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Rivers collapsed building: 100 victims still trapped

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Over 100 workers are still trapped in the high rise building that collapsed in a part of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, Friday evening.

The eight storey five star hotel with an underground layer and seven storey on the surface collapsed on the over 200 workers and contractors on site about 5:15 pm, leaving those inside trapped in the wreckage.

About 30 of the victims have been rescued alive since the incident, with two other dead bodies recovered.

Some of the lucky workers that escaped the falling structure, who narrated their ordeal at the site of the building yesterday said; “We had already finished work for the day at around 5pm, I was standing at the front of the building outside, trying to clean up so I could change to a better clothe before I could go for my daily pay.

“By this time all the workers, numbering over 200, mainly youths, were inside trying to get their money as well. While I was wearing my clothe. I heard the sound as if something was breaking down; when I looked, it was the building. I quickly ran across the road to escape to the opposite side of the building. In the process, I was injured by nail, but I have gone to the hospital to treat it.”

Also another person, who said he was the operator of one of the machines used in mixing materials for the work, narrowly escaped death.

According to him, he was already inside the building hall, waiting for the time to collect his wage, when all of a sudden, he heard the sound and saw the front view of the building falling inside; then I jumped and continued to run, got to a small gate by the entrance, dust had covered everywhere. I merely opened the gate on getting outside the building. I could not see anything, the dust had taken over the entire environment that one could not even figure out where the main road was.

“At this time I gave up and stopped running any further so I would not collide with on-coming vehicle while trying to cross the road, but somehow, the building fell inside and not outside, otherwise it would have still picked me. I was already tired of running.”

Asked who, apart from the workers were within the building when the incident happened, he said, some contractors that also came for their money, including the woman that was supplying the sand and food vendors that came around to recover the debt owed them by the workers.

Although the cause of the collapse is yet to be ascertained, sympathisers who are knowledgeable about building quality ruled out substandard materials as possible cause, as each analyser confirmed that the rods and cement mixtures are accurate, adding that the rods are of the highest quality ranging between 20 and 25 mm size, just as instead of blocks, the structure were being scared.

They were however not sure of the soil quality as they said the environment is swampy in nature, adding that the weight of the structures may have put unbearable stress on the soil ground causing the collapse.

However the state House of Assembly said it will commence investigation into the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the 7-storey building along Woji Road in GRA, Port Harcourt.

Majority Leader of the House, Martin Amaewhule, stated this when Rivers lawmakers visited the site of the incident on Saturday morning.

He said: “The Rivers State House of Assembly will reconvene to carry out proper investigation into what happened and you can be assured that in the coming days, we will sit and we will review the situation. Collapse of the building happened around 4 p.m. on Friday. So, we need to properly investigate before we run into conclusions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the two main political parties in the state are competing on show of concern on the site.

Governor Nyesom Wike has already travelled before the incident, Friday, but the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, has visited the scene.

Also all the State Executive Council members have been keeping vigil at the site to ensure that every single victim was rescued alive.

In the same vein, the APC gubernatorial candidate, Arch. Tonye Cole, also visited the scene to also show his sympathy.

Meanwhile the State Government says it has invited all those who can assist in the rescue of those trapped in the collapsed building.

According to a statement from the Deputy Governor yesterday, Governor Wike had mandated her to assure family members and friends of those caught up in the disaster that the Rivers State Government would ensure that they are rescued alive.

Reliable sources said the collapsed structure is owned by a Bayelsan, and that he was trying to replicate what he has in Abuja in the state.

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Nigerian government slashes foreign travels, estacodes for officials

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President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the reduction of overseas tours by ministers, permanent secretaries and chief executives of government agencies to eight per year, and must be strictly for official purposes.

In a new guideline on fiscal prudence issued today by the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, President Buhari also ruled that estacodes, the dollar denominated allowances that officials draw, shall only be for the days of the event and not for the entire travel days. Hitherto, officials collected estacodes for the entire travel time, even when the real event may be for a day or two days.

The new presidential order also ordered government officials to submit their yearly travel plans within the first quarter of every year for approval.

Please read the full statement:

In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of Govt resources, President
Buhari has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.

Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings & engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation
for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation. They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.

On Nature & Frequency of Travels, all public funded travels (local & foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to Nigeria’s interest.

Except with the express approval of Mr. President; Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.

Also, when a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation shall not exceed 4 including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and 1 Aide of the Minister. Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of 3.

For Class of Air Travels, the President has approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled, continue to fly Business Class while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class.

Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of Estacode Allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.

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PSC asks Nigerians to disregard candidates’ list for police recruitment

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has advised the public to disregard a list of candidates scheduled for training and allegedly released by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for recruitment into the Constable cadre.

A statement in Abuja by the commission’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, said the release of the list by the police was an act of illegality and a breach of the Federal Character requirements.

The statement reads: “The Police Service Commission dissociates itself from a purported list of candidates scheduled for training and allegedly released by the NPF in respect of the recruitment exercise into the Constable cadre of the Force. The commission notes that the list released by the police is an act of illegality, and from close observation, was in serious breach of the Federal Character requirements.

“The commission urges the public to be wary of the list as it will soon resume the remaining stages of the recruitment process and release the authentic list of successful candidates, local government by local government.

“The commission is presently in court against the NPF over the hijack of its constitutional powers to recruit and had filed an originating summons and interlocutory injunction restraining the NPF from going ahead with the exercise.

“The processes filed since September 27, 2019, by Kanu G. Agabi, CON, SAN, were brought to the knowledge of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) the same day…”

“In the letter notifying the IGP of the pendency of the suit, Kanu Agabi had said: “We write to inform you of the pendency of the above mentioned suit before the Federal High Court, Abuja. By this notice, you are to stay further action in the subject matter of this suit, pending the hearing and determination of the case.

“It is unfortunate that despite the pendency of the court processes, the NPF went ahead to release a purported list of candidates it has invited for training.

“The commission wishes to state that the list is unknown to it as it believes it is a product of illegality. The hearing for the commission’s suit has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 23 at the Federal High Court 5, Abuja.”

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Cracks in Labour unions over minimum wage strike

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Joe Ajaero, ULC President: planned strike on minimum wage dead on arrival

There is a crack in the ranks of labour union leaders as the date for their planned strike over the Federal Government implementation of the minimum wage looms.

The president of United Labour Congress, ULC, Mr Joe Ajaero, said the group will not be part of an exercise designed to hoodwink Nigerian workers and masses into believing that their interests are being championed.

It is the hardest knock, so far for the leaders of TUC and NLC who have been threatening a national strike over the minimum wage.

Ajaero made his view known in an interview with newsmen during the ongoing negotiations on minimum wage with the Federal Government representatives and organised labour on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, the proposed strike by labour is dead on arrival as programmed by the hidden interests of those pushing the agenda.

“Unfortunately, this strike will not have the desired impact and would not achieve the intentions Nigerian workers would want as it is seemingly; dead on arrival as programmed by the hidden interests of those pushing the agenda.

“ULC will not, therefore, be part of an exercise designed to hoodwink Nigerian workers and masses into believing that their interests were being championed while the contrary may be the case.

“We will neither be part of this ruse nor partake in a complete jamboree that makes a mockery of the genuine struggle by Nigerian workers to begin to enjoy the new national minimum wage.

“Once again, we want to state that we will not be part of this attempt to whittle down the capacity of Nigerian workers and masses to earn the new minimum wage.

“It is a planned sabotage of our collective will and desire to see a new minimum wage and we shall not be part of it,” Ajaero said.

Meanwhile, the meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government has been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention, with both groups shifting grounds.

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