CNS reaffirms commitment to personnel welfare, hails NOWA’s stride

Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, has promised to continue to prioritise welfare and well-being of officers and ratings of the Nigerian Navy and their families.

Gambo gave the assurance while inaugurating the Naval Officers Wives’ Association (NOWA) Shopping Complex at the Navy Barracks in Kuje Abuja, on Friday.

He also inaugurated the administrative building of the NOWA College at the barracks.

The CNS commended the NOWA President, Hajia Nana Gambo and members of her team for their foresight and commitment to supporting the service in addressing the welfare needs of personnel and their families.

He said the association had done so well in making significant impact on the wellbeing of the service and the wider society across the country.

According to him, notable among these, is the ongoing construction of a 200-bed capacity NOWA Women and Children Green Smart Hospital that commenced in June 2022 and the groundbreaking of NOWA Event Centre in Asokoro.

The naval chief said the shopping complex would enhance comfort and economic activities of the barracks community and its environs.

He urged the barrack community to take ownership of the structure and ensure proper maintenance of the complex for the benefit of all.

“Pertinently, various welfare projects of NOWA are enduring legacies, which have endeared the leadership of the association to well-meaning and good spirited individuals across Nigeria, especially as a key contributor to national development.

“I also avail this opportunity to pledge my continued support to collaborate and partner with the association for nation building, towards national prosperity,” he said.

In her remarks, the President of NOWA, Hajia Nana Gambo, said the event was another giant stride by the association in promoting commerce for the growth and development of Kuje and its environs.

She said that the shopping complex was built to enhance economic activities in the area and for the comfort of personnel.

She appreciated the naval chief for his unflinching support for NOWAS to achieve its mandate.

Also, the President, Nigerian Army Officers Wives’ Association (NAOWA), Mrs Salamatu Yahaya, commended the leadership of NOWA for establishing life impacting projects.

Yahaya said the complex would to improve socio-economic activities in the community and advised them to adequately maintain the facility.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

10th NASS: SDP appoints Wadada to coordinate its caucus

The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has appointed Senator-elect Ahmed Wadada to coordinate the party’s caucus in the 10th National Assembly.

The appointment is contained in a letter in Abuja on Saturday signed by the party’s National Chairman, Alhaji Shehu Gabam, and National Secretary, Dr Olu Agunloye.

Wadada will represent Nasarawa-West Senatorial District in the 10th Assembly.

The letter reads: “The NWC of our great party, the SDP, at its meeting decided to appoint you to lead and coordinate the caucus of all SDP members elected to serve in the national and state assemblies throughout the country.

“The purpose of this is to bring all elected members of the Social Democratic Party to the common objective of promoting the unity and ideals of the party.

“The caucus is expected to lead to significant mutual benefits to the party and the assembly members who constitute the prime rank of our great party.”

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

No Niger Delta ruler, elder called for Ndiomu’s sack – Group

Niger Delta Integrity Group (NDIG) says no elders, traditional rulers and other groups have called for the sack of the Interim Administrator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), retired Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu.

This is contained in a statement on Friday by the Convener of the NDIG, Dr Boma Horsfall.

According to Horsfall, Ndiomu, who has enormous respect for traditional institutions, enjoys a cordial relationship with the traditional rulers and elders in the Niger Delta region.

“This has been demonstrated in Ndiomu’s series of meetings with them and other critical stakeholders across the region.

“At those meetings, he normally engaged them on innovate policies to bring the teeming youth out of the dark and create sustainable livelihoods for them.

“In fact, the NDIG after conducting due diligence and investigation, discovered that there are some resentful and unpatriotic elements who have resolve to destroy the good work and image of Ndiomu.

“For the records, their claims are false and non-existent. It is disappointing that they have now descended to an all-time low level of lunacy.

“Who are the purported elders and traditional rulers that endorsed the false accusations? It is public knowledge that all critical stakeholders of the Niger Delta region, including Elders and Traditional Rulers, are in full support of Ndiomu’s undertakings at the PAP,” he said.

According to Horsfall, Ndiomu is widely loved and accepted across the region, adding that he should not to be deterred by the whims and caprices of ” a few dishonest elements who are displaying the shortsighted physiognomies of some of our people”.

He called on the general public to disregard any sponsored statements from those individuals who have in the past come forth with fraudulent and bogus contract claims that PAP has refused to attend to.

