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Minimum wage mirage: Kano faces reality

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“We can’t pay full March salary over drop in allocation.” Malam Muhammad Garba, Kano State Commissioner for Information.

By Dele Sobowale

On April 5, 2021, the Kano State Government bravely led the way by being the first to announce that it could not pay workers their salaries. Politicians being what they are, the government said the set-back was temporary to cushion the blow. Governor Ganduje has not sent me on an errand; but, Kano State is my second home. I spent more years working and living there than any other state apart from Lagos.
Let me be the first to announce, not only to Kano public servants, but to all of them that the Next Level will now lead to more states failing to pay their workers. It was destined to happen.

“Any policy which does not make economic sense will eventually fail”. That was verdict of economic-history as delivered by one of its leading scholars. I had kept that judgment to heart since 1965-6. Each time any government announces a scheme with a price tag to it, the first thing I do is to run some figures to determine whether the proposal is viable or not. Frequently, in Nigeria, most pronouncements by Presidents and Governors are hogwash – not to be believed.
“Every government is run by liars; and nothing they say should be believed.”

I.F Stone, 1907-1989, US Columnist.

He published I.F Stone WEEKLY in the US until 1971 which was one of my must-read publications then — when it did not cross my mind I will ever become a columnist. His disrespect for governments was most arresting. He contributed that statement to my book. Never again since Stone would any government take me for a ride. I know they are untruthful before they talk.

The report of the new Minimum Wage in May 2019 with instructions for “immediate implementation” induced me to write a letter to two Governors in the South West warning about the dangers ahead. Let me share part of the letter with readers if not for any other reason than to expose how hollow the call by Presidents and Governors is.

They often don’t mean what they say. Here is the warning made in 2019.

There is an important national issue – Minimum Wage – which needs to be handled carefully by all the governments of the Federation to avert dire economic consequences.
I am happy that you represent the two major parties. That Minimum Wage represents potential danger to every state – including those assuming that they can pay at the moment. Four major reasons account for that declaration.

1.Timing is wrong. This year, the nation faces a drastic reduction in crude oil revenue which is the critical factor in the ability of the FG and states to pay the new minimum wage and still discharge other responsibilities to their people.
States now spending close to 70 per cent of their revenue paying salaries will need to borrow just to cover the new payroll bill. How can that be possible when crude oil revenue sharply declines? Most states are drowning under huge debt repayment already without this albatross around their necks.

2.Virtually all institutions and organisations worldwide – World Bank, IMF, World Poverty Clock, Fitch etc — acting independently and appraising the prospects for Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, this year have arrived at the same conclusion.

Nigeria’s GDP will grow by less than 2.5 per cent. That means lower per capita income and deepening poverty. That also precludes possibility for states to increase their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, significantly to help pay the increased bill.

3 Nature is not kind to us this year. Delayed rains will inevitably result in poor food harvest. I know that from what is happening in my farm. Governments will be better advised to anticipate demands for food donations from starving Nigerians late this year and early 2020. Herdsmen have not helped either.

4.Heightened insecurity nationwide means only one thing – governors will be called upon to spend more on combating crimes in their states on a scale never before experienced in this country.
“If gold rusts, what then will iron do?” Geoffrey Chaucer, 1342-1400.
The letter was sent by DHL to Governors Fayemi and Makinde of Ekiti-APC and Oyo-PDP respectively. Neither of them acknowledged receipt of the letter. Yet, I acted in the belief that the two were among the most enlightened of our leaders. Three letters written to one Governor and two Senators in the USA were promptly answered despite my not being a US citizen. The difference is clear.
States are in the predicament predicted in private to the two governors. I actually had a proposal to help governors of all states minimise the maximum wage fall-out. But, you can only talk to people whose ears are open. From all appearances, it might be better to go and talk to a wall than a Nigerian governor. Kano is better than several states in this regard. So, if the richest state in the North is catching cold, the rest are almost dying of pneumonia on this matter.
“Truth is constant.” Kano is among the top six in federal allocation to states. Its monthly revenue from that source is almost equal to those of Plateau, Gombe and Nasarawa states combined. Yet, a group of senseless individuals have decreed that all the states must pay the same salaries to everybody from Governor to Gateman. In no other federation in the world is this the practice. To make matters worse for the governments of poor states, those negotiating on both sides take their bearings from prices of goods and services in Lagos and Abuja. To listen to many Labour leaders, rent is the same in Lagos and Langtang; food costs the same in Abuja and Aba and there is traffic jam everywhere resulting in high transport charges. We all know these are not true reflections of the situations we experience. But, lazy negotiators start from those faulty premises and go on to arrive at wrong conclusions.

