State chapters and affiliate unions of the Nigeria Labour Congress are already gearing up for a possible declaration of a nationwide strike following the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum given the Federal Government to provide palliatives to cushion the pains associated with the recent fuel subsidy removal.
The organised labour had earlier embarked on a two-day warning strike to press home its demands.
After the warning strike, the NLC gave the government a 21-day ultimatum within which to meet its demands.
With the expiration of the ultimatum on Friday, the NLC has scheduled an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council for Tuesday at noon.
The council’s next line of action is expected to be decided at the virtual meeting.
In a notice of the meeting dated September 22, 2023, seen by Sunday PUNCH, the congress’ General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, told the Presidents, General Secretaries and Treasurers of its affiliates that “Your attendance (at the meeting) will be of utmost importance.”
Ahead of the meeting, however, state chapters of the NLC told Sunday PUNCH on Saturday that they were ready to mobilise full participation if the NEC declared a strike on Tuesday.
This is just as Sunday PUNCH learnt on Saturday evening that as part of its last-minute moves to prevent a strike, the Federal Government may meet with labour leaders again this week.
“Yes, the government delegation will meet with them maybe on Monday. The idea is to ensure that we prevent the strike. The nation cannot afford a shutdown of its economy at this time,” a government source said.
Another government source told Sunday PUNCH that the FG will continue to appeal for understanding from the labour leaders.
“The government has just increased the salaries of junior lecturers by 23.5 per cent. There is the need for an understanding,” the source said.
When contacted, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said, “I am not yet back, I am airborne now to London. No update yet.”
The Ekiti State Chairman of the NLC, Kolapo Olatunde, told one of our correspondents that workers in the state would participate fully if the NEC resolved to declare a strike.
Olatunde said “NLC NEC’s decision supersedes any other decision. If the decision up there in NEC is that we should go on strike, we have no option.
“We will also come down and decide the State Executive Council level, but the decision of the NEC supersedes any other decision.
“If the NEC says we are going on strike, everybody will go on strike, that is the implication.”
The situation is the same in Gombe State where the state Secretary of NLC, Ibrahim Fika, said the chapter would comply fully with the industrial action should the NEC order such.
Fika said, “We will comply 100 per cent by God’s grace. There is no doubt about that.
“It’s after the Tuesday meeting that we will know when to proceed, and whether the people will be given time to prepare but Gombe NLC is fully ready 100 per cent.
A similar scenario is playing out in Sokoto State where the state chapter said it would join the strike whenever the national headquarters decides.
The state chairman, Abdullahi Jungle, confirmed this while speaking with one of our correspondents.
He said, “We are waiting for the decision of the national headquarters. Once a decision is taken on the strike, we will join.”
Also in Plateau State, members of the NLC vowed to comply if the union decides to go strike.
The state chairman, Eugene Manji, said, “We are a democratic union. Our NEC meeting scheduled for Tuesday is going to be via Zoom. So, if the majority decides that the union is going on strike, workers in Plateau State cannot disobey the decision of NEC but will comply.”
The matter is not different in Benue State where the chairman, Terungwa Igbe, said the chapter would comply with any directive from the national secretariat.
“If it’s a national directive to go on strike, we will surely join,” he said.
Kano State is not different as the state chapter expressed its readiness to comply with any directive from the national headquarters.
The state chairman, Kabiru Inuwa, said, “The NEC may decide to go on strike and may decide not to go. But whatever decision is taken, the Kano State chapter will abide by it.
“So, we have to wait and see what will be the outcome of the meeting.”
The Niger State chapter also said it was ready to comply with any directive from the national leadership of the NLC.
The state chairman, Idrees Lafena, said, “We don’t have an option than to comply with the directive of our parent body. The Federal Government has been given enough time to rethink and retrace its steps but it is adamant. It is not finding a lasting solution and does not want to do the needful.
“The two-day warning strike which was hugely successful in Niger State and Nigeria at large was an opportunity for the Bola Tinubu administration to do serious thinking and retrace his steps. Nigerian workers can no longer bear the hardship when there is no termination point for the hardship. We don’t have an option.
“We will ensure that the Federal Government is compelled to do the right thing. Niger State will be shut down by the strike once we get the directive from our national leaders.”
The Zamfara State chapter of the NLC also said it was ready to embark on a strike action if the national body of the union gave a directive to that effect.
The state chairman, Sani Halliru, said, “We in Zamfara State are only waiting for the directive and I am assuring you that, as soon as we receive it, we will join the strike.
“We will shut down the state as soon as we are given the go-ahead to embark on strike action.
“I was part of the meeting and I came back on Friday. So, I see no reason why I should not join the strike if I receive a directive from the national body of our great union.”
Workers in Yobe State have also expressed readiness to embark on strike if the national headquarters of the NLC calls for the action after its Tuesday meeting.
“We are ever ready to participate in the strike if the national body of NLC directs all states to do so.
“We will join the strike because all the issues at stake concern every worker in Nigeria, including you, journalists. We will comply with whatever decision is taken at the Tuesday meeting,” the state chairman of NLC, Mukhtar Tarbutu, told Sunday PUNCH.
The Rivers State chairman, Alex Agwanwor, said the state chapter would comply fully with the national directive in the event of a declaration of strike.
When our correspondent asked Agwanwor if the state chapter would comply fully if a strike was declared, he simply replied, “Yes.”
The Bayelsa State chapter said it would mobilise its members to participate in any strike action declared by the national leadership of the body.
The state chairman, Simon Barnabas, said, “NLC anywhere is NLC, so we will not do anything different. That’s how other state councils will be part of the event.
“The strike is not targeted at the state government but the Federal Government. What we are doing is to attract the attention of President Bola Tinubu and the need for something to be done to get us out of this untold hardship meted out to us as a result of fuel subsidy removal.
“The only thing we see that he can do now is he can revamp our refineries to functional status so that the Naira will have value. Otherwise the one-one naira they think they want to give to people will not go anywhere.”
