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How angry Pensioners disrupted workers’ day celebration in Abia

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How angry Pensioners disrupted workers' day celebration in Abia

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Angry pensioners in Abia State, on Wednesday staged a protest at the venue of this year’s Workers Day celebration over the non-payment of 28 years arrears of their pensions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that hardly had Mr Onyii Wamah, the Head of Service, who represented Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, mounted the dais to take the salute than the pensioners marched from their canopy to the centre stage, ahead of the commencement of the march past.

The protesters, who were clad in all-black attires, bearing old walking sticks and placards, stood still in front of Wamah, who later came down from the dias.

The protesting senior citizens created more scene, when some of them sat on bare floor, attracting more sympathy from the crowd as journalists and other people scrambled to catch a better picture of the drama with cameras and cellphones.

NAN reports that inscriptions on some of the placards read: “Stop this mercy killing and gross tyranny, pay pension, gratuity,” and “Pension payment is now a taboo in Abia state,” among others.

The protesters stayed put for about 15 minutes, during which the programme, especially the match past, was disrupted, before they were later persuaded to relocate to their canopy.

Mr Chukwuma Udensi, the Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, said that the protest was intended to draw public attention to the plight of pensioners in Abia.

Udensi said: “It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. We have invested so much in the present administration for the past four years, so we expect him to act fast.

“We are being owed 19 months now, added to the the nine months owed us by the past administration, which will amount to 28 months.

“We are calling on Abia government to pay pensioners of Abia, because most of us have died due to unpaid retirement benefits. ”

Mr Julius Ikpe, the state Public Relations Officer of NUP, said that past administrations staggered the payments of retirement benefits, where some sub-treasuries were were paid, while others were left out.

“Then some pensioners were owed six months and others ten months.

“In the present administration from November 2017 till date, no pensioner has received any payment.

“During a meeting between the state government and pensioners, the governor promised to pay three months in every two months in order to clear the backlog of pension and gratuities.

“We are yet to see the implementation of this resolve by the state government to alleviate our plight,” Ikpe said.

In his speech, Mr Uchenna Obigwe, the state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), expressed dismay over the steadily increasing salary arrears and unpaid retirement benefits in Abia.

Obigwe said that the development indicated that the state government and its financial managers should evolve proactive measures to tackle the problem.

He said: “This situation is worrisome, particularly when the pensioners are not getting their monthly pensions regularly.
“Congress still repeats her plea for the sum of N150 million for gratuities monthly.”

In his address, Mr Sunny Onwuma, Abia Chairman of Trade Union Congress, said that delayed salary payment had made most civil servants to fail in their family responsibilities.
Onwuma said that most Abia civil servants were afraid to retire, adding that those due for retirement either amended their service records or applied for extension “for fear of the unknown.”

He therefore called on Abia government to urgently evolve a workable solution to the challenge of unpaid salaries, pension arrears and gratuities.

Responding, the governor said that he had taken note of the complaints and needs of the workers and pensioners, adding that urgent steps would be taken to address them.

Ikpeazu commended Abia workers for their resilience and support and expressed the willingness of the government to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

According to him, “We await a circular from the Federal Government concerning the minimum wage and I assure you that we will not reduce the amount but will ensure that we pay N30,000.”

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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NATIONAL NEWS

CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

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CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers

The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.

“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?

“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.

“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.

“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”

Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.

“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.

“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.

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NATIONAL NEWS

Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike

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Increasing Fuel and Electricity Prices

Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.

Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.

The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.

Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.

Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).

The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”

On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.

The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.

“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.

The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”

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