Minimum wage: Ambode, Labour Unions’ negotiation meeting postponed

Written by Maritime First

…NEMA says Reps added transactions that are not ours***

The earlier meeting between Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and Labour Unions, to negotiate the new minimum wage for workers in the state was postponed  indefinitely.

The meeting, between both parties, targeted at deliberating on the planned hike in minimum wage, had been scheduled to hold at the State House, Ikeja, but was postponed.

Speaking with Vanguard,  Chairman, Trade Union Congress, TUC, in Lagos State, Francis Ogunremi, disclosed that the meeting was postponed because some certain criteria must be met before both parties can embark on such negotiations.

Ogunremi said: “The reason is that at the state level, we cannot embark on any discussion that will not yield the required result.

“Logically, we have to wait for President Muhammadu Buhari to present the executive stance to the National Assembly for ratification. It is after that we can meet and deliberate on  the issue in Lagos State.”

In the meantime, the National Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday declared that members of the House of Representatives added transactions that were not done by NEMA to get the N33bn figure which they (lawmakers) claimed was mismanaged by the agency in the Presidential Intervention Programme for the North-East.

SUNDAY PUNCH reported that the Senate might set up an ad-hoc committee, on resumption from its one-week recess, to probe the alleged mismanagement of N33bn currently rocking the Presidential Intervention Programme for the North-East.

The Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, had stated that the upper legislative chamber would commence the probe as soon as the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee concluded its own investigation.

Already, the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, probing the alleged scam, had said Vice President Prof.Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as the chairman of the programme, and the Director-General of NEMA, Mr. Mustapha Maihaja, were culpable.

This is coming as NEMA argued that the probe by the House into the N5.8bn Presidential intervention funds, approved by the vice president for the North-East, was shocking and should not be directed at the agency alone.

The Chairman of the Reps panel, Mr. Ali Isa (APC, Gombe), had told journalists on Tuesday last week that Osinbajo, as chairman of the programme, issued directives leading to the release of the funds, while the NEMA DG supervised the execution of the directives.

Reacting to the alleged mismanagement of N33bn by NEMA while speaking at the headquarters of agency in Abuja on Wednesday, the agency’s boss stated that it was not true that his organisation mismanaged such huge fund.

Maihaja said, “Even on the floor of the House, they couldn’t agree how much it was. So what apparently happened was that they added up every transaction whether it involved or did not involve NEMA and that was how they came up with what they could not agree among themselves as N33bn.”

In providing context on the funding of North-East humanitarian response, the NEMA boss stated that the budget of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the period of January to April 2017 was $1.05bn.

He said the sum of $590m was for food and nutrition, adding that as at April 2017, only the sum of $94.8m was provided by the donors.

“This meant that we had a shortfall of $495.8m in food funding,” he added.

He added that for the period of May to October 2018, when the Federal Government Emergency Food Intervention for the North-East was being implemented, the World Food Programme net-funding requirement was $230m.

On the rice donated by the People’s Republic of China, Maihaja said 6,779 metric tonnes of rice was donated to Nigeria as part of China’s support to the North-East humanitarian efforts.

This, he said, was equivalent to 135,550 units of 50kg bags of rice, adding that in total, 271 containers arrived at Apapa Port from China in five shipments between June and October 2017.

“The total cost of shipping and storage charges for the 271 containers was N518m. We have all the receipts to prove this. The actual cost of the donated rice is N2.24bn (50.05 million Chinese Yuan),” Maihaja stated.

He added, “The companies that were engaged for clearing the donated rice were duly registered with NEMA, ITF, NSITF and PENCOM with relevant documents submitted to NEMA which formed the basis for the award of the contract.”

“To further justify that the items were received on behalf of the Federal Government, they were delivered into NEMA warehouses in Gombe, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, and warehouses provided by the state governments in Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe. The Chinese rice was used for monthly feeding of the IDPs specifically in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states with balance in stock at Gombe, Bauchi and Taraba.”

In the case of the flood intervention in 12 states which was covered in the legislative report, Maihaja said N1.6bn was released after the flood had occurred at different times in the respective states.

“We immediately conducted assessments and established the needs before moving in with relief materials,” he added.

He said the agency delivered the items to the 12 states between September and November 2017, and subsequently the remaining four states.

On the evacuation of stranded Nigerians from Libya, Maihaja said 2,130 Nigerians were evacuated as against the 5,037 earlier estimated, but noted that alternative arrangements were made to evacuate the remaining Nigerians trapped in the militia-controlled area.

Vanguard with additional report from Punch

About the author

Maritime First