The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has reprimanded the Federal Government over the hike in electricity tariffs announced on Tuesday.
It described the decision as ‘wicked’ and ‘another betrayal of trust’ coming in the middle of ongoing negotiations by the FG and the organised labour on the November 1, 2020 hike.
The union asked the government to revert to the old price or face the consequences of its decision.
This was contained in a statement by the TUC President, Quadri Olaleye, and the Secretary-General, Musa Lawal, titled, ‘Electricity hike: Another betrayal of trust’.
The congress wondered “why this government espouses unfriendly policies that are capable of crippling the economy.”
It said many companies which could not pay the previous tariff hikes had either closed shop or relocated to neighbouring countries.
The TUC stated, “Does it mean there is no other way this government can creatively generate revenue? It has become obvious that the outrages from the organised labour and the masses and the series of negotiations we had with the government were just cosmetic and hypocritical.
“There is so much deceit and laziness in the system; there is hardly any promise made that they have followed through.
“Only yesterday (Monday), we read again that the Academic Staff Union of Universities is withdrawing its members because this same government has reneged on its promises reached a few days ago.
“How can the government go-ahead with increase in tariffs again when we have not resolved the one done earlier? This is preposterous, ridiculous and sheer wickedness.”
The congress noted that it had become the butt of jokes among Nigerians because it was reluctant to launch an offensive on account of the poor state of the economy.
It said, “The economy was struggling before the outbreak of the pandemic and we thought it wise not to worsen our situation. The sacrifice means nothing to these people, who forced us to tighten our belt while they loosened theirs.
“Darkness enhances criminal activities and now they have chosen to keep us in the darkness thinking their high fences will save them. We call on the government to be responsible for once. Nigerians will like to know what we gained from border closures. Insecurity did not stop, neither did it stop the smuggling of rice and others.”
The TUC said the government should not push the organised labour to the wall with its harsh policies.
It stated, “You don’t just churn out policies without weighing the pros and cons. How many people can afford to pay the last bill talk less of this recent one? The organised labour should not be pushed to the wall because it will actually do all no good. The government must revert to the old price or be willing to accept the outcome of this decision. This is a betrayal of trust and it is unfortunate.”
Court Slams Life Imprisonment on ACP for Buying Stolen Car
An Ekiti State High Court has sentenced an assistant commissioner of police, Okubo Aboye, to life imprisonment for buying a stolen car from kidnappers.
Mr Aboye was sentenced on Monday alongside his mechanic, Niyi Afolabi.
According to the charge sheet, Mr Aboye was found with a Toyota Hilux van he claimed to have purchased from his mechanic who got it from kidnappers.
The charge sheet said the offence was committed “on or about the 9th -19th day of May 2005 at GRA, Ado Ekiti. The kidnappers then armed themselves with guns and kidnapped one Moses Ajogri 40 and robbed him of his Toyota Hilux van with Reg. No. APP 509 BK.”
The prosecuting counsel, Felix Awoniyi, told the court the offence contravened sections 346(2), 1(2)a, and section 5 of the Criminal Code Cap C16 Laws of Ekiti state, 2012 and Robbery and firearms special provisions Act, Cap R11, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Delivering judgement, John Adeyeye, the judge, said ”it would be a slap on the face of the court if the police boss is not properly dealt with according to the provisions of the law.”
He said evidence before the court showed that ”Messrs Aboye and Afolabi were aware that the car was stolen before buying it.”
“I find you guilty of receiving a stolen vehicle. All evidence pointed to the fact that you were aware that the car was stolen. You are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment for the offence.”
COVID-19: Nigeria Releases N10bn for Vaccine Production
The Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support COVID-19 vaccine production in the country, an official has said.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made the disclosure at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) COVID-19 briefing on Monday in Abuja.
Mr Ehanire said: “The Ministry of Finance has released N10 billion to support domestic vaccine production.
“While we are working to develop our own vaccines, Nigeria is exploring options for licensed production, in collaboration with recognised institutions. We are also exploring the option of local production of the vaccines in the country.”
He urged Nigerians to ignore claims by some people that they had COVID-19 vaccines for sale in the country.
