FG Reintroduces Tollgate Levies On Federal Highways; Nigerians to pay N500, N200 per trip

Babatunde Fashola

The Federal Executive Council has approved the reintroduction of toll collections on some selected dual carriageways across the country.

This is as it exempted diplomatic, military, para-military vehicles, tricycles, motorcycles from the scheme.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed these on Wednesday while briefing the State House correspondents at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The decision was made almost two decades after the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration dismantled all toll plazas on federal roads across the country in 2003.

Fashola said his ministry presented a memo which the council approved to reintroduce tollgates on dual carriageways of the 35,000km federal roads.

These roads, he explained, amounted to only 14.3 per cent of the entire 35,000km stretch of federal roads that were dual carriageways and would be eligible for tolling with vehicles paying between N200 and N500 toll per trip, depending on their brand while diplomatic, military, para-military as well as tricycles and motorcycles would be exempted.

The minister added that dual carriageways represented only 5,050km out of the total 35,000km.

He said, “So the total network of roads today, assuming we wanted to start today, which we’re not, that will be eligible for tolling on the federal network will be 14.3 per cent of the total network. So, 85.27 per cent will not be eligible for tolling.

“We have seen that most of those dual carriageways also have alternative roads, but they are single carriageways; that’s why we left them. So, the only exception to single carriageway are some bridges and they are listed in the regulation.”

The minister said with the FEC approving the reintroduction of toll plazas on selected roads, it was now working modalities to determine how soon the tolling system would take off.

He said, “The Ministry of Works and Housing presented a policy memorandum for the approval of federal roads, bridges, tolling policy, and also a regulation that will provide a legal framework for the tolling policy.

“So, we have taken another step. So let me be clear, tolls are not going to start tomorrow. So let us be clear about that.”

Fashola stressed that the open tolling system to be introduced would not commence until the affected roads were motorable while operational agreements would have to be negotiated with relevant government agencies.

The Minister also said the toll collected would not only be used to maintain the roads but would also be used to construct new ones while the toll system would be electronically driven for transparency.

Fashola noted that FG consulted widely with public and private sector stakeholders before agreeing to reintroduce toll on federal highways.

Strike begins today as varsity unions write branches

Non–teaching staff in the universities will today commence indefinite strike over the Federal Government’s handling of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, sharing formula of the N40 billion earned academic allowances and non-payment of arrears of the new minimum wage.

Already, the National Joint Action Committee, JAC, comprising the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, has written to the branches to commence strike today.

A copy of the notice signed by SSANU National President, Mohammed Ibrahim, and NASU General Secretary, Prince Peters Adeyemi, was sent to our correspondent on Thursday.

Recall that the JAC had announced that it would proceed on an indefinite strike from February 5 following the alleged failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.

Other demands include the non-payment of retirement benefits to former members, non-constitution of visitation panels to universities, poor funding of universities, teaching staff usurping the headship of non-teaching units, among others.

In a bid to stop the workers from embarking on strike, the Federal Government team led by Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige met with the leadership of the unions but the meeting ended in a deadlock on Tuesday.

Following the inability of the government to avert the strike through the meeting, a committee was set up to resolve the dispute over the N40 billion earned allowances and complaints about IPPIS.

Part of the notice read: “In view of the outcome of the meeting, the leadership of JAC of NASU and SSANU at the branches are hereby directed to commence joint general meetings on Friday to give reports on the outcome of the conciliation meeting and pass resolutions on the way forward.

“In the meantime, the nationwide strike takes effect from 12 midnight, Friday, February 5, 2021, pending any contrary resolution by the branches.”

Vanguard gathered that out of the seven demands, only the issues of IPPIS and the payment of arrears of the minimum wage were discussed at the meeting.

The government had told the unions that there was no money to pay for the arrears of the minimum wage and that a supplementary budget would be submitted to raise the money.

School Resumption Remains January 18th – FG

Wearing face-masks, final year students of Government Secondary School, Zone 3, Abuja, sit in a classroom as they write their West African Examinations Council exams, following the ease of COVID-19 lockdown order on Monday August 17, 2020. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.
File photo of students during a WAEC examination.

The Federal Government has insisted that the January 18th resumption date for schools in the country remains intact despite fears over the surge in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

“After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain,” the Federal Ministry of Education said in a statement issued on Thursday by its Director, Press and Public Relations, Ben Bem Goong.

This had sparked fears among many Nigerians that schools resumption might be put on hold indefinitely even though many states in the country had set dates for the reopening of the learning centres. 

