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BREAKING: ASUP calls off strike

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The striking Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has called off its two-week-old industrial action.

 

New Telegraph had authoritatively reported on Tuesday that the union would call off the strike at its National Delegate Conference scheduled to hold in Bauchi between Tuesday, November 28 and Wednesday, 29.

 

A delegate at the conference who craved anonymity said the decision followed a new Memorandum of Action signed between the workers’ union and the Federal Government.

 

The union had on Monday, November 13, declared indefinite strike over some unresolved issues including non-release of the report of the NEEDS Assessment on polytechnics, failure to sign the reviewed polytechnic bill, the HND/BSc dichotomy, among others.

 

Details later…

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NLC to govs: Don’t copy el-Rufai, he is not God

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned northern governors not to adopt the policies of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, especially in the area of retrenchment of workers; a policy the body said was targeted at inflicting pain and sorrow on the people.

The NLC made this known in a statement released yesterday to newsmen in Abuja, in reaction to alleged statements made by Governor El-Rufai and reported by a number of national dailies of Friday, May18, 2018.

The statement, which was signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, and titled; ‘A Joke Taken too Far’, said Nigerian workers were battle ready to ensure that any governor who replicated what the NLC described as the “callous and insensitive retrenchment of teachers and other cadre of workers in Kaduna State,” would be voted out of office in the 2019 general election.

While calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to once again call Governor El-Rufai to order, NLC advised all northern governors to put a disclaimer on the governor before they were counted with him as frontline enemies of the Nigerian people.

“It has been brought to our attention, statements credited to the Governor of Kaduna State; Mr. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, over plans by other northern governors’ to imitate his ruinous path of sacking teachers in their state employment. These reckless statements were reported by a number of national dailies on Friday, May 18, 2018.

“There is really no doubt that Mr. Nasir El-Rufai mistakes notoriety for popularity. The two are millennia apart. Unfortunately, the Governor of Kaduna State has decided not only to continue in his favourite past time of inflicting pains and sorrows wherever he goes, he is also bent on marketing such profound proclivity for mischief to his fellow governors.

“We need to remind Governor El-Rufai that there is a limit that man can play God. By announcing that other northern state governors will replicate his callous and insensitive retrenchment of teachers and other cadre of workers in Kaduna State post-2019 elections, El-Rufai has already declared his own election and those of the governors he is purportedly speaking for a fait accompli.

“Organised labour wishes to remind El-Rufai that he is not God, after all. He and other northern governors possess a voter card each. Citizens at the receiving end of their unpopular and de-humanising policies are in the majority. In 2019, we will ensure that the votes of the oppressed and victimised count all over Nigeria.”

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Editorial

Ikorodu-Sagamu road: Beyond the N20bn approval

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The Ikorodu-Sagamu road, which used to be the only road connecting Lagos with other parts of the country before the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, had been in a deplorable state and total neglect for many years.

The strategic nature of the road makes it to bear heavy vehicular traffic, mainly petrol tankers and other haulage vehicles servicing Ikorodu Industrial Estate and the Ogijo Industrial hub, said to be the second most industrialised area in Ogun State.

The economic importance of this road is not in doubt: 42 communities and 45 industries are situated along this road and its adjourning areas. Of note among the industries are PZ Cussons at the Lagos end of the road, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC)’s Mosimi depot and Lafarge’s Cement factory at Sagamu at the Ogun State end. The Lagos State Polytechnic is among the educational institutions situated along this road, while the road also serves the 174 Battalion, Nigerian Army barracks.

The movement of essential goods and petroleum products take place along this road and the arduous transit often leaves broken down trucks in its wake and the delays, which results are significant economic losses for those involved.

The road remains an alternate route linking Lagos to other parts of the country, especially on such days when there is heavy traffic on Lagos- Ibadan expressway. That this road is economically significant is an understatement. Successive administrations in the country have ignored calls for the rehabilitation of this road.

Claims by a former Minister of Works under the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime to have rehabilitated the road turned out to be untrue. Since the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, however, there had been cries from different quarters for the reconstruction of the very important road, necessitating visits by the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

One of such calls was by a member of the House of Representatives representing Remo Federal Constituency, Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu, who noted on the floor of the House that the road, which hosts several strategic installations and industrial plants such as the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited (PPMC), is in “deplorable condition” and “continuously poses great danger to lives and property in the surrounding communities.”

The lawmaker noted that “the situation had caused high rate of fatal crashes, created gridlock and provided ample opportunities for armed robbery attacks on commuters and residents.” Also, on May 9, 2016, the Lagos State House of Assembly urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to repair portions of the Ikorodu- Sagamu Road to alleviate the suffering of the over 42 communities, estates and industries along the axis.

It did not, therefore, come as a surprise when, on March 28, 2018, the Federal Government announced the reconstruction of the road at a cost of N20 billion. A few weeks before the reconstruction nod by the Federal Government, however, Ogun State government suddenly commenced work on a portion of the road. Laudable as the move would have been, we make bold to say that the job being done, to say the least, was shoddy, as the already asphalt portion started giving way, two weeks after, necessitating patching.