He alleged that such unpatriotic individuals in the past were fished out as those having multiple accounts linked to one BVN and fraudulently collecting monthly stipends for many years.

“Their negative plans against Ndiomu would not work, because the PAP Interim Administrator is transparent and accountable in all his activities at the PAP.

“We commend Ndiomu on the recently launched Cooperative Scheme, and considers it one of the best ways to create windows of opportunities for youths in the region,”.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Maritime: Why we must resuscitate SLOFFEA – Official

The Shipping Lines Association of Nigeria (SAN) says the moribund Shipping Lines Operators and Freight Forwarders Employers Association (SLOFFEA), will be resuscitated.

It says the association will be resuscitated to handle the setting of minimum standard for payment in the maritime industry.

The Chairman of SAN, Mrs Boma Alabi (SAN), told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday that SLOFFEA was the appropriate body empowered by law to look into setting of standard for payment in the maritime industry.

She said that the body, which had been moribund since 10 years ago, would be resuscitated with the help of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

Alabi noted that the call to resuscitate the association was important, to address the issue of minimum standard and conditions of service being pushed to SAN by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).

The SAN chairman said that SLOFFEA was recognised by the Ministry of Labour as the umbrella body for the industry, noting that it was quoted in the ministry’s Act.

She said that to that extent, it was a body recognised by the government to represent the association.

Alabi said it was not funded by government, but industry people made up of freight forwarders, shipping lines and others.

According to her, resuscitating it will ensure that whatever is arrived at in the course of negotiation, the body will be the one to sign on behalf of all employers with the maritime workers union.

She said that an interim committee for SLOFFEA had been set up, chaired by her.

On the strike called by the workers union scheduled to begin on June 5, Alabi said that they had always been negotiating with the union, but unfortunately, nothing fruitful had come out of it.

“We went negotiating with the workers union and during the period of negotiation, they had written to Federal Ministry of Labour complaining that they were not in talks, and the ministry mandated the shippers council to call all parties together.

“The council now took the role of a mediator on the basis of that mandate.

“In the meeting, we made it clear to them that SAN is a voluntary organisation with no authority to bind its members and members are not made up of the entire industry.

“We said that talking to SAN alone would not achieve their objectives of setting industry standard. We are about 13/14 members in SAN while there are over a hundred players in the industry,” she said.

She said that the workers union opined that they had majority working for them, up to 80 per cent.

“We asked, what of the other 20 per cent? Don’t they deserve a minimum standard? They do, so they should bring all of them into the conversation.

“We are not shying away from the conversation and we want it done across board, so that we truly set a minimum standard in the industry.

“SAN that they are talking to are about the elite in the industry, the minimum standard that they are even setting, we have even exceeded it in what we are paying and they know that,” she said.

Alabi said that this pushed towards resuscitating SLOFFEA, adding that despite the call to resuscitate it, they did not hamper negotiation with the union, which was still on until May 31 when the union walked out on the meeting.

“The argument was for eight hours plus one hour lunch break. They said that the eight hours plus one hour lunch break means seven hours.

“We presented the position of Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on this and they said NECA was representing employers. so they don’t expect NECA to say anything against the employers.

`The next thing was the union calling for strike from June 5. It is unfortunate we are going to go down that way. But we can’t predict what the workers will do, we are still reaching out to them.

“Our workers’ interest is always our priority because it’s not in anybody’s interest to shutdown the port. Nigerians are already suffering enough and adding this to the chaos being faced. The day is not over yet,” she said.

She pointed out that its members average salary per worker was N500,000, adding that they pay higher than the oil sector the union was comparing them with .

“Negotiation is about give and take, everytime you don’t get what you want, you walk out. Sit at the table and we will reason with each other.

“NECA has said eight working hours plus one hour lunch, so full days is nine hours, but they are arguing that the eight hours is inclusive of lunch which means they are working seven hours.

“They should also look at the labour Act. And walking out is not helping us, that is why we come back and forth as if we are not moving forward,” she said.

NAN reports that the maritime workers union on June 1, announced plans to shut down port operations starting from June 5.

The President-General of the union, Adewale Adeyanju, cited unwillingness of the management of shipping companies to discuss the welfare and working conditions of their employees as reason for the strike call.