FULL STATEMENT 

FEDERAL MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, 
office of the director (press & PR)
PRESS STATEMENT

SCHOOL RESUMPTION DATE OF 18TH JANUARY 2021 STANDS MINISTER
Sequel to the hint given during the press 12 January 2021 for the review of the proposed resumption date of 18th January 2021, the Federal Ministry of Education has undertaken a comprehensive appraisal of the situation. 
After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, including State Governors, Commissioners of Education, Proprietors and heads of institutions, staff unions and students, the consensus of opinion is that the resumption date of 18th January should remain, while parents and respective institutions must ensure full compliance with COVID-19 protocols including:-
(i) Compulsory wearing of Facemasks by all students, teachers and workers in all schools 
(ii) Temperature checks and hand washing facilities at strategic locations in all schools 
(iii) Ensuring constant supply of water and sanitizers 
(iv) Enforcement of maintenance of social distancing and suspension of large gatherings such as assembly and visiting days. 
(v) Avoiding overcrowding, including limitations in class sizes and hostel occupancy 
(vi) Availability of functional health clinics with facilities for isolation and transportation of suspected cases to medical facilities
(vii) Adherence to all other non-pharmaceutical protocols, restrictions and containment measures as may be prescribed/ approved by the PTF from time to time.
These measures which are to ensure safe reopening of schools for academic activities will be subject to constant review as we urge teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure strict compliance.

Ben Bem Goong 
Director, Press and Public Relations 
14th January, 2021

Finally, FG Reveals When Schools Will Resume

Finally, FG Reveals When Schools Will Resume
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 made this known to the public that schools across the country will resume on January 18, 2021, until a fresh directive by the Ministry of Education.

Recall that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had said the Federal Government would review the date fixed for resumption of schools.

Speaking on a television programme, PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu said the minister did not say the date has been changed.

“As regards schools, I just want to make a clarification, what the minister said yesterday was that they were going to review, he didn’t say that they were going to change the date,” Aliyu said.

“He said they will review the situation and let the nation know.

“So, for the moment, it is still 18th January until the ministry of education comes back either with an alternative date or reconfirm that.”

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Monday, said travels, reopening of schools, businesses and religious centres have contributed to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Nigeria.

Mustapha stated this during the PTF media briefing in Abuja, on Monday.

FG Announces The First Set Of People Who Will Take The Covid-19 Vaccine In Nigeria

Faisal Shuaib, the boss of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency said, President Buhari and Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo will be among the first to take the approved Covid-19 vaccine when it gets to Nigeria by the end of January.

Faisal Shuaib, the boss of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency said, President Buhari and Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo will be among the first to take the approved Covid-19 vaccine when it gets to Nigeria by the end of January.

About 100,000 doses of the vaccine will be brought to the country soon and mainly health workers who are in the frontline in the fight against Covid-19, old people and political leaders in the country will be the first set of people to take the vaccine.

Faisal said, apart from the President, political leaders in the country like the Secretary to the government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha will have to take the vaccine in the public so as to create public awareness.

He said the politicians will be the first to be given the vaccine because no country will want its strategic leaders to die due to the virus.

He also said the country’s Agency for food and Drug Control will have to certify the vaccine before they will start to use it in Nigeria.

FG May Announce Nationwide Lockdown Over COVID-19 Second-Wave

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has warned that the federal government may be forced imposed another nationwide lockdown over the second-wave of the deadly virus.
Read Full Text Of FG Latest COVID-19 Restrictions Across Nigeria
<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Speaking on a television programme on Sunday, the National Coordinator of the PTF, <strong>Dr Sani Aliyu</strong>, lamented that despite the deadly nature of the second-wave Nigerians have refused to adhere to safety protocols.Speaking on a television programme on Sunday, the National Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, lamented that despite the deadly nature of the second-wave Nigerians have refused to adhere to safety protocols.

He said: “If you don’t want a lockdown, the only way is to make sure we use our facemasks, avoid mass gatherings, avoid people who have respiratory tract infections, sanitise our hands and follow those non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“The very vaccines that we currently have are those non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“If numbers continue to go up, all options are on the table. There are countries in the world that have been able to control this pandemic simply by following these non-pharmaceutical interventions. They may be inconvenient, but they will not be as difficult as a lockdown”.

Aliyu said cases were multiplying in recent weeks, adding that 33 people died of COVID-19 in the last one week.

The PTF coordinator also attacked individuals and cleric saying that COVID-19 doesn’t exist, saying people with such thinking are probably living in a completely different world.