Akwa Ibom State chairman of the NLC, Sunny James, said there was no way the chapter would shun the strike.
“There’s going to be an official meeting to determine that but if there is going to be a strike, there is no way we will not join. Are we not the state council of NLC?” he asked.
The Adamawa State chairman of NLC, Emmanuel Fashe, said, “If we are not comfortable with the system, we should give support to labour leaders so that whatever that is being decided, we as Nigerians will comply and give them all the necessary support.
“You can see people suffering but when you call them out to join forces, to demonstrate and cry out to the government, they will shy away from it. This unfortunately is the Nigerian reality for you as we speak today.
“Things are hard but even for people within the community to organise themselves to come out and cry against the repressive economic policies of government is very hard. Labour leaders don’t have separate markets, we all go to the same market and it is the support of the public that we require to be successful in our agitations for a responsive system.”
The Kaduna NLC chairman, Ayuba Suleiman, said, “We are not outside the NLC. We shall be part of the NEC and every decision taken is binding on all state councils.”
The NLC in Abia State said its members would join the strike.
The state chairman, Pascal Nweke, said, “We are under them. If they decide to go on strike after Tuesday’s NEC meeting, the Abia State chapter will join them.”
The Kebbi State chairman, Murtala Usman, said, “I am sure that no state chapter of NLC will refuse to join the strike if the decision is reached by the national headquarters of the union.
“We are the ones that called for the meeting and by the time NEC briefs us on the outcome, the decision will be taken and we shall abide by it.”
The Taraba State Chairman, Peter Jediel, said, “Yes, we are ready to join the strike but we are waiting for an official communication.
“I just returned from a meeting of the union where the issue of the strike was discussed and we are willing to comply with the directive if the national union sends us a notice of strike.
“We are expecting that notice between tomorrow (Sunday) and Monday and we will fully comply.”
However, the Oyo State chapter said it would not pre-empt the outcome of the Tuesday meeting.
The state Chairman, Kayode Martins, said, “We have not heard from the national secretariat of the NLC so we can’t pre-empt them. Let’s see the outcome of the NEC meeting, then we will call our state meeting as well.”
The Ondo State secretary of the NLC, Akin Sunday, said, “ I cannot say anything much about the strike because my chairman is preparing to go to Abuja for the NEC meeting. The decision of the NEC at the meeting would determine what would happen next.”
The Katsina State Chairman of the NLC, Hussaini Hamisu, said, “We should not jump the gun. The NEC of the union is meeting on Tuesday. We would rather wait for its decision on the strike. Let us await the decision of the NEC. “
The Chairman of the NLC in Lagos State, FunmI Sessi, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, also said the outcome of the meeting scheduled for Tuesday will determine if the congress in the state will join the strike.
“They have called us for a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, so it’s on that day that we will know our stance. Let us leave everything till that Tuesday. We will know the outcome then,” she said.
The Edo State chairman of the NLC, Odion Olaye, said he was yet to receive a directive on the matter.
“I am yet to receive any directive concerning the strike action,” he said
The Delta State chairman of the NLC, Goodluck Ofobruku, also said the council would comply with the decision of the NEC.
“Yes, but there’s a NEC meeting on Thursday where a decision will be taken,” he said.
The president of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, clocked 100 days in office this week. He was elected to the position on June 13 in a keenly contested poll shaped by intrigues, acrimony and high-wired politics which observers described as a heavily monetized election due to the role money played in the race.
Akpabio polled 63 votes to defeat his lone challenger, Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara State, who secured 46 votes.
Soon after Akpabio emerged as the number three citizen, the jostle for principal offices also caused disquiet among senators in both majority and minority caucuses.
After days of intense lobbying and politicking, Akpabio on July 4 announced the emergence of principal officers, which he said was in line with agreements by the caucuses of the majority and the minority parties.
But a few hours after the announcement, Abdullahi Adamu, the then APC national chairman, disowned the list, saying the party was not involved in the process that threw up the principal officers.
Some top party chieftains saw Adamu’s action as lack of respect for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was said to have endorsed the names of principal officers announced by the Senate President.
Notwithstanding the controversies that shaped the emergence of its leaders, the 10th Senate had a smooth take-off.
Unlike his predecessors, Akpabio has been piloting the affairs of the Red Chamber without a legislative agenda, which specifies areas the parliament intends to achieve with legislations.
He had promised to partner with the executive for the sole benefit of Nigerians.
Within three months, the 10th Senate under Akpabio had considered some requests seeking the parliament’s nod from the presidency, including loans, confirmation of nominees and budget amendment.
The Red Chamber sat through odd hours and non-legislative days to screen and confirm ministerial nominees. It closed plenary a few minutes to 11pm on August 7, ensuring that all businesses of the day were attended to. Out of the 48 nominees sent by President Tinubu, 45 were approved. The remaining three were rejected over security clearance.
Daily Trust reports that the Senate had, through oversight, intervened on some national issues.
Akpabio had led his colleagues in engaging the leadership of labour unions to suspend nationwide strikes by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)/Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
“Because of the intervention of the President of the Senate, who is the number three citizen and the assurance he has given us, our planned national protest has been cancelled while the decision on the ongoing strike would be taken as soon as we meet,” Dr Emeka Innocent Orji, NARD National President, had told reporters after meeting behind closed door with Akpabio and other Principal Officers of the Senate.
The Senate also considered a motion asking the federal government to halt the proposed 40 percent hike in electricity tariff. Following the parliament’s resolution, relevant authorities in the power sector suspended the planned tariff increment.
Similarly, the Red Chamber also declined to approve military action in Niger Republic.
Impeachment plot, other controversies
These gains were, however, overshadowed by the controversies that rocked Akpabio’s Senate presidency in the last three months.
The Senate is yet to resume from its long recess when the report of an alleged plot to impeach the Senate President filtered in, with pro and anti-Akpabio groups trading blames.
It was reported last weekend that some northern lawmakers had commenced moves to impeach Akpabio and had already met in Saudi Arabia to perfect the plot.
