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Workers Strike: You can’t gag workers, NLC tell lawmakers

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From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised members of the National Assembly, particularly members of the House of Representatives, to drop their proposed bill that was meant to outlaw strikes and other industrial actions, particularly by health care workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).

A Member of the House of Representatives from Enugu State, Simon Atige, had championed a bill titled, “An Act to amend the Trade Disputes Act, cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”, meant to prohibit medical practitioners in the employment of federal, state and local governments in the ‘essential service’ sectors from embarking on strikes.

The bill was also meant to accelerate administrative and judicial proceedings in the determination of trade disputes involving them and related matters.

NLC said the move was a deliberate attempt to gag the workers and legally weaken their strength, so they can lose legal backing to pursue their legitimate rights which mostly come from strikes and other industrial actions, and they won’t accept it.

NLC President Ayuba Wabba, who addressed journalists in Abuja, on the proposed bill, said that Nigerian workers won’t accept the bill, and would use all available means and strength to stop it.

Wabba said the proposed bill was an outright violation of the fundamental human rights of workers, and also a violation of some sections of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, particularly on the Freedom of Association which Nigeria is a signatory to.

The NLC President disagreed with the plan to categorize health care workers under JOHESU as “essential” service providers by the bill, hence they won’t be entitled to strike.

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He, thereby, made reference to some sections of the ILO document particularly on Freedom of Association which only recognized air traffic controllers as essential service workers.

Wabba said: “Compilation 769 of the ILO treaty stated clearly that strikes aimed at increase in wages and payment of wage arrears fall within the scope of the legitimacy of trade union activities.

“Also, compilation 751 stated that the right of workers to strike constitutes fundamental human rights of workers and their organization especially unions. Besides, strikes are used as means of defending the economy, social rights and interests of workers.”

He, however, promised that NLC won’t be confrontational in their approach against the lawmakers, rather they would adopt the option of lobbying and other means to pacify the lawmakers, and properly educate them on the dangers of their steps and the need to retrace the steps for the benefit of all.

“This move by lawmakers is laughable and a display of ignorance of the ILO conventions. Obviously, those proposing this law against a strike by health workers are not aware of the ILO conventions, hence they are taking the wrong steps. Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is aware of the ILO conventions, and often provide reports on the compliance to the ILO authorities, periodically.”

He advised the lawmakers to shift their attention to tackling poverty and other socioeconomic challenges instead of channelling their energy to things that won’t solve problems.

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Kidnappers collected N3m ransom, killed my daughter, buried her in shallow grave – Dad

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Shuaibu Wa’alamu, father of an eight-year-old girl, Asma’u, allegedly abducted and killed by his neighbour in Zaria, Kaduna State, lamented how his daughter was killed by her abductors despite collecting N3m as ransom.

This is coming on the heels of the abduction and subsequent killing of a five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar in Kano by her teacher after collecting N6m ransom.

Asmau, who was said to have spent 42 days in the hands of her abductors was said to be kidnapped by one of their neighbours on the 9th of December, 2021, according to her father.

She (Asmau) was found killed by her abductors after collecting N3m from the parent.

The story which was first broken by a friend of the father, one Musa Ahmed, shared by Hausa Fulanii on Instagram, hinted that the little girl was kidnapped while on her way to buy a recharge card.

... read, “My friend’s daughter, an eight-year-old girl, had been kidnapped on her way to buy a recharge card in our neighbourhood.

“She was for the past 42 days with her abductors who demanded the sum of N3m which was given to them, but sadly, they killed the girl eventually.”

“It was said that perhaps the girl recognised her abductor who happens to be residing close to their house. In fact, she was playing with his kids almost everyday.

“They called her father demanding for additional money which he obliged and sent someone with the money.

“In the event of waiting for them, the guy was so furious because of the cool weather at night. He called the father and informed him he hasn’t seen anyone yet.

“Then, the father called the number and asked them to tell him the truth if they have killed the girl. Lo and behold, they said, they have killed and buried her in a shallow grave, four days ago.”

Speaking with newsmen in Zaria on Saturday, Wa’alamu said her daughter was abducted on December 9, 2021 and he immediately reported the case to the police after failure to return her daughter return home.

