The National Industrial Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the National Association of Resident Doctors to suspend its ongoing strike.
Justice John Targema gave the order while ruling on an ex parte application filed by the Federal Government.
He ruled, “It is hereby ordered that claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondent suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The motion with Suit no: NICN/ABJ/197/2021 has the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Government as 1st and 2nd Claimants/Applicants and NARD as the only Defendant/Respondent.
Justice Targema granted an order of interlocutory injunction, compelling all members of the defendants/respondents in all the states of the federation to suspend the said industrial action commenced on August 2, 2021, and resume work immediately pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The court held that the continued downing of tools by the striking doctors had inflicted a lot of damage on the health system and the sick, especially in this perilous times of COVID-19 pandemic.
Targema further ordered the claimant/applicant and the defendant/respondent to suspend all forms of hostilities forthwith pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The judge adjourned the matter to September 15, 2021 for the hearing of the motion on notice and any other pending application.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in a statement described the ruling as a welcome development.
The minister, in the statement signed by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, reassured the affected doctors that the ruling would not prevent the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHOCSF) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages and Commission (NSIWC) from implementing the agreements contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at the last meeting with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and affiliate associations with timelines affixed to them.
The NMA had led three doctors associations to a marathon meeting which commenced on Friday and ended on Saturday with the signing of a new MoU.
20 million Nigerians benefitting from our cash transfer – FG
The Federal Government says over two million households in Nigeria are currently benefitting from its conditional cash transfer programme.
The government also said over 20 million persons were indirect beneficiaries of the programme in the two million households.
This came as it began partnership with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC,the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission,ICPC and other relevant agencies to probe compliance level of the National Social Investment Programme,NSIP in states of the federation.
The National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, Dr. Umar Bindir, speaking on Tuesday at the stakeholders’ meeting on state compliance check exercise of NSIP in Abuja, said, ”As we speak, we are now advancing cash transfer to two million households, these are houses of not individuals, so if you are approximately putting 10 people per household,you are talking about probably like 20 million or so people that we are handling.”
Bandir said the government was spending between N12 billion to N15 billion monthly.
“When you look at N-Power,we have a bill of possibly between N12 billion to 15 billion every month. And you can estimate that we have 510,000 now ongoing and we have the batch c for 490,000 coming on,so when you multiply the number of the graduates by N30,000 per month, you will get the figure,”he said.
He said government was injecting N12 billion and N14 billion every month into the funds for feeding school children.
He said, “If you look at the school feeding,you will see that we are feeding between nine to ten million children nationwide and each child on a schooling day is fed with N70 per meal,so again,when you do the arithmetic,you get something maybe between N12 billion and N14 billion every month in feeding these children during school every month.
“But the finances injected in summary,into the National Social Investment Programme,the recurrent alone is over N300 billion. That is not enough,that is less than possibly what is required, gauging against the number of poor and vulnerable we have in this country.
He said, ”We are beginning to see the multiply effects, people who have gotten credit and are now hiring one or more people, therefore,the employment generation is improving. The graduates,some of them are exiting and establishing their businesses.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, speaking at the event, said government had begun partnership with relevant agencies in carrying out the compliance check of the implementation guidelines “of all our programmes and to develop a standard and effective compliance check structure for the various NSIP assignments.”
The Permanent Secretary,who was represented by the Director, Special Needs, Mrs Nkechi Onwukwe, explained that,”Our primary goal is to meet the needs of the people who need a helping hand from Government to restore hope, provide support and succor, as well as an enabling environment for recovery, rehabilitation and social inclusion, while ensuring their human dignity is upheld at all times.”
The creation of the ministry,he explained, “was necessitated by the compelling need to harmonize, synergize, institutionalize, as well as provide coordination of all government’s humanitarian and social interventions.
“This is in line with the vision of Mr. President to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”
“The National Social Investment Programme, a social investment initiative aimed at tackling poverty across the country was launched, targeting “the poorest of the poor and the socially excluded members of the society.”