The anti-Akpabio lawmakers were said to be irked by the damage being done to governance by what they called imaginary impeachment plot targeted at pitching senators against President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
They expressed worries that instead of creating synergy between the executive arm of government and the legislature for meaningful national development, Akpabio had created an imaginary war between the two vital arms of government.
Senator Elisha Ishaku Abbo (Adamawa) had, in a statement, claimed that loyalists of the Senate President sponsored the report to set northern senators against President Tinubu, urging Akpabio to call his camp to order.
But the camp of the Senate President claimed that some rivals regrouped using as a reason his apparent failure to check the lopsided appointments by the president in favour of the Yoruba, especially in the financial sector.
Sources within Akpabio group said some former northern governors and at least one from the South-South were behind the move.
“The main issue is our fear that Akpabio cannot check this Yorubanisation of the financial system that is going on now.
“Yes, the reason why you can see that northerners are mostly involved is that most of those being removed and replaced with Yoruba are northerners,” a source in Akpabio’s camp said.
He claimed that the main objective of the dissident senators was to enthrone a Senate president the group believes can checkmate President Bola Tinubu.
Akpabio had dismissed the report of the impeachment move, describing it as complete imaginations and sometimes laced with malice, saying the Senate under his leadership is stable.
‘Holiday allowance’ saga
The “holiday enjoyment allowance” remark by the Senate President on August 7 shortly before adjourning plenary for a long recess had attracted heavy criticism.
Apparently forgetting that the proceeding was being captured on live camera, Akpabio stated that, “to enable all of us to enjoy our holiday, a token has been sent to our various bank accounts by the Clerk of the National Assembly.’’
Upon being told by some of his colleagues that the live coverage of the event was still on, he quickly retracted, and said, “I withdraw that statement. To allow you to enjoy your holiday, the Senate president has sent prayers to your mailboxes to assist you to go on a safe journey and return.”
The “holiday bonus” comment came weeks after the lawmakers were allocated N70 billion to support their “working conditions” in an amended 2022 supplementary appropriation act.
Nigerians lampooned the Senate President, saying it was very unfortunate that such a statement could be made by Akpabio at a time when Nigerians are still waiting for any form of succour from the government, following the subsidy removal.
‘Let the poor breathe’
The sarcastic “Let the poor breathe” comment by Akpabio-led 10th Senate amid the prevailing economic hardship attracted widespread anger from Nigerians.
In an apparent solidarity with the masses, the Senate had passed an important resolution to cause the suspension of the proposed electricity tariff hike by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the electricity distribution companies in a manner many considered ridiculous.
“The prayer is that, let the poor breathe, and Senator Mustapha has seconded that the poor should breathe. Those who are in support of the additional prayer that the poor should be allowed to breathe, say ‘ayes’ and those who are against say ‘nay,’” Akpabio had said jocularly.
In response, the senators said, “Aye”, to which Akpabio said, “The ayes have it! The poor must be allowed to breathe.”
This remark was spontaneously followed by laughter that resonated with the rest of the senators.
While some condemned the action as a brazen mockery of ordinary masses they are elected to defend, others said it represented sarcasm, a sense of triumph over an attempt to suffocate the poor and a response to the Senate president’s humorous gesture.
Akpabio’s media team had defended the statement, saying the ‘let the poor breathe’ remark “was to firmly reject any plan of increasing electricity tariffs for Nigerians, considering the ongoing economic challenges that Nigerians are faced with.
Speedy loan approval
In what seemed like the continuation of the 9th Senate’s practice, the Red Chamber under Akpabio speedily approved a request by President Tinubu to borrow $800m from the World Bank to scale up the national social safety net programme.
The parliament also gave accelerated approval to Tinubu’s request to amend the N819.5bn 2022 supplementary budget.
Both requests were approved 24 hours after Tinubu sent them to the parliament. Critics had decried the speed with which the borrowing requests were approved without thorough work.
The Senate had promised that it would be thorough in scrutinising the records, antecedents, suitability and competence of the individuals nominated to occupy ministerial positions.
While the Senators were praised by some for sitting through odd hours to complete the screening exercise before going on annual recess, they were, however, bashed by others for lack of proper grilling of nominees, some of whom, especially their former colleagues, were asked to merely take a bow and leave.
One nominee was asked to take a bow and go not because of her track record but simply for the reason that she got emotional.
Critics said the discrepancies noticed in the nominees’ records — such as one who is currently an NYSC member, another whose records showed that he did the national youth service at a time he was a member of the National Assembly as well as the one who started primary school at age of three — but not satisfactorily resolved before confirmation was a reflection of a job not thoroughly done.
The federal government has launched the national talent export programme (NATEP) aimed at creating at least one million jobs within the next five years.
Doris Uzoka-Anite, minister of trade and investment, disclosed this on Friday on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
She said the programme is in line with President Bola Tinubu’s agenda to diversify the nation’s economy and create opportunities for youths.
“NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service export, talent sourcing and talent export,” Uzoka-Anite said.
“As part of our strategy towards achieving this, we have initiated a national talent export programme for Nigeria, which targets the creation of 1 million jobs across Nigeria over five years.
“NATEP is a key national initiative that will serve as a special purpose vehicle to position Nigeria as a leading global hub for service exports, talent sourcing and talent export.”
She said Tinubu’s renewed hope agenda is to grow and diversify the economy to create “50 million jobs” for Nigerians.
Uzoka-Anite said Nigeria can supply top talent for the global service export and outsourcing business with over 1.7 million graduates from higher education institutions entering the workforce annually.
“NATEP will serve as a dedicated entity to address the unique needs and challenges faced by the talents and service export industry,” she said.
“The programme will lay special emphasis on enhancing competitiveness, fostering innovation and driving sustainable growth through trade and services.”
The minister said Nigeria will take advantage of the African continental free trade agreement to access the continent’s market.