He said series of interventions and discussions had been explored but the management of shipping companies did not come up with a long-term solution to resolve welfare issues.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Military officers’ wives donate solar-powered borehole to barracks

The Unique 38 Regular Course Ladies Welfare Association on Saturday, donated two solar-powered borehole to the residents of Ushafa Military Camp in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The association, made up of wives of the members of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) 38 Regular Course executed the project as part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of the residents.

The Chairperson of the association, Mrs Judith Akinjobi, said the group had always sought to make a positive difference and had been relentless in championing numerous causes towards improving the living conditions of others.

Akinjobi said the association had consistently sought improvements in the lots of widows, children, the sick and other vulnerable individuals and groups in the society.

“Today, we are witnessing the inauguration of our latest endeavour, two Solar Powered Borehole Water System.

“This idea was conceived with the understanding of the vital importance of clean, accessible water to the development and well-being of our communities.

“Indeed access to clean water ought not to be a luxury, but a necessity and in fact a fundamental human right.

“I am therefore delighted to see this project come to life, bringing hope and joy to the lives of the barrack residents, specifically Ushafa camp,” she said.

The President, Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA), Mrs Vickie Irabor, commended the women for identifying a gap in barracks and meeting the needs.

Irabor said that military wives had become forces to reckon with, adding that military wives associations were erroneously seen as a group of idle women in the past.

She said that such wrong notions among military officers had been eroded by the life impact projects being undertaken by the associations in barracks communities.

She also appreciated their husbands for the continuous support that they had been giving to their spouses to be able to touch lives, urging the women to show more love to their husbands.

The Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, said the project was executed out of the desire of the women to add value to humanity and improve the quality of life in the barrack.

Bashir said the borehole would enhance the sanitary condition of the personnel NDC, DHQ and services headquarters accommodated in the camp.

He described the initiative by the unique ladies as commendable, adding that it would touch the lives of all the personnel across the services.

He said that the additional two boreholes to the existing five would ease the challenge of having seamless flow of water because the continuous increase in population.

In his remarks, the President, NDA RC38, Maj.-Gen. Solomon Uduonwa, commended the women for the actualisation of the project.

Uduonwa reassured them of their support at all time to continue to touch lives.

“We will always support you. You play very critical roles in our lives. We can’t stand without you.

“You hold the home front and more importantly, at this time that we are getting closer and closer to the end of our careers, we rely on you to keep,” he said.

The President, Nigerian Army Officers Wives’ Association (NAOWA), Mrs Salamatu Yahaya and her counterparts from Navy and Air Force commended the efforts of the women.

The NAOWA president personally graced the occasion as NOWA and NAFOWA presidents were represented.

The ladies also used the occasion to unveil their new uniform.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

Will Tinubu administrtion end fuel subsidy controversy?

No policy in Nigeria’s petroleum industry has generated more controversy than subsidy removal. Since the return to democracy in 1999, it has defied ministers and even the entire lifespan of administrations.

The argument is that the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly known as petrol by is lower than international benchmarks.

Proponents of subsidy therefore say Federal Government has to take care of the excess through the subsidy policy.

Opponents of the policy disagree, insisting that it is a waste of public funds, a drain on the commonwealth. They want it stopped.

Removing subsidy means leaving the cost of PMS in the hands of international market forces of demand and supply.

They say it would also to pave the way for vibrant competition in PMS procurement and distribution.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in its Petrol Price Watch for February 2023 indicated that the average retail price of one litre of petrol rose from N170.42 in February 2022 to N263.76 in February 2023.

The figure represents an astronomical 54.76 per cent increase.

Sector operators have hinted that PMS pump price could go up as high as N600 per litre if subsidy for the product is removed.

They say it will likely drop to around N400/N500 if government encouraged Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allocate forex to marketers at official rate.

Nigeria spent over N13 trillion subsidising PMS between 2005 and 2021, a figure equivalent to Nigeria’s entire budget for health, education, agriculture and defence in the last five years.

Orji Ogbonaya Orji the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative disclosed this to the Ad-hoc Committee investigating subsidy regime between 2013 and 2021, chaired by Hon Ibrahim Aliyu

It is almost the country’s capital expenditure for 10 years between 2011 and 2020.

According to a 2022 World Bank report, subsidy payments could significantly impact on public finance and pose debt sustainability concerns for Nigeria.

Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) revealed that the amount being spent as subsidy on PMS had crossed N400 billion monthly threshold.

Malam Mele Kyari, NNPCL’s Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), explained that the NNPCL was spending about N202 as subsidy on every litre of petrol consumed nationwide?

