From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to effect payment of doctors, nurses and other health workers for the period they were on strike in 2018 and 2021.
The Minister Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed this while briefing with newsmen after meeting with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Thursday, said the payment will be for the two months the resident doctors went on strike in 2021 and the three months the nurses and other health workers down tools in 2018.
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According to him: “Mr. President has approved last week and I have the authority and letter, directing the Minister of Finance to release the funds of the resident doctors for September and October 2021, which was seized in conformity with the law.
“In the same vein, the approval also covers members of the JOHESU who went on strike in 2018 for three months. After the first month, after March, when they couldn’t come back, we asked that their pay be suspended, this is in tandem with the ILO principles at work. You have a right to strike, but the employer has a right to stop your remuneration and if possible, use it to keep his enterprise going by taking new hands, where possible, especially in essential services.
“So that same money for 2018 April and May Mr. President has again approved that the Finance Minister refunds or re-imburse, on compassionate grounds, those payments. This is predicated on the grounds that this group of workers has been showing a lot of dedication and concern to the COVID and that their Hazard Allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before”.
Oil theft: Wike tasks traditional rulers to dislodge illegal refinery operators
From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers in the State not to allow illegal crude oil artisanal refining (kpo-fire) activities to take place in their domains anymore.
Governor Wike gave the charge at a meeting he had with traditional rulers in the State at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The meeting was also attended by heads of the security agencies and chairmen of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State.
Governor Wike told the traditional rulers that those involved in illegal refinery activities are sabotaging the national economy.
He regretted that the Federal Government which controls the oil industry and the security agencies has been indifferent to the soot pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on the health of the residents of Rivers State.
He expressed: “I should think that the way federal government intends to fight insurgency, is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is a sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage. It affects our own revenue.
“If we are supposed to produce 2 million barrels for example, we are now producing 1.2 million. And in that 1.2 million barrels, it affects Rivers State because we are not producing up to the number we are supposed to produce, and then we can’t get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”
The governor also said illegal crude oil refinery activities constitute environmental hazard capable of causing cancer related illnesses in the State.
According to him, his primary concern is to ensure that the health of residents of the State is not jeopardised.
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“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to see how this thing can be stopped. As I speak to you, nobody has called me from the Federal Government to say how they can support us. But that is not my business.
“My business is the health of my people. I will not because the Federal Government is not interested to stop it, therefore, my people should die. If everybody dies, who are you going to govern?”
The governor, therefore, urged the traditional rulers not to be less concerned about the activities of illegal oil refinery operators, but to frantically mobilise members of their Community Development Committees (CDC) and the leadership of their youth groups to work in synergy to dislodge them from their domain.
Governor Wike berated the Nigerian Police for being complicit in the criminal act of illegal oil bunkering, which is why they are not very committed to the fight to stop the operations.
He also described as embarrassing how officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have continued to be complicit in the act and shamelessly be involved in sabotaging the national economy.
He said: “I don’t know how I can be a security officer sent to a place to protect people, to protect whatsoever belongs to the Federal Government, at the same time, I’m involved in sabotaging the national economy. I don’t understand how I can wear uniform and be involved in that. If they do not want to support us, we have no choice but to expose all the atrocities that is going on in this State.”
Governor Wike said he recently received intelligence that an Army major was providing exit services to illegally refined petroleum products and he had to send security personnel to thwart this.
“In fact, I had to send my special security to go and intercept a major who was trying to escort some of these illegal products.”
The governor declared that his administration will not hesitate to expose any security personnel involved in such illegal refinery activities.
Governor Wike frown at the inability of the Nigeria Police to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka and other members of the illegal bunkering cartel operating at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area .
He said the names of all indicted persons would be published soon and they will be declared wanted.
Policeman, businessman killed as youth gangs clash in Minna
One policeman and a businessman have been killed as a result of gang fights which has become a norm within Minna, the Niger State capital, as the government and security agencies seem to be unable to find a solution to these fights that have led to the loss of lives and properties.
The fight is usually between youths of different areas who choose the streets of Minna as their battlefield.
Security personnel were able to quell the clash which started on Thursday between the youth of Limawa and Ogbomosho areas.
On Friday morning, they regrouped and disrupted the Minna central area, dispersing business owners who had to lock their shops and scamper to safety.
Our correspondent gathered that in the process of the clash, one of the traders whose shop is located along Ogbomosho Road was stabbed and later died in the hospital.
There are conflicting reports on how the policeman died. While some said he was mistakenly killed by his colleague, others said it was the clashing youths that killed him.
The policeman was said to have been among those drafted to the area to control the clash and protect other citizens.
The majority of the shops in the area have remained closed.
Gang clashes have become frequent in Minna, making residents and commuters live in fear as the fights occur on major roads with the gang members fighting with stones and knives.
Residents usually get attacked, injured, have their goods stolen while windshields of cars get shattered in the course of such fights.
A call put through to the Niger State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, went unanswered as of the time of filing this report.