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Senate debates bill to empower, provide jobs for poor Nigerians

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The Senate on Wednesday considered a bill seeking to empower poor Nigerians in rural areas with guaranteed income and jobs that would provide 100 days of paid work per year.

The Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2021, which scaled second reading on the floor was sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East).

Leading debate on the general principles of the bill, Senator Musa explained that the bill among others,  essentially seeks to provide livelihood security in rural communities by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult member volunteer do do skilled manual work.

According to the lawmaker, the bill when passed into law would empower rural poor through the processes of a rights-based Law; ensure a strong social safety net for vulnerable groups; strengthen the natural resource base of rural livelihood; and serve as a model of governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency and grass root democracy.

He added that the National Rural Employment Guarantee bill aims to reduce poverty by providing extra work for those who need it, while also providing empowerment and insurance when other sources of work dry up.

Citing the Poor Employment Act of 1817 in Britain, and the New Deal Programs in the United States in the 1930s, Musa explained that the piece of legislation was similarly intended to be an intervention that makes government an employer of last resort.

He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development would monitor the implementation of the scheme in association with state governments.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), threw his weight behind the passage of the bill into law.

According to the lawmaker, having agencies backed by law to oversee the implementation of such schemes for the poor would ensure that they are not abused.

He said, “In our nation today, Mr. President, most of these palliatives that the present government has put in place has been abused, because you have a situation where names are duplicated.

“It is even difficult for you to know those who are benefiting.

“The bill my brother is seeking, is for us to have a formal agency for social security that will take care of all employment problems and even health problems of people who are not gainfully employed. It must be holistic.

“This bill is good, the intention is good, but I think this bill must go further to make it a holistic solution to the problem of unemployment in our nation, so that it is not abused, and so that in every local government in Nigeria, you have an agency in charge  that will take care of unemployment of our people.

“In having the law, we must also have the punitive measures in place for those who would abuse it, so that people will know that this bill is intended to alleviate the suffering of people, and by extension, Mr. President, guarantee security of our nation.

“Most of the people who are into crime today, is out of frustration of unemployment. We have a large number of people who are unemployed.

“Today, we have up to two hundred universities and polytechnics producing graduates.

“So, I think we must advise our government. Progressive as this government is to palliatives, let us formalize these palliative measures by having a social security agency in every local government of Nigeria, and let us put a law in place to make sure that nobody abuses it.”

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development for further work after passing second reading.

The Committee which is chaired by Senator Abdullahi Adamu was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.

In a related development, the Smallholder Farmers (Protection) Bill 2021, also scaled second reading on Wednesday.

The bill sponsored by Senator Muhammad Enagi Bima (Niger South) was also referred by the Senate President to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Also, the Petroleum Industry Act  (Amendment) Bill, 2021; Chartered Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill, 2021; and Federal College of Agriculture, Shani (Establishment) Bill, 2021, passed second reading during plenary.

While the Petroleum Industry Act (Amendment) bill 2021, was referred to the Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream); Petroleum (Downstream); and Oil and Gas, the other two were referred to the Committees on Establishment and Public Service; and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND for further imputs, respectively.

The Committees were all given four weeks to turn in their reports to the chamber in plenary.

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Oyebanji Is Back From USA

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Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji
Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji
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Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji this morning returned from his working visit to the United States of America.

A statement by the Special Adviser ( Media), to the Governor, Mr Yinka Oyebode said Oyebanji arrived the Muritala Mohammed Airport, Lagos around 10am and was received by some government officials.

The Governor will attend to some scheduled meetings in Lagos later today and head to Abuja on Thursday for other scheduled assignments.

Governor Oyebanji, in the course of the working visit to America, had extensive talks with some heads of governments and institutions, business leaders and development partners, exploring investment opportunities for the state’s power infrastructure, the Special Agriculture Processing Zone and the Ekiti Knowledge Zone, among others.

“These were outside his participation in the US-Africa Business Summit and the signing of MOU with CAVISTA Holdings for a multi billion naira 100,000 hectares cassava farm in the state.” the statement said.

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Labour Rejects FG’s Fresh ₦54,000 Minimum Wage Proposal

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The Federal Government has proposed to pay N54,000 as minimum wage, as the Tripartite Committee on the New Minimum Wage returned to the negotiation table after the Organised Labour pulled out of the negotiations last week.

At the reconvened meeting this week, the Federal Government made a fresh proposal to pay N54,000 as against the initial N48,000 it proposed during the last sitting.

However, a reliable source at the meeting said that the Organised Labour refused the new proposal, as it is a far cry from the N615,000 proposed by both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

According to the source, the meeting which held behind closed doors at the Nicon luxury hotel in Abuja on Tuesday has been adjourned to Wednesday, May 22 to continue with negotiations.

The Organised Labour comprising the NLC and the TUC had on Tuesday given the Federal Government up till the end of May to conclude negotiations for a new minimum wage.

The unions also directed their members in states that are owing the N30,000 minimum wage to gear up for industrial action.

May 31 Deadline
The Federal Government had failed to present a nationally acceptable minimum wage to Nigerians before the May 1 Labour Day.

The situation has forced labour to be at loggerheads with the government. In the wake of the tussle, NLC President Joe Ajaero insisted on the N615,000 minimum wage, arguing that the amount was arrived at after an analysis of the economic situation worsened by the hike in the cost of living and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

With the cost of living rising following the removal of fuel subsidy, calls for a new minimum wage have continued to make headlines in Nigeria.

Ajaero and labour leaders gave the Federal Government a May 31 deadline to meet their demands.

 

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EFCC Arrests 78 Internet Fraudsters In Enugu, Imo

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Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede
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The operatives of the Enugu Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have arrested 78 suspected internet fraudsters in Enugu and Imo States.

EFCC spokesman Dele Oyewale disclosed this in a statement issued on Monday, May 20, 2024.

Oyewale noted that 29 suspected internet fraudsters were arrested in Enugu metropolis on May 15, while 49 others were nabbed in Imo State on May 17.

He said the suspects were arrested following actionable intelligence about their suspected involvement in online criminal activities.

The EFCC spokesperson listed items recovered from the suspects to include 13 cars, mobile phones, and laptops.

Oyewale added that the suspected internet fraudsters would be charged to court upon the conclusion of investigations.

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