Speaking more on the event, he said, ”The activities of the Mmnistry constantly impact on the well-being of the indigent citizens and contributes to the socio-economic development of the country and in order for the ministry to effectively provide the desired and much needed coordination and leadership it was conceived to provide, it must have an effective and consistent means of appraising its activities.”
Sani-Gwarzo said since inception, the ministry had so far “achieved a lot in the area of the provision and effective coordination of humanitarian interventions in keeping with our mandate. “
“We have also been able to provide coordination through cooperation and partnerships with relevant government MDA’s, development partners, UN agencies and other strategic partners.
“This is all in a bid to ensure sustained and expanded social protection programmes, prompt emergency response services, and appropriately targeted humanitarian interventions,”he said.
Noting that,“The National Social Investment Programme,NSIP is the biggest social protection and poverty eradication programme ever put in place by any government in Nigeria and one of the biggest in Africa”,he explained that:”it was established by President Buhari in 2016 to address immediate and long-term socio-economic imbalances and inequalities, alleviate poverty, and stimulate accelerated economic growth.”
Hajj: 5 Days To Deadline, Less Than Half Of Nigerian Pilgrims Airlifted
Few days to the commencement of this year’s hajj, there are fears that thousands of Nigerian pilgrims may miss the exercise, Daily Trust can report.
As of the time of filing this report, less than half of the 43,000 pilgrims from Nigeria had been airlifted.
According to the figure from NAHCON, 19,764 pilgrims have been airlifted from 23 states and the Armed Forces. Kano and Kaduna State which have the highest number of pilgrims still have many of them awaiting airlift.
As of yesterday, 1,593 out of 2,491 Kaduna pilgrims had been airlifted; while in Kano, only 399 pilgrims of the 2,229 slots given to the state had been airlifted.
The Saudi authorities had said all pilgrims must arrive by July 3 at 23:59 pm.
About 3,000 pilgrims of licensed tour operators, who made deposits to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Treasury Single Account domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, but whose accounts in Saudi Arabia were yet to be credited to enable them process their accommodation in Makkah and Madinah and pay for other services, may miss this year’s hajj.
Amidst this, NAHCON said the offer for additional slots promised Nigeria by the Saudi Arabia could no longer be actualised.
Some hajj operators told Daily Trust that after paying about N1.3m for onward transfer to Saudi Arabia service providers, they were yet to receive payment in their virtual accounts in Saudi Arabia.
Of the 43,008 slots given to Nigeria by Saudi Arabia, 9,032 were allocated to licensed tour operators under the aegis of Association of Hajj and Umrah Operators of Nigeria.
From the figure, 50 seats were given to 176 prequalified operators who were required to pay N1.3m on each pilgrim for onward transfer to service providers (Muasassah) in Saudi Arabia.
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The fund covers some components of the hajj fare, including hotel accommodation, feeding in Muna, Arafa and local transportation.
One of the affected tour operators said each of the tour operators remitted about N55m amounting to over N10bn.
He said when NAHCON eventually credited their account, 61 tour operators did not get alert, noting that without the money, visa processing and other arrangements cannot be carried out.
“As I’m talking to you, they’re still meeting, a lot of us have not been credited and the airports in Madinah and Makkah will be closed this week.
“Two of our members collapsed as a result of this; while others were hospitalized as a result of high blood pressure and fear of running into debt because most operators are already missing their flights because we booked scheduled flights and when we want to change the flight we pay as much as N200,000 on one person,” he said.
A meeting was ongoing as of press time yesterday; while an official of NAHCON said the issue of the remittance was being resolved.
Intending pilgrims protest in Kano
Many intending pilgrims yesterday protested in Kano over the non-allocation of seats to them despite having completed their payments.
They were at the head office of Jaiz Bank which processed their payment through the Hajj Savings Scheme and the office of the Kano State Pilgrims Board.
The protesters, numbering 284, said they were shocked to find out that after completing their payment, no seat was reserved for them, noting that some of them started the saving scheme in 2019.
