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No feud between me and Imo NLC — allegations against me false, says Uzodinma

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UZODINMA

 

Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma, says he does not have a feud with the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

On Wednesday, aviation unions directed their workers to withdraw services to all Owerri flights from all airports in the country.

The unions said their decision was owing to the mayhem unleashed on workers and the state government’s continued insensitivity to their plight.

The development followed a proposed strike in the state by the leadership of the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Joe Ajaero, NLC president, was reportedly picked up from the Imo council secretariat of the congress in Owerri by heavily armed police officers last week Wednesday.

NLC said Ajaero was beaten and blindfolded immediately after security operatives arrested him.

However, the police command in Imo said Ajaero was not arrested but was taken into protective custody to avoid being lynched by a mob.

Speaking on the issue on Politics Tonight, a Television Continental (TVC) programme on Thursday, Uzodinma said Imo workers are happy with him.

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Uzodinma said instead of Ajaero to focus on his duty in Abuja, he is interested in how the Labour Party would produce a governor in Imo.

He noted that Ajaero was going about achieving that in the wrong way.

He also said what could have been an advantage — that the NLC president is from Imo — has become a disadvantage.

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“There is no feud between Imo state and organised labour. There is an attempt to factionalise organised labour in Imo state. Government has no link with what is happening there,” Uzodinma said.

“But there’s an ugly coincidence which naturally should have been a thing of joy — that Imo state government produced the president of the NLC.

“That is supposed to be an advantage but somehow it is becoming a disadvantage. Because the president of NLC left the job he is supposed to do in Abuja and he is interested in how Labour Party would produce a governor in Imo and he’s doing it the wrong way.

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“And the Labour in Imo said: ‘no, we like what our governor is doing; we are not quarrelling with our governor’.

“I challenge Joe Ajaero if there are people that the government is owing salary, he should publish their names.

“I preside over a sub-national government. I’m not controlled by the leadership of NLC in Abuja. The workers who are my workers here are happy wirh me.

“They have passed vote of confidence in me, they have endorsed me. Everyday, they are campaigning for me to be reelected. Why should I have a problem with such a group?”

‘ALLEGATION OF INTIMIDATION UNTRUE’

Uzodinma also said the allegation that he is intimidating other political parties in the state is untrue.

“Everybody who knows me know that I am a very humble person. I am God-fearing; I am a Christian. So, how will I change overnight at this age?” he asked.

“Rather, all I need is for my people to come together, let us build the only state we can call our own — Imo state. No one man can do it alone. I need the contribution of everybody.

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“So, I don’t think that I’m given to intimidation. I am 24 hours busy in the office. Since I assumed office, I’ve only travelled outside the office twice for medical reasons. Just for medical check up.

“I work from morning till night. What I want to hear; what makes me happy is to see that the roads are good, that my people are happy. I derive my happiness from the happiness of my people.

“All those allegations are based on falsehood, all those blackmails, I don’t want to be distracted by that. But at the end of the day, history will vindicate me.”

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Good morning! Here Are Some Major News Headlines In The Newspapers Today: Gunmen kill Police inspector, three others in Abia

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1. A police Inspector and three civilians were confirmed killed by armed men on Sunday morning in Aba, Abia State. The state Commissioner of Police, Kenechukwu Onwuemelie, in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Maureen Chioma Chinaka confirmed the incident.

 

2. President Joe Biden has endorsed Kamala Harris, his deputy, as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the November 5, 2024, election. He made the announcement in a tweet shortly after declaring that he was quitting the presidential race.

 

3. Bello Turji, leader of a group of outlaws operating in northern Nigeria, has blamed Minister of Defence (State), Bello Matawalle, for not handling banditry effectively when he was governor of Zamfara State. In a video released on social media, Turji linked the escalation of banditry in Zamfara and other Northwestern states to the policies mapped out by Matawalle when he was governor.

 

4. The Nigerian Army (NA) has reiterated that the ban on the unauthorised use of military camouflage remains in full effect. The Director of Army Public Relations, Maj.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said this in a statement on Sunday while reacting to a video depicting a soldier molesting a civilian for wearing Army Desert Camouflage uniform.

READ  We'll shut down Nigeria if fuel price increases, NLC vows

 

5. The Federal Government, through the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, is expecting fresh reports to confirm the real sulphur content of the diesel produced by the Dangote refinery as the company debunked claims of inferior fuel production.

 

6. The Federal Government says it will spend an average of N36bn to convert 30,000 petrol or diesel-powered vehicles to start running on Compressed Natural Gas in the next 90 days. The government stated that it had acquired 30,000 CNG conversion kits for distribution free of charge nationwide within the period.

 

7. Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, says one of his friends who started investing abroad four years ago, has been taunting him over the back and forth with the government in recent times. Dangote has been having issues with the government over his refinery project in Lagos.

 

8. A gruesome incident has occurred in Zaria, Kaduna State, where some applicants vying for a spot in the Nigerian Army Depot allegedly hacked a fellow applicant to death. It was learnt on Sunday that the victim, who hailed from Gombe State, had reportedly received nearly N1m from his parents to facilitate his recruitment.

