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Again, Nigeria’s labour unions suspend strike

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Nigeria’s organized labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has once again suspended the indefinite nationwide strike that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 3rd, by 30 days.

The leadership of the two unions, which announced the suspension of the strike at the end of a marathon meeting with representatives the Federal Government in Abuja on Monday night, said the decision to suspend the indefinite strike, which was aimed at protesting the hardship of Nigerians as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government, was due to some agreements reached with the government.

The unions had held a meeting with government on Sunday night and promised to present a fresh list of offers from the federal government to their various organs before taking a final position on the strike.

The Sunday meeting had seen the government resolve to waive the Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel for six months, as well as fast-track the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to address the cost of transportation arising from the removal of fuel subsidy, among other measures.

At the Monday night meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, as well as the TUC President, Festus Osifo, and Secretary General, Nuhu Toro.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Dr. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, and Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, appended the document on behalf of the federal government.

Announcing the outcome of the meeting, Lalong said:

“The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.”

According to the terms of the agreement, the government agreed to grant a wage award of N35,000 only to all federal government workers beginning from the month of September, pending when a new national minimum wage is signed into law.

Parts of the agreement read:

“The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.

“The Federal Government grants a wage award of N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) only to all Federal Government workers beginning from the month of September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.

“A minimum wage committee shall be inaugurated within one month from the date of this agreement.

“Federal Government accepts to vote N100 billion for the provision of high capacity CNG buses for mass transit in Nigeria. Provisions are also being made for initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits to kick start an auto gas conversion programme, whilst work is ongoing on state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide.

“The rollout aims to commence by November with pilots across 10 campuses nationwide.

“The Federal Government should urge state governments through the National Economic Council and Governors Forum to implement wage award for their workers.

“Similar consideration should also be given to local government and private sector workers.  A joint visitation will be made to the refineries to ascertain their rehabilitation status.”

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Shelve your planned protest, I’m addressing your grievances, Tinubu begs Nigerian youths

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President Bola Tinubu has called on aggrieved Nigerian youths and organizers of the planned nationwide #EndBadGovernance protests on August 1 to shelve the plan as he is working hard to address their concerns.

Tinubu, who made the plea on Tuesday through the Minister of Information National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said there was no need for the protests as he had heard the cries of Nigerians and was doing everything possible to address them.

Idris, who conveyed the President’s message while speaking with State House correspondents after a meeting with Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the president was working assiduously to ensure the country’s economy was placed in a good position.

“We discussed the issue of the country in general and Mr President has asked me to again inform Nigerians that he listens to them, especially the young people that are trying to protest.

“Mr President said he listens to them and takes what they say seriously and he is working assiduously to ensure that this country is good not just for today, but also for the future.

“The issue of the planned protest, Mr President does not see any need for that, he asked them to shelve that plan and he has asked them to await the government’s response to all their pleas, he has listened to them,” Idris said.

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Zambia: PF lawmaker Chitotela sentenced to 10 years in prison

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A Member of Parliament in Zambia, Ronald Chitotela, has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of arson by the Kawambwa Magistrates’ Court.

Chitotela, an MP on the platform of the Patriotic Front (PF) who represents Pambeshe Constituency in the Parliament, was found guilty by Magistrate Martin Namushi of malicious damage, and received a five-year sentence on one of the counts.

He was also sentenced to an additional 11 months for threatening violence and 18 months for occasioning actual bodily harm.

Chitotela’s co-accused, Nixon Chilangwa, another MP who represents Kawambwa Constituency, was acquitted of arson charges but according to the Magistrate, was not spared from the law.

Chitotela, although acquitted of charges related to threatening violence and assault occasioning actual bodily harm, now awaits the High Court’s decision on the arson charges.

According to media reports, Chitotela, Chilangwa, and five others were dragged before the Kawambwa Magistrates’ Court on charges bordering on arson, threatening violence, malicious damage to property and assault, all allegedly committed during the August 2021 general elections.

The others involved in the trial were Kalumba Chifumbe, Davy Kaniki, Chabu Chitotela, Charity Musantu, and Kunda Chitotela.

Chifumbe was sentenced to five years for malicious damage to property, threatening violence, and threatening actual bodily harm, Kaniki and Kunda Chitotela were found guilty of arson, while Musantu was been acquitted of all charges.

Magistrate Namushi also denied the bail applications for Chilangwa and Chifumbe, citing unconvincing reasons for their release.

The defense team is expected to appeal for bail in the High Court.

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