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Economy

Fuel queues return to Lagos, persist in Abuja, others …as oil workers begin strike today

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…Ngige begs PENGASSAN: shelve your planned strike***

The lingering petrol scarcity in many parts of the country grew worse on Sunday in Lagos, Abuja, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states as many filling stations were shut.

The closure of the filling stations followed threats by members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria to embark on a nationwide strike from today (Monday).

Many fillings stations that dispensed petrol last week refused to sell the commodity on Sunday, as some of their managers stated that they were obeying the directives of PENGASSAN.

Officials of PENGASSAN told one of our correspondents that the Department of State Services had invited the association to a meeting, which commenced at 6pm on Sunday and was still ongoing as of the time of filing this report.

A source, who is an executive of a Lagos-based oil marketing company, told our correspondent that the lingering supply shortfall was largely responsible for the queues at filling stations.

He said a new vessel, which came in on Friday and had started discharging about 35 million litres of PMS, would improve the supply situation at depots and filling stations this week.

It was observed that some filling stations in Lagos and parts of Ogun states as well as Abuja and neighbouring states were shut on Sunday, while the few that sold petrol had very long queues that spilled onto the roads.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Ndu Ughamadu, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the management of the firm was meeting officials of PENGASSAN.

“As we speak right now, the NNPC is holding consultation with the association on this matter and we are optimistic,” he said.

When asked if there was any plan to increase the pump price of petrol based on claims by some government officials, Ughamadu replied, “We have said it many times that there is no plan by the NNPC to increase petrol price and that is the situation.”

On the meeting with the DSS, the Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Fortune Obi, said it was as a result of the planned strike by the association.

He stated, “At the moment, nothing has changed but we will be having a meeting with the Department of State Services by 6pm today (Sunday). That is the latest development. However, we will still go ahead with our Central Working Committee meeting tomorrow (Monday).

“The meeting with the DSS should be basically on the strike issue and I think the management officials of Neconde are likely going to be at the meeting.”

When told that the decision by PENGASSAN to embark on a nationwide industrial action had led to long queues in filling stations, Obi replied, “More of such will happen because there is a directive to members to shut down operations and some of them have already started, which is why some outlets are not dispensing.”

PENGASSAN had announced last week that it would embark on an indefinite strike from today (Monday) following a stalemate in the peace meeting, which the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, brokered between the union and Neconde Energy Limited.

The oil union and Neconde had been embroiled in a crisis over allegation of anti-worker practices by the firm.

The union alleged that the management of Neconde wrongly terminated the employment of some of its workers, and threatened to go on strike if the sacked workers were not recalled within 72 hours.

It was also gathered that officials of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment were meeting with the association to shelve the strike in order to prevent further hardship on petrol users.

The Federal Government appealed to PENGASSAN to shelve its planned strike in the spirit of the ongoing conciliation between it and Neconde Energy Services.

It said that the appeal was imperative in order to save Nigerians from further hardship, especially in the Christmas and the New Year seasons.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, asked the Central Working Committee of PENGASSAN to reconsider its decision.

He urged the union to respect the agreement and call off the scheduled action in the interest of the nation, “more so when adequate notice of strike was not given.”

The statement by the Deputy Director, Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, noted that Ngige had on December 13 and 14, 2017 brokered long hours of conciliation between PENGASSAN and Neconde Energy Services and secured an agreement.

It added that with the agreement, the impending action by PENGASSAN was effectively arrested in line with the provisions of the relevant labour laws whose powers were invested in the minister.

In the meantime, Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has appealed to members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to shelve their planned strike scheduled to begin today, in the spirit of the conciliation brokered between it and Neconde Energy Services Ltd.

The union is asking the government to compel the company to recalled all sacked workers within seven days and stick to the nation’s labour laws.

It added that failure to do that, the union will have no other option than to call out its members on a nationwide indefinite strike action with effect from today.

The union accused Neconde Energy of entrenching unfriendly labour practices in contravention of the nation’s labour laws and failing to remit taxes and pensions deducted from workers to government.

However, Deputy Director, Press in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Samuel Olowookere said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that with the conciliatory meeting brokered by Minister of Labour and Employment, the impending action by PENGASSAN has effectively been arrested in line with the provisions of the relevant labour laws.

The statement said “We recall that the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had on Wednesday, December 13 and Thursday, December 14, 2017, brokered long hours of conciliation  between PENGASSAN and Neconde Energy Services Ltd and secured  an agreement.

“By that agreement, Neconde shall invite the sacked branch chairman of PENGASSAN and hold heart to heart discussion with him while PENGASSAN is to hold back proposed action pending the reconvening of the meeting in the second week of January 2018  when other contending issues relating to other oil companies would be also be sorted out.

“We, therefore, wish to appeal to the Central Working Committee of PENGASSAN to reconsider its decision, respect the agreement and call off the scheduled action in the overall interest of the nation, more so when adequate notice of strike was not given.

“This appeal has become imperative in order to save Nigerians from further hardship in this season of Christmas and the New year.”

Punch with additional report from Nation

Economy

Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Economy

Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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Economy

NGX Market Capitalisation Gains N836bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Tantalizers, NASCON lead the losers’ chart 

The Nigerian Exchange Ltd.(NGX) market capitalisation, which opened at N57.697 trillion on Tuesday, gained N836 billion or 1.45 percent closing at N58.533 trillion.

Also, the All-Share Index rose by 1.45 percent or 1,480 points to close at 103,524.44, as against 102,044.84 recorded on Monday.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 38.45 percent.

Interest in Telco heavyweight and Tier-one banks such as MTN Nigeria, UBA, Access Corporation, Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO), and sustained interest in Transcorp Power(TransPower) kept the market in the green.

Market breadth closed positive with 35 gainers and 14 losers.

On the gainer’s chart, UBA led in percentage terms of 10 to close at N25.30, followed by MTN by 9.98 percent to close at N243.50 per share.

Julius Berger also gained 9.71 percent to close at N61, While Access Corporation rose by 9.51 percent to close at N22.45 per share.

Veritas Kapital Assurance went up by 9.38 percent to close at 70k per share.

Conversely, Tantalizers led the loser’s chart by 7.89 percent to close at 35k, and National Salt Company of Nigeria(NASCON) trailed by 6.77 percent to close at N53.70.

Morison Industries Plc shed 6.62 percent to close at N1.41, C&I Leasing lost 6.45 percent to close at N3.48, while Cutix Plc dropped 6.30 percent to close at N2.53 per share.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower, relative to the previous session.

The value of transactions was also down by 16.76 percent.

A total of 565.79 million shares valued at N14.23 billion were exchanged in 11,519 deals,  compared to 436.90 million shares valued at N17.09 billion exchanged in 11,344 deals traded on Monday.

On the activity chart, Transcorp led in volume with 170.72 million shares traded at a value of N3.13 billion, Access Corporation followed by 48.57 million shares valued at N1.06 billion.

GTCO sold 39.04 million shares worth N165.80 million, Jaiz Bank traded 36.78 million shares valued at N72.51 million and UBA transacted 31.96 million shares valued at N796.24 million

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