READ  NLC wants N794,000 as minimum wage for south-west workers

 

9. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has foiled attempts by drug syndicates to smuggle cocaine and loud consignments, a synthetic strain of cannabis concealed in incense candles, game packs, dry hibiscus leaves and ladies’ native wears in and out of Nigeria through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, by some courier firms in Lagos.

 

10. The Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission, EBSIEC, on Sunday declared the All Progressives Congress as the winner of Saturday’s local council polls in the state. Chairman of the commission, Mr Jossey Eze, who announced the results in Abakaliki, said the party won all the 13 Chairmanship seats and 171 Ward Councillors.

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Dangote offers to sell 650,000 bpd oil refinery to NNPC

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Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote says he is willing to give up ownership of his multibillion-dollar oil refinery to the state-owned energy company NNPC Limited.

 

The billionaire spoke as a new dispute with one of the key equity partners in the plant heats up in the latest phase of a bitter row with regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

 

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, which came to life last year after a decade of prolonged construction, cost $19 billion, more than double the initial estimate, promising to help wean Africa’s biggest oil producer off its reliance on fuel from overseas and save up 30 per cent of the total foreign exchange spent on importing goods

 

While speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday, Dangote reportedly said: “Let them (NNPCL) buy me out and run the refinery the best way they can. They have labelled me a monopolist. That’s an incorrect and unfair allegation, but it’s OK. If they buy me out, at least, their so-called monopolist would be out of the way,”

 

“We have been facing fuel crisis since the 70s. This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery.”

The multisectoral investor’s big bet on oil and gas, which he ventured into following years of relatively stress-free dominance of Nigeria’s cement, salt and sugar industries, is turning out problematic in its early days.

 

Set for its first roll-out of petrol to the Nigerian market in August, the mammoth plant has been operating just above half its capacity since the January start of refining operations, constrained in part by difficulties in sourcing crude from international producers.

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Dangote Refinery said those companies are either demanding outrageous premiums before agreeing to supply crude or simply claiming the product is unavailable.

 

NNPC, once a sweetheart of the refiner before the current dispute soured relations, had delivered only 6.9 million barrels of oil to the plant as of May since last year, according to S&P Global Platts, a tracker of supply data.

Dangote Refinery

NNPC Limited has a supply deal with the company dating back to the commencement of operations and previously agreed to a 20 per cent equity participation, the refinery saying only 7.2 per cent has been fully paid for before the deadline issued to the company to acquire the stake.

 

Starving the refinery of the feedstock required to keep it running at present capacity means it has turned to countries like Brazil and the US to bridge the gulf in supply.

 

“As you probably know, I am 67 years old, in less than three years, I will be 70. I need very little to live the rest of my life. I can’t take the refinery or any other property or asset to my grave. Everything I do is in the interest of my country,” Dangote said.

 

“This refinery can help in resolving the problem but it does appear some people are uncomfortable that I am in the picture. So I am ready to let go, let the NNPC buy me out, run the refinery. At least the country will have high-quality products and create jobs,” he added.

 

 

Dangote said the obstacles his refinery is facing seem to have vindicated friends and associates who conselled him to tread with caution as he pumped billions of dollars into the Nigerian economy.

READ  Again, gun-battle in Imo: Security forces shoot two gunmen dead

 

 

“Four years ago, one of my very wealthy friends began to invest his money abroad. I disagreed with him and urged him to rethink his action in the interest of his country. He blamed his action on policy inconsistencies and shenanigans of interest groups. That friend has been taunting me in the past few days, saying he warned me and that he has been proven right,” the businessman said.

 

Last month, Devakumar Edwin, who serves as the vice president, oil and gas, at the Dangote Group accused the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) of allowing marketers to import dirty fuel into the country.

 

That has drawn a reprisal from the main watchdog of Nigeria’s midstream and downstream operations whose chief, Farouk Ahmed, claimed diesel from the plant as well as the one from modular refineries like Waltersmith and Aradel contain high sulphur levels.

 

A high sulphur content in fuel could be injurious to vehicle engines and is known to be harmful to the environment in that it further heats up the fast-warming climate.

 

“The AGO quality in terms of sulphur is the lowest as far as West Africa’s requirement of 50 parts per million (ppm). Dangote refinery, as well as some major refineries like Waltersmith refinery, produce between 650 ppm to 1,200 ppm. So, in terms of quality, their quality is much more inferior to the imported quality,” Mr Ahmed told journalists last Thursday.

 

On Saturday, Dangote debunked the claim during a tour of both Dangote Petroleum Refinery and the Dangote Fertiliser Limited complex by members of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas and other members.

 

The company in a statement said the representatives observed the testing of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) from two petrol stations alongside Dangote Petroleum Refinery, praised the company for its significant investments and contributions to Nigeria’s development.

READ  NLC wants N794,000 as minimum wage for south-west workers

 

“The Chairman of the House Committee on Downstream, Ikenga Ugochinyere, and Chairman of the House Committee on Midstream, Okojie Odianosen, oversaw the collection of samples from the Mild Hydro Cracking (MHC) unit of Dangote refinery for testing of all the samples,” the statement said.

