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FG Targets Commencement of Two Projects Before December

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Aminat Isah, Abuja

The Federal Government says agreements have been concluded with China Civil Engineering Construction Company to have two major ground breaking ceremony between September and October 2019.

Minister for Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this during his first inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan rail way project two days after being inaugurated as minister for the second time.

According to Amaechi, the two groundbreaking which will take place between September and October of this year is for the University of Transportation in Daura while the second ground braking is that of coaches, wagons, nd locomotive manufacturing plant in Kajola, as a way of insisting that Nigeria cannot continue to import locomotives, wagons, and coaches, when it can be manufactured in Nigerian.

“We also agree with them to have between September and October two major ground breaking ceremony; one is the university at Daura , the university of transportation ,and a ground breaking ceremony at kajorla, we are insisting that they cannot continue to manufacture coaches, Locomotives , wagons in china to us. So part of the benefit we get out of the contract is that they would build a factory at Kajorla to manufacture wagon , then progress from wagons to locomotive and Nigerians will understudy them,” he said.

Speaking on the slow pace of work from the point of inspection in Apapa Lagos to Ibadan, the minister explained that although the pace of work which is not entirely slow is due funding, asvthere are IPCs that nobody could sign rather than the minister and there was no minister within period when cabinet was dissolved, until the new ones were inaugurated.

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“So I would sign it on Monday when I get to the office as it would be paid by China NEXIM bank, and on our side we are owing them compensation in land acquisition payment and there are new approvals we need to get from the cabinet which we cannot commence unless we get those approvals .

“Like there is place we stop at Agege, that place is an under pass, so we can do anything about it because they are waiting for approval. We will go to cabinet quickly to get approval so that they can continue with their construction.

“Our target is that they should please hurry and get to seaport to evacuate the goods in the seaport and if we cannot eliminate it at least reduce what people will refer to Apapa grid lock,that can only happen when people begin to move by train,”

When asked on variation of Dollar on the project, Amaechi said there is nothing of such as variation, saying that there are extra work to be done to ensure that the standard of the rail gague is maintained.

“What we said is that there are extra work because if you go to Lagos either people will die because is not a narrow gauge train and is a speed train between 120km/hour, so those crosses you see if you don’t create avenue for buses to cross you either block Lagos completely and there would be traffic madness or you create passes. So we are creating under pass and over passes where they are necessary-about 11 to 16 of them which would cost money so we need to go and get approval from the government. This is what slows them down.

“Secondly, the cabinet was dissolved because our tenure had elapsed and then they needed a minister to come to approve their payment of about 5 IPCs so that China Nexim Bank can pay them.”

On whether December target is feasible, Amaechi said: “I am saying to them that left with they should be able to complete it by December, but now they have pointed out what the problems are. So if they have money elsewhere and maybe we had sign the IPCs earlier the pace of work should have increased.

” So what we are saying is that they need approval from cabinet and luck cabinet is in place and the President will finally approve and we go to cabinet to request to those approvals for the extra work they need to put in place. Once we get the approval the speed will increase.

On the importation of materials, Amaechi noted that if the materials are here in Nigeria, they will not import, but some had to be imported because their raw materials are not available in Nigeria.

 

“Like we have cement they don’t have to import it. Also is cheaper to have raw materials here than to bring them from oversees, so they are looking for the raw materials for instance they are looking for raw materials for glasses.

“The kind of glass they are looking for we don’t have the materials for security glass and when I asked the Nigerian Lady who work with Technical consultant said we do not have it here, because she always insist they must use local materials and Nigerians to ensure that we have the expertise and also grow our economy,”he explained.

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Nigerian governor promises to pay workers above N30,000 minimum wage

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Sanwo-Olu

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of  Lagos State has assured workers in the state that his government will pay above the mandatory N30,000 national minimum wage signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 24, 2019.

He gave the assurance when he received the leadership of the Lagos councils of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday.

The Federal Government and organised labour are still embroiled in negotiation of the consequential adjustment of salaries of workers from grade level 07 to 17. The implementation of the minimum wage has, however, began in some states for workers on grade level 01 to 06.

Sanwo-Olu addressing the labour leaders said the implementation of the new wage would begin in Lagos when the Federal Government and labour unions conclude their ongoing negotiations. The state, he said, was drawing up its finances and creating additional revenue sources that would enable it sustain the new minimum wage payment.

Sanwo-Olu said his government understood the day-by-day challenges being faced by workers in the State to do their tasks, which informed the decision by his administration to pay more than the N30,000 minimum wage benchmark.

“As a government, we take the issue of minimum wage seriously. We know how important and germane it is to the wellbeing of our people. We are technically ready to implement the new minimum wage. I made commitment during my previous interactions with the labour unions before my assumption of office and I am still keeping to the promise made. However little it is, we will certainly pay more than N30,000 minimum wage.

Sanwo-Olu also said that the government would works with the the labour unions to float a post-retirement housing scheme that would enable workers of all cadres to apply and acquire permanent homes after leaving the service.

Meanwhile, the unions have demanded the payment of arrears of medical allowance, introduction of premium insurance for the workforce, timely pension payment for retired workers, mortgage scheme for housing, befitting labour secretariat and representation of workers’ unions in MDA boards’ appointments.

Gbenga Ekundayo, chairman, TUC Lagos council said that the labour unions had been meeting to develop a framework that would make the government capture traders in informal sector in the tax net. He assured that the labour unions’ recommendations would be submitted to the office of Head of Service in the weeks ahead.

