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Edo 2020: Oshiomhole dumps Odubu, Backs Ize-Iyamu

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Ahead of the Septem­ber 19, 2020 gover­norship election in Edo State, the hope of a former deputy governor of the state, Pius Odubu; a former Minister of State for Works, Engr. Chris Ogiem­wonyi, and Maj.-Gen. Charles Airhiavbere (rtd.) to become the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Con­gress (APC) appears to have been dashed as the party prepares for the governor­ship primary slated for next month.

A credible source in the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) told Dai­ly Independent that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman, had settled for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a former gover­norship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who formally joined the APC in December 2019, as his preferred choice.

It would be recalled that a mock primary was organ­ised by the four aspirants few days ago to select a con­sensus candidate who will face incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, in the pri­mary.

However, thugs alleged­ly sponsored by one of the hopefuls invaded the venue and dispersed those in at­tendance while the voting exercise was going on.

According to our source, having realised that the as­pirants had failed to agree among themselves on who becomes the consensus can­didate, Oshiomhole, who fa­cilitated Ize-Iyamu’s return to the APC, settled for his emergence and would likely face Obaseki at the primary billed to hold on June 22.

“As it stands, Pastor Osa­gie Ize-Iyamu is confirmed for Edo APC. Oshiomhole has already made up his mind on that.

“Since he has given the four of them the privilege to pick a consensus candidate but they have failed to do so, with time ticking out, he has settled for Ize-Iyamu.

“Don’t forget that Osh­iomhole masterminded his return to the APC despite the fact that the likes of Odubu, Ogiemwonyi, Airhiavbere and others are strong candi­dates in their own right.

“The earlier the other aspirants queue behind Ize- Iyamu, the better for them”.

“Based on Oshiomhole’s plans, I foresee a situation where Ize-Iyamu will emerge the candidate.

“At this stage, only Pres­ident Muhammadu Buhari can change that because all the Abuja forces loyal to Oshiomhole have agreed on that,” the source revealed.

Another party source said except President Buhari in­tervenes, Governor Obaseki may be walking a tightrope as Oshiomhole would use his position as national chair­man to his advantage in se­lecting the candidate.

“The Oshiomhole camp will attempt to disqualify Obaseki at the screening level before the primaries.

“Don’t forget what hap­pened in Kogi where many strong aspirants who were seen as threats to Governor Yahaya Bello were screened out,” he said.

Our correspondent also gathered that Governor Obaseki is already in Abuja and would meet President Buhari today on the contro­versy surrounding the mode of primary to be adopted by the party.

While Edo APC led by Anselm Ojezua said it was adopting the indirect prima­ry method, which involves only accredited delegates, the NWC, led by Oshiom­hole, said it had adopted the direct primary option, which involves all card-car­rying members of the party.

However, Governor Obaseki said as the chief security officer of the state, he was opposed to the idea of direct primary now because of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

The governor, who spoke through Crusoe Osagie, his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strat­egy, said as an extremely popular candidate, he was not afraid of any mode of primary and would defeat any aspirant who slugged it out with him for the APC ticket.

According to him, gath­ering together over 500,000 party members in the name of primary may trigger the number of COVID-19 cases already in the state, a situa­tion he said would put more lives at risk.

“The governor of Edo State and leader of the APC in the state, Governor God­win Obaseki, is an extreme­ly popular candidate who will defeat any aspirant that contests the party’s ticket in whatever means of primary that is used.

“The question we should ask is, ‘Is direct primary the better alternative now in the midst of this COVID-19 pan­demic?

“Governor Obaseki, as a responsible citizen and chief security officer of Edo State, will not take any action that will put the health and safety of the good people of the state at risk.

“That is why we are op­posed to the idea of direct primary at this period,” Osa­gie said.

Also speaking, Hon. Paul Ohonbamu, the Edo State Commissioner for Communi­cation and Orientation, said it was erroneous for some people to claim that Gover­nor Obaseki was unpopular which explains why he was opposed to the direct prima­ry method.

According to him, it is un­fair for Oshiomhole to preside over the selection of the par­ty’s governorship candidate, having publicly shown that he was desperate for Governor Obaseki not to be re-elected.

He said: “The governor of Edo State is not afraid of di­rect primary. He is ready for any form of primary.

“The constitution allows for either direct, indirect, or consensus, which was used to bring Oshiomhole back for his second term.

“But this time, they are saying consensus is undem­ocratic but when it was used for Oshiomhole, it was not undemocratic.

“Now that it is Obaseki’s turn, it becomes undemocrat­ic. You can see how they are propagating two moralities.

“Few days ago, the NWC, led by Oshiomhole, said they had granted a waiver to Ize- Iyamu.

“However, the APC con­stitution said waiver can be granted subject to the approv­al of the National Executive Committee (NEC).

“The question now is, when did NEC meet to ap­prove that waiver that was granted to Ize-Iyamu?

“In 2018, the NEC of the party said the mode of pri­mary will be determined by the state.

“I don’t see anywhere NEC has met again to change that position. But Oshiomhole is trying to force his position on the state.

“Aside that, the general question in Edo right now is, how do you gather all the party members in the state to­gether for primary, consider­ing the dreaded coronavirus in this country and the need to observe social distancing?

“Other states are doing all they can to stem the tide of the virus and Edo shouldn’t be acting differently?”

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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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