The Nigeria Labour Congress has warned the state governors not to borrow N17 trillion from the pension funds purportedly for infrastructural development.
The union asked the state chief executives to steer clear of the pension funds, otherwise it would mobilise Nigerian workers in protest against the move.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, gave the warning at the 47th National Executive Council meeting of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, in Abuja on Thursday, insisting the governors had no authority over the funds.
The Nigerian Governors Forum had last week endorsed the proposal of the Chairman of the National Economic Council Ad hoc Committee, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, to borrow N17trn from the pension funds for infrastructural development.
But Ayuba said, “The pension is not for borrowing, pension money is the retirement savings of workers, it cannot be borrowed. It’s like money in your savings account that nobody can borrow.
“You must go through the bank and in this case, you must go through the PFAs and their guidelines; even the guidelines they want to play down but to the glory of God, the board of PenCom commission has been constituted
“I stand here to represent all of you (workers), we are not going to agree; less than five per cent of the states are keying into the contributory pension, yet they want to borrow the money. The bulk of the money is from the federal government workers and private-sector workers; so how do you want to borrow from where you have not sown?”
The NLC leader lamented that over 18 state governments were delaying the implementation of the new national minimum wage, noting that it was unheard of that the same governments would want to borrow the workers’ pension.
“It’s not free money, and let me sound a bit of warning: any day that we hear the pension fund, our money has been borrowed, I will declare a protest and everybody is going to be on the street to protect our hard-earned money.
“The money belongs to workers, we contribute that money so that when we retire, we can have something for retirement, so they have no say whatsoever; both the principal and the capital belong to us,” he said.
Wabba also commented on the fuel pump price, arguing that it should not be determined by the market forces “whose sole aim was targeted at making profits even at the detriment of the masses.”
He said, “Anything you leave to market forces, citizens will suffer because the primary focus of governance is actually to defend the interest and welfare of our workers and even the citizens and therefore when you leave it to market forces, it is then about profit.”
National President, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Biobelemoye Josiah, condemned the Federal Government’s alleged involvement in scuttling strike actions through the use of some non-governmental organisations, stressing that workers have the rights to embark on industrial actions to drive home their demands.
He said, “In a plethora of cases, the courts have affirmed the right of the workers to embark on strike. Strike is a legitimate weapon available to the trade unions to ventilate their grievances, especially when the provision in section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act bordering on the number of days has been compiled with.
“I would, therefore, appeal to the Federal Government to enrich our industrial relations practice through the interplay of the relationship between the management (Government) and the workers (Trade Unions) rather than scuttling the relationship through a third party interloper represented by the NGOs.”
NNPC takes over operation of Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for 4 oil wells from Addax
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) said it has taken over the operation of the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) for four oil wells from Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd.
In a statement on Tuesday, NNPC said it amicably terminated Addax 24-year PSC relationship.
It said three months after the execution of the Addax Transfer, Settlement, and Exit Agreement (ATSEA) for the PSC oil blocks, OMLs 123/124 and 126/137, operated by Addax all closing obligations have been concluded and the assets have been transferred to the Concessionaire, NNPC Limited.
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“Consequently, NNPC has taken necessary steps to take over the assets and oversee a clean, amicable, and speedy exit for Addax Petroleum Ltd., operate the asset on an interim basis as a first step and subsequently appoint a competent replacement PSC contractor while NNPC continues to remain the Concessionaire,” it noted.
While the TSEA was signed in November 2022, the transfer of the oil wells to NNPC took place on Tuesday, January 31, 2023.
NNPC Ltd has also appointed the Transition Team lead, Mr Sagiru Jajere, as the Managing Director of Antan Producing Ltd.
Addax and NNPC had a long-running battle over the operation before the latest amicable settlement.
Chief of Defence Staff threatens action as petrol prices hit N400/litre
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, yesterday threatened that the Federal Government would not fail to activate alternative actions should the marketers of petroleum product fail to end the prolonged fuel scarcity.
“We do have 24-day sufficiency for AGO (diesel) and the aviation we have 45 days of stuffiness for ATK aviation fuel,” he said.
He added that there is fuel in every depot and evacuation was ongoing.
The NNPC boss noted that petrol smuggling was on the rise as over 67million litres of petrol has been evacuated daily but the crisis has prevailed.
