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Zamfara workers earns N6,000 monthly-NULGE

Local government workers in Zamfara state are the worst paid in Nigeria as they are still earning N6,000 (less than $20) a month as minimum wage, a far cry from the N18,000 set nationally.

Ibrahim Khaleel, National President Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) made the sensational revelation in Abuja, ahead of the 40th anniversary of the union.

Khaleel said Governor Abdulaziz Yari’s non-compliance with the N18,000 minimum wage, was the real reason he is obstructing the actualisation of the proposed N30,000 minimum wage.

Khaleel, who is also the National Treasurer of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), insisted that the low-earning power of Zamfara residents was responsible for the rising insecurity in the state.

The labour leader noted that as long as the workers were not well paid, there would be no peace in the state.

Khaleel also accused Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state of not fully compliant with the N18,000 wage. He said council workers in the state only get a fraction of the N18,000.

He regretted that the nation’s local government workers were the most vulnerable in the world.

Khaleel also said the local government system in the country was discriminated against.

According to him, the welfare of workers in the system can only be enhanced if the local government areas are allowed to function well.

On local government autonomy, the union leader said only 12 states had taken their stand on the issue, with nine of them supporting autonomy for the local government and three others voting against it

Presidential debate: Buhari, Atiku to clash in December

The Nigerian Election Debate Group has fixed Dec. 14, as date for presidential debate that will see candidates of different political parties unveil their plan for country ahead of the 2019 general election.

The group’s chairman, Mr John Momoh who disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja at a press conference said the vice presidential candidates would slug it out on Jan. 19, 2019.

Momoh who is also the chairman of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), noted that the debates would hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja and would be broadcast live by all BON member stations.

NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as his running mate.

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar with Mr Peter Obi as his running mate.

Nigeria’s ‘Mona Lisa’ shown at home for first time since it resurface

By News Desk,

The Nigerian Mona Lisa, a painting lost for more than 40 years and found in a London flat in February, is being exhibited in Nigeria for the first time since it disappeared.

“Tutu”, an art work by Nigeria’s best-known modern artist, Ben Enwonwu, was painted in 1974. It appeared at an art show in Lagos the following year, but its whereabouts after that were unknown, until it re-surfaced in north London.

The owners – who wished to remain anonymous – had called in Giles Peppiatt, an expert in modern and contemporary African art at the London auction house Bonhams, to identify their painting. He recognized Enwonwu’s portrait.

“It was discovered by myself on a pretty routine valuation call to look at a work by Ben Enwonwu,” said Giles Peppiatt, director of contemporary African art at Bonhams. “I didn’t know what I was going to see. I turned up, and it was this amazing painting. We’d had no inkling ‘Tutu’ was there.

How it got there remains a bit of a mystery, Peppiatt said.

“All the family that owned it know is that it was owned by their father, who had business interests in Nigeria. He traveled and picked it up in the late or mid-70s.”

The family put the portrait up for sale, and it was auctioned for 1.2 million pounds ($1.57 million) in February to an anonymous buyer. The sale made it the highest-valued work of Nigerian modern art sold at auction.

“Tutu” was loaned to the Art X Lagos fair, held from Friday to Sunday, by Access Bank, the organizers said in a statement. Peppiatt said Access arranged the loan but is not the painting’s owner.

“‘Tutu’ is referred to as the African ‘Mona Lisa’ by virtue of this disappearance and re-emergence, and it is the first work of a modern Nigerian artist to sell for over a million pounds,” said Tokini Peterside, the art fair’s founder.

The original Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, eventually took it to Italy, where it was recovered and in 1914 returned to the Louvre.

The Nigerian painting is a portrait of Adetutu Ademiluyi, a grand-daughter of a traditional ruler from the Yoruba ethnic group. It holds special significance in Nigeria as a symbol of national reconciliation after the 1967-70 Biafran War.

Enwonwu belonged to the Igbo ethnic group, the largest in the southeastern region of Nigeria, which had tried to secede under the name of Biafra. The Yoruba, whose homeland is in the southwest, were mostly on the opposing side in the war.

Enwonwu painted three versions of the portrait. One is in a private collection in Lagos, while Peppiatt is hunting the third in Washington D.C., the expert said. Prints first made in the 1970s have been in circulation ever since and the images are familiar to many Nigerians. Enwonwu died in 1994.

Is Kenya drastic plastic bag ban working?

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Kenya’s ban comes with biggest fines and businesses are struggling to find affordable alternatives, but in Nairobi’s shanty towns the clean-up is changing lives. Food chain consumed are less contaminated with plastic, Waterways are clearer and there are fewer “flying toilets”.

