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THE NATION

Minimum wage may not be ready by Sept, says Ngige

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said on Tuesday that the new National Minimum wage may not materialise by the end of September as originally expected. Ngige said the September date was just a date to conclude negotiation on the issue of minimum wage.

The minister told newsmen at his residence in Abuja that the committee on the new National Minimum wage is expecting to conclude its work by the end of September and present its report to the government for deliberation and approval before an executive bill is sent to the National Assembly on the issue.

He said however that the issue of capacity to pay is also paramount in the deliberations on the minimum wage, pointing out that it was to get the input of all those concerned including state governments and the organised private sector that the committee embarked on zonal public hearing across the country.

The Minister said further that in the course of the zonal public hearings, many state governments made different submissions ranging from N22, 000 monthly to N58, 000, adding that the governors were also of the believe that foe the new minimum wage to become effective, the current revenue allocation formula will have to be reviewed in favour of the states and local government.

He said further that some other states are also of the view that the minimum wage should be maintained at the current N18, 000 in view of the inability of some states to pay the current wages.

Senator Ngige said when the minimum wage committee concludes its report, it will be submitted to the National Council of State and the Federal Executive Council for approval before a bill is sent to the National Assembly to legalize the work of the committee.

He said even though it was not an easy task, the committee was making progress in its assigned responsibility, pointing out that it was in other to carry everybody, including the states and private sector along that six governors were elected to be members of the committee as well as representatives of the organised private sector.

On the threat by non-teaching staff of universities to resume their suspended strike as a result of government failure to honour the terms of their agreement, the Minister said government was sourcing the N6 billion needed to pay them their earned allowances as contained in the agreement.

He said his experience as Minister of Labour showed him that majority of about 95 percent of agreement currently being paraded by trade unions in the country were signed before the Buhari government came into office in 2015,adding that most of such agreements had no timeline for implementation.

He also said many of the agreement signed by the last government were not implementable because of the amount involved, adding that the principles of the International Labour Organisation allowed employers to renegotiate agreements which they feel they cannot implement.

He said further that what is important in all collective bargaining agreement is the ability to pay what is being demanded and what is agreed upon.

He appealed to striking health workers to return to work while negotiations continue on their demands, pointing out that the delay in the implementation of their signed agreement was as a result of failure of the National Salaries, Wages and Income Commission to defend the two different figure presented to a government high powered committee.

He said the committee has directed the commission and the Federal Ministry of Health to go back and recompile the figures for onward submission to the committee for deliberation.

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THE NATION

The ICON Newspaper re-brands, changes name to The Witness

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Fastest growing Nigerian tabloid, The Icon has changed its name to The Witness as part of its re-branding process to serve its teeming readers better.

According to its managing director, Mr. Julius Akpovire Enyeh, the news medium headquartered in Lagos, in a bid to expand its reach, decided on a lot of changes, one which is the change of name that also affects its online version.

Akpovire said the readers and followers of the king of the newsstands were in for a refreshing experience as a result of the new changes. He also assured all of sustaining the newspaper’s continued tradition of churning out unbiased reports and on-time news dissemination as well as leading in delivering breaking news as they happen.

The Witness is available in newspaper tabloid form and online at www.witnessngr.com

The Witness is a new publication in newspaper tabloid format that covers News, Business, Politics, Health, Fashion, Entertainment and Sport. As part of its name indicates, the major focus of the newspaper is on happenstances around Nigeria, and other parts of the world to report interesting news as it breaks.

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THE NATION

We won’t suspend anti-grazing law in Ekiti, Fayose replies defence minister

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Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, has said that the call by Mansur Dan Ali, minister of defence, that states should suspend the implementation of the anti-grazing law is an affront to federalism practised in the country.

The minister who made the call at a security meeting with President Muhammadu on Tuesday, said there was need to negotiate safe routes for the herders.

“The need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the anti-open grazing law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders,” Gusau, spokesman of the minister, quoted Dan-Ali as saying.

But in a series of tweets on Tuesday, Fayose wondered why it is difficult for the federal government to support cattle ranching.

The governor said the federal government should be concerned with finding a way of taking the herdsmen out of the bush in view of giving them a better life through ranching.

“Call by the FG through the minister of defence, Dan-Ali that states should suspend implementation of the anti-grazing law is an affront on federalism that is practised in Nigeria. It is amazing that at the level of the presidency, they still see states as appendages of the FG,” he tweeted.

“January this year, the minister of defence blamed passage of anti-grazing law in some states as the cause of killings by herdsmen. Today, he is still singing the same song. Is there something to this old system of nomadic cattle rearing that they are not telling Nigerians?

“Why is @MBuhari not rearing his cows through open grazing? Why is it so difficult for the FG to support cattle ranching? Here in Ekiti, the anti-open grazing law stays. It is the presidency that should stop looking the other way while herdsmen go about killing Nigerians.

“Me thinks the Presidency should be concerned about how to take the herdsmen out of the bush and give them decent life by embracing cattle ranching. How can anyone be pleased subjecting his own people to a life of following cows through the bush from Yobe to Lagos?” Fayose said.

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THE NATION

Tribunal upholds Gov. Obiano’s election

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The Anambra governorship election petition tribunal has upheld the election of Governor Willie Obiano in the Nov. 18, 2107 polls.

It will be recalled that Praise Okechukwu, candidate of the Mega Progressives Peoples Party in her petition prayed the tribunal to annul Obiano’s victory for non-substantial compliance to the electoral act.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance and the Independent National Electoral Commission were also respondents in the suit.

Justice H. A Olusiyi, chairman of the tribunal in a unanimous judgment ruled that the petitioner had not proven her case substantially to invalidate the election.

Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), counsel to Obiano, described the judgment as welcome as the election in question was the best in the history of Anambra and that the victory was convincing.

Ikpeazu said it was the institutional right of the petitioner to have contested the poll but it was not necessary.

He said: “It was the confirmation that the past election was about the best in Anambra.”
Emeka Etiaba (SAN), counsel to INEC, also lauded the tribunal for a job well done.

Etiaba said: “You know there were three petitions, we raised preliminary objections and based on that, one was struck out and in its wisdom, the tribunal decided to hear these other ones and one of them has been decided in our favour today.”

On his part, Nkem Ekweozoh, counsel to Okechukwu, said he would appeal the ruling as he was not satisfied with the decision.

Ekweozoh said some aspects of his petition were not addressed in his application to inspect sensitive materials which INEC refused to make available to him.

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