The leader of the protesters, Hassan Zakari, alleged that the state pilgrims’ board had not been forthcoming with them.
Sources told Daily Trust that names of aggrieved intending pilgrims had been sent to the state pilgrims’ board and had been documented without any allocation to them this year because of the limited slots allocated to them.
Fatima Abdullahi of Tamburawa area of Dawakin Kudu Local Government, said she was told to return her bag and uniform Monday evening.
Reacting, the Executive Secretary of Kano Pilgrim’s Board, Mohammad Abba Dambatta, said the board was doing all it could to resolve the problem, noting that there was no allocation this year for those on savings’ scheme, especially those from Jaiz Bank.
“We received a total of 2,229 allocation and we have about 2,500 intending pilgrims under the hajj savings scheme which is more than the total allocation given to us,” he said.
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‘NAHCON’s request for additional slots turned down’
NAHCON has confirmed that its request for additional slots from Saudi Arabia had been turned down.
Its spokesperson, Fatima Sanda Usara, in a statement, said NAHCON’s Commissioner of Operations, Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa led a delegation to actualize the offer, but it was eventually turned down by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
She said the request to have some of the officials above 65 years to travel because of their experience in hajj operation was also not granted.
According to her, Nigeria’s hajj industry is left with its initial allocation of 43,008.
She said NAHCON solicited the understanding of those aggrieved.
“Indeed, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the NAHCON Chairman and other NAHCON management members, did their best to make sure that slots were distributed equitably. It was however clear right from the start that not everyone who is qualified would make it to this year’s Hajj due to the relatively low number of allocated slots.”
She said the “commission is aware of the agitation from all its publics, to wit, the states pilgrims welfare boards, subscribers through the Hajj Savings Scheme, Private Tour Operators, including its own staff as well. NAHCON management is consoled because it did not ostracize any group in the distribution of available hajj seats, but of course, not all would be successful, because the commission was working within the boundaries of what was available,” the statement added.
With the development, many tour operators, who were initially granted about 80 to 100 slots, would be left with a shortfall despite making arrangements with some airlines and service providers in Saudi Arabia.
A hajj stakeholder, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “Many of the operators who have booked with airlines are going to run into huge losses because the slots allocated to the tour operators have been significantly reduced while they have made payment for some services.”
Managing Director, Al-Qibla International Services, Abdulfatah Abdulmojeed, said the development came with a great cost to the operators in terms of accommodation and flights booked which would not be refunded.
He said: “It has happened and NAHCON also tried its best. What one would have expected is that rather than give allocation in anticipation, they’d have given the actual number.”
CSO seeks probe of hajj seat racketeering
Meanwhile, Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation that monitors hajj and umrah activities, has urged NAHCON and anti-corruption agencies to probe the widespread allegations of hajj 2002 BTA fraud and seats racketeering across the country.
In a statement, it said it received numerous complaints from intending pilgrims that some officials across the states’ boards colluded with others outside the hajj industry to sell seats to “desperate intending pilgrims who are ready to purchase such seats at any price.”
Sallah: Look out for new moon, Sultan tells Muslims
Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has directed the Muslim Ummah to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah as from Wednesday.
The Sultan made the call in a statement signed by Prof. Sambo Junaidu, Chairman, advisory committee on Religious Affairs, Sultanate Council, Sokoto.
“This is to inform the Muslim Ummah that Wednesday, June 29, which is equivalent to 29th of Dhul-Qidah 1443AH, shall be the day to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah 1443AH.”
“Muslims are therefore requested to start looking for the new moon on Wednesday and report its sighting to the nearest district or village head for onward communication to the Sultan,” the statement read.
He also prayed to Allah to assist the Muslim Ummah in discharging their religious duties.
Dhul-Hijjah is the 12th and the last month in the Islamic calendar where the Holy Pilgrimage (Hajj) takes place as well as the Eid Kabir – festival of sacrifice.
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