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Nigerians May Celebrate New Year In Blackout, Says Rep.

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Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives , Toby Okechukwu , has expressed the fear that there might be a nationwide blackout over the ongoing industrial action by the National Union of Electricity Employees .

Members of the union had vowed to go on a nationwide strike after the 21 -day ultimatum it issued to the Minister of Power , Mr Saleh Mamman , expired .

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The lawmaker representing Enugu said if urgent actions were not taken , Nigerians may end the remaining part of 2019 and celebrate the New Year in a blackout .

This is as the House of Representatives says it will meet with heads of Ministries of Power , Labour and the National Pension Commission to intervene in the industrial action by the NUEE on Thursday .

Okechukwu moved the motion under ‘ Matters of Urgent Public Importance ’ at plenary, presided over by the Speaker , Mr Femi Gbajabiamila , on Wednesday .

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The motion was tagged , “ Urgent need for the Federal Government to interface with the management of electricity companies and the National Union of Electricity Employees to avoid impending electricity blackout . ”

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Okechukwu recalled that a petition was written by NUEE to electricity distribution and generating companies , warning of a nationwide strike if their demands were not met .

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“A petition , dated Nov. 7 , was written to the Minister of Power by the NUEE and copied to all DISCOS and GENCOS , where the union warned , and gave a 21 – day ultimatum to declare a nationwide strike if their demands were not met by the electricity companies .

“ These include non – payments of salary arrears , remittance of pension deductions , refusal to pay over 2 , 000 disengaged workers of the ex – PHCN staff since 2013 , underpayment of over 50 , 000 ex – PHCN staff and casualisation /outsourcing of workers , ” he said .

The lawmaker said NUEE accused the ministry of power of failing to respond to their strike notification letter which expired on December 10 .

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“ The union , having exhausted every avenue for resolution of the dispute , has no other option than to withdraw services, without further notice .

“ Their resolve to go on with the strike without further notification came as a result of the information by a power sector consultant, Mrs Rahila Thomas, wherein she stated that GENCOS and DISCOS direly need N1 . 2 trillion bailout to improve services, ” he said .

He expressed the concern that “ the whole country would be plunged into a blackout if the union should be allowed to carry out its threat . ”

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The lawmakers also expressed the concern that if the reasons for the nationwide strike by NUEE were not addressed , it would lead to “ serious financial losses for both private and government establishments , and pose security challenges in our country . ”

(Punch)

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Ex-CAN President Onaiyekan, Cleric Bag Honorary Degrees

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A former national president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan and the Archbishop of Abuja catholic diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, will be honored with honorary doctorate degrees by an Abuja-based Catholic institution, Veritas University, on Saturday, December 3, 2022.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Rev. Fr. Professor Hyacinth Ichoku, made this known in a briefing with selected journalists in Abuja.

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Speaking on Thursday ahead of the convocation ceremony of the university, the don also noted that four countries had indicated interest to send their students to Nigeria to study pontifical degrees in the theology of philosophy.

The development follows approval by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vertical City Rome, Italy, to Veritas University Abuja to establish Pontifical Faculty.

The countries are Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast and India.

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Professor Ichoku said only two countries including Nigeria and Nairobi run the pontifical degree which necessitated the influx of foreign students to Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Fielder Bags University Degree

“For the first time, the university will be honoring prominent Nigerians such as the former CAN president, cardinal John Onaiyekan and the archbishop of Abuja diocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama.

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‘’Veritas University has been granted the faculty to run Pontification degrees in theology and philosophy by the Congregation of Catholic Education in the Vertical City, Rome. That is in addition to National Universities Commission-approved programmes in theology and philosophy. As a Catholic University to be granted the power of the faculty to run these programmes is the height of our development and in Africa; there are just two granted such faculty, which are, the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi and Veritas University in Abuja. It is an exceptional privilege for us,’’ Professor Ichoku stated.

Professor Ichoku said the university would be awarding first-class degrees to 28 students who had distinguished themselves in character and learning.

He noted that the minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola would be delivering the convocation lecture.

