Press focuses on shelving of planned strike action by health workers, others

The shelving of the planned industrial action by health and medical workers on the backdrop of a 15-day ultimatum to…

The shelving of the planned industrial action by health and medical workers on the backdrop of a 15-day ultimatum to the Nigerian Government by the Joint Health Sector Unions is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Guardian reports that Health and medical workers have shelved their planned industrial action on the backdrop of a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU). They are to sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with government next week on modalities for implementing their agreement.

Speaking after a conciliation meeting in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said all parties struck an understanding, including enhancement of hazard allowance, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, arrears of national minimum wage consequential adjustments and upward review of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as done to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).

The minister said they had no problem with the old issues, as the meeting agreed that the new ones should be channelled to the employer Federal Ministry of Health for deliberation.

On the hazard allowance, Ngige recalled that the government held four meetings earlier with JOSEHU and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) alongside their affiliates, adding that at a point, there were areas of departure.

He noted that the NMA and a union hitherto thought to be part of JOHESU demanded compartmentalisation of the discussions, which government granted.

The Vanguard says that the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, yesterday, warned the Federal Government on the dangers of attack on schools and abduction of students.

Kallon, who condemned the incessant attacks on schools, said in a statement, titled ”The collective future of Nigeria is under threat,” that kidnappings had affected hundreds of children in a number of states in the country.

The UN official, who raised the alarm that the education sector was under attack in Nigeria, stated this in commemoration of the 2021 International Day to protect Education from Attack, which takes place every September 9.

He said the UN condemned attack on schools, and called for more efforts to protect students and ensure uninterrupted teaching and learning.

Kallon, who noted that attacks on schools were a direct attack on the future generation, said: “It is traumatic for the children, undermines their individual dignity, and sometimes leads affected families to withdraw them from education entirely.

 “I strongly condemn every form of attack that has kept many children away from schools. I call on the federal and state governments to do more to protect schools from attack and ensure that teaching and learning were safe and conducive in all schools in Nigeria.

“Whenever teaching and learning are disrupted, the impact on human capital development is enormous as the recovery period is always tortuous and longer than the length of the initial disruption.

“Children are traumatized, parents are scared, teachers and school administrators are afraid; attacks on schools are gradually spreading to areas not known to insurgencies.

”With education under attack, the collective future of Nigeria is under threat. This must stop now.”

The Punch reports that the Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation have dragged the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, before the Supreme Court over the failure of the Federal Government to remit the funds generated from stamp duties into state accounts.

Tax experts who spoke to one of our correspondents on Thursday also explained that the states’ demand was justifiable.

In the suit marked SC/CV/690/2021, the 36 attorneys-general are praying the court to determine whether or not the states have the sole authority to administer and collect stamp duties on all transactions involving individuals/persons within their respective states.

They also asked the court to determine ‘whether having regard to the provisions of Section 4(2) of the Stamp Duties Act Cap. S8 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria read in conjunction with the provisions of Section 163, items 58 and 59 of the Second Schedule part I and items 7 (a) and (b) of the second Schedule part II and other provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the defendant (AGF) could claim, retain, distribute or in any other manner deal with the monies or sums collected as stamp duties on individual persons transactions within the respective states of the plaintiffs without reference to, concurrence of, input or agreement of the plaintiffs?’.

The newspaper says that stakeholders have highlighted the underlying issues hampering the growth of intra-African trade despite the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement by 39 out of 54 countries on the continent.

At the 50th anniversary of the Manufacturer’s Association of Nigeria, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, said interconnectivity and transit of goods were among the major challenges. He said various tariffs and levies across the borders increased the cost of connectivity between nations on the continent.

He said, “Trade in Africa has not risen above 18 per cent of capacity, and a large part of that trade is informal and in primary commodities. “Africa has historically lacked depth in manufacturing and industrial capacity to solve unemployment and erase poverty. These reasons were why solutions, of which the agreement is part, were drawn up in 2012 by leaders in the African Union.

“Our duty at the AfCFTA Secretariat is to engage governments and ministers to establish policy environment for manufacturing to thrive and drive investment in the productive sectors such as pharmaceuticals, auto, agro-processing and other value chains that will boost Africa’s manufacturing capacity and internal trade.”

ThisDay reports that the Lagos State House of Assembly has passed the state’s Value Added Tax (VAT) bill into law.

The Assembly also passed the bill banning open grazing of cattle in the state. If Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signs the passed VAT bill into law, as required by the Nigerian constitution, Lagos would become the second state, after Rivers, to have a VAT law that empowers it to collect the tax.

THISDAY learnt yesterday that Adamawa and Kogi states were in the process of drafting bills to authorise them to also start collecting the consumption tax. There is presently an on-going legal battle between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Rivers State on the matter.

This follows FIRS’s appeal of a Federal High Court judgement in favour of Rivers State in a case the state had instituted to challenge the federal revenue agency’s power to collect VAT.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday threw its weight behind the VAT ruling by a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt. Afenifere called the landmark judgement a decision in the direction of true federalism.

The Sun reports that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that the Gulf of Guinea region lost a staggering $793.7 million to piracy and other maritime crimes in 2016.

The Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in a paper presentation titled, “Enhancing Collaboration amongst Stakeholders for Improved Maritime Security in Nigeria,” at the recently held Chief of the Naval Staff Annual Conference (CONSAC) in Kano State, said the economic cost of maritime insecurity is very pronounced for Nigeria compared to other countries.

However, he re-emphasised the need for enhanced stakeholder collaboration in tackling maritime security challenges in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.

The NIMASA Director General was also honoured at the event by Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, for ensuring civil-military cohesion.

Drawing from terrorist attacks of 9/11 on American soil and the report of the 9/11 Commission indicting security agencies for failing to share real-time intelligence, Jamoh urged Nigerian stakeholders to “learn to share their toys” in a bid to close the gaps and tighten the security ring around the nation’s maritime space against piracy and other maritime crimes.

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