FG to Inaugurate Fuel Price Hike Palliative Committee Thursday

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Wale Ajimotokan and Paul Obi in Abuja

The federal government is to inaugurate a 16-man technical committee for the implementation of the palliatives meant to cushion the effects of the increase in the pump of petrol today in Abuja.

In a statement, Director of Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Prince Samuel Olowookere said: “The committee which will be chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has the representative of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Prof. Adamu K. Usman as Secretary.

“Other members of the committee representing the federal government include, Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Hon. Minister of Budget and Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Chairman of National Salaries and Wages Commission, Chief R.O Egbule and the representative of the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

He explained that “On the other hand, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) will be represented by Peter Adeyemi, C Amaechi Asugwuni, Ibrahim Khaleel, Comrade Igwe Achese and Comrade Abdullahi Sale.

“Similarly, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) will be represented by Augustine Etafo, Alade Bashir Lawal and Abdullahi Sale.”

According to Olowookere, “the committee will be inaugurated on June 2, 2016 at 3p.m. Venue is the Conference hall of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).”

Meanwhile, Ngige at a meeting with the Association of Contributory Pensioners of Nigeria (ACPN) said the federal government will comply fully with section 173(3) of the constitution that makes review of pension compulsory every five years or at any increment of salaries.

“The constitution is clear in section 173(3) on how pension should be administered. It is to be reviewed every five years or upon an increment in salary. A review was done in 2011 on minimum wage, and once the minimum wage is touched, it should automatically affect the pension,” Ngige said.

“Am not a believer in George Orwell’s Animal Kingdom where some animals are more equal than others. I do not believe in different yardstick for different persons. This is the law of nature and of creation. We are all created equal. It is just that some people are more privileged than others. Having put in the green part of your lives, serving the nation, nobody should discriminate against you. I don’t understand why in the same country, some pensioners are receiving full benefits while others are not. This is unconstitutional.”

The minister regretted the ordeal of the contributory pensioners and promised to urgently institute an appropriate liaison with Pension Commission, PENCOM, to rectify observed operational anomalies as relates to the group, so as to ensure that their benefits were fully paid. He added that pension matters by the ILO Convention 102 should be under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

“We shall therefore not abandon you,” the minister stressed.
He further said the existing Pension Act makes it difficult to register two separate unions under pension as requested by the contributory pensioners.

“It is either that we get as a special concession for you or we amend the Pension Act 2004 to make a place for you as National Union of Pensioners. But let’s bear in mind that before an act of the parliament is amended, it takes all stakeholders into consideration and takes time too. We can also seek for the amendment of the Trade Union Act to give us powers to fully entertain your case.”

The Protem Chairman of the association, Chief Uche Ekpo, lamented the non-representation of the Contributory Pensioners by an organised union, insisting that what the Trade Union Registrar cited as reason for denying it registration covered only the non-contributory pensioners.

He further sought the assistance of the minister for the registration of the body as a trade union so as to better articulate and push the interests of the members of the union.

Ekpo also tasked the minister on discriminatory implementation of the Pension Reform Act 2004 which has made some government departments and agencies pull out of the Contributory Pension regime, stating that, a review of current pension policy was key to sustaining the programme.