 

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Tenure: Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking Fowler’s Sack as FIRS Boss

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Babatunde Fowler

A Federal High Court sitting in Kano has struck out a suit seeking the  sack of Dr. Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The suit instituted by a legal practitioner Mr Stanley Okwara was thrown out by the court on the ground that the lawyer has no locus standi to institute it.

Okwara had dragged Fowler before the court praying among others, an order of court restraining him from further functioning as FIRS Chief Executive Officer.

He predicted his action on the claim that the tenure of office  of the defendant had expired since August 20 and has not been renewed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The plaintiff also prayed the court to declare that the tenure of Fowler expired since August and that he should be made to refund all monies and allowances to the national treasury.

Okwara further demanded that the defendant be ordered to swear to an affidavit to confirm refund of public funds unlawfully collected from August till date.

However Fowler through his counsel Paul Erokoro SAN raised preliminary objection to the suit on the ground that the plaintiff has no locus standi to file the case.

Among others., Fowler contended that the suit did not disclose any cause of action and that the plaintiff did not also disclose any injury or damages he personally lost.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa in his ruling on the objection upheld the submission of of the defendant counsel.

The judge agreed that the plaintiff did not show how the disputed issue affected him more than any other Nigerians.

Justice Allagoa faulted the plaintiff suit due to the failure to show prre-action notice as required by law.

The Judge therefore held that the suit is incompetent,  frivolous, lacking in merit and substance and struck it out.

The arguments of counsel to the plaintiff Mr Johnmary Jideobi was rejected and thrown out.

The Court had last week ordered Fowler to appear before it to show cause why he should not be sacked for overstaying his tenure which expired on August 18, 2019.

In the originating summon  obtained by PRNigeria with Suit No FHC/KN/CS/141/2019, the FIRS Boss was dragged to Court over his continued stay in office after the expiration of tenure.

The plaintiff in the suit filed on September 18, 2019  also joined the Attorney General of the Federation as the second defendant.

The two defendants were given 30 days to explain why Fowler who was appointed on the 20th August, 2015, has not ceased to hold office as the Chairman of FIRS after the 20th August, 2019 in accordance with the “decision of the Supreme Court…and having regard to the combined provisions of Sections 3(2) (a), Section 4(a) and Section 11 (a)” of the agency.

The plaintiffs also sought to know whether the continuous stay of Fowler in the office “is not illegal in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Ogbuinyinya & Ors. vs. Obi Okudo & Ors. (1979) All N.L.R. 105 and having regard to the combined provisions of Sections of the FIRS [Establishment] Act, 2007.

In the same vein, Okwara sought other reliefs including: “A declaration that the 1st Defendant has ceased to hold office as the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service after the 20th of August, 2019”; and that his continuous stay in the office is illegal.

He further sought “an order barring the 1st Defendant from further holding himself out as, laying claim to or exercising the powers and functions of, the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service unless he is re-appointed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“An order directing the 1st Defendant to return forthwith to the Treasury Single Account of the Federation all the salaries, emoluments and such other kindred monetary benefits he has been drawing on the purse of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and file an affidavit of compliance within 14 days after the delivery of judgment in this suit.”

The Plaintiff also asked that Fowler be caused to obey any other decision that the Court may deem fit to make in the entire circumstances of the case.

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Family Planning: Group targets 120m Nigerian women in 2020

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Pathfinder International, a sexual and reproductive agency operating in Nigeria with focus  on Advance Family Planning, AFP advocacy has revealed her projection to capture 120 million women and girls of reproductive age on affordable and accessible family planning, FP services by the year 2020.
The agency’s Country Director, Dr. Farouq Jega disclosed this in Abuja during a three-day annual review and work planning meeting with the State Advocacy Working Groups and FP Coordinators from 12 AFP states.
According to Jega, the agency was saddled with main responsibility of advocating for better funding, policies and better enabling environment for FP in Nigeria.
He said the essence of the meeting was to assess the outcome and impact of activities of the 2019 as well as plan for  the next year which is going to be 8th year of the agency on the project.
“FP 2020 is part of global initiative and the goal is to increase access to an addition of  120 million women and girls in need of FP services but hindered by logistics.
“We are working with advocacy working  groups in 12 states of the Federation and they are here. What we are doing is to design a strategy for our advocacy engagement in the next year,” he stressed.
Jega also disclosed that the Pathfinder International was also working at national level to raise awareness about the importance of funding for FP,  adding that  the awareness is not limited  to 12 states, but beyond.
According to him, advocacy strategy is to engage with government, private sectors and other partner stakeholders to ensure  collective  provision for family planning services in the country.
Jega said the three tier of  Governments  are doing a lot on budgetary allocation but requires prompt release of  FP budgeted fund and bridge  funding gap for  high quality services.
“If we are able to successfully advocate and the government at all levels put in the required funds, obviously, better services will be provided and the FP commodities will be available sufficiently.
“FP is a very veritable development tool, it helps  health of the woman in the family and  also helps in economic development  and well being. These are what the country stands to gain if they make strategic investment in FP,” he further stressed.
Jega added  that the agency is committed  to the success of the  advocacy working group .
While saying that Nigeria has enough laws that backed FP, the Pathfinder country Director said what is important is to back those law with adequate budget line and create awareness in the minds of the Nigerians that FP is good  thing that improves  the well being of individuals and country at large.
He stressed the need to embark on aggressive enlightenment about the value of FP, and advise mother to embrace child spacing for improving Contraceptive prevalence rate.
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