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Fayemi, NLC Agree On Ekiti Workers Salary Slash, Suspend Minimum Wage

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FAYEMI

The Ekiti State Government has made more concessions to workers in a determined bid to ensure regular payment of salaries and avert a collapse of government business.

 

The State Government approved the new measures after reaching an agreement with the leadership of the Organised Labour following series of meetings on the latest state of finance occasioned by a shortfall in the allocations from the Federation Account.

 

An agreement to that effect was sealed and signed by the representatives of the government and leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) in Ado Ekiti on Friday.

 

The shortfall has imposed an expenditure deficit of N750 million per month on the state government which has left the state treasury in dire straits.

 

Consequent upon the agreement, Governor Kayode Fayemi, political office holders and other top government functionaries are to make a sacrifice of 25 per cent reduction in their monthly salaries for three months effective from May to July 2021.

 

The consequential adjustment of the new minimum wage approved by the state government for officers on Grade Level 07 to Grade Level 12 would also be put on hold for three months effective from May to July 2021.

 

It was also agreed that the monthly Running Grants (RGs) released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on monthly basis be reduced to reflect the latest economics realities on ground.

 

Another deal struck was that an Economic Review Committee would henceforth meet monthly (five days after Federation Accounts Allocation Committee release) to keep Labour abreast of the financial position of the State and actions to be taken.

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It was equally agreed that 10 per cent of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) being the state responsibility to the state Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) would be released henceforth.

 

The government further reiterated its commitment to workers and also reaffirmed its promise not to downsize the workforce or retrench any worker as a result of financial challenges facing the state.

 

Addressing a joint press conference with the Organised Labour on Friday in Ado Ekiti after the pact was signed, the Head of Service, Mrs. Olapeju Babafemi, said the agreement was the high point of interactions Governor Fayemi started on May 4 when he presented a State of the State Address on the financial position and how to address the challenges posed.

 

Mrs. Babafemi commended the labour leaders for their sacrifice and understanding expressing optimism that Ekiti will successfully navigate through the period of financial challenges.

 

 

She assured that the Fayemi administration, which it described as worker-friendly, would be faithful to the terms of the agreement reached with the workers to ensure a peaceful industrial climate in the state.

 

 

Speaking on behalf of Labour, the JNC Chairman, Comrade Kayode Fatomiluyi, appreciated the political class in Ekiti for sacrificing 25 per cent of their monthly salaries and also hailed the government for making efforts that would not lead to retrenchment of workers.

 

Fatomiluyi acknowledged that Nigeria and workers are passing through a very harsh economic climate but noted that Labour would not shirk its responsibility of protecting the interests of workers despite the prevailing situation.

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He added: “The labour leadership believes in dialogue and subjecting itself to arguments logically and scientifically and bowing to superior argument. We urge the government to adhere strictly to this agreement.”

 

 

It would be recalled that Governor Fayemi approved the reduction in salaries of political office holders in April 2020 at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic in a bid to ensure continuous payment of workers’ salaries amidst economic challenges posed by the public health situation.

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Access Bank Vs Late Sunny Odogwu: Moving against Recalcitrant Debtors

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Odogwu

The recalcitrant attitude of debtors who take depositors funds by way of loan facilities with no intention to repay has once again come into public focus with the recent dispute between the Estate of the late Chief Sunny Odogwu, and his related companies.

While it is not in dispute that a facility was taken from the bank to finance a hotel project at 31-35, Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos, the said facility is yet to be repaid.

The impression being created by the Estate of the late Chief Odogwu and his related companies that they can take depositors funds to finance projects and rather than repay such funds, they would make false claims to the ownership of the assets of the debtors as inheritance to be shared is a vivid reminder of the era of failed banks in the country.

The dubious attempts by the Estate of the late Sunny Odogwu to rewrite the terms of the facilities is not only a show of shame but a clever attempt by the family to inherit dubious assets gotten from depositors’ funds which does not form part of the estate and as such should not be allowed.

It would be recalled that the defunct Diamond Bank Plc, an iconic bank comparable to Eastern Nigeria’s African Continental Bank (ACB) almost went under due to recalcitrant borrowers and the bank was rescued by Access Bank Plc.

Unfortunately for the Estate of the late Sunny Odogwu and his related companies, the facts of the matter, terms of the loans and the dispute has been litigated and pronounced upon by the Federal High Court and the Odogwu Family had the opportunity to present their own side of the story which they did before Hon. Justice Saliu Saidu of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in suit number: FHC/L/CS/1633/14, in November 3, 2015.

Delivering judgment in the suit, Hon. Justice Saidu held that the first to third defendants were in fundamental breach of the contract for the financing of the construction of the Luxury Collection Hotels and Apartments, having admitted, “Indebtedness to the plaintiff in the sum of N10, 252,315,567.28 on the project finance facility as at December 20, 2011.”