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NACCIMA, Nigeria’s Road To Prosperity – SDP Presidential Candidate, Adebayo

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The presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Prince Adewole Adebayo, has said that the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through The Nigeria Association of Chambers and Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

Adebayo who spoke at the 4th quarterly meeting of NACCIMA in Enugu assured that the SDP, if elected into power, would not be a lawbreaker government but a law abiding.

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He added that one of the difficulties facing the industry is that government does not respect contracts.

READ ALSO: Be Apolitical, Prayerful, SDP Presidential Candidate, Adebayo, Urges Clerics

He posited that times have changed because in the past before government presents the country’s budget, captains of industries are always consulted, and the government doesn’t take decisions without considering the effects.

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Adebayo driving his point and acknowledging the importance of NACCIMA said ‘In the past when you see presidential candidate, governorship candidate, senatorial candidate, you in NACCIMA will say he’s my boy, he use to work for me, he’s a good boy.

He added that Nigeria must return to such lifestyle, because the road to prosperity in Nigeria is through NACCIMA.

 

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True Federalism: Expert Wants NULGE Join CSOs, Others For Constitutional Amendment

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Professor Festus Imuetinyan, federal Commissioner, Federal Character Commission, Abuja has called on the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) to join hands with other unions and civil society organizations working for the amendment of the nation’s constitution to make the constitution truly federal.

Imuetinyan made the call on Wednesday in Benin City at the Edo State chapter of NULGE 2022 week celebration with the theme,”Sustaining an autonomous local government as a catalyst for national development: The role of NULGE”.

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The university don opined that local governments will only become catalyst for national development when they are put in firm control over local affairs as well as encourage the emergency of local solutions to local problems.

He advocated that the local government matters must be removed from the national constitution and placed within the purview of the states to save them from the challenge of forced uniformity in the face of endemic diversity of local problems.

He added that NULGE, as the major trade union in the local government system in Nigeria, has a duty to ensure that the present unified local government system which is unwieldy is jettisoned.

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“Unfortunately, many local government staff are beneficiaries of the present system and do not see any urgent need for changes.

READ ALSO: Governors’ Domineering Treatment Of Local Govt Councils Unfair – Buhari

“Your members are the ones that are made sole administrators when elected council heads are illegally sacked by state governments. Many enjoy posting to areas that they are not conversant with the custom and tradition of the people whose problems they are called upon to solve.

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“Others are promoted in the face of inadequate utilization of available resources to manage waste and protect public utilities within their jurisdictions.

“It is often alleged that many of your members extort money from members of the public and that they enrich themselves at the expense of the development of the communities”, he said.

He further opined that the present local government system is not patterned to achieve any developmental goal rather than a smooth vehicle for the transfer of centrally collected funds to the pockets of States’ political elites.

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Imuetinyan emphasized that the 1999 Constitution makes it possible for state governments to cripple Local Government Councils financially by routing the amount of money standing to the credit of Local governments in the Federation Account (FA) through a joint State Local Government Account rather than directly to local councils.

He asserted that the arrangement adversely affects the fiscal autonomy and viability of most local governments.

According to him, some state governors make inexplicable deductions or unduly delay the release of funds from the joint accounts to local government chief executives.

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“Local government chairmen are bullied by state governors to surrender much of their statutory allocations under duress. When they fail; they find other ways to replace them with caretaker committees of selected loyalists.

“Expenditure and project discretion had become a thing of the past. Most states expect their Local governments to seek and obtain permission to embark on projects. Local government projects are inspected periodically by officials of state governments.

“More financial load has been placed on Local governments’ share of the Federation Account. For example, funds for primary school teachers’ salaries and pension charges are now charged centrally to the Local governments.

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READ ALSO: Why Passport Applicants Face Challenges – Aregbesola

“The central deductions at source of these charges and several other unfunded mandates in environmental and social spending by the State Governments tend to leave many Local Governments with little funds.

“And unfortunately, many Local governments especially those in the rural areas have limited access to productive tax bases”, he added.

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