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FG blames labour for minimum wage delay

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The Federal government has blamed the delay in the implementation of the “Consequential Adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wages on the alleged unrealistic demands of labour unions.

The Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Richard Egbule, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

Egbule explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why the government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.

“Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government in its wisdom had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10, 000 across the board for those already earning above N30, 000 per month.

“However, the Unions have refused this offer, saying that because of the increase in the minimum wage from 18,000 to N30, 000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 per cent increment across board.

“We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18, 000 to N30, 000 through percentage increase but as a result of consideration of economic factors including ability to pay.

“However, we said that if they want consequential adjustments in percentage terms, we will use the percentage that when applied will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget.

“The computation based on the percentage which the government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level 7 to 14, including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.

“And then five per cent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed a 30 per cent increase for level 7 to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to 17.

“One point we keep repeating is, it will be unfair that because you gave the person earning minimum wage N12, 000, you give a level 17 officer almost N100, 000 if you apply 25 per cent,’’ he said.

Egbule said that at the last meeting between the Federal Government and the labour unions, the government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17.

He advised labour to come to a compromise because the government had so far been magnanimous in agreeing to increase salaries without any threat of downsizing.

“Labour is currently stretching out and eating up the time that people could have used in benefiting from the adjustment because the new minimum wage was implemented since April.

“My advice is for labour to accept the terms for now and prepare to fight for the harmonisation of salaries that is coming up. Harmonisation of salaries will take care of this issue.

“The committee has already been formed and awaiting inauguration. I want them (labour) to know this and liberate us from this unnecessary log jam,” he said.

Egbule reiterated the commission’s commitment to giving sound advice to the government on the portion of national income that should be devoted to the payment of salaries and wages.

In his reaction, the national president of the Assosciation of Senior Civil Servant of Nigeria , Bobboi Kaigama, said the union’s stance is that the committee on special adjustment should be fair to all categories of workers.

According to him, the government is offering 9.5 percent for salary grade level 7 to 14 and 4.5 per cent for level 15 to 17 which is very insignificant.

“The minimum wage is N30,000 and there are officers on Salary grade level 15 to 10 and they want a very insignificance increase for the upper level and we are saying Nk. Our position is that N30,000 for level 7 to 14 and N25 for level15 to 17,” he said.

Kaigama, a former president of the Trade Union Congress, said the labour unions are still in the process of negotiation.

“So we hoped that by the end of the month, an agreement is reached,” he said.

Speaking on the harmonisation of salaries, Kaigama said the union hopes that the current increase will be an integral part of the harmonisation.

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IBB calls for inclusive unity

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Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda, IBB, has called for collective effort aimed at uniting all segments of the country.

Speaking on the occasion of his 78th birthday on Saturday in Minna, the former leader said it is when there is unity that the country can move forward, adding that every Nigerians had a role to play in the matter.

“We don’t have any other country except Nigeria. So, we must all work today, young and old to ensure that this country survives.

“The unity of the country is sacrosanct. We must make sure we identify ourselves as Nigerians before talking of tribe, religion and region we come from,” adding that Nigerians must strive to ensure that the nation remained one indivisible entity.

IBB expressed gratitude to God for sparing his life long enough to attain the age of 78.

“I want to thank Almighty Allah for sparing my life to witness this day. Allah has been very kind to me and I remained grateful to Him,” he said.

Our reporter said that the Uphill residence of the former leader was filled with guests among whom included a former Chief Justice of the Federation, Alfa Belgore; lawmakers from the National Assembly, former governors and military administrators, including Col Habibu Shuaibu

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FAAN announces day to close Enugu airport runway

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saturday notified airlines and passengers that the runway at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu will be closed on August 24, for major repairs.

FAAN’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the closure of the airport is coming three months after the immediate past Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said the airport would be closed over the state of the runway.

Sirika had said that the airport would be degraded for international operations because the runway length is not ideal for such operations.

Mrs Yakubu explained that the closure was aimed at resolving the existing safety and security concerns to flight operations.

She said the closure of the runway would took effect by 12 a.m. on August 24.

She noted that a date to reopen the runway would be communicated in due course.

Mrs Yakubu said FAAN remained committed to its core values of safety, security and comfort of the airport users in the country.

Meanwhile, the management of Air Peace has commended the Federal Government for the decision to close the Enugu International Airport for proper repair and maintenance of the airport’s runway.

The airline’s Chairman, Allen Onyema, who made the commendation in a statement issued to newsmen in Lagos, noted that the runway had been given stakeholders serious safety concerns.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Air Peace is fully and totally in support of this decision. Though the decision will affect the traveling public.

“However, the airline, place the safety of the flying public, our crew and equipment above any commercial benefits.

“The government should go all out to put everything in place, within the period of the closure, that will make the airport rank among the best international airports in the country.

“We plead with the federal government to make the airport a 24-hour flight operations airport by improving the night landing infrastructure,” he said.

(NAN)

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El-Zakzaky: Falana asks FG for new medical plan

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Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the lawyer to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, has called the Federal Government to provide an alternative and adequate treatment for the couple in Nigeria.

The Senior lawyer also said that he would file a fresh application for El-Zakzaky and his wife to be re-flown abroad for treatment if his demand was not met.

The leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky on Friday returned to Nigeria, after refusing treatment in India.

Recall that El-Zakzaky, who is facing an 8-count charge in a case of homicide filed by the Kaduna State Government, was granted leave for medical treatment by a Kaduna High Court on Aug. 5.

Subsequently, El-Zakzaky and his wife travelled to India via Dubai for medical treatment after the Federal Government and relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order in spite of protestation by Kaduna State Government.

Falana, in a statement yesterday, said: “It is disturbing that the planned medical treatment of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife in India was aborted and that they have since returned to Nigeria.

“However, in view of their critical health conditions, the El-Zakzakys and the Federal Government should urgently reach an understanding to facilitate their medical treatment in Nigeria.

“In other words, since the Federal Government is apparently not prepared to allow the couple to seek medical treatment abroad for fear that they may seek political asylum, the authorities should provide adequate medical equipment for their treatment in Nigeria without any further delay.

“The unfortunate episode had embarrassed the Federal Government and that Nigeria has become a laughing stock to the extent that her leaders and citizens (who have the financial wherewithal) have to travel abroad for medical treatment.

“For goodness sake in what way was the Indian Government offended by the insistence of the El-Zakzakys to be treated by doctors of their choice”.

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