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Additionally, the learned trial judge held that the first to third defendants have not produced before the court any evidence that any of the conditions for the grant of the facility was waived or demonstrated to the court how they liquidated their indebtedness.
His words: “With all the facts before me, I am satisfied that the first to third defendants who have admitted indebtedness has not shown how the indebtedness was liquidated.

Flowing from these grounds, Justice Saidu made the following consequential order: “Judgment is entered in the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 jointly and severally against the 1st to 3rd defendants being the outstanding sum as at September 30, 2014 advanced by the plaintiff for the 1st to 3rd defendants’ project which sum has remained unpaid despite several demands.

“That leave is granted to the plaintiff to foreclose and sell the said property situated at 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos and to deposit the proceed of the sales into the 1st defendant’s account kept with the plaintiff towards the partial satisfaction of the judgment sum against the 1st to 3rd defendants.

“That leave is granted the plaintiff with the supervision of the Court’s Registrar to sell property situated at No 31-35 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos being the security for the sum of N26, 229,943,035.22 advanced by the plaintiff to the 1st to 3rd defendants for the development of the project called Luxury Collections Hotels and Apartments, the repayment of which facility, the 1st to 3rd defendants have failed, refuse otherwise neglected to make despite several demands.”

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It was against this background that the Estate of the Late Odogwu entered into a settlement agreement in May 2019 on the matter.

The key parts of the settlement include the following: “The defendants (the Estate of the late Sunny Odogwu and his related companies) agreed to sell a property described therein as the (Berendo Property”) in Los Angeles and to pay the sum of $11,111,111.11 within (60) days from the date of the settlement agreement to the Bank, failing which, the ownership of the Berendo property was to be assigned to the Bank, and the defendants also agreed with the bank in satisfaction of the outstanding settlement amount after receipt of the net proceeds of the sale from the Berendo property to assign such additional properties directly to the bank by way of an agreed asset swap arrangement subject to the terms of this settlement agreement.

Also, the defendants agreed to provide the bank with all the original documents pertaining to certain properties after the execution of the settlement agreement and undertook to execute and provide all documents required to perfect the legal interest of the Bank in such properties and also perfect the asset swap for the purpose of liquidating the outstanding settlement amount with the bank and shall provide such warranties and representations including without limitation, clean, undisputable and unencumbered title with quiet and peaceful possession. All these shall be achieved within seven days from the date on the settlement agreement.

Furthermore, the defendants failed to facilitate/conclude the sale of the Berendo property, hence the sum of $11,111,111.11 has not been received by the bank in line with the settlement agreement. Consequently, the defendants have failed and refused to assign the Berendo property in Los Angeles to the Bank. Rather, the defendants compromised the property at Los Angeles without paying the agreed sum to the bank.

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Furthermore, the defendants refused to hand over the Dubai property to the bank in line with the settlement agreement. The defendants have refused to grant vacant possession to the properties at Kirikiri as well as the Dubai property till date in line with the settlement agreement.

Recalcitrant debtors negatively impact the critical banking sector and defeat the essence of granting such facilities to aid business growth.

Regrettably, the Estate of the late Sunny Odogwu instead of repaying the facility in line with the terms of the settlement have apparently opted for assets stripping and have failed to comply with the settlement agreement.

The idea or impression that the beneficiaries of the estate of the late Sonny Odogwu can lay any claim of ownership to an asset acquired from depositor’s funds of a financial institution as forming part of the estate when they are aware that the underling facility has not been repaid is not only sad but actionable. And this is exactly what the Failed Bank Act seeks to prevent.

At the end of the day, depositor’s funds are savings by hard working Nigerians who believe in the financial system.

Banks are merely custodian of this funds and as custodians, when banks grant credit facilities to customers to finance and fund assets and projects, such assets do not form part of the estate of the customers for the beneficiaries to share and leave luxurious lifestyles at the expense of the depositors, until such facilities are fully repaid.

 

Access Bank Plc has remained resolute in its determination and in its typical manner of dealing with chronic and recalcitrant debtors, has indicated that it will continue to deploy every legal available resource to ensure that this debt is fully recovered.

This is why dodgy and chronic debtors like these must steer clear of accessing facilities from Access Bank Plc.

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Dangote Refinery to Reduce Africa’s Petroleum Importation by 36%, says APPO

