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Minimum wage: States’ll go bankrupt if we pay N30,000 – Govs

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Governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have said states cannot afford to pay the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

The NGF chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, told newsmen that it was impractical to implement the N30,000 minimum without states going into bankruptcy.

He said the only alternative to paying the N30,000 minimum wage was for the Federal Government to accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula or to downsize workforce.

The governors who met, yesterday in Abuja, have therefore, resolved to put together another committee to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to work out another formula to address the issue.

The members of the committee to see President Buhari are Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna).

President Buhari last week Tuesday received the report of the Tripartite Committee on the Review of National Minimum Wage.

The committee which recommended N30,000 as the new national minimum wage also submitted a draft bill that will be sent to the National Assembly. Organised Labour has given December date as deadline for all processes leading to the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage else they will embark on another round of strike.

But speaking after an emergency meeting of the NGF, Governor Yari: “We have seen what has been presented to the president by the committee; as a member of the committee, Kebbi governor said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late. I am surprised how you can do this without the input of the states, because the states are the key stakeholders in this business. So, a situation whereby our report is not taken or considered by the tripartite committee to present to the president, I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.

“But we still say we want to pay but the issue is the ability to pay. The N18,000 today, when the president assumed office, 27 states were not able to pay; not that they choose not to pay. So, now that you say N30,000, how many of them can pay? We will be bankrupt. As Nigerians, we should look at the issue seriously. While other people are saying that governors are flying private jets and living in affluence, that one is not luxury but compulsory.

“The issue of government overhead cost, if you put it together with personnel cost, it cannot solve this problem. Like Lagos that is paying about N7 billion as salaries, if you say it should pay N30,000, now it will be N13 billion. From our calculation, it is only Lagos State that will be able to pay N30,000. As Nigerians, there is no other country we have and we should be fair to this country.”

Asked the way forward, Yari said: “We will continue to talk with Labour, let them see reasons why governors have difficulties. Some of us have Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). For instance, the money Lagos State is using to pay is not coming from Abuja. They have a way of getting their money from IGR and that is why they can afford to pay. Lagos gets money through VAT. Apart from Lagos, even Rivers cannot afford to pay. So, we have been crying out about this since 2011 but no one will listen. One critical example is that some state ration their salaries while others put everything they earn on the table and ask labour to come and see and ask them to suggest how much should go for capital and personnel cost. Some say 70 percent for personnel cost and 30 percent for capital projects, yet the states cannot pay and they put the remaining as outstanding.

“If you are talking about oil, the price is not what it used to be. From last year to date, it is $20 less from $75 to $55. So where is the money to pay? We should not exploit this matter further. We are leaders today, tomorrow others will be there. So let us look at this matter seriously to see how we can do it properly. It is our primary responsibility to see that everybody is happy.”

When reminded that part of Labour’s grouse was that governors have refused to submit audited account, the NGF chairman said: “We have given the committee audited account of the states to guide them. But if they put the audited account for the past 10-14 years, can you get something out of it? We are going to use the report of the audited committee to make further presentation. It is the same labour that is pushing for the N30,000 that will still turn around to say that the governors did not do any infrastructure. How are we going to achieve that by paying only salaries?”

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EFCC denies arresting Atiku’s sons

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied arresting the sons of Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

EFCC’s Acting Spokesperson, Mr Tony Orilade, made the denial in a statement in Abuja, on Monday.

According to Orilade, we have received several calls and e-mail messages asking us to confirm the arrest of the sons of Abubakar as being alleged in some quarters.

”Some only said we raided the apartments of Atiku’s sons looking for foreign currencies.

”This is nothing but another tales by moonlight.”

He said that the commission, as a responsible organisation, was abreast of the establishment mandate and shall not deviate from such mandate.

”We never went after Atiku’s sons, neither were Atiku’s sons among the two boys arrested.”

The spokesperson, however, said “it is in the news that we have been investigating the former Abia governor, Sen. Theodore Orji, over alleged N27 billion money-laundering.

”In the course of investigation, we discovered that he laundered part of the money through his sons.

”We have been on the trail of some of the purchases made by his sons, including the cars the boys allegedly bought.

”There is no link whatsoever to Atiku.” (NAN)

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Alleged 1.4bn fraud: I’m innocent – NBA President cries out

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President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr Paul Usoro, says he is innocent of the N1.4 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mr Usoro stated this while fielding questions from reporters on Sunday after the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja.