“I advise all citizens to disregard these claims, as they are criminal. There are procedures for vaccine acquisition and use, which include appropriate regulations and certification by National Agency for Food and Drug and Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“I advise against fake vaccines, as there is no one approved for use in the country. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is the only authorised vaccine administrator in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Ehanire stated that the number of new COVID-19 cases has continued to rise in the country, such that 10,300 confirmed cases were reported from just 50,750 samples tested in one week, translating into 20 percent positivity rate.
“It means one out of every five persons tested in the last one week turned out positive, compared with the previous week which recorded a positivity rate of 14 percent.
“Nigeria’s total number of confirmed cases is 110,387 out of a total of 1,172,234 samples tested, with a cumulative positivity rate of 9.4 percent. 1,444 cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, with sadly 77 deaths in the past week and total fatality of 1,435.
“It is instructive of the second wave that all cases recorded so far this January is more than 20 percent of all confirmed cases in Nigeria, more than the whole of December, barely halfway through the month.
“There is no doubting the fact that we are deeply into the second wave of the pandemic which requires that PTF and FMoH review our strategies to respond to the challenge.
“The federal ministry of health has outlined three approaches to confront the pandemic. These are: infection mitigation, therapeutics and vaccines,” he said.
Mr Ehanire reiterated that reducing infection rate for COVID-19 remained the easiest and cheapest objective of the government.
According to him, government’s main effort is to ensure social mobilisation for testing, strengthening surveillance activities for early detection, active contact tracing, isolation and treatment.
He, however, added that implementation of critical non-pharmaceutical measures required the cooperation of the public.
“This includes much more adherence to wearing masks, social distancing, use of sanitiser, etc. than we are seeing today. Of special concern are the so-called “super spreader activities” that involve congregational settings, which must be reduced, restricted or prohibited in the interest of the common good.
“With regards to therapeutics, we must strive to reduce mortality from this disease by ensuring adequate stock of supplies and strengthening our case management capacity.
“In this regard, the ministry of health is working to expand oxygen availability across the country to address shortages, which have been a challenge globally, and also to review the value of various pharmaceuticals and protocols proposed for COVID-19 treatment.
“Clinicians are also urged to work out guidelines for participating in clinical studies,” the minister said.
Nigeria has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks and increased mortality, a situation mostly blamed on non-compliance with safety protocols to curtail the spread of the virus.
COVID-19: Nigeria Records 200 Deaths in Four Weeks with 1,617 New Cases
As Nigeria continues to record more coronavirus infections, the direct adverse impact has been more fatalities.
A total of 112,004 infections have now been reported across the nation with 1,617 new cases, the second highest daily tally, found in 18 states on Monday.
Also on Monday, 14 people died from the disease raising the total fatality toll to 1,449, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
In the previous 24 hours, Nigeria reported one of it’s deadliest day of the pandemic with 15 people dying from the disease on Sunday.
This is coming a few days after the global coronavirus death toll surpassed two million.
As countries begin to roll out the COVID-19, experts anticipate there will be a reduction in mortality but there have been more deaths especially in countries where the second wave of the virus is spreading unrestrained.
In the past four weeks, there have been over 200 fatalities as a result of COVID-19 complications in Nigeria.
The rise in mortality shows that the second wave of the pandemic is deadlier than the first as more patients are symptomatic and require breathing support.
“The reason for rise in fatalities is not far-fetched. When there are is a sharp rise in new cases, there will definitely be more deaths”, said Chikwe Ihekweazu, head of the NCDC.
Active cases in the country rose sharply from about 3,000 about two months ago to over 20,000 due to a rise in new infections.
Of the over 112,000 cases so far, 89,939 patients have been discharged from hospitals after treatment.
The 1, 617 new cases were reported from the following 18 states: Lagos-776
Lagos, again, led with 776 new cases on Monday, nearly half of the daily total. The commercial city is Nigeria’s coronavirus epicentre with a total of over 40,000 confirmed cases and over 270 deaths.
The Minister of State for Health, Mr Mamora, warned Nigerians against complacency in containing the COVID-19 pandemic as the much-awaited vaccines may not arrive the country as soon as expected.
The government said it is expecting to start receiving vaccines for the disease by the end of the month but many global experts and bodies told PREMIUM TIMES that that is “almost likely impossible”.
So far, Nigeria has conducted over 1.1 million COVID-19 tests.