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NLC rejects State governors’ move to borrow from N17 trillion pension funds

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Minimum Wage: Kayode Fayemi reveals what Governors are willing to pay

The Nigerian Labour Congress () on Thursday rejected a fresh bid by State governors to borrow from the N17 trillion pension funds.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, spoke on the rejection at the 47th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) on Thursday in Abuja.

Wabba also vowed to mobilise workers nationwide to protest any move to borrow from the money, adding that it was the retirement benefit of workers.

Recall that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had endorsed two proposals to borrow N17 trillion from two sources for infrastructural development.

“Pension money isn’t for borrowing. Pension money is the retirement savings of workers,” Wabba said.

“It can’t be borrowed, 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 has been constituted.

“I stand here to represent all of you. We’re 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 Federal Government workers and private-sector workers. So how do you want to borrow from where you haven’t sown?

“It is 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’ll declare a protest, and everybody is going to be on the streets to protect our hard-earned money.”

Wabba added: “The money belongs to workers. We contribute that money so that when we retire, we can have something for retirement.”

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Govt Agency ‘Illegally Sold SUV Worth N18m To Top Official At N750k- Report

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Mr. Yakubu Tsala, former chairman, Governing Board of The Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, Borno State, bought a Prado Jeep worth N18 million at the rate of N750,000, according to the agency.

According to an information on its website, the Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI) is responsible for conducting research into the improvement of millet and wheat.

In 2017, the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation had queried the institute over alleged disappearance of two SUVs.

Upon investigation, it said the Prado Jeeps were procured in 2013 and 2014 but were sold three years after.

The report is being considered by the Senate Public Accounts Committee, chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo).

The audit query reads, “Management of the Institute could not account for 2 Nos. Toyota Prado Jeeps which were purchased in 2013 & 2014 with registration No. 45KOIFG for one Jeep and none for the other.

“No reason was given for not registering the second Prado Jeep. In addition, a Toyota Hiace bus with registration No. 45KO3FG could not be accounted for during audit.

“This is a violation of Financial Regulation 2128 which states that “Every public officer is personally and pecuniary responsible for government property under his control or in his custody.

“Inability of the management of the Institute to account for government property under their custody suggests abuse and mismanagement, as government property may have been diverted to private use.

The Executive Director is required to account for the vehicles. The issue was communicated to the Executive Director through my Audit Inspection Report Ref. No. EIAD/WTR 16/CORP/4 dated 21st December 2017 but he failed to respond.”

The institute in a written response said, “The vehicle (Prado Jeep) was purchased on 21st March, 2014 at the Cost of N18.7 million and the former Executive Director, Dr.Oluwasina Olabanji, sought the approval of ARCN (Agricultural Research Council Of Nigeria) for boarding the vehicle to the former chairman Governing Board , Mr. Yakubu Tsala at the cost of N750,000 only.”

The second Prado Jeep, according to the institute, was purchased on 18th September, 2013 at the cost of N12.4 million and request for approval to board the vehicle was written to ARCN dated on June 7th , 2017.”

The Senate panel therefore ordered the institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Alhassan Bibinu to appear before it along with the former Executive Director, who gave order for selling of the two Prado Jeeps.

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Again, workers drag Gov Ishaku to court over unpaid 77 months salaries

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Gov Ishaku of Taraba

While the Taraba State Government under the leadership of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku is yet to settle the ongoing impasse with the organized labour, another set of workers have again taken it up with the governor by dragging the government to the national industrial court.

This, is not in connection with the non-implementation of the new approved national minimum wage of N30.000 but in connection with the unpaid 77 months salaries of 18 non-indigenous workers of the defunct Nigeria Sunrise newspaper which has accumulated to over N73 billion.

The court, which is in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, was said to have been assigned with the responsibility of presiding over the case.

The said defunct newspapers which was established by the late governor of the state, Danbaba D. Suntai, in 2010, went out of existence shortly after the 2012 plane crash that rendered him incapacitated before he was eventually called to glory.

Narrating the ordeals they have been going through since the refusal of the state government to absorb them into the state civil service like their counterparts who have been absorbed due to their indigene status, the aggrieved workers believe that dragging the governor to court is the surest way out of their present predicaments.

The workers who spoke through their solicitors, M.Y Saleh (SAN), lamented the degrading conditions they have found themselves because of the inability of the state government to extend the same olive branch that was extended to the indigene workers of the defunct newspapers to those of them that are non-indigenes.

In their statement of claim which the eighteen workers who are non-indigenes made available to our correspondent through their counsel, they alleged they were denied salaries since the company stopped operation in 2014 and that they were discriminated against based on their States of origin.

Affirming that the “refusal of the defendants to pay the salaries and entitlements of the claimants is unlawful,” they pleaded with the court to as a matter of urgency call the defendants to order.

Sad that the defendants discriminated against them on the basis of “our states of origin in refusing to redeploy us in its service and this contravened our right to Freedom from Discrimination as protected by Section 42 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, the court, as pleaded by them, should take their pleas into consideration.

Before resolving to drag the governor and the defendants to court, several attempts according to the plaintiffs were implored to ensure a round table dialogue to no avail.

According to them “we wrote a complaint letter to the Public Complaints Commission who in turns wrote to the 5th defendant on the matter and the 5th defendant, through its Managing Consultant/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), responded via a letter to the Commission dated the 23/5/2018 confirming our story and who also attached a list containing our names, dates of employment and salaries, among other information.”

Those dragged to the court alongside the state governor include the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Sam Adda, the commissioner of Information and Reorientation, Danjuma Adamu, the defunct publishing house, etc.

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