“The four-pronged objectives of the NATEP initiative are as follows: to deliver one million service export jobs over the next five years; to increase foreign exchange earnings and revenue for Nigeria; to create economic growth and to stimulate the growth of ancillary industries and support services and to improve skills and strengthening the Nigerian brand,” she said.
‘NIGERIA SHOULD BE INTENTIONAL’
Also speaking, Bosun Tijani, minister of communications, innovation and digital economy, said Nigeria must be “intentional” about exporting talent so that the country will get value.
He said while the country cannot prevent citizens from migrating, it can take advantage of the opportunity.
“I think one thing we’ve not done well is actually to be intentional around how we milk that opportunity for our own economic development. And this is why this program is extremely important,” he said.
He added that Nigeria can benefit from talent export because those leaving will “bring value back to us as well”.
Despite Nigeria’s worsening economic crisis, elected leaders, especially governors across the states, still retain a large number of political aides, thereby ignoring calls for austerity measures, Sunday Vanguard has learnt.
No fewer than 5, 000 political aides were found to have been appointed by 22 state governors.
Apart from Commissioners, who are statutorily required to perform executive functions, governors retain a retinue of aides in sampled states.
This is despite ongoing conversations around the high cost of governance which have gained traction lately.
To the average Nigerian, the size of government at the state level is over-bloated and too much of a burden for the economy to carry.
Citizens across political divides are worried over the seemingly lackadaisical attitude of sub-governments to address the issue in line with the current economic realities.
The matter is worsened by the fact that most of the states, apart from being highly indebted, struggle to perform their financial obligations.
Some are notorious for owing salary arrears while others are indebted to pensioners.
For instance, the Debt Management Office, DMO, in May 2023, raised the alarm that 16 of the nation’s 36 states were threatened by N2.9 trillion debts.
It said the states’ borrowings comprise a total domestic debt of N2.2 trillion and $1.6 billion in external debt as of December 31, 2022.
Interestingly, one of the state governors in the last dispensation had about 38, 000 political aides.
According to then-governor whose state domestic debt stood at N176 billion and external debt totaled $215 million, the aides were appointed to fight poverty.
Though heavily indebted states do not fall under the category of those sampled by this report, the inference aims at highlighting how the governors appoint aides recklessly.
The political appointees include Special Advisers (SAs), Senior Special Assistants (SSAs), Special Assistants, Executive Assistants (EAs), Technical Advisers (TAs) and Assistants.
A breakdown shows that Bayelsa leads with more than 2, 000 aides while Imo’s 668 appointees make it the second highest.
Others include Yobe, 642, Akwa Ibom, 342, Kano, 202, Plateau, 136, Edo, 134, Niger, 131, Adamawa, 97, Enugu, 72, Ebonyi, 58, Abia, 52, Ondo, 45, Benue, 41, Osun, 40, Sokoto, 30, Kebbi, 30, Katsina, 28, Bauchi, 24, Ekiti, 10, Kaduna, 14, Ogun, 10 and Lagos, 6.
In Bauchi, Governor Bala Mohammed has 24 Commissioners, 20 SAs and four Special Assistants.
Governor Dapo Abiodun has so far appointed only 10 aides.
They include eight SAs, Chief Press Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff.
He recently sent a list of eight Commissioner-nominees to the state House of Assembly.
The eight nominees have been screened by the lawmakers, but they are still working as SAs pending their swearing-in.
After the harmonisation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by leaders of the ruling party across Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki approved the appointments of 38 SSAs and 96 Special Assistants.
The appointees were drawn from nine local government areas across the state including Ikpoba-Okha, Owan East, Owan West, Orhionmwon, Ovia South-West, Akoko-Edo, Etsako-West, Etsako-Central and Etsako-East LGAs.
Governor of Kebbi State, Dr Nasir Gwandu, has so far appointed 30 aides and 26 Commissioners.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, eight new ministries have been created for equitable distribution of dividends of democracy in the state.
Idris said the 30 aides were part of plans by the governor to return governance to the people by incorporating the citizenry in decision-making.
To fulfill his campaign pledge of gender inclusiveness, Niger State governor, Umar Bago, appointed 131 women as Coordinators and SSA. They comprised 41 Coordinators and 90 SSAs.
Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State has appointed 23 Commissioners and one Special Adviser as members of his cabinet.
In July, he announced his decision to appoint one Personal Assistant, PA, from each of the 329 wards in the 31 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state.
Others appointed include Mr Essien Ndueso, SSA to the Governor on Research and Documentation, Dr Frank Ekpenyong, SSA to the Governor on ICT & Digital Services, and Morgan Ekanem, SSA on Public Affairs, Website & Multi-media streaming.
Eno also appointed Mr. Wilson Emmanuel Offiong as his Personal Assistant on Student Affairs, and Comrade Ubong Ikpe as his PA on Persons with Disabilities, PWDs.
In Adamawa State, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri appointed 47 media aides. This is besides the 50 Special Advisers that were approved for him by the State House of Assembly.
25 Commissioners were also sworn-in by the governor last month.
In Yobe State, Governor Mai Mala Buni approved the appointment of 523 SAs, 104 SSAs and 15 Liaison Officers. No fewer than 20 Commissioners were also appointed.
Rivers State Governor Siminalaye Fubara has only 14 Commissioners and has yet to make more appointments into key ministries.
A source in the Government House, Port Harcourt said the reason for the delay in appointing aides is not unconnected to concerns over recycling of aides in the state.
The immediate past governor of the state was widely criticized for appointing more than 2, 000 aides.
In Kano State, Governor Abba Yusuf appointed 45 SAs, 109 SSAs/SAs, four Personal Assistants, 44 Senior Special Reporters and Special Reporters.
The governor also has 19 Commissioners.
Katsina State governor, Dikko Umaru Radda, approved the appointment of 14 SAs.
Radda had earlier appointed Alhaji Saidu Ibrahim Danja as his Senior Special Assistant for Victims of Banditry and Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs. The total number of SSAs and SAs is 27 while there are 20 Commissioners.
Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State has so far appointed 22 SAs and Assistants.
