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Railway workers vow to continue strike if demands are not met

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As the three-day warning strike reached its second day, the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers (NURW) has vowed to continue its strike until it has clear and convincing reasons to suspend the strike.

The president of NURW, Innocent Ajiji, however, said that the union was willing to negotiate with the management of the Nigeria Railway Corporation.

Mr Ajiji said on Friday that the union hopes that the meeting with the management would yield a positive result.

“If nothing positive comes out, we will have to complete our three-day warning strike. And after the warning strike, we will give the management time to see what it will do about our demands.

“If the time we gave to government lapses without them doing anything, then we will embark on total strike,” he said.

The railway workers had, on November 18, commenced a three-day nationwide warning strike that paralysed activities at railway stations across the country.

Some of their demands include the demand for rent for the occupants of the demolished quarters at Alagomeji Loco Area beyond the one year rent given them in 2018 when their quarters were demolished for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway.

Among others are the non-payment of promotion arrears for 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021; report of skipped and unpaid monthly salaries of some workers, especially those who were employed in 2019. 

(NAN)

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ECA proposes $7.1trillion ‘New Deal’ for Africa

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A ‘New Deal’ worth $7.1 trillion is the only pathway to reviving Africa’s economy that has taken a downward spiral since the outbreak of COVID-19, says the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

ECA Executive Secretary Antonio Pedro made this disclosure at the ongoing African Economic Conference (AEC) to chart a new path for Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

He likened the proposed deal to a similar deal by the U.S. between 1933 and 1939 during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

He pointed out that the American deal then was worth $41.7 billion, an amount which he said now equalled $653 billion.

Mr Pedro said that the new deal for Africa would form part of the external funds required by Africa to, among other things, address the rising risk of African debt defaults amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“On the external front, Africa needs a new deal to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. Roosevelt’s New Deal cost $41.7 billion at the time it was instituted.

“Given Africa’s current population of 1.37 billion, a New Deal would have to deliver $7.1 trillion in financing to equate the U.S. New Deal on a per capita basis.

“The resources required to finance a New Deal are enormous and cannot be funded exclusively through public resources. Private funding will be critical.

“Yet we are all aware the cost of private financing is high. At the same time, private direct capital investments are motivated more by economic rates of return than by social welfare considerations.

“Blending public financing with private resources can redirect more private investments and financing to social and other orphaned sectors through risk-sharing and risk mitigation,” he said.

He said that the ECA had partnered to launch the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility (LSF) at the margins of COP26 to lower the cost of portfolio investments in emerging markets and crowd in a new class of investors into the continent.

He said that the LSF seeks to use on-lent SDRs to leverage private financing by making it possible for holders of African sovereign bonds to access short term financing using such instruments as collateral. 

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Business as usual despite ongoing Oye-Ekiti council polls

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Despite the ongoing local government election in Oye-Ekiti Local Government Area of Ekiti State on Saturday, vehicles can be seen moving around without restrictions.

Fuel stations, retail shops and food vendors were open to business.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a handful of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the police operatives are deployed at strategic locations in the area.

Similarly, men and women of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) are at hand to ensure safety on the roads.

Operators of commuter vehicles were also seen seeking passengers to transport to other parts of the state.

Security officers were not in any of the polling units visited in Oye-Ekiti and nearby Ikole-Ekiti Local Government Areas at the time of this report.

Elections are being held for the 16 local government councils of Ekiti State.

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COVID-19: Nigeria records two deaths as Omicron variant hits 38 countries

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Two additional fatalities from the coronavirus pandemic were announced on Friday by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

In addition, 197 fresh cases were reported across five states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The NCDC disclosed in its daily Covid-19 report on Saturday morning.

The 197 additional cases reported on Friday indicate an increase from the 47 cases reported in the country on Friday, December 3.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had said that the omicron variant, now detected in 38 countries, appears to be more contagious than the Covid-19 delta variant.

“Omicron has some 30 mutations on the spike protein, which is the mechanism used to bind to human cells.

“Some of these mutations are associated with higher transmission and the ability to escape immune protection,” WHO had said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Public Health Institute said the country’s fatality toll from the disease now stood at 2,980.

The NCDC added that to date, 214, 513 cases had been confirmed with 207,403 cases discharged and 2,980 deaths recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Lagos is reported to have 138 cases; Rivers -23; FCT – 18; Imo – 15; Bauchi – 1 and Gombe -1.

The agency added that a total of 3,580,510 blood samples have been tested since the pandemic began across the country.

Meanwhile, South African scientists have found that omicron is associated with a “substantial ability” to re-infect people who already had COVID-19, compared with past variants of the virus.

The study, published by the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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