which will be roundly challenged in court.

“INEC actions which are biased, and jaundiced will be viewed as an act intentionally undertaken to humiliate and ridicule my person”.

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Reps Summon Adeosun, Udoma, Others Over Alleged Non-Remittance Of N17bn Into Trust Fund

For failing to remit a total of N17 billion into the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from 2010 to date, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and her counterpart in the Ministry  of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, to appear before the House of Representatives today.

Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee  investigating alleged non-remittance of NSITF contributions, Chukwuka Onyema issued the summons, yesterday, at the panel’s inaugural sitting.

Also summoned  in respect of the NSITF contributions are the Minister of Labour and Employment,  Senator Chris Ngige.

The contributions were to be remitted by the three tiers of government and their agencies.

At the inaugural sitting, Onyema gave the NSITF 24 hours to provide the committee with the details of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies(MDAs) that have paid their contributions and those yet to do so; so as to aid the committee in its investigation.

The lawmaker reminded government at all levels that failure to register with the NSITF and pay the statutory contribution amounts to a violation of the law.

 

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FG Urges PENGASSAN To Shelve Strike

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, has appealed to members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to shelve their planned strike scheduled to begin today.

In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, by Deputy Director, Press in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Samuel Olowookere, the Ministry stressed that the impending action by PENGASSAN has effectively been arrested in line with the provisions of the relevant labour laws.

The statement said “We recall that the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had on Wednesday, December 13 and Thursday, December 14, 2017, brokered long hours of conciliation  between PENGASSAN and Neconde Energy Services Ltd and secured  an agreement.

“By that agreement, Neconde shall invite the sacked branch chairman of PENGASSAN and hold heart to heart discussion with him while PENGASSAN is to hold back proposed action pending the reconvening of the meeting in the second week of January 2018  when other contending issues relating to other oil companies would be also be sorted out.

“We, therefore, wish to appeal to the Central Working Committee of PENGASSAN to reconsider its decision, respect the agreement and call off the scheduled action in the overall interest of the nation, more so when adequate notice of strike was not given.

“This appeal has become imperative in order to save Nigerians from further hardship in this season of Christmas and the New year.”

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Buhari Not Marginalizing Ndigbo, Says Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chirs Nwabueze Ngige, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is not marginalising the people of the South East.

Ngige said this while responding to alleged rumour that the President does not mean well for the Ndigbo.

According to Ngige, President Buhari appointed four out of five eastern states representatives in his cabinet, as substantive ministers.

The ministries are Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology, and Labour.

The Minister urged Ndigbo to support PresidentBuhari, saying the President means well for the zone.

Some Igbo leaders also urged the people of the south east, to forget the past, and team up with the President to develop the country.

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Negotiation Meeting Between FG And Striking Health Workers Ends In Deadlock

Striking health workers have disagreed with the Federal Government over the legality of its ongoing strike, saying the government was notified several times before it agreed to commence on the strike.

The workers, at a meeting with Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Health Minister, Issac Adewole, in Abuja, stressed that no law was violated in carrying out their strike.

“We waited patiently for 30 days. We notified the government. After 30 days, we still gave 7 days and that was the final ultimatum,” the union said.

Meanwhile, Labour Minster, Chris Ngige criticised the health workers for not following the provisions of existing labour laws, the union insists that no labour law has been violated by their action.

“Workers that are in Energy, Medicine, and Allied medical professionals and those that their action will cause danger to health are the people that are called essential services. For those who are in essential services, Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technologists and those who have anything to do with the hospital are on essential service.

“So, when those who are in essential services go on strike, like the doctors did about four weeks ago, and you following suit, it gives us a lot of worry, especially when those strikes are not done according to the labour law,” Ngige said.

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ASUU Strike: FG Begins Payment Of Salary Arrears

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has disclosed that the Federal Government has begun the payment of salary arrears of the striking university teachers.

But the lecturers, under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) insisted that the Federal Government must remit N200 billion into the universities’ revitalisation fund before the ongoing strike can be suspended.

ASUU leaders, who came to the negotiation table with a former President of the union, Prof. Assisi Asobie and President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, explained that the payment of their salary arrears without getting a commitment to the payment of the N200 billion for the rehabilitation of the universities would portray the union as being only concerned with the welfare of its members and not the general improvement of the teaching conditions in the institutions.

Issues in contention include the registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO); fractionalisation of salaries in federal universities and gross under-funding/non-funding of state universities and arrears and the implementation of earned academic allowance; and the non-release of funds for the revitalisation of public universities as spelt out in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding.

Other issues are guidelines for the retirement benefits of professors in line with the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement; Treasury Single Account (TSA) and withdrawal of support for universities’ staff primary schools.

Guardian

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