He had earlier obtained approval from the State House of Assembly to appoint 50 more SAs. When that is done, the number would increase to 72.
Already, 17 Commissioners have been appointed from the 17 local governments areas of the state.
Sunday Vanguard learned that Abia State governor, Alex Otti, has 52 SAs and Assistants.
This is in addition to Commissioners representing all the LGAs in the state.
Governor of Ebonyi State, Francis Nwifuru, has so far appointed 41 SAs and SSAs.
He also appointed a Special Assistant on Security from each of the 14 LGAs of the state.
There are two Special Assistants for Airport Security. He also has an SSA on Streetlight.
In Benue, Governor Hyacinth Alia appointed 17 SSAs and 24 SAs. 17 Commissioners were also chosen.
In July, Kaduna State governor, Uba Sani, appointed Dr. Daniel Maigari, a former Commissioner for Agriculture, and Febian Okoye, a former aide to Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, a former governor of Sokoto State, along with 12 others, as SAs.
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, appointed six SAs to serve in various capacities across ministries.
In addition, 37 Commissioners were sworn-in last week.
In July, Governor Ahmad Aliyu of Sokoto State appointed 25 SAs.
Earlier, he had appointed three SSAs and two SAs.
Political aides appointed by the Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Deputy Speaker and other principal officers are few compared to what is obtainable at the executive arm.
Checks at the state assembly revealed that the Speaker has a Chief of Staff and few other statutory aides like other principal officers.
But the state governor in particular has a legion of aides.
Appointments are made quite often and most of them are not announced or made public.
There are over 200 social media aides to the governor alone in addition to other aides.
In total, the number of political aides to the governor and his deputy is estimated to be over 2, 000 and still counting.
At an event to commemorate the 2023 World Social Media Day recently, the governor made two fresh appointments to add to the growing numbers of social media aides who are categorized into SSAs on New Media and SAs on New Media.
Meanwhile, some of the aides are said to have no clear-cut duties and responsibilities or offices.
Governor Douye Diri himself had, two years ago, declared that he had made close to 2, 000 political appointments since assuming office.
He made the declaration in September 2021 during a grand reception organised in his honour as well as Senator Seriake Dickson and the member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Fred Agbedi, in Sagbama, by the Bayelsa West Senatorial District chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The governor was speaking against the backdrop of grumblings over appointments.
He said: “Please, don’t divide the house (PDP); don’t divide our family. Our family has moved from the Restoration Government to the Prosperity Government. Don’t divide it.
“Sometimes I’m bothered when people say ‘I have not been given an appointment’. Wait, your turn will come. We have appointed close to 2,000 now, and we are still appointing. So, wait, your turn will come.
“Just because you don’t have an appointment, you want to divide our family. It will not work. Don’t divide our family, we will remain one. Rather, we will bring more people to our family and we have been doing it. They have been coming and we receive them with two hands.”
In Ekiti State, Sunday Vanguard learned that government is the only business as everybody wants to be involved in governance.
Statistics showed that Ekiti parades one of the highest numbers of civil servants and political appointees from state to ward levels in the South-West.
The state’s wage bill is between N2.5 billion and N2.6 billion monthly.
Recently, Governor Biodun Oyebanji forwarded the list of nominees that will constitute his cabinet to the state House of Assembly, comprising 21 Commissioner-nominees and 10 SAs for screening and confirmation.
The delay in appointing cabinet members, according to a source close to the governor, was deliberate to conserve resources.
However, Special Adviser, Media to Ekiti State Governor, Yinka Oyebode, said efforts are being made to reduce the cost of governance.
According to him, deliberate efforts are being made to block loopholes for waste through the use of technological innovation.
Oyebode noted that local contractors have been encouraged to ensure money circulates within the state as part of measures to cut cost of governance.
He went further to reveal that the number of Commissioners and SAs in the present administration was reduced drastically compared to what was obtainable in previous administrations.
His words: “Since the advent of this administration, we have made efforts to cut down the cost of governance as it reflects in different aspects of governance even in appointments.
“The number of Special Advisers has been drastically reduced from what it used to be.
The number of people who travel with the Governor has been reduced. We are deliberately cutting down the cost of governance. You will notice even our contracts are done through direct labour.
“Ekiti State governor has not bought new vehicles and he is moving from one ministry to the other, picking vehicles that have been condemned and fixing them. That is what we have been using now for the last nine months.
“The vehicle the governor is using was what he used as the Secretary to the State Government and the convoy is from the previous administration. All he did was fix them, even the Deputy Governor, wife of the governor, SSG and state officials are doing the same thing. We are deliberately cutting down the cost of governance.
“In the past, the governor had several Pas. Currently, he has just one P.A. Those are deliberate efforts. What he has done now is to merge offices, merge responsibilities to reduce cost of governance.
“Some governments have 36 and all that. He has also told them to use the little money they have to do the basic things and avoid spending money on frivolous things.
“Local government chairmen have been mandated to reduce the cost of governance. We have a committee set up to monitor and document local government projects. You cannot duplicate offices and it cuts across.’’
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State appointed 45 aides in his first term.
He has maintained the same number to date.
Sources said his deputy, Lucky Ayedatiwa, only appointed his Chief Press Secretary while other aides were seconded from the office of the governor.
Sunday Vanguard couldn’t ascertain the exact number of aides seconded to his office out of the 45 appointees of the governor.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Olamide Oladiji, has yet to publicly announce the appointment of his aides, but a source close to him said his appointees are no fewer than 15.
However, the Deputy Speaker, Abayomi Akinruntan, has 10 aides.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that, officially, the Speaker was expected to appoint only four aides and his deputy, three.
Although the Majority and Minority leaders in the House of Assembly have equally not publicly announced their aides, sources said they have no fewer than eight.
“Appointing more aides than required, is just to create jobs for the boys. Some do not even have defined duties,” a source said.
Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke, pledged to work with a lean cabinet given the scarce resources of the state.