This calls to question the ability of the construction company handling the job for Ogun State government to deliver the expected standard if allowed to continue the work. We believe that before any tier of government will embark on reconstruction of a federal road, agreement should have been reached on the quality and scope of work to be done, but in this instance, this definitely is not the case.

Considering the importance of the road to the nation’s economy, the need for an internationally accepted standard in road construction cannot be over emphasised. We hope the eventual outcome of the recent disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and Ogun State government on the scope of work done and its quality will not result in compromise on standard construction work, which will be to the detriment of the larger society as anything short of a standard and long lasting reconstruction of the Ikorodu-Sagamu road will portray the Federal Government as a deceit.

With the flag off of the project yesterday, we think it is imperative to alert the construction firm on areas of expected concentration such as the fly over on the slope before the Lagos State Polytechnic, the front of Ogijo Community High school, which requires a deep and wide bridge to discharge flood water from the adjourning areas, another suspended bridge at Labori Oloja, among others, should be specially attended to.

The firm expected to undertake the reconstruction, ARAB Contractors, which moved in and out of site four weeks ago and is again back as at last Saturday night, needs to maintain its insistence on reconstructing the entire stretch, including the areas being given a semblance of road construction presently.

We equally expect that the right of way, which had already been compromised in many areas in Ogijo township, would be corrected. Anything short of this will amount to a waste of public fund and a lost opportunity for Fashola to write his name in gold.

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Kachikwu: $40bn wasted in Niger Delta in 10 years

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…seeks review of amnesty programme

 

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, has said that over $40 billion has been spent in the Niger Delta in the last 10 years without corresponding projects to show for such an amount.

The minister, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Charles Achodo, at the Seventh Sustainability in the Extractive (SITEI) conference in Abuja, also disclosed that N1.7 trillion would be invested in the region between now and 2021 to pursue the development of the region.

The event was organised by CSR-In-Action.

According to him, the money will be invested by the Federal Government, international oil companies and some government  agencies.

 

He said: “The Niger Delta has become a cacophony of voices, but without a purpose. It has also become a region with a cacophony of all kinds of projects. If you look closely from the past 10 years, up to $40 billion has been made available for that region and you can never tour the Niger Delta and see a N1 billion or a N500 million investment, but I am telling you, collectively, for the past 10 years, that was what has gone into that region.”

He also stated that the current Presidential Amnesty Programme of the Federal Government is not sustainable, adding that the programme could not be a solution to the Niger Delta crisis, especially as the huge money expended on the programme cannot guarantee peace in the region.

 

“The amnesty is very clear, and it cannot be a solution to the state of insecurity in the Niger Delta. Rather, you use the amnesty to create an asymmetrical environment. A fragile environment does not like asymmetry; it likes more of a symmetrical response.

“A situation where you are paying people N65,000 every month to keep quiet, that does not solve the problem. If you multiply N65,000 by the number of militants and by the number of years the programme had been running, you are looking at close to N50 billion. That is a huge amount of money. It is not sustainable and it is not guaranteeing you what you expect in the place,” he noted.

The minister re-emphasised that $40 billion had been invested in 11,000 projects in the region over the last 10 years without concrete evidence, noting that this led to the launch of the Niger Delta Development Compact by the Federal Government to mobilise N1.7 trillion to the region in the short to medium term.

 

According to him, the $40 billion investment was made through the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and other government agencies.

He, however, stated that from the government to the IOCs, to the people, there is lack of active citizenship participation in asking solid questions regarding how funding is deployed.

Speaking further, he said: “That amount was basically what was invested through NDDC and the Ministry of Niger Delta. If you check them, for instance, the NDDC has close to 11,000 contracts. With these contracts, mostly owned and held by people from the region, then you can understand that we are the ones doing ourselves in, for not implementing those projects. Eleven thousand contracts and if you distribute them all along, you are looking at close to $40 billion in terms of investment. Go to the Ministry of Niger Delta, it is the same thing.

“When you look at the Niger Delta Development Compact, which we have, which covered the short term, medium term, from now till 2021, you are looking at a total investment of N1.7 trillion that is earmarked for the region and that covered what the oil companies are putting into the region, what government agencies are putting into the region and all kinds of investments that are required in that region.”

He identified weak institutions as the major challenge in the Niger Delta, stating that a situation where oil companies are called upon to provide certain amenities was unfair to the companies and a sign of irresponsibility on the part of government.

On her part, the Founder of CSR-In-Action and Convener of SITEI, Mrs. Bekeme Masade, disclosed that one of the major causes of conflicts in the extractive sector was the failure to build a viable structure and procedure for host community engagement and benefit sharing.

According to her, “Research had proven that order is best kept when host communities are closely consulted and where agreements are properly documented, and all parties held accountable through a transparent process with adequate checks and balances.

“The mandatory community development agreement between mining companies and their host communities as contained in the Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act (NMMA) of 2007 holds a lot of promise for stemming violence as it clearly promotes equitable community governance and benefit sharing structure in the mining industry.”

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