One year have fast gone since Kenya announced the world’s toughest ban on plastic bags, and eight months after it was introduced, the authorities are claiming victory – so much so that other east African nations Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan are considering taking same path as Kenya.

But it is equally clear that there have been significant knock-on effects on businesses, consumers and even jobs as a result of removing a once-ubiquitous feature of Kenyan life.

“Our streets are generally cleaner which has brought with it a general ‘feel-good’ factor,” said David Ong’are, the enforcement director of the National Environment Management Authority. “You no longer see carrier bags flying around when its windy. Waterways are less obstructed. Fishermen on the coast and Lake Victoria are seeing few bags entangled in their nets.”

Ong’are said abattoirs used to find plastic in the guts of roughly three out of every 10 animals taken to slaughter. This has gone down to one. The government is now conducting a proper analysis to measure the overall effect of the measure.

The draconian ban came in on 28 August 2017, threatening up to four years’ imprisonment or fines of $40,000 (£31,000) for anyone producing, selling – or even just carrying – a plastic bag.

In Nairobi’s shanty towns, one immediate impact was on the practice of defecating in a plastic bag, tying it up and then throwing it on to the tin roofs, a convenience known as “flying toilets”.

“I don’t know when the flying toilets started, but they are not good,” says Johnson Kaunange, a wheelchair user. “You never know where they are going to land or where they will fall when it rains. My wheelchair often rolls over the bags and splits them, and then the stink on the wheels is disgusting.”

In the Mathare community, this is good news. Since the ban was introduced, many more people are using a communal toilet, which charges 5 Kenyan shillings (4p) for single use or 100 shillings for a month-long family pass.

The facility is on the bustling thoroughfare leading down into Mathare valley. One of the administrators Caleb Omondi said he has already noticed a difference now that flying toilets are effectively prohibited.

“The number of users is now much higher. We used to get about 300 people a day. Now it’s over 400,” he said. “I’m overjoyed. This is making the community cleaner and we get more income.”

In broader society, the ban appears to be working, albeit imperfectly. Among the hundreds of people who walk the street, there are only two who are carrying or selling plastic bags.

 

Of course, any indiction has to come with enforcement, and this has not always been pretty.

In Mathare, a group of slums home to half a million people, one local trader, nicknamed Onya, was arrested after police caught him using plastic bags to sell chicken heads. The judge fined him 15,000 shillings (£110), much lower than the maximum penalty but equivalent to six weeks’ work. “That seems harsh for a new law,” said one of his customers.

Other stallholders are asking their customers to bring plastic bowls or traditional bags made from sisal fibre. This has led to complaints. The bowls spill easily. The sisal bags are expensive because the plants, which were once common, have been replaced by cash crops.

There has been push-back. On 1 March, the manufacturer, Hi-Plast filed a lawsuit against the government for compensation and argued the ban has been selectively implemented.

In Kenya as a whole, the prohibition on plastic bags has caused headaches for retailers and manufacturers.

“The ban has shaken the economy. In several areas, business is at a standstill,” said Samuel Matonda of the Kenyan manufacturers association, who complains that the policy should have been introduced gradually.

He estimates 80% of member companies are affected and close to 100,000 people have been laid off because the outlawing of flat plastic bags has been very broadly interpreted to include almost all packaging, which hurts exporters of food and flower products to Tesco, Walmart and Carrefour, as well as producers of pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.

Matonda is now part of a panel that is working with the government to create more exemptions and put a greater emphasis on improving waste management.

“It’s a stimulus,” he says. “The ban has undoubtedly aroused more public awareness of the need for a clean environment. We have achieved more in six months than in the previous five years.”

The environment ministry says the attitude of manufacturers has changed. “The companies are now coming by themselves to offer solutions,” said Ong’are. With PET bottles next in the government’s sights, companies are proposing a self-management scheme to organise collection and recycling.

There is still a long way to go. The ban could add to problems not just for rich manufacturers but for poor communities unless there are policies to provide cheap alternatives. But at Mathare, a football ground once covered in six feet of plastic waste is testimony to the benefits that can flow from an improved environment.

As in other countries with similar bans, the policy is still being refined, but it has support. “It should definitely encourage other countries around the world, and not just in Africa, to ban plastic bags and other single-use plastics,” said Dr Arnold Kreilhuber, head of international environmental law at UN Environment.

“It is however important to engage in as much public consultation as possible to ensure a smooth transition through the ban to implementation. Banning plastic bags is a big win, but it’s just the beginning. We need more investment in waste management to guarantee Kenyans a clean and healthy environment.”

Cameroon gets 85yrs old man as president

By NewsDesk,

Cameroon may become one of African nations who have octogenarian as president, with an wighty-five-year-old, Paul Biya, who was declared winner of October 7 presidential election, by the Cameroon’s Constitutional Council.

