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Kwara residents laud, knock federal govt over fuel subsidy removal

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Residents of Ilorin, Kwara State capital have continued to react to the socio-economic hardships triggered by the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.

While some residents commended the federal government for the removal of the fuel subsidy, others described the implementation as ill-planned and untimely.

Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Kwara State chapter, Murtala Saheed Olayinka, said “the government had no option but to do what it did as it would be difficult for it to carry out proper and effective governance without it.

“A set of the cabal were feeding fat on the resources of the country, while a majority of the masses were suffering as a result, so the step taken by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a right step in the right direction,” the labour leader added.

On the multi-billion naira palliative programme of the state government for its citizens and workers, Murtala described it as a welcome development, saying it represents a temporary measure to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

In his reaction, Professor Hassan Salihu of the Political Science Department, University of Ilorin, said, judging by the general trend of hardships and sufferings that has trailed the removal of subsidies on petrol or gasoline or even PMS in Nigeria, it is evident that not much preparation was made before the eventual removal of the subsidies.

”However, since it has been done, I will urge the government to see the level of sufferings in the land as an emergency that needs to be adequately addressed.

“My advice is enough of the textbook approach to managing our economy or the orthodoxy being championed by the Bretton Woods institutions.

“The layers being anticipated by the government for cushioning the effects of the policy may not be ideal, judging by our recent experience with the Covid-19 palliatives.

“Neither will the cash transfer that is being proposed a solution. A heavy level of investment in pro-poor goods and services is the direction to go.

“People have talked about mass transit and the release of more food items from government storage and perhaps giving more powers to the consumer protection agency of government to stabilize prices of goods and services.”

Professor Hassan explained that anything short of massive intervention in the provision of goods and services may not see Nigeria out of the problems so soon.

Professor Yomi Omoteso, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, described the removal of the fuel subsidy as a necessary action.

He said “it might bring some short-run hardships but in the long term, it would improve the lot of us all especially if the savings are invested into productive activities such as agriculture and infrastructure improvement.

Also reacting, the Dean of Students Affairs, Federal Polytechnic, Offa, in Kwara State, Dr Waheed Balogun, described the fuel subsidy removal as a laudable policy “considering the situations Nigeria finds itself.

He, however, criticised the timing and methods of implementation as absurd, considering the plights of the ordinary Nigerians, adding that “one would have expected the government to have the horse before the cart and not vice versa.”

Dr Balogun said, “Introducing the removal without any meaningful palliative in place, that could ameliorate the untold hardships being meted out to ordinary Nigerians is anti-climax and an acrobatic policy capable of portraying the government of President Bola Tinubu in a bad light.

He urged the government to expedite action in its approach to governance by being more realistic and responsive to the yearnings of ordinary and common Nigerians.

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka

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President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau

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President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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