Updated: South-South leaders meet FG delegation, insist on restructuring for peace, development – Newstrends
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Updated: South-South leaders meet FG delegation, insist on restructuring for peace, development

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… want NNPC subsidiaries’ head offices relocated to N’Delta

South-South governors and other leaders from the geopolitical zone met in Port Harcourt on Tueday with a presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

To guarantee peace, security and stability in the region and by extension the country, the leaders demanded true federalism through restructuring.

They also requested the relocation of the headquarters of all subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the region.

They also demanded the immediate privatisation of the nation’s refineries to make them functional and boost the economy of the region.

The leaders stated that the country was not at peace with itself and that things were not really working.

Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum and Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, presented the position of the zone during its stakeholders’ meeting with the presidential delegation.

The meeting, earlier slated to hold on November 17, was cancelled at the last minute on the excuse that the FG’s delegation had to attend an emergency meeting of the National Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja on the same day.

Okowa told the presidential delegation that the region was committed to restructuring the country to guarantee “true federalism” and devolution of powers to the states to create and manage their own police and security architecture under a federal structure.

They requested the immediate implementation of the consent judgment entered in the Supreme Court Suit No: SC/964/2016 to enable the South-south gets its share of $55 billion shortfall of collection on deep offshore and inland basin production sharing contracts.

“True federalism’ guided by the principle of derivation, revenue sharing and control of resources by each state of the federation as it was the case in the first republic is what we want,” Okowa said.

According to him, the geopolitical zone desires a federation where its constituent units are constitutionally empowered to create their own structures like local government areas, manage their elections and control their judiciary.

He said, “We are all aware of the huge endowment of this country. As such, it is imperative to stress that with a little bit of efforts, imagination, hard work, sacrifice and leadership, every state of the federation as of today, has the ability and capability to contribute to the national purse. This should be encouraged rather than the whole country depending substantially on a region of the country.

“What is worse and even more painful in this ugly situation is the deliberate lack of understanding, empathy and the uncompromising attitudes of some Nigerians, who have refused to understand the challenges of the South-South region of the country, especially, the degradation of the environment and our waters. As a result, most of the demands of the region have remained unattended to while the resources of the region have been used continually to develop other parts of the country.”

The governors called for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region’s major seaports in Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri to enhance the economic development of the region.

They demanded that the two refineries in Port Harcourt and Warri should be privatised.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, urged the leaders of the region to avail themselves of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly since most of the issues contained in their demands are constitutional matters.

Gambari said the meeting was in response to the President’s mandate that the presidential delegation comprising all the ministers from the region to visit and consult the representatives of the people regarding the recent #EndSARS protest.

He lauded the governors for their quick response and actions in addressing the #EndSARS crisis.

Those who attended the meeting were Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ben Ayade (Cross River), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Douye Diri (Bayelsa) and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

Others were Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva; Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jeddy- Agba; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, and Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

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NLC suspends nationwide protests, gives govt fresh March 13 ultimatum

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NLC suspends nationwide protests, gives govt fresh March 13 ultimatum

 

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has suspended its two-day nationwide protests.

It also announced a March 13 ultimatum to the government to meet all its demands.

The NLC disclosed these in a communiqué issued Tuesday night but declared that its nationwide action would continue on Wednesday with press conferences.

The union had declared a two-day nationwide mass protest for February 27 and 28, over the economic hardship facing millions of Nigerians since the removal of the petrol subsidy in May 2023.

The NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on February 8, gave a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government over the rising cost of living in the country.

A late night meeting on Monday between the Federal Government and the NLC was failed to stop the nationwide protests.

On Tuesday morning, the protesters began their marches from the Labour House in Abuja and the Ikeja under-bridge in Lagos, while chanting solidarity songs and slogans.

Joe Ajaero, NLC president, and Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2023 election, led the Abuja rally.

But in a communique at the end of its national executive council meeting on Tuesday, the NLC said the objectives of the protest were achieved on the first day of the demonstration.

It stated, “Consequently, NEC-in-session resolved as follows: to suspend street action for the second day of the Protest having achieved overwhelming success thus attained the key objectives of the 2-day protest on the first day.

“However, nationwide action continues tomorrow with simultaneous Press Conferences across all the states of the federation by the state councils of the Congress including the National Headquarters.”

The NLC NEC also resolved in its meeting, to “reaffirm and extend the 7-days ultimatum by another 7 days which now expires on the 13th day of March, 2024 within which the government is expected to implement all the earlier agreements of the 2nd day of October, 2023 and other demands presented in our letter during today’s nationwide protest.

“To meet and decide on further lines of action if on the expiration of the 14 days government refuses to comply with the demands as contained in the ultimatum.”

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Tinubu launches initiative to balance expatriate quota in Nigeria 

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Tinubu launches initiative to balance expatriate quota in Nigeria 

 

President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday launched the Expatriate Employment Levy (EEL), an initiative aimed at facilitating homegrown skill retention and technology domestication.

It is also to balance employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates in foreign firms in Nigeria.

Speaking at the launch of the EEL handbook, the President said the aim is to close wage gaps between expatriates and the Nigerian labour force, while increasing employment opportunities for qualified Nigerians in foreign companies operating in the country.

Tinubu, however, warned that the scheme should not be used to discourage foreign investors.

The President said, “We expect improved revenue generation; improved naturalization and indigenization; we anticipate the employment of more qualified Nigerians by foreign companies operating in this country.

“We seek a greater balancing of employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates and the closure of the wage gap between expatriates and the Nigerian labour force by making it more attractive to hire Nigerians.

“I declare my support for the Expatriate Employment Levy scheme, and I will continue to encourage the operators, practitioners of immigration matters and expatriate quotas, but I emphasize: do not use it as a bottleneck; do not use it as an obstacle to frustrate potential investors.

“There will be clear lines of implementation and effective acceleration of aims and objectives of this programme.

“Officials in charge of immigration matters, expatriate quotas, and relevant stakeholders have to be effectively guided to make Nigeria the focus of the objective of this EEL.”

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Gov Makinde joins NLC protest, says hardship will be over soon

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Gov Makinde joins NLC protest, says hardship will be over soon

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, on Tuesday, joined the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress in its peaceful protest.

Makinde assured the protesters that the current hardship would soon be over.

The workers began their protest from the NLC state secretariat, Agodi in Ibadan, the state capital, down to Gate – NTA – Yemetu roundabout where Governor Makinde joined the protesting workers.

The governor said, “I am aware of the hardship in town and the difficulty the people are going through but I will be part of the generation that will fix the country.”

He also told the workers that their letters of protest and complaints would be delivered to President Bola Tinubu.

Earlier, the state NLC Chairman, Kayode Martins, said the cost of living was no longer bearable, especially for the common man.

He said, “The cost of living in Nigeria today is nothing to write home and the people are fed up. So that’s why we are on the street now.”

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