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Kogi, politics and workers screening

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Kogi, politics and workers screening

By John Akubo, Lokoja

•Assembly intervenes, calls for immediate suspension

•PDP says it’s most inhuman and wicked

This may not be the best of times for Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State with the flurry of protests coming from nearly all segments of the state over a staff verification audit report.
The exercise, according to government officials, has unraveled various scams allegedly by some high-ranking civil servants who specialised in planting names of imaginary workers on the payroll resulting in one person for instance, harvesting the salary of about 40 workers.
Some others falsify their age to enable them remain in service after retirement, while underage were drafted to continue from where their parents stopped to enjoy the benefit of grade levels meant for their deceased parents while they are yet in secondary school, the government claimed.
However, the exercise has been flayed by the state House of Assembly and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP said that the government’s mass sack of workers in the state public service under the guise of screening is most inhuman, wicked and unfortunate.
The major concern among some of the workers was the illegality perpetrated when Bello delved into the screening of local government councils’ workers. Their argument is that the councils were autonomous by the spirit of the constitution insisting that he has no business going there.
Another serious source of concern for some stakeholders is the danger the report posed for education and health sectors. Affected are the Kogi State University, Anyigba where 25 professors and many teaching and non-teaching staff including the newly appointed vice chancellor, Professor Muhammed Sanni Abdukadir have been shown the exit door; the rector of the state polytechnic, Isah Muhammed, his deputy, the registrar, bursar and over 18 chief lecturers as well as 27 non-teaching staff; provosts of the Colleges of Education in Kabba and Ankpa; provosts of school of Nursing, Obangede and Health Technology, Idah.
Hence the wisdom in raising retirement age for academics to 70 in Nigeria. At least 10, 000 state civil servants and local government workers were also asked to retire due to alleged irregular promotions, in addition to the editor and several staff of the state-owned newspapers, The Graphics, most of sources claimed still have between five to10 years to attain the retirement age.
Other victims were the chief medical directors of Kogi State University Teaching Hospital, Anyigba and the state’s Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, among others.
Besides, activities of the organized labour led by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) have been crippled in the last one year after their check off dues was withheld while most of their leaders were not left out of the purge, with the state chairman of NLC, Comrade Onu Edoka being the first casualty.
PDP in a statement issued by the director of Research and Documentation, Dickson Achadu, lamented the trauma and confusion the report has caused citizens of the state.
The party criticized Bello for the action saying he has sent many citizens to their early graves on the account of the superfluous and prolonged screening.
According to the party, the discharging of about 70 percent of the state workforce was the height of mischievousness by the government against its citizens.
His words: “The trauma and confusion the screening report has caused citizens of the state is unprecedented. The number of deaths caused by the government during the failed screening exercise that lasted over a year and the sacking of about seventy percent of the Labour force of the state … is the height of wickedness by the government against its citizens.”
On its part, the state legislature, which condemned the act during plenary session, called on the governor to commence payment of the state workers and suspend the screening report forthwith.
The House unanimously upheld the motion moved by Friday Makama (Igalamela/Odolu state constituency) to condemned the government’s decision. “The need to save the souls of civil servants at both State and Local Government Levels is urgent. I am therefore constrained to move this motion considering the overwhelming evidences of non-payment of state and local government workers in the state,” Makama stated.
Ruling on the motion the Speaker, Mr. Umar Imam directed the committee to submit its report to the Assembly. The NLC chairman said that the screening committee clearly went beyond its terms of references, going by public outcry and total condemnation that has trailed the released report.
He acknowledged the ‘untold hardship’ faced by workers as a result of the screening exercise, disclosing that steps were being taken to address all the problems arising from the exercise.
Edoka called on relevant stakeholders, including religious leaders, traditional rulers and the political class to immediately intervene before Labour takes final position on the matter.
The organized Labour set up an 11-member committee headed by Comrade Obaka Meliga to look in to the report of the screening with a view to taking a position and the next line of action.
Former acting governor of the state, Clarence Olafemi said that the idea behind the screening is perfect given the over bloated workforce but that the process is what has messed the whole thing up. He therefore urged the governor to revisit the exercise.
Similarly, a former speaker of the state Assembly, Mr. Abdullahi Bello said the problem on ground is technical, administrative and political. He decried the inauguration of another committee, which made it the fourth in the process so far.
“The exercise was not conceived to retrench staff, that was not its original intention but now it has turned to a means for forceful retirement,” he stated wondering why the committee recommended the retirement for workers yet to attain the mandatory retirement age.
The former speaker berated the governor for intervening in local councils in that manner, indicating that he should have approached the legislature for assistance.
“Let me tell you, the power of local Government, the structure, the administration, finance, everything rests on the State House of Assembly not the Governor of the State.
“It is the State Assembly that has the constitutional power to intervene in any issue at the local Government either in finance composition or structure. So it is unlawful for the Governor to set up committee to screen the local Government workforce.”
He conceded that the issue of ghost workers is a reality in the state which needed to be weeded off saying: “These are the core components of civil service reforms and you cannot get it right with all the local players who have interest. All of them have their interests.”
Catholic bishop of Idah Diocese, Anthony Adaji cautioned the Government against turning it’s good intention into what would be perceived as deception, arguing that when a screening exercise becomes endless and many genuine workers cannot get their monthly salary, it might be perceived as a sham.
He said: “Kogi State Government must find solution to endless screening which is amounting to deception the way it appears for now so that those who work should gets paid.
The governor claimed however that his administration is not insensitive to the plight of civil servants especially the hardship occasioned by staff screening.
Bello who spoke at the inauguration of a 32-man staff screening complain and appeal committee that would look into complaints arising from the exercise, regretted the inconvenience the exercise might have caused to the workers.
He assured that no genuine worker or pensioner of the state would be shortchanged in the effort of the government to reform the civil service. The committee is expected to scrutinise the cases of workers who were not cleared but ought to have been cleared as well as those with genuine complaints.
It would be recalled that widespread rejection and protests greeted the final release of the report across the state. The protesting workers set up burn fires on the federal highways and other roads paralyzing Lokoja, the state capital and other major towns.

http://m.guardian.ng/features/kogi-politics-and-workers-screening/

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#ENDSARS protests: Senators become soft targets for hoodlums

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#ENDSARS protests: Senators become soft targets for hoodlums

Senators Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo Central), Senator Gershom Bassey, representing Cross Rivers South Senatorial District and Former Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, got their dose of the #ENDSARS protests that has been taken over by hoodlums on Saturday.

