Unions kick as Gov. Dickson introduces education levy for civil servants

The labour unions in Bayelsa, on Friday, opposed the Higher Education Students’ Loan and Education Development Trust Fund Law, which is meant to collect education levy from civil servants.

The law was signed to take effect on Wednesday by Gov. Seriake Dickson in Yenagoa.

The law makes it mandatory for government officials in Bayelsa public service as well as those in the private sector to contribute to the education fund.

The government is expected to contribute 10 per cent of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to support the education fund on a monthly basis.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), explained that with the withdrawal of a 20 per cent tax waiver earlier granted to civil servants, the proposed levy would pose additional burden to them.

The Bayelsa chapter NLC chairman, Mr John Ndiomu, who said that the workers were in support of the education development of the state, however, believed that the State Government could afford to finance it.

Ndiomu urged the State Government to review the levy, as workers, who were owed a backlog of salaries of more than six months, were grappling with how to survive the current recession.

Also, Mr Tari Dounana, Bayelsa chapter TUC chairman, described the levy as “an anti-people’s policy’’ by the executive and the legislature, without any input from the stakeholders.

“It is unfortunate that such a law that requires civil servants to make contributions from their salaries was passed and assented to without a public hearing for the stakeholders to make their views known.

“We have already agreed to support the proposed Health Insurance Policy into which workers will also make contributions. This is one deduction too many.

“For the government to formulate the education development fund without inputs from the labour, leaves much to be desired. We are opposed to it,’’ Dounana said.

Shortly after signing the law, Dickson implored the workers to refrain from politicising the policy.

He disclosed that N50 billion had so far been invested in the education sector by the State Government.


Edo registers 70,000 unemployed persons

At least 70,000 unemployed persons have been registered by the Edo State Government in the ongoing Edo jobs initiative.

The registration is being done across the 18 local government areas of the state and other critical areas for people to be employed as waste managers, revenue collectors and agriculturists amongst others.

The state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, who disclosed this when management of Ecobank paid him a courtesy visit, said his administration was currently investing in the agricultural sector to boost value chain and create agricultural entrepreneurs.

Obaseki stated that 7, 000 persons would be employed within two weeks from the database created for unemployed persons.

Those to be employed, according to the governor, would be used for public works.

He urged the bank to key into steps taken by his administration to develop the state.

The governor said, “We see huge opportunities in Nigeria today. The recession has shown that oil is no longer going to play a major role in our economy and that we need to diversify. As a state, we are leveraging on the opportunities the recession has opened to us.

“We have so far cleared 3,000 hectares of land for maize cultivation. Our target is 5,000 hectares. We intend to expand it to soya beans and cassava production. We want to be the number one state in cassava production within the next 36 to 40 months. We want to produce and process the cassava for industrial starch and ethanol.”

Boko Haram: Military desperately searching for Shekau – Spokesman

The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has declared that it is “desperately” searching for the real elusive leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.

Speaking through its Director of Information, Major General John Enenche, at a media forum, in Abuja on Thursday, the Defence Headquarters expressed optimism that Shekau would soon be captured.

He vowed that Shekau would be brought to justice over the sects activities which led to loss of many lives and property in the North East.

Eneche explained that the Military was yet to apprehend Shekau due to fictitious faces of some Commanders of the terrorists parading themselves as Shekau.

According to Enenche, “The search for Shekau is still on. There are so many faces posing as him.

”But we are aware, and have come to know that the real Shekau is yet to be apprehended. If you remember, when Osama bin Laden was killed, they went further to do a DNA test.

“It is because there are so many faces of Shekau, that brought the mix up, but the real Shekau is yet to be caught, and we will get him.”

Recall that the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, recently declared that Shekau is still alive.

Ndume deserves heavier punishment – Prof. Okolie

A Professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Aloysius Okolie has applauded the Nigerian Senate for slamming a six-month suspension on Senator Ali Ndume for bringing the upper house into disrepute.
Prof. Okolie, of the Department of Political Science, was speaking with newsmen in Nsukka on Friday.

According to the professor, it was wrong for Ndume to call for the probe of his colleagues in the senate based on what he read in the newspapers without verifying the facts.

He said, “As a distinguished senator, he should not talk like ordinary man on the street; he must have facts and figures before casting aspersion on anybody.

“He claimed he read about the alleged certificate forgery of Sen. Dino Melaye and importation of bullet proof Range Rover SUV by the Senate President in newspapers.

“That is not enough to blackmail the Senate. “Ndume should have gone further to carry out a personal investigation to verify if the allegations are true or false before jumping into conclusion,” Okolie said.

According to him, the Senate followed due process by investigating the two allegations through its Privileges and Ethics Committee before bringing its sledge hammer on Ndume.