 

 

Dangote openly challenged the regulator to compare the quality of refined products from his refinery with those imported, advocating for an impartial assessment to determine what best serves the interests of Nigeria.

 

On Saturday, the businessman announced plans to halt his investment in Nigeria’s steel industry to avoid being accused of monopoly.

 

“You know, about doing a new business which we announced, that is, steel. Actually, our board has decided that we shouldn’t do the steel because if we do the steel business, we will be called all sorts of names like monopoly. And then also, imports will be encouraged,” Dangote said.

 

 

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‘We’ll dialogue with Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger’ — Tinubu presents state of ECOWAS report at AU meeting

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President Bola Tinubu has presented the state of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) report at the mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union in Accra, Ghana.

 

The mid-year coordination meeting, initiated in 2017, serves as the principal forum for the AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to align their work and coordinate the implementation of the continental integration agenda, replacing the June/July summits.

 

This year’s meeting, themed “Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century,” brought together the Bureau of the AU Assembly, RECs chairpersons, the AU Commission, and regional mechanisms (RMs) on Saturday. 

In a statement on Sunday, Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesperson, quoted Tinubu, who is the chairman of ECOWAS, as saying the community “has activated a standby force to counter-terrorism and will continue to explore funding options”.

 

He added that ECOWAS has actively supported member states in enhancing electoral and governance processes, recently deploying election observation missions to Senegal and Togo, both of which were deemed “peaceful, transparent, and fair”.

 

He highlighted the facilitation of the national unity agreement signing in Sierra Leone, while noting that ECOWAS will continue to work with stakeholders to implement the agreement’s provisions.

 

The president said consultations are ongoing to revise the ECOWAS 2001 Supplementary Protocol on democracy and good governance.

 

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On economic integration, Tinubu stated that ECOWAS has consolidated the free trade area, customs union, and common market through various activities.

 

“We supported six Member States in ratifying the WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, and thirteen Member States have ratified the AFCFTA agreement,” Tinubu said.

 

“The ECOWAS interconnected System for the Management of Goods in Transit (SIGMAT) is also operational in twelve Member States.”

 

On the humanitarian and social development front, Tinubu noted that ECOWAS has allocated $9 million to assist refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers.

 

“The frontline Member States in the fight against terrorism have also been supported with USD4 million under the ECOWAS Counter Terrorism Humanitarian Response,” the president said.

 

“On education, the West African Network of National Academies of Sciences, and the African Forum for Research and Innovation have been established.

 

“Our regional academic mobility scheme has continued to equip the youth with practical skills and is harmonizing education systems.

 

“While in the area of health, ECOWAS continues to provide support to women with obstetric fistula, empowered women entrepreneurs in agribusiness, and focused on gender equality in education and the green economy.”

 

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Tinubu highlighted progress in energy, mines, and agriculture, with ECOWAS advancing electrification efforts in The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, and Mali through the ECOWAS-Regional Electricity Access Project (ECOREAP).

 

“It is also implementing the Regional Off Grid Electricity Access Project (ROGEAP). Thirty-two Solar Off Grid SMEs have been approved, including nine SMEs led by women. A total of 3 million US dollars will be disbursed to finance the SMEs. More than 400 SMEs in 13 countries were trained in 2023 and 2024,” Tinubu said.

 

“To achieve sustainable electricity access within the ECOWAS and Sahel countries, we will provide a total grant of 38 million US dollars to SMEs in Member States. ECOWAS will extend this to Mauritania, Central African Republic, Chad and Cameroon through Commercial and Financial Institutions. An additional loan of 140 million US dollars will also be made available to the solar SMEs.

 

“Within the period under review, ECOWAS has supported Experts from Member States in international meetings and negotiations on environmental issues, including environmental governance. We provided support to our members in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the establishment of a regional carbon market.

 

“With respect to food security, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) has approved the instruments to operationalize the Regional Fund for Agriculture and Food (RFAF). A Regional Food Security was developed to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production.

 

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“Furthermore, our support for pastoralism in the Sahel has targeted the improvement of animal health, with a record vaccination of over 490 million livestock. We have established common rules for controlling veterinary medicine products at borders. In addition, ECOWAS launched a project for Member States to access the Green Climate Fund. This will promote climate-smart agriculture through the use of technologies.”

 

Tinubu noted that the sixth legislature of the ECOWAS parliament elected Maimunatu Ibrahim, its first female President from Togo.

 

He added that the ECOWAS community court of justice reviewed fifteen new cases, held thirty-three court sessions, and delivered eleven judgments.

 

However, the ECOWAS chairman warned of multiple threats facing the bloc, including member states withdrawing, geopolitical rivalries, terrorism, food insecurity, climate change, and the spread of misinformation.

 

He assured that ECOWAS will continue dialogue with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger to maintain unity and will convene a special extra-ordinary summit on the future of the community.

 

On the sidelines of the AU meeting, Tinubu held a bilateral meeting with Ismail Omar Guelleh, Djibouti president.

 

 

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