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“We have evidence now and we’re following this through that some of our customers are actually taking products to other countries. And we’ll get to the root of this. And the appropriate government security agencies will deal with this,” Kyari said.
The NNPC head also blamed the marketers, saying they did not follow the official petrol price rate at the depots and increased prices arbitrarily as some depots sell from N172 to N260/l above the agreed price, saying the marketers could not buy at that rate and sell at official rate.
“We have challenged IPMAN to bring documents on depots selling at N260 to them, but no one will bring a record,’’ he added.
The Chief Executive, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), Farouk Ahmed, confirmed there were several pacts with the marketers and transporters but such deals had not been followed through.
“But again, the more we agree, the more you lift the lever. We cannot continue like that,” he said.
He said recently NMDPRA sanctioned seven depots as deterrents but that did not work.
He urged marketers to help provide names of depots selling above ex-depot price but they refused.
CDS Irabor said: “It’s a crisis of internal nature which security and Police should lead but if it gets above that, there is an alternative.
“If there is no solution, let me reiterate that the government is not handicapped and there is an alternative and we pray that we don’t get to the level where the alternative will be activated,” Irabor said.
The Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, said the problem is in distribution, and urged operators for increased monitoring of the process.
“I think it is our role to assist the NNPC in monitoring the process of distribution if that will help us leverage the problem.”
Chairman of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MoMAN) Adetunji Oyebanji, said there are other costs that operators incur outside the ex-depot price. As he urged members to work to ensure products are supplied at the official rate.
Chairman of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Mrs Winifred Akpani, said the depot owners met last week on how to solve the price problem and distribution too.
She urged NNPC to only deliver products to depots (members) that will supply the right way, alleging that DAPPMAN does not regulate depot owners who are non-members.
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“We have all determined to ensure that we can help where we can help,” adding that profiteering is causing many problems to the country.
NARTO president, Yusuf Othman, lamented the increase in freight rate due to market reality saying officially it is N42 per kilometre but in reality it’s over N50 and so truckers give preference to marketers that pay cash and the market rate.
He decried the rising cost of buying trucks which he now said is over N60m as well as rising diesel cost of N880/l.
He noted that only major marketers pay twice for freight and that only OVH/NNPC give diesel at rebate, others do not.
According to Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), President, Comrade Williams Akporeha, said marketers have no right to increase the price because petrol is subsidized.
“Our position at NUPENG is that any depot or filling station that sells above the price must have the wrath of Nigerians to face,” he said.
The price of petrol across the country averaged between N380 and N400 per litre yesterday as the scarcity of the product assumed a disturbing dimension, nearly grinding economic activities.
Our correspondent who monitored some petrol stations in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia state reports that most major marketers were out of stock of the product.
A visit to MRS filing by Asa road and among others revealed that they dispensed their PMS to customers at N400 per liter.
Commercial bus and tricycle operators operating within Umuahia capital city and Aba have since increased their fares with N50, N100 or more depending on the distance.
In Osun State, petrol was sold for N400, N370 and N365 per liter.
Although there is no long queues at the petrol stations selling at these prices, there are still are still long queues in other stations where it is sold for cheaper rates.
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Long queues still surfaces at Bovas, NNPC, Matrix, NIPCO among others in the city.
Residents of Makurdi, Benue State capital and its environs are passing through hell to buy petrol too.
Yesterday, petrol was sold at #355 per litre in all the Independent marketers filing stations in Makurdi.
Getting the products was difficult as motorist remained on long queue for hours lamenting in frustration
The situation remained same in Adamawa State.
Car owners and commercial vehicle operators queued up in the few filling stations dispensing fuel where prices ranged at between N370 and N390 per litre within the state capital, Yola, and as much as N500 per litre in rural communities in the southern and northern tips of the state.
The whole of Yola had just one NNPC mega station selling fuel at the ‘sane’ price of N199 per litre yesterday, but the queue is usually so long that only people with the luxury of servants or unattached staff could send such persons, usually to buy large volumes of the commodity.
In Kaduna State, scarcity of petrol persisted in Kaduna, as price of the product reached N625 in the black market.
Also, our correspondents observed that, few major and independent petrol stations dispensing petrol for N210 per litre, had unprecedented queue, while filing stations on the outskirts of the metropolis, especially on Kaduna-Zaria highway, Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kachia roads, were selling for between N350 to N380 per litre.