He said after some days, the abductors reached out to the family and first demanded a ransom of N15m which was negotiated and N2m was given to the abductors.

According to him, the hoodlums later called and demanded for another N1.045m as condition for releasing the little girl.

He declared, “My daughter was abducted on the 9th of December and when she failed to return home, I lodged a formal complaint with the police.

“After some days, the abductors began to call my number and demanded N15m. But we negotiated and I first gave them N2m.

“They collected the money in Rigasa area of Kaduna. Later, they called me again and demanded for another N1.045m as the only condition to release my daughter. I did not argue. But I gave the money to them.

“However, after paying the ransom as demanded on the 19th of January, they called me to tell me they killed her and switch off the phone. You see, from the initial stage, I was following her abductors and doing their bidding because of the fear of losing her. Now, they have killed her.

“I know those who abducted her and killed her. They are around us. I have strong evidence. I have told the police. And they are on it. In fact, the suspects have been arrested.”

However, the Kaduna State Police Command had yet to confirm the incident as there was no response from the state police command’s spokesman, Mohammed Jalige, when contacted as of the time of filing this report.

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Alumni of Osun schools pump in N2Billion: Governor Oyetola

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By Dorcas Elusogbon/Ile-Ife

Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun said his administration has attracted over N2 billion in alumni contributions across the state since the review of education policy.

Oyetola, who was represented by Folorunso Oladoyin, Commissioner for Education, made the disclosure on Saturday at the 60th anniversary of St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife.

The event was organised by the Old Students Association at the school playing ground.Some alumni of St. John’s Grammar School Ile-Ife

“Since the reform of education policy that we carried out, we have attracted over N2 billion intervention fund from old students across the state.

“We thank you for your quick intervention in the structural renewal of your school infrastructures.

“We are immensely grateful that you heeded our call for a partnership between the government and all stakeholders in the education sector to move education to the next level.

“Our vision is to deliver 21st-century education that will make our student to be globally competitive, we realise that the four legs on which education stands like a table must corporate and work together.

“I agree with the Lord bishop on the level of rot in public education, it has been cumulative over the years and the improvement will not be a sudden flight, it will be gradual steps.

” We have introduced policies that are impacting education which will attract public schools to the middle and upper class,” he said.

The Chairman of Organising Committee of the Anniversary, Mr Gbenga Adefaye, said the association was not happy with the way the past administration practically destroyed education by centralising schools in Osun.

Adefaye, however, commended the governor for restoring the name, uniform and collaborated with stakeholders to transform the school.

In his benediction, Bishop of Osogbo Diocese, Catholic Church, Lord Bishop John Oyejola, charged government to revamp public education for the sake of the common man since politicians no longer send their children to public schools.

”We went to public school and we had quality education. Today, those in government do not send their children to public schools, but missionary or private schools.

“It is unfortunate that the Europeans came and planned a good future for us, but we cannot replicate same for our children.

“We must rise for the youths. The building built by government are already dilapidated while those built by missionary still stand. We must learn to begin to do the right thing for the benefit of the youths,” he said.

Also, Sen. Babajide Omoworare, Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly (Senate) to President Muhammadu Buhari, said that SJOBA has set the pace by contributing to restore the lost glory of the school.

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Jonathan to deliver keynote speech at Bayelsa education summit

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President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to deliver a keynote address at the Bayelsa education summit scheduled to hold from February 7 to 10, 2022.

The state government said the three-day summit in Yenagoa, the state capital, with the theme, ‘Optimising the delivery, performance and sustainability of outcomes in the education sector of Bayelsa State,’ was aimed at repositioning the education sector.

The Commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah, said it had become necessary for the state to shift its focus to technical and vocational education and training, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and other modern approaches at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

The shift in focus, according to the commissioner, would enable the state government to ensure the provision and sustenance of the quality of education that meets global standards.

Emelah further said, “We have contacted and received the acceptance of very important and knowledgeable persons, institutions and organisations to both speak, attend and share useful strategies with the state on the development of our education sector. Notably, Dr Goodluck Jonathan GCFR, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, shall present the keynote address.”

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