Labour representatives are particularly guilty of selfishness. What they rake in is a function of what they get states to pay – irrespective of whether it is sustainable or not. They don’t care about the wide disparities in the abilities of states to pay. They blackmail politicians to obtain dodgy concessions. The agreement of 2019 is unravelling right now. Kano is only the beginning.

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See the Pageant Organisers Contesting for National Executive Position Of The As

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See the Pageant Organisers Contesting for National Executive Position Of The Association

BATTLE READY!!!New Pageant Executives Set To emerge Ahead of the Much Anticipated Election After 7 Years

The Association of Beauty Pageant and Fashion Exhibition Organisers Of Nigeria, ABPFEON will in coming weeks have a new leadership as conclusions are being made to hold its much anticipated elective convention.

This is coming seven years after the organiser of Most Beautiful Girl in Abuja, Hon. Ejiro Okpihwo had held sway as the president of the association.

The election expected to hold in Abuja, the nation’s capital is to consolidate on the efforts of Hon. Ejiro to reposition ABPFEON and bring so much sanity to it.

Forms for various elective positions are currently on sale while contenders are aggressively making purchases rolling out their campaign and presenting their manifestos.

Within the past seven years of Hon. Ejiro’s leadership, the association has made tremendous progress in terms of attracting partnerships, bringing in quality individuals to associate with as well as branding its image for a wider acceptance.

Under the leadership of Mr. Ejiro Okpihwo the association reached an understanding with National Lottery Commission with regards to setting star prizes and other prizes being designed for winners after each beauty pageant.

The association also made its position known by dissociating itself from the outrageous sex scandal involving one Chidinma, winner of Miss Anambra over her self-pleasure with cucumber.

It said Chidinma’s action was against its norms, in addition to the fact that she was not a member of the association, which is known for its decency and upholding high moral standard.

In the last seven years also, the association has fully formalised its registration as a recognised body within the framework of Nigerian Constitution.

Hon. Ejiro’s leadership has also attracted commendation for expanding the structure of Association of Beauty Pageant and Fashion Exhibition Organisers of Nigeria, ABPFEON within the six geopolitical zones of the country and the states by ensuring there are individuals who are in charge of its affairs across the country, monitoring conducts of members.

His intervention also led to amicable resolution of disagreements between beauty queens, organisers and their sponsor agencies. It has not been very rosy even though he has committed personal funds and time but he has also reasonably surmounted challenges.

As the election draws nearer, top names in the industry have indicated interest to lead the association.

One of such is veteran pageant organiser and project director of Face of Democracy Nigeria, Comrade Olufunsho Alexander Ajagbonna popularly known as FAJAG who is eyeing the presidency of the association.

ABUJAPRESS reliably gathered that there are no serious or strong contestants for the position, a situation that may see Fajag emerge unopposed as president of the association.

He has also recently unveiled his manifesto to make real his readiness. Fajag is believed to have a rich network of contacts within and outside the industry which will make him a perfect fit for the office of the President.

Some contestants have also indicated interest to vie for office of the National Secretary of the association. Among them is Amb. Raymond Jefferson, the organiser of Miss Comely Queen Nigeria and The Nigeria University carnival Queen. He has also released his manifesto with assurance of bringing positive impact to the organisation.

Amb. Ajeh Raphael of Face Of Orient & Face Of Ultimate Queen and Amb Clinton Nwoso of Miss Indigenous Nigeria have also indicated interest to run for office of the National Organising Secretary of the association while others are Hilda Yange of Queen Of Culture And Tourism Benue and Felicity for National Vice President position, Amb. Gozskej Obinna of Queen of Unity Nigeria & Queen Of South South Nigeria and Okafor Uche Innocent of Queen Of Emerald Pageant will battle it out at the polls for National Financial Secretary position. As Amarachi Favour of Miss Apex Queen heads for National Deputy Organising Secretary office if not last meeting opposition.

Other major contenders for the coveted offices are Amb. Roland Chidi Owualah of Face of Culture Nigeria and Comrade Prince Ustry of Queen Of Gold Africa to slug it out for the juicy position of National Treasurer. While the battle ground for supremacy when other contestants Join the race are Public Relations Officer contested by Usman Moses Omoaka of Queen of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria, Amb. Duke Bassey of Face Of Royalty Africa for National Provost and Foga Luter Timothy of Face Of Peace Nigeria. Though the contest is still open as more are expected to join the in the coming days.

The race appears not to be very tight in some positions as those who believe they have capacity to lead the association are the ones joining the race.

The rich credentials of some of these contenders wield may also have intimidated some intending contestants as number of those jostling for elective positions are not as large as expected with regards to the number of pageants in the country.