The Nigeria Midstream and Down Stream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) said it has intensified routine patrol and monitoring of servicing stations to enhance steady fuel supply in Adamawa.
While going round some of the filling stations in Yola , it was observed that a team of officials led by the State Coordinator of the Regulatory Agency directed all filling stations which had products to begin selling to consumers or risked being sanctioned.
In Edo State, Godwin Obaseki led administration promised quick end to the scarcity and hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), thereby receiving 780,000 litres of petrol.
It also set up of a task force to monitor the distribution and sale of petrol in filling stations across the 18 local government areas of the Southsouth state.
Edo Commissioner for Mining and Energy, Ethan Uzamere, an engineer, who was accompanied by his counterpart in the Ministry of Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, and the Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media Projects, Crusoe Osagie, made the disclosure yesterday afternoon in Benin at a news conference.
The news conference took place after the meeting between the representatives of Edo government and leaders of the protesting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state.
Uzamere revealed that the supplied product (780,000 litres) would be distributed among the major and independent marketers of petroleum products in Edo’s three senatorial districts.
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He stated that Edo government would monitor the sale of petrol in the state, in order to ensure that members of the public were not exploited by the owners of the various filling stations.
The commissioner for mining and energy in Edo disclosed that members of the petroleum monitoring task force would be unveiled later yesterday evening, while assuring that all efforts would be put in place to ensure that no product supplied to the state was diverted.
He said: “Edo government has heard the cries of the residents of the state on the issue of fuel scarcity in Edo. The state government is working to ensure the availability of the product.
“As part of the measures, Edo government has set up a task force to monitor the situation, and ensure that no resident of the state is exploited. We also wish to announce that already, the state has received 780,000 litres of petrol, which will be distributed to major and independent marketers.
“The task force, whose members will be announced before the close of work today (Tuesday), will monitor the distribution and sale of petroleum products in Edo State.”
Nehikhare, in his remarks, gave an assurance that the welfare of the residents of Edo was very crucial, and being taken seriously by the state government.
Edo commissioner for communication and orientation also hailed leaders of CSOs for the maturity displayed in handling the protest that erupted on Monday, over petrol scarcity and price hike, while assuring that Obaseki’s administration would continue to engage all the major stakeholders, in order to find a lasting solution to the fuel challenge.
Osagie, while also speaking, noted that part of the duties of the task force’s members would be to monitor prices of petroleum products in Edo, while warn the marketers against arbitrary increase in the prices of the products,.declaring that anyone caught would be severely punished according to the dictates of the law.
$1bn investment recorded in auto industry – Minister
The Federal Government has recorded more than one billion dollars’ worth of investments in the automotive industry. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, said this in Abuja on Tuesday when he featured at the 20th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard series organsied by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
“Over one billion dollars in investment has been recorded in the automotive sector and we are ready to move on to the next phase for the automotive industry,” the minister said.
He said the review of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) was almost completed, adding that the plan was going through validation process.
Adebayo restated the ministry’s commitment toward enabling business environment to attract and retain investments.
According to him, the ministry and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) are committed to attracting and protecting investments that genuinely benefit Nigeria and its citizens.
He said that the revised Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) would boost investment.
“Nigeria has successfully revised its model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to include a specific provision for investment facilitation, which institutionalizes the principle of assisting investors in completing their investments.
“We are proud to offer Nigeria’s first investment policy to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.
“This strategic statement, which will outline our priorities, aims, commitments, and expectations, is a turning point for the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment and Nigeria as an investment destination,” he said.
Adebayo, who said that Nigeria had Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments, said the ministry was developing more.
“We have IPPAs with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments. The president ratified both accords on Sept. 16, 2022 and we are developing more IPPAs,” he said.
Adebayo said the ministry also distributed 5,571 acceptance certificates worth N7.7 trillion to 2,665,800 firms.
“The acceptance certificates allow businesses claim tax reduction when computing Company Income Tax.
“We also issued more than 130 Production Day Certificates, a crucial Pioneer Status Incentive step,’’ the minister said.
To further accelerate industrialisation, Adebayo said that the ministry was expediting the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.
According to him, the special economic zones will increase infrastructure availability and provide fiscal incentives for value addition.
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