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African Petroleum Producers Organisation (APPO) has said that the establishment of Dangote Oil Refinery will bring about a 36 per cent reduction in the importation of petroleum productions into the continent.
Besides, the organisation expressed a belief that the success of Dangote Refinery project could incentivise the rise of similar projects across Africa despite the current focus on energy transition.
The Secretary-General, African Petroleum Producers Organisation, Dr. Omar Farouk Ibrahim, said in an interview that Dangote Refinery shall be supplying over 12% of Africa’s products demand when it becomes operational.
Ibrahim stated, “To appreciate the impact that the Dangote refinery is going to have on African economies and especially on the supply of petroleum products, and to some extent the conservation of scarce foreign exchange, a look at some statistics on the continent’s petroleum products demand and supply is in order.
“Currently, Africa’s daily petroleum demand is 4.3 million barrels per day (mbd). Of this volume, 57% is produced locally (on the continent) while 43% is imported. When Dangote is fully onstream, the percentage of Africa’s products import shall drop to 36%. This is even as the total volume of products demand rises to 5.4 mbd. You can therefore see the huge impact that Dangote refinery shall be making to overall products supply in Africa. Dangote shall be supplying over 12% of Africa’s products demand.
“That is huge savings for a continent that has scarce foreign exchange and little to export. We shall save from buying abroad and from shipping and insurance costs. Furthermore, the success of Dangote could incentivise the rise of similar projects, the noise about energy transition notwithstanding,” oil analyst noted.
Ibrahim also hailed Dangote’s decision to go ahead with the construction of crude oil refinery despite a campaign against fossil fuels, adding that the demand for fossil fuel is going to continue for several decades to come.
“We believe that Dangote made a very wise decision to proceed with the project, despite the campaign against fossil fuels. There will be demand for petroleum products for many decades to come. Indeed, we see petroleum products prices rising steadily in the next few years for at least two decades.
“This is because new refineries are not coming up in Europe and North America, where Africa imports 34% of its supplies, because their governments have embraced energy transition, some willingly, others due to pressure. So, some of the sources of Africa’s imports are going to dry up. At the same time, Africa will not be in a position to fast track the development of non-fossil fuels.
“In fact, even the developed countries will not be able to move as fast as is projected. We see Africa and many regions of the world continuing to rely on fossil fuel energy at a time when deliberate decisions are being made to stop funding fossil fuel projects. The world risks abandoning fossil for renewable, but in the end not getting the renewables, and at the same time losing the fossils due to deliberate neglect”, he explained.
Ibrahim urged African refiners to invest more on technology and develop the right expertise to manage their refineries, which are going to serve the continent as western refiners halt the establishment of more refineries.
He stated, “African refiners have no cause to worry about their investments. All they need to do is to ensure that they have developed the right expertise to manage their refineries, get honest managers and staff to run their business and come together to join APPO’s initiative to establish foundries and other equipment manufacturing plants to service their refineries. Once they have these, the market is there for their products.
“For the next three decades or more, Africa shall continue to use fossil fuel-driven vehicles and with its population projected to double within that period, there will be a huge market for petroleum products. Africa cannot rapidly transit into electric vehicles, as the bulk of the vehicles on our roads today and in the next 20-30 years are going to be non-electric. There is the market, and we should not be discouraged from thinking positively”, the APPO scribe noted.
He disclosed that APPO is working with its Member Countries to construct cross border energy infrastructure like pipelines for crude and products as well as for oil and gas terminals, depots etc.
“Once we have this infrastructure on the ground, the markets for African refiners shall not be limited to their home countries. Fortuitously, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in 2021, is there to support this initiative”, he added.

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Fuel Price Hike: Abdulsalami Warns FG As 36 Governors Plan Urgent Labour Leaders Meeting

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General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), former Head of State, has warned against increase in the pump price of fuel.
Nigerians are on the verge of paying more for petrol following the recommendation of the National Economic Council (NEC) that pump price should be pegged at N302 per litre.
But speaking at the 19th Daily Trust Dialogue in Abuja, the former Head of State warned against such move.
Meanwhile, Governors of the 36 states of the federation have resolved to engage the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) over the proposed N302 new fuel pump price.
Addressing newsmen at the end of their meeting in Abuja, which started on Wednesday night and ended in the early hours of Thursday, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, said the engagement would address the issue without causing disaffection.
Fuel price may rise in weeks as NEC recommends N302 per litre
The National Economic Council (NEC) had recommended an increase in the pump price of fuel to N302 per litre.
Petrol price currently sells between N162 and N165 per litre in the country.
This is reportedly part of government’s plan to fully deregulate the prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), and eliminate monthly subsidy payments with provisions to ensure fair competition in the market.
The TUC, however, said it would meet and take a position on the matter on Thursday.
Reacting, Fayemi said, “The governors discussed issues around fuel subsidy removal and concluded to engage the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Cogress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to address the issue without causing any disaffection but with a view to salvaging the Nigerian economy for Nigerian people at the end of the day.
“So, we will be engaging the NLC as sub-national leaders and with a view to ensuring that the outcome of our engagement will also be fair to the national discourse.
“The report is not from the governors. The National Economic Council chaired by the Vice President of Nigeria has been dealing with this issue over time and really, it is not up to sub-national to decide on what happens to fuel price. However, we are critical stakeholders so we contribute to debate on economic council.”
The governors also commended the senate for “accelerating the removal of the contentious clause in the draft electoral bill and hope the House of Representatives will also follow suit so that the revised electoral bill can return to Mr. President for assent.”

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