The hoodlums in Ibadan invaded Sen. Folarin’s residence, where they carted away items worth N200million
The rampaging youths made away with empowerment materials worth N200 million.
The ugly incident was confirmed by Folarin during a radio programme, monitored on Saturday in Ibadan.
The stolen items were meant for constituency empowerment programme of the lawmaker, scheduled to take place in December.

Among the items carted away are about 300 motorcycles, deep freezers and food items.
Folarin, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content and former Senate Leader, said he was relieved that no life was lost.

In Calabar the hoodlums also invaded the mansion of Senator Ndoma-Egba, where they broke into his premises and that of senator Bassey and carted away properties that include set of chairs, Television sets, matrasses, toilet seats and car batteries before setting the country home of Ndoma-Egba ablaze.

It was gathered that the hoodlums easily overpowered the security personnel protecting the houses and even wanted to collect their guns before the security personnel took to their heels after which the hoodlums carted away valuables.
It was also gathered that a lounge (Bulavard) allegedly belonging to an APC stalwarts Hillard Etta were also vandalised just as a petrol filling allegedly belonging to Governor Ben Ayade was destroyed.

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‘Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding’

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‘Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding’

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerian youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage the government in finding solutions.
The president in a recorded national broadcast told the youths that their voice has been heard loud and clear and his administration is responding.
He therefore called for calm amidst the arsons and clashes that have ended the peaceful street protests of young Nigerians protesting against police brutality.
“I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy,”
The President however, downplayed the attack on protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos as he failed to mention the episode in his speech.
The government security forces, including the army, alledgelly fired live ammunition on protesters in Lekki toll-gate on Tuesday with fatalities.

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Group clears Bauchi Governor of Corruption allegation

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Group clears Bauchi Governor of
Corruption allegation

From Ali Sara, Bauchi

Corruption allegations against the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir are false, blatant lies being orchestrated by his political enemies, the Bauchi State Coalition Against Financial Crimes and Injustice (BACAFCI) has said.

The National Chairman of BACAFCI Mallam Bibi Dogo stated this on Sunday while fielding questions from newsmen in Bauchi in reaction to the recent petition  filed by alleged stakeholders from Bauchi State.
The group had accused the Governor of corruptly enriching himself and mal administration in the State as reported in some media.
Dogo indicated that the coalition received a copy of the petition which it has studied but found no tangible evidence but blatant lies with the sole aim of bringing the government to disrepute out of envy of his track records and successes.

Dogo who brought dozens of documents in defense of Governor Bala said the anti graft group BACAFCI cleared Bala on all the allegations after they studied the petitions filed by the socalled stakeholders before the Economic Financial Crime Commission EFCC.
Dogo explained further that the allegations of loans for the Purchase of 3.5bn official vehicles for the Political office holders are unfounded as all due processes were followed in the award of the contract.
He said the contract for their purchase was approved by the State House of Assembly through House resolution via a letter sent by the government and duly signed by the clerk of the House Umar Yusuf Gital with reference number BASHA/POL/S/13/VOL.XIX/203 dated 17/July/2019.
He said  the contract was awarded to an indigene of the State after it followed the normal scrutiny where certificate of no objection was issued to the company before it was awarded the contract.
Dogo observed that from their findings, all cars were supplied and put to use by the beneficiaries in the best interest of the State.

He said the allegations that Governor Bala is a director in one of the companies which Bauchi Government patronized is not true as the Governor had resigned his position in the company on 1st May 2019 adding that he was not a Governor at that time because he had not taken the oath of office.
He said their findings were confirmed through Corporate Affairs Commission CAC form no 51180 on the particulars of Directors.

The Chairman also indicated that allegations of awarding road contracts, Building of Palaces, Workshops, assistance to pilgrims, supply of School Uniforms to out of School children, children meals by the government, are all genuine projects that everyone with sincere mind can see.
“Where anyone is in doubt he can go to the relevant government agencies to confirm and verify.
On the issue of School Uniforms and meals for out of school children he said the contract for the supply of uniforms was awarded to the indigenes of the State after due process and the uniforms was supplied.
Dogo indicated that the project was aimed at reducing the number of out of School children, while the Workshop was carried out in the best interest of the state at minimal cost. 

Even the issue of ghost workers, he pointed out that it was Governor Bala who held a public hearing with all stake holders on the issue he is working hard to bring sanity to the system to free some resources and employ more people in to the state Civil Service. 

He said the petitioners were either ignorant of how government operates or it was born outof malice.
“They just decided to paint the governor black due to the large number of physical projects he has execute that has developed the state.

Bibi Dogo said many of the allegations are not directly linked to the Governor but some Civil Servants whom the petitioners didn’t care to accused but the Governor that is making effort to rebuild the State through the provision of genuine infrastructures.

He advised them to always cross check their facts and offer only constructive criticisms not blatant lies.

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