He said: ”I’m sure most of those who have been following the numbers will realise that what we have now far exceeds what we had in June/July last year.

“In week 52, which is the week we’ve just finished, we’ve seen a tripling in weekly number of cases, compared to what we had three weeks ago. The 6,000 cases per week is really huge. Our hospitals are already starting to get overloaded and we are already starting to feel the pressure within the healthcare system.

“So, talking about the projection, the projection really depends on whether people will start taking this very seriously and start following those non-pharmaceutical interventions that we’ve been talking about for the last one year.”

Petrol, electricity tariff hike: Buhari govt not interested in discussing solutions – Organised Labour

The Organised Labour on Monday said the Nigerian Government was not interested in honest dialogue over the hike in electricity tariff and fuel price.

The labour union said the government was not ready to find a lasting solution to the hike in the price of petrol and electricity tariff.

The body disclosed this in a statement jointly signed by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja and Trade Union Congress, TUC, Secretary-General, Musa Lawal Ozigi.

In the statement titled: “Why we walked out,” the union said the government had shown bad faith in their agreement.

The statement reads partly: “At our meeting yesterday (Sunday night), we had prioritised as urgent this matter before delving into the issue of palliatives. However, the Honourable Minister of Labour, Dr Chris (Ngige) did not think it was important.

“All efforts to make him see reason failed. Given the tense situation and the government’s manifest of insensitivity, the organised labour had no option than to walk out.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the government is not prepared for a sincere and honest dialogue on finding a lasting solution to the twin issues of petroleum price increase and electricity tariffs.”

FG meets Labour over petrol price as NLC, TUC fume

The Federal Government and Organised Labour will meet this evening over the recent hike in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly known as petrol that shocked Labour leaders and Nigerians in the wake of tension created by the September increment.

Affiliates of of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and their Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterparts, are already grumbling over the consequences of the new pump price of N170 per  liter of fuel which NLC and TUC have rejected.

In fact, NLC and TUC see the recent increment as a breach of the agreement Organised Labour reached with Federal Government that led to the suspension of the planned nationwide strike and mass protest on the eve of commencement on September 28.

“I am sure that  government officials may have remembered that we only suspended the planned strike for two weeks from September 28. The issues surrounding the last increase in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff are yet to be concluded. Definitely this last increment is a betrayal of trust and understanding”, he said.

Recall that early last week, NLC and TUC, in separate statements, while rejecting the pump price increment, accused government of deceit among others.

NLC, in a statement by the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, warned against pushing workers and Nigerian masses to the wall, saying “The truth is that we would not have been in this precarious situation if government had been alive to its responsibilities. There is a limit to what the citizens can tolerate if this abysmal increases in the price of refined petroleum products and other essential goods and services continue. While we fix our refineries, there are a number of options open to government to stem the tide of high prices of refined petroleum products.

“One is for government to declare a state of emergency in our downstream petroleum sector. As a follow up to this, government should enter into contract refining with refineries closer home to Nigeria. This will ensure that the cost of supplying of crude oil is negotiated away from prevailing international market rate so that the landing cost of refined petroleum products is significantly reduced”.

On its part, TUC, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Quadri Olaleye and Musa Lawal, respectively, argued: “From all indications, government has again reneged on agreement reached with the organised labour few weeks ago. In few days the various committees involving government and the organised labour will brief labour and civil society and the outcome of that meeting will determine our next line of action.

“We recall that at our meeting government appealed that subsidy removal was the only way out, else the economy will collapse and there would be massive job losses. We agreed with them to save the economy and the jobs.

“If the government claims to have “deregulated” the downstream sector of the oil and gas (which of course is subsidy removal), it therefore means the independent oil marketers are importing petrol at their own cost. Information at our disposal, however, is that no independent marketer is importing fuel, because they cannot access dollars. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC) is still holding on to that monopoly.

“To make matters worse, it is the NNPC that instructed the new increase and not Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). What a regime of contradictions! NNPC has become a behemoth. “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings” It appears this fault must be conquered for us to be free.”

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FG commences distribution of free electricity metres

The National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) will on Friday, October 30, 2020 commence distribution of free electricity meters to Nigerians with simultaneous launch events of the scheme in Kano, Kaduna, Eko and Ikeja DISCO franchise areas.

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">The programme was initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure mass metering with the hope of putting an end to the problem of estimated billing in the electricity sector.The programme was initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure mass metering with the hope of putting an end to the problem of estimated billing in the electricity sector.