However, after appointing the statutory aides in the persons of the Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff and spokesperson, a retinue of media aides was also appointed.
The appointees, including domestic, media and others are about 40.
Adeleke also requested from the state House of Assembly 25 SAs to work with him. By the time the request is granted, the governor is likely to work with a 50-man cabinet.
Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, The Osun Masterminds, TOM, criticized the list of a 50-man cabinet, saying the state has no financial capacity to finance such a “big cabinet”.
Executive Director of the group, Professor Wasiu Oyedokun-Alli, said: “An important issue is the size of the intended cabinet.
“The 25 Commissioner-nominees meant government does not care about making the size of government lean to conserve resources and save the state from financial woes.
“One would expect that at this time in the history of governance in Nigeria, our dear state would reduce the cost of governance.
“CSOs are bothered just like many people over the size of government. Their salaries, allowances and other perks of office including official cars would incur huge expenses for Osun.
“It is also interesting to note that the same Governor Adeleke who sanctioned a staff audit to block leakage and improve the welfare of civil servants cannot avoid having 50 Commissioners and Special Advisers. Our State cannot afford such a financial burden.”
In a riposte, spokesperson for Adeleke, Olawale Rasheed, said: “It is too early to judge the administration over appointments. We will run one the most modest administrations.”
Osun is battling a backlog of workers’ salary arrears as well as pension and gratuity in the region of N70 billion among other inherited debts.
Kogi is one of the states with bloated bureaucracy. From the executive arm of government to the legislature, the state boasts of a retinue of aides for its leaders.
Apart from 21 Commissioners, Governor Yayaha Bello has more than 30 SAs.
Bello also appointed SSAs on Security Matters for each of the state 21 LGAs apart from several SSAs for other portfolios.
Following the inauguration of 247 Advisers recently by Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, the number of his political appointees has increased to about 668.
No fewer than 247 people were inaugurated on behalf of the governor by the Deputy Governor, Placid Njoku, at the Government House, Owerri.
Earlier, the governor had appointed 35 Commissioners as well as 18 SAs.
He later appointed 63 more SAs and SSAs. Last year, Uzodimma appointed 305 Liaison Officers at the 305 ward levels.
At the time of filing this report, the governor has about 668 appointees.
The Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Chike Olemgbe, on his part, has about 20 aides described as support staff.
Other members of the state House of Assembly have no fewer than two aides.
After what was considered an era of magnanimity in dishing out political appointments by the Willie Obiano administration in Anambra State, during which there were over 4, 000 political office holders in the state, his successor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, appears to have drastically slashed the number.
For instance, although the figure of political office holders is not readily available, the number of ministries has been reduced and the multiple SSAs and Special Assistants, as well as Executive Assistants, are not what they used to be.
During the previous administration, Education Ministry had two Commissioners – Tertiary and Basic, just as Works Ministry had the Ministry of Road Infrastructure in addition. Now, the Ministry of Education is one while Works is also one.
During the Obiano administration, most of the SSAs, Special Assistants and Executive Assistants had no functional offices, with many operating from outside the state.
It was common to see up to 10 political appointees attached to one ministry. Now, a few SAs and SSAs have specific functions in departments and agencies.
In Anambra, Commissioners are seen driving themselves while few SSAs, SAs and EAs complain that nothing much is coming to them yet. Some said the state is still in transition, but are optimistic things will normalise later.
An official of the state government, who pleaded anonymity, said the size of government is a deliberate cost saving measure by Soludo.
Plateau State governor, Caleb Mutfwang, approved the appointment of 136 Special Assistants with specific assignments to enable him deliver on his promises to the people.
The appointees spread across the 17 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state and eight was chosen from each LGA.
A statement by the Governor’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Gyang Bere, said their designations will be communicated to them in their respective Local Government Councils.
He said, “The appointees, whose names are listed below, are the first batch. They will assume their roles and responsibilities immediately. Their portfolios will however be communicated to them in their respective Local Government Councils.”
Some of the appointees are Dalyop Pin, Jemima Nyam, Patience Ufwalal, Dachomo Sunday, Shim Malau, Dabot Dung, Pam Nuhu, Samson Chuwang, Aaron Jamo, Gimbia Tahu, Yahaya Ibrahim, Atoyi Daniel, Katuk Ahamdu, Ughili Agaji, Ichi David and Sunday Wada.
Others are Mubarak Isa, Azong Auta, Linda Adeleye, Tele Mangs
Oghranduka Egheleakpo, Maureen Odilimuo, Zal James, Kachollom Moses, Golu Golwok’ah, Beatrice Gontur, Ruth Goma, Wuchir Gozumdang, Wubitwe Waptu, Bakomi Gotom and Joseph Simon.
At least 34 people were killed when a contraband fuel dump burst into flames in southern Benin Republic near the border with Nigeria, a government official said on Saturday.
“A serious fire occurred in the town of Seme Podji,” Interior Minister Alassane Seidou told reporters.
“Unfortunately we have 34 deaths including two babies. Their bodies are charred because the cause of the fire is smuggled fuel.”
The minister said another 20 people were being treated in hospital, including some in a serious condition.
Nigeria is a major oil and gas producer and fuel smuggling is common along its borders, especially when the government maintained a subsidy to keep petrol prices low.
The Yoruba Council of Elders has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgent importance, create an enabling environment for the return of all involuntary exiles, who are victims of past draconian regimes.
The Yoruba elders said that those in exile include “the personages of Professor Banji Akintoye and Chief Sunday Igboho, who were harassed for advocating proper and dignified treatment of their law-abiding kinsmen”.
The elders spoke in a communique signed by YCE scribe, Elder Oladipo Oyewole and Publicity Secretary, Elder Niyi Ajibulu at the end of the council’s meeting of the Secretary-General and state secretaries which was held in Ado Ekiti made available to journalists on Saturday.