The election of new executives is expected to reposition the pageant industry as stakeholders are already showing interest in the process.

Chairman of the election Committee, Mr. Tosin Adeladun who is the organiser of Miss NGO Nigeria has assured that the process will be free and fair, noting that the credibility and quality of contestants is a huge boost.

He therefore appealed to individuals and corporate organisations to show support to the incoming executives as they are poised to bringing new innovations in the system.

He also expressed gratitude to Hon. Ejiro Okpihwo, the head of the outgoing executives for the roles he has played in bringing goodwill to the association as well as marketing it as a global brand.

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Ginger production can improve Nigeria GDP, NGAN tells FG

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The National Ginger Association of Nigeria (NGAN) has called on the federal government to invest in ginger production, noting that its value chain has the capacity to improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country.

The President of the Association, Mr. Mikah Adamu who made the call during the inauguration of South-South zonal executives in Asaba, said Ginger production would boost the revenue of the nation and also provide employment for the unemployed youths.

He said, “Ginger crop and its value chain have the capacity of generating more foreign exchange as an alternative to oil.

“It has the capacity to create jobs, boost wealth creation and improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the country.

“Some of us who have worked in the gas industry decided to introduce the best approach to the farming of ginger, it is a good crop that can compete with crude oil in the international market”.

On his part, the Chairman of Delta State Chapter of the NGAN, Mr. Harrison Opia said the success recorded by ginger farmers in the South-South region was very huge, saying that ginger can also grow in the southern part of Nigeria.

He called for the support of the state government saying “that diversifying our economy through agriculture and ginger cultivation and processing to its value chain is the way to go.

In his remark, Delta State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Julius Egbedi who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ben Agama commended ginger farmers in the region in ensuring productivity within a short period.

He pledged the support of the state government to the advancement of the agricultural sector of the state.

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Ministry Of Agriculture , NSPRI Train ADP Staff On Post Harvest Management

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In a bid to curb post harvest losses among farmers in the country, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Nigeria Stored Product Research Institute (NSPRI) organized a four day training programme for staff of the Agricultural Development Projects (ADP) with persons selected from states in the South-South and South East geopolitical zones of the country.

The training which is anchored on technological innovation in post-harvest management was held in Sapele, Delta State.

Addressing the participants during the opening of the four-day training programme , the Executive Director of the Institute, Dr(Mrs.) Patricia Pessu said “that the training programme was aimed to step down knowledge on post-harvest management through the ADP staff to farmers in the rural areas.”

The Executive Director, said that “post harvest losses had a significant effect on the economy. The institute would be taking advantage of the platform as an opportunity to disseminate information and share their experiences as well as achievements on post harvest management to reduce post harvest losses. ”

“Losses on grains such as maizes, sorghum, millet, cowpea is between 20%, 25%, and 30% in root and tuber crops such as yam, cassava and potatoes while about 50%of fruits and vegetables are lost post harvest, unfortunately this loss are from the rural area, that are in dire need of development” She added.

The NSPRI boss, who described ADP officials as partners and stakeholders in the agricultural sector, said that “over the years, they had helped to improve the livelihood of the farmers by helping to provide inputs such as fertilizers and seedlings.

“As we know, post-harvest has not been in the forefront of their roles and we, having the mandate to conduct research on post-harvest losses, decided as part of our 2021 project to get the ADPs on board, realizing their importance at their grassroots”.

“So, we are able to bring them on board to put them through all the available technologies in the industry realizing that they are close to the grassroots and they will be able to impact on the farmers and to eventually improve their livelihood and then improve the economy.”

She also said that the partnership would continue after the training programme , adding that the institute intended to have some of the technologies in some places that would be identified by the ADPs where the farmers would access facilities and use them free of charge.

Also speaking, the Delta State coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Mr John Onovughe in his goodwill message said that the training program would enable ADP staff to orientate farmers on how to preserve their goods.

“The training is commendable as it will be nice if we can get it right this time around, post harvest storage will boost the Nigeria economy.
Technology innovation of post harvest training will enhance the living condition of the farmer”, he added.

One of the trainees, Eng Godwin Eze thanked the Ministry and NSPRI for the capacity building workshop assuring that whatever they were taught would be impacted on others to enable them , especially farmers help to reduce lost of produce in post harvest.

Declaring the workshop open, the State Commissioner for Agriculture, represented by Mr Edwin Odiete, Programme Manager of the ministry of Agriculture Asaba said that farmers were responsible for feeding the nation, adding that they lacked post harvest storage facilities.

He added that the training would improve the method of preserving the food, stressing that the knowledge acquired in the course of the training would be extended to farmers on how best to preserve their produce especially those in the rural areas.

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