Informed sources at the presidency told The Nation the locations to receive meters include Bawo Road and environs in Kano metropolis (KEDCO), Governor Road/Tudun Wada in Kaduna (Kaduna Electric), Oshodi Business Unit in Ikeja (Ikeja Electric), and Yaba and Surulere (Eko DISCO).

A presidential source added key stakeholders to monitor the launch of the distribution include Kaduna, Kano and Lagos government representatives, the Senate Committee and House Chair on Power as well as representatives of Organised Labour and Civil Society Organisations.

He said the NMMP is to roll out 6 million meters for all connections points on grid without meters over the next 18 to 24 months, estimating to impact 30 million consumers nationwide.

“Following Mr President’s directive on mass metering, the Central Bank of Nigeria, on October 18th, approved guidelines for funding the mass metering programme, which entailed that all meters under the scheme would be locally sourced, creating thousands of manufacturing jobs through lead manufacturers such as MOMAS, MOJEC and others,” the source said.

He further said the launch of the NMMP would be part of a continuous effort where all DisCos would go from location to location across the country with their respective Meter Asset Providers to install meters for all Nigerians.

When contacted, Mr. Laolu Akande, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, confirmed the development but added that more details would emerge as the distribution progresses across the country.

He added current efforts by the Federal Government on improving power supply and mass metering were in line with some of the agreements recently reached between the FG and Organised Labour recently.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had committed that Nigerians would be metered prior to the end of his administration and that estimated billing would be ended.

FG Reveals Categories of Those Who Can, Can’t Apply For N75b Youth Investment Fund

The federal government has published a list of criteria that must be met for prospective beneficiaries of the N75 billion investment fund for Nigerian youths.

The scheme which is by run by NIRSAL Microfinance, a micro-finance outfit owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was developed by the ministry of youth and sports.

In line with the ministry, only N12.5 billion of the fund will be used to sponsor the transition of informal enterprises owned by youths into the mainstream economy of the country.

Below is a list of conditions that qualifies an applicant to benefit from the programme:

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">1. An applicant must be a Nigerian youth within the age range of 18-35 years.1. An applicant must be a Nigerian youth within the age range of 18-35 years.

2. A prospective beneficiary must own business/enterprises situated and functional in the country.

3. Applicants must have a valid Bank Verification Number (BVN).

4. An applicant must not have any criminal record in the last 10years.

5. He or she must have a local government indigene certificate.

Having met the above-listed conditions, applicants must be in possession of the following:

(a) Evidence of registration with Corporate Affairs Commission(Certificate of Incorporation and Form CAC 2A);

(b) Business questionnaire;

(c) List of Directors with BVN number

(d) Evidence of regulatory approvals (where applicable)

(e) Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Persons who cannot apply for the Nigerian Youths Investment Funds NYIF are those who at the moment benefit from the NMFB loans as well as the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AgSMEIS) even if they’re yet unpaid.

Moreover, beneficiaries of other govt loan schemes who are not paid yet can also not apply for the NYIF.

Earlier, Nigerians youths have been urged to take advantage of the recently established investment fund.

The call was made by President Muhammadu Buhari on his Twitt£r page on Wednesday, August 12. The president made the call on the occasion of 2020 international youthday.

<p class="has-drop-cap" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">"We recently established a 75 billion Naira Nigerian YouthsInvestment Fund (NYIF), as part of our commitment to creating opportunities for the youth of Nigeria.“We recently established a 75 billion Naira Nigerian YouthsInvestment Fund (NYIF), as part of our commitment to creating opportunities for the youth of Nigeria.

On this occasion of International Youth Day, I urge all our young people to take advantage of these opportunities,” the president wrote.

Also, president of the Senate Ahmad Lawan in a statement by his special adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi in Abuja said that the youth deserved special attention as a vulnerable group and as the future of the nation.

The Senate leader said that the day was set aside by the United Nations to draw attention to issues concerning youths at the community,national and global levels.

He said :

”The education, knowledge, technical skills, and character of youths will determine the future conditions and character of the nation.

”Therefore, government must endeavor to create a system that nurtures the talents of youths and ensures their robust developmentas they grow into the leadership of society,”.

Lawan added that government owed the youth an environment that encouraged them to unleash their potential and realise their dreams.

The senior Lawmaker said that the National Assembly passed the Not- Too-Young to Run Bill, which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law in May 2018, to avail the Nigerian Youths the opportunities to fully participate and aspire to any role in politics and governance.