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FG reviews N5,000 unemployment stipend scheme

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  • As Osinbajo, Soludo disagree on 2016 budget

The Federal Government has categorically stated it cannot afford to pay indolent Nigerians the N5,000 stipend promised to the unemployed, revealing that it will review the scheme to ensure that beneficiaries use the money for productive purposes.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, disclosed this when he spoke with newsmen at the All Progressives Congress (APC) secretariat in Abuja. He said while some people will get N5,000 under cash conversion scheme, some will get N10,000 while others may get more than N15,000 in training.

Ngige further explained that some beneficiaries would go through different training programmes before getting employed by either the state or Federal Government.

“We also have the programme on the commission cash transfer. Though, even you, the media, have said it, we won’t pay N5,000 for people to be indolent. No country in the world would pay people to go home and sleep and collect cash, so, Nigeria won’t be an exception.

“We will pay some people N5,000, pay some N10,000, and even for people in teacher conversion scheme, we will pay more than N10,000, N15,000 as stipend while in training and, then, after the training, they are going to be employed by state governments and the Federal Government in different institutions.

“It is not a programme we shall run alone, the state governments are going to buy into it; they are going to synchronise with us. We are going to do it in synergy,” he explained.

Emphasising that the present administration had some poverty alleviating and employment generating programmes, the former Senator added that the programmes would span through many ministries.

“The programmes will span through ministries of Education, Agriculture, Labour and Agriculture, because we have some agricultural universities and we plan to convert some people to teach the relevant agricultural science,” he noted.

On the President Muhammadu Buhari skills acquisition scheme, Ngige said: “The ministry has specialist skills acquisition centres; we have seven like that based in the ministry under the commissioner of skills or directorate for skills…”

During the campaign, the APC promised a welfare scheme where unemployed graduates will be paid N5,000 stipend each. Late last year, attempts by the Senate caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to raise the issue was scuttled by the APC caucus.

“The NDE have over 120 centres scattered all over the country, we also have those that have been built by state government and we want to capture all of these into that scheme and then get people to the scheme as bricklayers, POP designers, builders, welders, electronics repairer, mecha-tronic, repair of vehicles, automobile carpentry, painting and fabrication of all sorts.

“We are going to do it, teach people, give them certification, because many people don’t know that Ministry of Labour is the only place that can certify tradesmen. This skill acquisition centres are in grades, we have grade A certification, Grade B, Grade C, D and E Certification, they all still exist.

“So, we want to get back our youths, capture them, teach them to use their hands, and when they used their hands, they can earn money by employing themselves. If you get a bricklayer or a painter today, you cannot pay less than N5000 for a daily job.

“If somebody is able to work 20 days in a month for N5000, he already has N100,000. But, today is a sad story, that is why Togolese, Ghanaians, citizens of Benin Republic, Niger Republic do all these skilled job for us. 80 per cent of workers in that specialize category in construction site all over Nigeria, be it in Abuja, in Lagos or in Onitsha, come from outside.

“We don’t know that little drops of water form ocean, the money or the naira they are paid is repatriated to their country and all of them will come at the end of the day to put pressure on naira in the foreign exchange market.

“So, we have decided that we have to train our own youths, let them use their hands to fend for themselves. We will also want to advance some of them into entrepreneurship. If you are very good, we can open a place for you and give you money through the Bank of Industry and SMEDAN and then you move to the next stage where a number of youths will work with you,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Chukwuma Soludo disagreed yesterday on the efficacy of Budget 2016 to tackle the economic challenges facing the country.

They spoke in Abuja at the Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: 50 years since 1966: Is Nigeria rising?

Other speakers at the event are Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, a former Chief of Defence Staff and a scholar; Dr. Mairo Mandara.

Osinbajo said he and President Muhammadu Buhari are prepared to serve with their integrity intact than any desire to make money in government.

He admitted that the nation is passing through a critical and interesting period, but that they remain committed to taking the nation to the next level of social, political and economic development.

Soludo said among others that the 2016 budget represented a missed opportunity for the government to set new standards for a post-oil economy. He urged the government to take bold steps to make changes happen.

Soludo expressed fears for the nation by 2050, saying Nigeria has underperformed despite earning over one trillion dollars from oil over the years. He regretted that the money earned from oil has only kept the looting elite united and organised while the nation is now the fifth among states classified as failed states.

He said the budget was designed for sharing and consumption regarding the nation’s oil wealth and not necessarily for the development of the country’s dysfunctional system.

He expressed regret that the nation had been taking 10 steps forward and 11 steps backward, urging leaders to rise to the challenge posed by the fact that the period of oil boom is over.

Soludo said Nigeria has the potential to rise, but that it depends largely on the choices made by the leadership. He expected this year’s budget to be more innovative to defeat our old, bad ideas.

He said the budget had historic 37 per cent deficit to make recurrent expenditure higher than total revenue, pointing out that it was not the way to go for a government with change as its mantra.

“To craft the new agenda, we must defeat the old agenda. We cannot make progress in the country with the tools and agenda of the old,” Soludo said, adding that the party is over, following the fall in the price of crude oil globally.

He said the government needs a coherent economic plan as well as the right political architecture, stressing that anything less than this would mean that the leaders are building on a quicksand.

Soludo said 35 per cent of Nigeria’s land is under threat of desertification which would affect agriculture, stressing that 11 to 12 states in the same zone are facing the problem of Boko Haram. He said there would be a lot of migration by 2050 if oil and gas,agriculture and solid minerals have limited impacts on employment and urged the federal government to begin to take steps to improve manufacturing and skill acquisition for Nigerians.

Soludo added that Nigerians need skills and where to use them and praised the administration for the priliminary steps it has taken to dismantle some of the things that strangulate the economy in the past few months.

But Osinbajo said the Buhari administration is determined to fix the  justice system to end impunity and corruption.

He said: “Everybody escapes justice in Nigeria, whether it is the poor or the rich. As of today, we have  12,000 convicted persons in our various prisons across the country in a country of 170 million people. The United States of America with a population of 300 million people have 2.2 million convicted persons in various prisons. With this figure, it is either Nigerians are peace loving or something is wrong with our system.”

The Vice President said far from being a budget based on compassion the 2016 budget was designed to address the plight of over 120 million Nigerians who have been alienated from governance and living below poverty level.

“The budget is about the economic survival of these people, and if we don’t do it, we are only postponing the doomsday. The planned recruitment of 500,000 teachers would fill a huge gap in our education system, it would put people to work and further improve our education system,” the Vice President said.

He said technical and vocational education, conditional cash transfer, small and medium scale enterprises, agriculture, especially erosion and desertification, use of improved seedlings and private sector involvement are all captured in the budget for the country’s growth.

The Vice President also stated that the Federal Government was not by-passing manufacturing as some of the steps it would take would boost the sector, irrespective of the fact that its WTO agreements would be affected. Nigeria, he said, has no choice but to take such step.

Osinbajo said the Federal Government decided to increase the coverage of VAT from 20 percent of the economy rather than increase its rate to 10 per cent, stressing that regardless of the size of the budget, the good thing is that it would engender growth.

The Sun with additional report from The Nation

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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