However, Biya’s victory came on Monday with 71.28% poll of the votes cast beating eight other candidates to extend his 36-year rule of the Central African country to 2025.

Opposition leader, Prof Maurice Kamto,  who had earlier declared himself winner of the polls came second with 14.23% of the total votes.

Cabral Libii, one of the youngest candidates at the election emerged third with 6.28% of the votes while Joshua Osih, a candidate for the leading opposition party, Social Democratic Front (SDF) come in the fourth with 3.35% — the worst tally the party has ever registered at a presidential vote since 1992.

It was the first time the party fielded a different candidate for a presidential seat other than the party’s chair.

The other candidates individually scored less than 2% in an election marred by low voter turnout in the country’s two predominantly English-speaking regions.

“The election was free, fair, credible and transparent in spite of the security challenges in the Northwest and Southwest regions”, said Justice Clement Atangana, the President of Constitutional Council.

Last week, the council rejected opposition claims that the poll had been marred by fraud and rigging.

No appeal or other legal remedy is allowed against the verdict of the Constitutional Council, thus the president-elect will be sworn-in by November 7 according to the law.

Biya, now to serve 7th term has been in power since 1982 and is Africa’s second longest serving leader.

South Africa planning incentives to revive ailing economy

By News Desk,

Embattled South Africa is planning to introduce new incentives in key industrial sectors and reduced red-tape in order to revive the country’s moribund economy.

The economy which got into technical recession recently, is getting messier because of the increasingly hostile international trade environment.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the government would target industries such as auto and agro-processing and continental trade relations as part of a package to draw investors back to South Africa.

He said the state had also reviewed its bureaucratic red tape to make it easier for investors to start new businesses in the country.

“Some of them (incentives) are sectoral, we have the motor programme, the clothing and textile programme, we also have a business processing services programme as well as the agro-processing programme,” Davies said.

“There are also tax incentives. There are specific incentives that apply to the special economic zones (SEZ).

“In addition the Department of Trade and Industry provides infrastructure and support for the institution of the SEZ.

“In addition to that, there is a tax incentive for companies that invest in the SEZ. There is a suite of incentives which we communicate to investors domestic and foreign which are crucial for making investment decisions.”

In a frank and wide-ranging interview ahead of the Investment Summit next week, Davies painted a bleak future for the South African economy, saying yesterday that next week’s presidential summit and the medium-term Budget policy statement would help kick-start the economy.

Davies conceded that some of South Africa’s economic problems were self-inflicted, pointing to rampant corruption and state capture that had turned investors away.

He said key government institutions were also performing below their capacity and that this had undermined investor confidence in the country.

“Our abilities to influence the economy have been weakened,” he said. “Some of those include, for example, tenders that have been problematic and were given to consortiums involved in imports rather than manufacturing locally.”

Davies said the government was worried about the continuing trade spat between the US and China and its impact on South Africa’s exports to the US.

He said there were plans to increase the local content of assembled cars to 60 percent by 2035 from the current 38 percent.

South Africa fell into a technical recession after recording negative growth in the second quarter, and unemployment rising above 27 percent as output in the manufacturing and mining sectors stagnated.

The country also had to grapple with policy uncertainties and inconsistencies, onerous regulations which curtailed growth.

Davies said – without mentioning the SA Revenue Service by name – that the outlook in the immediate and medium term would remain bleak as revenue collection was expected to come under pressure.

He said the government was moving with speed to address investor concerns and had already taken steps to return create certainty in renewable energy and gazetting the revised mining charter.

“All of these have resulted in an improvement in the investment pipeline,” Davies said.

“The (investment) summit will showcase important investment announcements, and it will also be an opportunity to engage investors.

There is an appreciation for a new dawn and a willingness to realise opportunities that were put on hold in the recent past rather than being pushed forward.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a bold plan to attract $100 billion (R1.42 trillion) of investment for the country in the next five years in April.

Ramaphosa also appointed envoys including Afropulse chairperson Phumzile Langeni, Standard Bank group chief executive Jaco Maree, former finance minister Trevor Manuel and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas to champion the investments drive.

Davies said the government had targeted industries such as mining, agriculture and mining to kick-start the economy.

He said the government also planned to seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets.

Anti-Boko Haram militia releases own child recruits

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Nigerian group CJTF has released over 800 children from its ranks after agreeing to end child recruitment in its fight against Boko Haram. UN officials warn that many other militias still use children as fighters.

Following an agreement with the UN, Nigeria’s Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) has released 833 minors from its ranks, the UN children agency UNICEF said on Friday. Some 40 percent of the group are children under 15, and some of them are as young as 11, according to the agency.