He said NNPCL was conscious of the occasional disruptions in the supply of the product but assured that as the sole importer of petrol the company would continue to meet its obligations to Nigerians.

Kyari said at the final cutover ceremony of NNPC and the birth of NNPCL in Abuja that “we are transferring to our customers at N113/litre, which means there is a difference of close to N202 for every litre of PMS we import.

“In computation N202 multiplied by 66.5 million litres of PMS, multiplied by 30 will give you over N400 billion of subsidy every month,” he said..

Mr Lawal Musa, Senior Business Advisor to the GCEO, NNPCL, said opportunity cost of the subsidy spending could, among others provide basic infrastructures including 7.500 kilometres of road network annually at N400 million per kilometre.

He spoke in Abuja at a joint National Association of Nigerian Students, (NANS) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), sensitisation workshop on the NNPCL operations.

“Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil in Africa, possessing 28 per cent of Africa’s reserve, with petroleum contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

“However, the benefits derived have over the years been eroded due to the amount paid on subsidy, a regime that has been fuelling the vicious circle of poverty in the country,” he told the audience..

To add to the controversy Mr Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, he said the Federal Government was committed to subsidy removal but was considering all indices, to ensure that the effect would not be harsh on average Nigerians.

“As we speak we are still taking a very close look at how best to achieve subsidy without disrupting the entire ecosystem of livelihood in Nigeria.

“We have to ensure that the buffers are in place and forex is made available for imports,” Aduda said”, he was recently quoted by the media as saying.

The National Economic Council (NEC) said recently that consultations were still ongoing with state governors and other stakeholders on the most appropriate ways to approach the policy.

“NEC deliberated on the issue extensively and came to the conclusion that the subsidy must be removed as it is not sustainable.

“There is the need for further consultations especially with members of the incoming administration and the representatives of state governments”, said Dr Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

She said this in a statement signed by Tanko Abbdullahi, her media aide.

Subsidy removal is already backed by law through Petroleum Industry Act (PIA 2021). Signed into law in 2021 by the President Mohammadu Buhari, the Act provides for total deregulation of the downstream sector.

Some operators in the oil and gas sector have decried the fact that deregulation which is one of the the most fundamental aspects of PIA 2021 has not been implemented.

Mr Olumide Adeosun, CEO, Ardova PLC., Mr Tayo Akinwunmi, Chairman, Petroleum Contractors Trade Session (PCTS LCCI) and Mr Oladotun Isiaka, Executive Director, Deepwater, Exxonmobil Nigeria called for full deregulation of the downstream sector of the industry.

However, some experts have urged caution in the implementation of subsidy removal sections of the Act.

Prof. Olanrewaju Aladeitan an Associate Professor of Energy and Natural Resources at University of Abuja said before its removal, proper planning, including revamping the nation’s refineries should be carried out.

“We expect those indices to be in place for us to benefit from the competitive advantage of being an oil producing country to avoid an untoward hardship on the citizenry”, he told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“For us at IPMAN, our position remains that the subsidy should be removed because of the preferential for dollar which is so difficult to source”, ,said Mr Chinedu Okorokwo, National President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN).

Okoronkwo said if subsidy was removed, PMS could be sold at N500 per litre, adding that it was therefore necessary for government to make concerted efforts to cushion its effects on the citizenry.

Mr Charlse Majomi, Managing Director, Trajan Energy Ltd and an Adviser to the Federal Government on Gas-based Industrialisation, said continuing with subsidy meant spending funds that could have gone to critical sectors such as education and health on PMS.

He said diversifying energy sources would mean that the country will not virtually rely on PMS for power.

“If that is done we will not need to rely on PMS; because of that, we will not need to import and we would not require to subsidise costs”, he told NAN.

One of the opponents of subsidy removal is the organised labour. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said in a recent media interview the union remained opposed to the policy because of its potential to aggravate workers’ hardship if poorly implemented

“We are opposed to the removal of fuel subsidy until the Nigerian government acts responsibly by fixing our moribund refineries,” Hakeem Ambali, NLC national treasurer of the NLC

“Let the government license and serve as the regulator by standardising the operation of private refineries to service the domestic value chain”, he said.

As the fuel subsidy removal controversy rages observers of developments in the sector urge the relevant authorities to take a decisive decision on the matter after thoroughly considering its pros and cons.

They say it is necessary that this process is completed as quickly as possible by the incoming administration.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria