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FG LAUNCHES NEW VISA POLICY. Dual Citizens In Diaspora To Use Foreign Passport To Enter Nigeria

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FG LAUNCHES NEW VISA POLICY: Creates new visa categories for Ease of Doing Business

The Federal Government has officially launched the Nigerian Visa Policy (NVP) 2020. This enhanced visa policy by Nigeria, one of Africa’s key economies and demography, comes on the back of the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, a treaty seeking to establish a continent-wide marketplace with increased trade and freer movement among its major economic powers. The objective of the reforms that have birthed NVP 2020 is to strengthen Nigeria’s position as a key economy in Africa by attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country’s economy which would in turn provide jobs for the people and lift Nigeria’s teeming population out of poverty in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to take 100million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.

NVP 2020 is also designed to support the attainment of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017 -2020) and is a pathway to achieving the Security, Economy and Transparency (SET) Agenda of the present Administration.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola while speaking at the launch of the NVP 2020 at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday 4th February 2020, stated that its operation is cardinal to the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria. The new visa regime is expected to boost economic activities in the areas of tourism, aviation, entertainment, commerce and other areas where Nigeria has comparative advantage over other African countries. It also presents Nigeria with the opportunity to apply the principle of reciprocity with her visa policy in the nation’s bilateral and multilateral relations.

“The NVP 2020 introduces special visas for Nigerians in diaspora who either by birth, marriage or nationalization have assumed dual citizenship. Such category of Nigerians will now be able to make use of the passports of their adopted countries to visit Nigeria without the need for short stay visa”, he said. The Minister expressed the commitment of his Ministry to the implementation of the NPV 2020 in view of its supervisory role on the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS).

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola assured that the NIS would adhere to the published conditions of issuance of visas in a professional, timely and transparent manner. He assured that NIS would invest heavily in the training of the officers and men that will be charged with the responsibility of processing visas in all our visa issuing centers and passport control at our points of entry. The Minister emphasized that NIS would also work with all stakeholders within and outside Nigeria to ensure that the policy is not abused and the security of Nigeria and indeed other countries is not compromised.

“The implementation of the NVP 2020 will not compromise national security as adequate control measures have been provided both before and after entry into Nigeria”, the Minister stressed. While encouraging Nigerians in Diaspora to respect the provisions of the immigration laws of their new countries as well as those of Nigeria, the Minister congratulated the Nigeria Immigration Service for the landmark policy and also invited all prospective visitors, investors and residents to a new and refreshing experience in Nigeria and with Nigeria Immigration Service.

“The implementation of the NPV2020 will require collaboration with several MDAs involved in diplomacy, trade, investment, education, tourism, manufacturing, monetary policies, security, intelligence and many more”, the Minister reiterated.

Some of the features of NVP 2020 include, Visa On Arrival for African Union nationals, increase in the classes of visas from 6 to 75, creation of visa codes for all classes of visa and introduction of e-visas.

The benefits of the new NVP 2020 are many. It presents a good opportunity for Nigeria to be a major consideration for investment in Africa and hosting of international events particularly the ones scheduled to hold in Africa. It also serves as a major boost for Nigeria’s aviation, entertainment and tourism industries.

The new visa policy is expected to take Nigeria some steps up in the Africa Visa Openness Report published annually by the African Development Bank (AfDB) which would be a further boost on the global Ease Of Doing Business league table.

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Tinubu To Protest Planners: Shelve Idea, Await Our Response

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President Bola Tinubu has appealed to Nigerians who plan to stage nationwide hunger protests to shelve the plan.

The President also urged the citizens to give his administration enough time to respond to their requests.

The request was revealed by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, to State House Correspondents after closed-door talks with President Tinubu at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

He said, “On 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.

“So, there is no need for strike. The young people out there should listen to the President and allow the President more time to see to the realisation of all the goodies he has for them.”

His comments come days after calls for nationwide protests from August 1-10 against the rising cost of living and the economic hardship.

 

 

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Lagos Students Shun National Protest, Plan Solidarity Walk

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Students of tertiary institutions in Lagos State have disclosed their stand on the planned nationwide protests expected to commence on August 1.

JomogNews reports that Nigerians, particularly youths, have vowed to stage mass protests across the country beginning from August 1 to August 10 to draw the attention of the government to the plight of citizens.

According to the organizers, the protesters are expected to converge at state government houses across the country and the National Assembly complex in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to express their anger over the hardship in Nigeria.

However, Mr Alimi Lekan-Idris, President, National Association of Lagos State Students, NULASS, said on Tuesday that the students will not join the protest.

Addressing journalists at a press conference held at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital College of Medicine, Ikeja, Mr Alimi urged Nigerian youths to embrace dialogue.

He said, “It is crucial that we remember the importance of peace and stability and use dialogue to achieve our collective goals.

”Given these significant contributions and progress we have witnessed, we wish to state that we are not in support of any protest against the government of Lagos State”.

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Labour Plans Talks With Govs As N’Assembly Okays N70,000 Wage

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Labour unions in the country say they will schedule meetings with state governments as part of efforts to ensure that they comply with the 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Act Bill, which on Tuesday empowered Nigerian workers to earn at least N70,000 on a monthly basis.

The Senate on Tuesday at plenary passed the 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Act Bill after President Bola Tinubu had transmitted the new wage bill to both chambers of the National Assembly, seeking expeditious support of the lawmakers for its passage.

The Senate and House of Representatives passed the new minimum wage bill.

The bill passed the first (President Tinubu’s request), second (debate on general principles) and third readings on Tuesday — all within an hour — in the upper and lower legislative chambers.

The new bill replaces the National Minimum Wage Act, No. 8, 2019 which approved N30,000 minimum wage with five years to negotiate a new wage. The new wage review period has now been reduced to three years following Tuesday’s legislation.

While leading a debate on the bill, Opeyemi Bamidele, Majority Leader of the Senate, said N70,000 was agreed upon by all the parties after negotiations.

“This is part of the Federal Government’s short term measure to mitigate the situation in the country,” Bamidele said.

Chief Whip of the Senate, Tahir Monguno, said there was the need to review the minimum wage to align with economic realities.

“The review of the minimum wage used to be after every five years. It is now every three years,” Monguno said.

No Senator opposed the Bill during its consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

The Senators also unanimously approved that the Bill be read for the third time and passed when it was put to voice vote by Senate President Godswill Akpabio.

The legislation gives legal backing to the N70,000 minimum wage recently approved by the President after weeks of a face-off with labour unions over a new minimum wage.

The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress had both threatened a nationwide strike in the event of the failure of the Federal Government to approve a new wage for workers.

The NLC and TUC proposed N494,000 as the new monthly national minimum wage, citing inflation and the prevailing economic hardship in the country.

The unions in several statements lamented the hardship in the country, fueled by the removal of subsidy from the Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, and the rising cost of goods and services.

But the unions later reduced the amount to N250,000 after several meetings with the Presidency.

On June 7, the Federal Government increased its offer for the new minimum wage for workers from N60,000 to N62,000 but the unions insisted on N250,000.

On July 11, the labour leaders again met with President Tinubu at the Presidential Villa over the new minimum wage before eventually accepting N70,000 as the new minimum wage for workers last week.

At Tuesday’s plenary, the bill was speedily passed through the first and second reading stages, leading to the consideration of the report and final passage to pave the way for the immediate implementation of the new minimum wage.

After the bill passage on Tuesday, the Trade Union Congress warned states against delay in the implementation of the new minimum wage. The TUC noted that no delay should be allowed due to the biting economic conditions in the country.

The National Vice President, TUC, Tommy Etim, made this known in an interview with our correspondent.

Etim said, “We are happy that the Senate was able to pass the National Minimum Wage Bill promptly. It’s now for the President to sign it into law and for the implementation to commence immediately.

“Moreover, the states should not delay in the implementation because of the socioeconomic challenges and the need to address hunger in the land.”

The NLC also urged state governments to replicate the move by the Federal Government to hastily pass the new minimum wage bill into law. The Congress also advised states to implement the new minimum wage to the letter.

“We are delighted by the gesture of the Senate because it suggests sensitivity to the plight of our members. The 2019 law expired in April 2024. This means we are already in arrears. The states should not only obey the law to the hilt but timeously too,” the Head of Public Relations of the NLC, Benson Upah, told one of our correspondents in Abuja.

Ekiti, Osun pledge to pay

Meanwhile, The Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRaman AbdulRazaq, on Tuesday forwarded a bill seeking the revised Supplementary Budget of the state by N201bn to the State House of Assembly for approval, as states begin moves to pay the new wage.

Though, the Governor did not state the reason for the budget in his letter to the Assembly, it was learnt it might not be unconnected with the recent enaqctment of the new wage bill.

In the letter, which was read at plenary by the Speaker, Yakubu Danladi-Salihu, the Governor sought consideration and approval for the 2024 Revised/Supplementary Estimate.

The Speaker stated, “The total budget size after review is now N493,449,372,429.00 as against the 2024 approved estimates of N292,741,292,132.30, representing 69 per cent increase.

“The bill, however, passed through first reading and thereafter the Clerk of the House was directed to circulate clean copies of the bill to the Honourable members and the bill was referred to the House Committee on Rules and Business to slate it for second reading at the next legislative day.”

Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, on Tuesday assured workers in the state that he would not disappoint them on the new minimum wage for workers.

Oyebanji, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, during the presentation of N1bn gratuity cheques to retirees, expressed hope that he would offset all outstanding pension arrears before the end of the year.

The governor said, “On minimum wage, once it becomes law, when the President signs it into law, all will be well. The only thing I know, I am here to serve you. Let us wait, at the appropriate time, all will be well. One thing I know is that I am not going to disappoint you.”

Also, Osun State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Kolapo Alimi, said the state government would pay the new minimum wage, adding that the welfare of workers remained a priority of the present administration.

Alimi, who admitted that the new wage would strain the state’s finances, added that since the FG’s decision to pay the N70,000 minimum wage to workers was backed by law, Osun would not be found wanting.

“We will pay, but if the Federal Government is willing to give us more money, we will definitely be interested in collecting it. It is a question of law. Once they say an amount is the minimum wage and it is backed up by law, it is not negotiable.

“In Osun, the number one in the five-point agenda of the governor is workers’ welfare. If we can be paying arrears of salaries and pensions, we are going to pay the minimum wage. It is an obligation. I told you before now that whatever agreed upon as minimum wage, Osun will not be found wanting. It’s an additional burden but that notwithstanding, our government is committed to the welfare of the workers. We are going to pay,” Alimi said.

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