The CJTF militia was founded in 2013 as an association of vigilante groups combating the Islamist Boko Haram.

“This is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles,” said deputy representative of UNICEF Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, on Friday. “We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children.”

The UN has identified some 1,175 boys and 294 girls working or fighting for the CJTF in the area around the city of Maduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno state. The total number of children linked with the group could be over 2,200, officials said.

UN experts say that children are helping with intelligence searches, night patrols, crowd control, and at checkpoints.

The faction agreed to an action plan to end child recruitment in September 2017.

Maduguri is also the birthplace of Boko Haram. The Islamist insurgency has killed over 27,000 people since its beginning in 2009. In response, Nigeria and other governments in the region deployed an international force against the group which largely crushed its military power. The pro-Sharia faction has since focused on launching terror attacks on civilian targets. Boko Haram often abducts children and uses them as suicide bombers.

UNICEF said that thousands more children were released from various armed groups since 2017, with the agency tracing their families and offering them support, education, and vocational training.

 

Landslide in eastern Uganda destroys homes, killing at least 31

By News Desk,

At least 31 people were killed when a landslide rolled down the slopes of Mt. Elgon in eastern Uganda, wrecking homes and burying animals, a government official told Reuters on Friday.

Martin Owor, Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness and Management, said the landslide tumbled onto a small town on the mountain’s slopes on Thursday afternoon.

“Most of the people were caught at the trading center, the landslide pushed huge boulders into a river which burst its banks and the water swept away the people,” Owor added.

The area, about 250 km (155 miles) from the capital, Kampala, is close to the border with Kenya and is prone to landslides, suffering a major avalanche in 2010 that killed at least 80 people.

Relief teams are now combing the area to search and rescue survivors, Owor said.

“There are people who were displaced and they need shelter, food and all other support and we’re moving that relief to the area.”

UNDP donates school to Borno resettled community

By News Desk,

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has inaugurated a primary school at Ngwom resettled community in Mara Local Government Area of Borno.

The  project was inaugurated by the UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock on Sunday at Ngwom community.

The school was designed with 12 classrooms,  six offices, store and toilets.

Steiner said the project was part of comprehensive programme designed to facilitate stabilisation, livelihoods support and recovery of conflict affected communities in the northeast.

He said they were in the state to appraise the humanitarian situation, meet the communities with a view to promote stronger partnership to address the dire humanitarian needs in the region.

The UN agency also disbursed N900,000 to Ngwom community under its Village Savings and Loan Associations, to facilitate execution of community development projects.

According to statistics by the agency, some 300 houses, 288 market stalls, clinic, police post and water points were reconstructed at Ngwom under its Integrated community Stabilization programme.

The UN agency also distributed farm inputs to 625 resettled households to enable them cultivate their farmlands during the 2017 and 2018 cropping season.

Similarly, 120 households received support for irrigation activities; 120 for livestock production, while 128 households got small businesses support and 390 displaced persons to benefit from the Community-Based Safety Nets.

Other services rendered by the agency include distribution of 340 lanterns to households and volunteers while 400 households encouraged to plant economic and non-economic trees.

Police arrest eight officers for killing a Nigerian in South Africa

By News Desk,

Eight police officers in South Africa have been arrested for alleged torture and killing of a Nigerian, late Ibrahim Olamulekun Badmus.

The Nigeria Consul General in South Africa, Godwin Adama, said in a telephone conversation from Johannesburg that the officers include two women and six men allegedly committed the offence on October 10, 2017.

Adama said that the officers were arrested by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and they were expected to appear in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The CG said Badmus, 25, was allegedly killed when the officers interrogated and suffocated him on Oct. 10, 2017, in Vanderbijlpark.

“We have closely followed this case on the spot intervention since the day of the incident on Oct. 10, 2017.

“We issued a strong statement condemning the brutal murder of the Nigerian and calling the South African authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring the culprits to justice.

“We equally protested through the diplomatic channel and the case was declared a high profile one,” he said.

Adama commended the IPID who he said assured of a thorough investigation and they had kept to their word.

“They had constantly briefed us on the case and we commend their seriousness of approach in bringing justice to Nigerians in this case.

“It will set a new standard in prosecution of cases involving Nigerians in South Africa. It will also send a strong message out.

The envoy also expressed appreciation to the government of South Africa for creating the enabling environment for justice to prevail.

He also expressed hope that the accused would be convicted to serve as a deterrence to others.

Adama also commended Nigerians who stood firmly with the missions to exert pressure on its intervention on the issue of hostilities against Nigerians in the area.

He lauded them for the support when the mission organised a joint meeting with the police and community leaders in the area to discuss the issues and requests for thorough investigation which was promised.