He said, “I haven’t been served. I expect I will be served but the facts as I know it, I am completely innocent and the facts as I know it, I presented it in the address that was adopted by NEC.”

“Assuming that there was something that was done; except the association itself makes a complaint to the EFCC or any of the other criminal investigating agencies, then they don’t have any basis having to come in into what we are doing,” Usoro added.

“We are an association of lawyers; we have a way of regulating ourselves.”

The NBA President, however, said he would appear in court.

He further called for a legislation that would prohibit media trial of persons in court.

According to him, the situation if not addressed will lead to maligning of character whether or not one is innocent or guilty of the offence he is charged with.

The EFCC had filed 10 counts of fraudulent conversion of N1.4bn against the NBA President before Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

In the first count, the EFCC alleged that Mr Usoro and some persons conspired in 2015 to convert the sum of N1.4bn property of the Akwa Ibom State Government which they ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of crime.

The others accused by the anti-graft agency are Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State (who currently enjoys constitutional immunity against criminal prosecution), as well as the state’s Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; the Accountant-General, Mfon Udomah; the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice; Uwemedimo Nwoko; and Margaret Ukpe.

The EFCC counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, who signed the charge sheet said the offences were contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

Five senior advocates – Gboyega Awomolo, Tayo Oyetibo, Theophilus Oyesanya, Onyechi Ikpeazu, and Damian Dodo, have been listed as witnesses along with some bank representatives to give evidence in the matter.

The commission said it would arraign Mr Usoro on Monday, December 10.

-ChannelsTV

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2019: I’m not neutral, vote out Buhari – Obasanjo declares

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has declared that only a fool would sit on the fence when his country was being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism and brazen impunity.

Obasanjo warned that if Nigerians failed to become active and get much needed change of the current administration, what they would suffer would be much worse than their current situation.

He said this while reacting to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) titled, “Atiku: Obasanjo Shifts Political Gear to Neutral,” which suggested that he would not campaign for any particular candidate in 2019.

He had spoken at the 27th annual Owu National Convention held on Saturday in Iwo, Osun State.

But in a statement issued yesterday by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, the ex-president said it was disingenuous and malicious for anyone to suggest that he was being neutral.

He warned against manipulating his position on the 2019 presidential election to perpetrate or perpetuate Nigeria’s continued destruction.

Obasanjo stressed that nobody should fool himself or deceive others about his position that “what we have currently and as the affairs of Nigeria are being run is not the best for Nigeria.”

The former president urged Nigerians who are victims of the current situation in the land to stop complaining but go out to get beneficial change.

“They must know that such change will not come if they remain inactive just complaining and complacent and they allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria,” he added.

Obasanjo, who had faulted the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, recently endorsed the ambition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for 2019.

He maintained in his statement titled, “2019 elections and reports of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s neutrality,” that he will remain consistent in speaking out whenever and wherever he sees evil as he is known to do no matter whose ox is gored.

The statement read, “While Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is in Cairo to attend the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF), of which he is Chairman of the Advisory Council, his attention has been drawn to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) with the headline ‘Atiku: Obasanjo Shifts Political Gear to Neutral.’

“It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu Convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopt a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family.

“For the records, and as accurately reported by some media organisations, what the former President said at the Convention in Iwo was that while he would not impress any candidates on them, Nigerians should vote for credible candidates who will drive growth and development and make their lives better than it is now.

“Chief Obasanjo’s statement did not suggest his neutrality. In fact, the former President believes that only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious. Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise.

“The former President reassures Nigerians that he will not sit on the fence when he needs to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of Nigeria.

“Chief Obasanjo reaffirms that he is on the side of what is best for Nigeria and what we have currently and as the affairs of Nigeria are being run is not the best for Nigeria, so nobody should fool himself or deceive others about Chief Obasanjo’s position.

“The former President further urges Nigerians who are victims of what we have for now to stop just complaining and go out to get beneficial change. They must know that such change will not come if they remain inactive just complaining and complacent and they allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria.

“If they do not become active and get much needed change of the current administration to a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth, development and economic progress with security, what is coming will be much worse than what Nigerians currently suffer.

“On his part, Chief Obasanjo will remain consistent in speaking out whenever and wherever he sees evil as he is known to do no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody should manipulate Chief Obasanjo’s position, particularly on the 2019 Presidential election and what he said in Iwo to perpetrate or perpetuate continued destruction of our country.

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