Oyewole and Ajibulu, who said YCE had been miffed about the degenerating level of acceptance of Yoruba language, culture and civilisation, said that the meeting also deliberated on the presentation of a book, ‘Yoruba Renaissance, Challenges and Prospects’
They described the book, written by Sir Egunjobi, a renowned educationist, as “a timely enunciation of Yoruba history and contemporary affairs which succinctly illuminates both recurring and emerging challenges and prospects to the Yoruba experience”.
They called on the Federal Government to reaffirm its responsibility to provide equal protection to all citizens and constituent groups in the country.
The Yoruba elders, who took exception to the action of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, against some traditional rulers in Oyo State last week, said that the former president “should certainly apologise and make restitution”.
The elders stated, “The YCE takes exception to the humiliation recently meted out to various traditional rulers of Oyo State by Chief Obasanjo upon the claim of status as a former Head of State. This malfeasance constitutes a shameful affront to the dignity of Yoruba tradition and culture and thus stand condemned”.
Oyewole and Ajibulu stated that “to start with, the book presentation visits shall be made to the governors of the Yoruba states in due honour of their statuses as the chief executive officers of their various states.
According to them, the book, ‘Yoruba Renaissance, Challenges and Prospects’ “is a compendium of efforts made to ensure the enviable leadership position of the Yoruba in the ‘arrangement’ called Nigeria. It delves into many aspects of frontline activities (historical, social, economic, political (etc)”.
The Lagos State Governorship Election Tribunal is set to deliver judgment on Monday on the petitions filed by the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, and his counterpart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor.
The Justice Arum Ashom-led panel communicated this message to parties on Saturday.
Rhodes-Vivour and Jandor are challenging the return of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Deputy Governor Obafemi Hamzat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 18 governorship elections in Lagos State by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On August 12, lawyers in the petitions adopted their final written addresses before the tribunal.
The Benue State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the judgment of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal affirming the election of Governor Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP made this known hours after the tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the state capital, upheld Alia’s election and dismissed its petition for lack of merit.
In a statement Saturday by its state Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, the party said it would seek legal redress at the Court of Appeal.
The PDP said a review with its team of lawyers indicated that the judgment did not meet the requirements of substantive justice.
It further argued that the verdict was not in alignment with extant electoral laws, guidelines and regulations
The party said it has accordingly directed its lawyers to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Abuja within the timeframe specified by law.
The statement reads: “Benue State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rejects the judgment passed by the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal dismissing the party’s petition and that of its Governorship Candidate, Engr. Titus Tyoapine Uba, challenging the return of Hyacinth Alia as Governor of the state at the 2023 elections.
“After a review of the judgment with its team of lawyers, PDP believes that it does not meet the requirements of substantive justice and is not in alignment with extant electoral laws, guidelines and regulations.
“The party has accordingly directed its lawyers to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Abuja within the timeframe specified by law.
“Our great party urges its teeming supporters across the state to be calm and of good cheer in the faith that though the walk to justice may be long, the goal of reclaiming the Governorship mandate will surely be achieved in the end.”
Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State has said he would rather prefer to serve a single term decorated with laudable feats than serve for eight years with nothing to show for it.
The governor stated this on Saturday at a press conference being part of the activities to commemorate the 36th anniversary of the creation of the State christened the ‘Land of Promise.’
Eno insisted that he would rather invest in life-changing projects and programmes for the teeming 7.9 million residents of the state than allow a few influential people to hold him captive.
He promised to invest massively in infrastructural facilities stressing rural development, adding that his administration is working with the local government chairmen to acquire 50 hectares of land in each council for agricultural purposes.
Eno said, “We are trying to ensure that my recurrent expenditure does not run at par with my capital expenditure. Whatever we save is to be put back in the rural areas. Every N500 million I save would give me a school, would give me a hospital.
“I prefer a good first term than a useless two-term. It is only when you account for four years well that you would be asked to go again. I’d rather put money in rural communities. My job is to ensure that the 7.9m people are satisfied. I discovered that almost everybody is waiting for the government.
“The challenge before us is to maintain the existing infrastructure. We lack a maintenance culture. That is why we seek to establish an asset management agency to help in the maintenance of our assets. We build new ones when we have to.
“We are working with the 31 Local Government chairmen on agricultural development. We will be using not less than 50 hectares of land per Local Government Area for farming.
“I am not perfect, but I promise that I will not deliberately launch this state into something we would regret. We will do our best.”
The Anambra State governor Prof. Chukwuma Soludo has increased the monthly running cost for public schools in the state from N10,000 to a minimum of N50,000 only.
Soludo disclosed this while holding an interactive session with Head Teachers and Principals of public schools in the state.
The governor also assured that there will be an upgrade in infrastructure in all public schools in the state in the coming weeks.
He called for more community involvement under the Public, Community, Private Partnership arrangement in the schools such as in engaging in quality assurance and club of patrons to better the quality of education in the schools.
The governor pointed out that his administration will come up with independent monitoring team for schools, as well as provide phone numbers for schools as a feedback mechanism.
He expressed optimism that his administration will eventually get to the point where text books for children in public schools will be free, stressing that the aim is to make education accessible to the poorest of the poor, mainstreaming public schools to become smart and the model.
Soludo stated that part of the goal is to end the era of “PTA” teachers in schools, reiterating that the prosperous homeland cannot be attained by creating the vicious circle of the widening difference between the quality of education received by children of the poor and that of the rich.
He said that the primary role of government is to provide qualitative education and stressed that the quality of education in the public schools appears to be the weakest, assuring that his administration intend to bring back the era of using education as an equaliser and ladder of opportunities.
David Umahi, the minister of works, says the proposed Abuja-Lagos highway will be completed in four years.
In a press conference on Saturday, the minister said driving from Lagos to Abuja will take 4 hours when the project is completed.
The minister of works said the construction of the Lagos-Abuja highway is going to take four years, and the road will be solely made with concrete, which is “cheaper than asphalt”.
At the press conference in Lagos, Umahi, flanked by Kenny Martins, the chairman of Advance Engineering Company – consortium in charge of the highway – said the project, a Public Private Partnership (PPP), would be solely funded by the consortium in charge.
He added that the federal government would only be in charge of supervision.
“When I first introduced this to the public, many doubting Thomases were saying ‘it is impossible, Lagos-Abuja that is done in 14 hours cannot be done in four and half hours’, that is the renewed hope of Mr President,” he said.
“The president has approved that I fast-track this project. This project is going to be two lanes, but each lane is going to be a two-carriage way and it is going to be 14 metres.
“The only carriageway that is equivalent to this is the third mainland bridge where each carriageway is 14 metres. It is going to be built on 275-millimeter thick concrete.”
Unahi also said the live-shelf design of the project will be 100 years, adding that it would also include a number of bridges and tolling points.
“We are not putting any kobo but we will assist them in every direction. I give kudos to Advance Engineering Company, I am very satisfied with their concept and what they have put in place.
“So, the next thing is to bring the business proposal so we can negotiate on what the cost of the project is going to be. Then they go to the ministry of finance and negotiate on the issue of their money.
“The good thing is that we are building this road on concrete so we can predict the cost of this project. In asphalt, you cannot predict the cost. The cost of asphalt roads changes every month.”
In addition, the minister explained that “concrete roads are more durable and cheaper than asphalt”. He also said he has given directives that “all ongoing projects that have not advanced up to 80 percent” should be completed using concrete.
The United States Department of State has cautioned American citizens about travelling to Nigeria due to various security concerns.
It made this known in its Travel advisory statement released recently which underscores the elevated risks associated with crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and the presence of armed gangs in several areas of the country.
In the warning, specific locations are singled out as heightened risks: Borno, Yobe, Kogi, and northern Adamawa states are flagged for terrorism and kidnapping. Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara states are noted for kidnapping.
Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, and Rivers states (except for Port Harcourt) are highlighted for crime, kidnapping, and the presence of armed gangs.
The advisory also mentions that violent crimes, such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, roadside banditry, and rape, are common across the country.
Kidnappings for ransom are frequent, often targeting dual-national citizens and perceived affluent U.S. citizens visiting Nigeria.
Terrorist activities are a continued threat, with attacks targeting various locations where crowds gather, such as shopping centres, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, and transportation hubs. Terrorist groups may collaborate with local gangs to expand their influence.
Additionally, parts of Southern Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta and Southeast regions, are affected by civil unrest and armed gangs.
Armed criminal activities, including kidnapping and assaults on Nigerian security forces, are prevalent in this area. Tensions between farming and herding communities in rural regions can also escalate into violence.
The U.S. government’s capacity to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens is limited in many parts of Nigeria due to security conditions.
According to the advisory for those who still choose to travel to Nigeria, the advisory recommends several precautions.
Such as carrying proper identification, including a U.S. passport with a current Nigerian visa if required. Staying vigilant, monitoring local media for updates, and being prepared to adjust plans.- as well as steering clear of participating in demonstrations and large political gatherings for safety reasons.
The House of Representatives has announced that it will return from its yearly break on September 26, 2023. This was stated in a letter sent to members on Friday by the Clerk of the House, Dr. Yahaya Danzaria.
After a plenary session on July 27, 2023, during which Speaker Tajudeen Abbas named the heads of the House’s standing committees, the 10th Assembly adjourned for a break.
A statement by the House spokesman and chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Akin Rotimi, Jr., noted, “The 10th Assembly has been very prolific and in about 100 days since inauguration has recorded a total of 470 bills passed first reading and four passed second reading. There have also been a total of 175 motions considered by the House so far.
“Despite the recess, the Green Chamber continued to function as various ad hoc committees continued to carry out their crucial mandates which have generated significant positive public interest. Honourable members also continued to carry out various constituency outreaches across the country.”
Speaking on some of the activities that would be attended to on resumption, he stated, “Some of the early developments expected on resumption is the conclusion of the work of all ad hoc committees and the submission of their reports for the consideration of the House, in line with the directive of the Speaker.
“It is also expected that the final draft of the Legislative Agenda developed by the ad hoc committee led by House Leader, Prof Julius Ihonvbere, will be considered and adopted by the House. The draft agenda was developed following extensive consultations with critical stakeholders.”
The spokesperson added that soon after resumption, it is anticipated that the membership of the standing committees would be announced and fully constituted.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House, Tajudeen Abbas, has congratulated the newly elected leaders of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria.
President Bola Tinubu has established a humanitarian and poverty alleviation trust fund for the country.
Betta Edu, the minister of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation, made the announcement on Friday at the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States.
Edu said 30 percent of the funding is expected to come from the federal government while the balance of 70 percnet is expected from donor agencies.
According to the minister, the fund would have several governing caders with a structure that would show accountability and transparency.
“Thirty percent of the funding expected in this trust fund will be coming from the government of Nigeria, and is expected that the rest of this funding comes from other nations, the United Nations, donor agencies, philanthropic individuals, private sector, who we want to bring fully into the space amongst other forms of innovative fundraising,” she said.
“The essence is for us to be able to adequately address the issues which we face on the ground as a matter of urgency.
“I’m sure we already know that the president declared a state of emergency on food security in Nigeria, he equally had a state of emergency on other things like humanitarian crisis and our ability to provide durable solutions.”
Edu said the government was counting on the support of the international community and development partners to provide adequate support in tackling poverty in Nigeria.
“And as we make plans to come in and address this need, what must be key at the back of our minds is providing durable solutions,” she added.
“We must be able to address education for these persons, we must be able to address their livelihood, we must be able to address their reintegration back into communities, we must be to address their resettlement, including the provision of proper shelter for them to stay in.
“We must be able to address their GPV needs amongst other things and we’re counting on your support.”
Edu said the number of persons affected by the humanitarian crisis in the country is expected to rise and asked concerned parties to act fast.
She added that the government is seeking urgent international support to address human and climate-induced displacement and poverty in the country.
Martin Griffiths, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, welcomed the initiative, saying it would take more than the efforts of the government to tackle humanitarian issues.</p