“If the two allegations are true, Nigerians and the world would have celebrated Ndume as one who brought the issue to the floor; but now they are false, so he should also bear the consequences.

“This is good lesson for whistle blowers; there is nothing wrong in blowing the whistle, but you must ensure you have facts and figures of what you are saying.

“It’s unfortunate that Ndume’s suspension will deny Borno South Senatorial District a voice in Senate for six months.

“But it will also provide opportunity for his people to assess if he has given the district effective representation,” he said.

“On the call by the upper house on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu, Okolie urged the president to nominate a replacement for Magu.

“If I am Mr President, I will nominate another person as EFCC chairman and give Magu another appointment to avert further row with the Senate,’’ he said.

WHO launches global initiative to stem medication-related errors in 5 years

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched a global initiative to reduce severe, avoidable medication-associated harm in all countries by 50% over the next 5 years.

The objective of the initiative is to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that results.

WHO aims to correct the situation by laying out ways to improve the way medicines are prescribed, distributed and consumed, and increase awareness among patients about the risks associated with the improper use of medication.

According to a release from the organisation, countries are challenged to take early priority action to address these key factors: including medicines with a high risk of harm if used improperly; patients who take multiple medications for different diseases and conditions; and patients going through transitions of care, in order to reduce medication errors and harm to patients.

The actions planned in the challenge is to focus on four areas: patients and the public; health care professionals; medicines as products; and systems and practices of medication and also aims to make improvements in each stage of the medication use process including prescribing, dispensing, administering, monitoring and use.

WHO aims to provide guidance and develop strategies, plans and tools to ensure that the medication process has the safety of patients at its core, in all health care facilities

The release further said medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States of America alone.

While low- and middle-income countries are estimated to have similar rates of medication-related adverse events to high-income countries, the impact is about twice as much in terms of the number of years of healthy life lost. Many countries lack good data, which will be gathered as part of the initiative.

Globally, the cost associated with medication errors has been estimated at US$ 42 billion annually or almost 1% of total global health expenditure.

Margaret Chan, WHO director-general said, “We all expect to be helped, not harmed, when we take medication,”

She added, “Apart from the human cost, medication errors place an enormous and unnecessary strain on health budgets. Preventing errors saves money and saves lives.”

WHO says that every person around the world will at some point in their life take medicines to prevent or treat illness.

However, medicines do sometimes cause serious harm if taken incorrectly, monitored insufficiently or as the result of an error, accident or communication problems.

Both health workers and patients can make mistakes that result in severe harm, such as ordering, prescribing, dispensing, preparing, administering or consuming the wrong medication or the wrong dose at the wrong time.

But all medication errors are potentially avoidable. Preventing errors and the harm that results requires putting systems and procedures in place to ensure the right patient receives the right medication at the right dose via the right route at the right time.

Medication errors can be caused by health worker fatigue, overcrowding, staff shortages, poor training and the wrong information being given to patients, among other reasons. Any one of these, or a combination, can affect the prescribing, dispensing, consumption, and monitoring of medications, which can result in severe harm, disability and even death.

Most harm arises from systems failures in the way care is organized and coordinated, especially when multiple health providers are involved in a patient’s care. An organizational culture that routinely implements best practices and that avoids blame when mistakes are made is the best environment for safe care.

Liam Donaldson, WHO envoy for patient safety said, “Over the years, I have spoken to many people who have lost loved ones to medication-related errors,”

“Their stories, their quiet dignity and their acceptance of situations that should never have arisen have moved me deeply. It is to the memories of all those who have died due to incidents of unsafe care that this Challenge should be dedicated.”

This challenge is WHO’s third global patient safety challenge, following the Clean Care is Safe Care challenge on hand hygiene in 2005 and the Safe Surgery Saves Lives challenge in 2008.

We will restructure Bank Of Agriculture to diversify economy – BOA Boss

The newly appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Agriculture, Dr. Kabir Mohammed Adamu, said his mission is in line with that of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration of focusing on agriculture as a way of diversifying the economy.
Speaking while receiving handover from the former Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Prof. Danbala Danju, at BOA’s Corporate headquarters in Kaduna, Adamu, commended the outgoing management for their invaluable contribution in repositioning the bank.

Adamu said his team are eager, committed and ready to reposition the bank for greater efficiency.

According to Adamu:”As you are aware better than most other people, is focusing on agriculture, the simple reason being to diversify the economy. Therefore, our team is coming to continue with the good work that the outgoing management had put in place, ” he said.

On his part, the immediate past Managing Director of the Bank of Agriculture, Prof. Danbala Danju, has called for the restructuring of the bank so as to attain a world class standard.

Danju explained that restructuring would not only put the bank in a better footing but would surely boost the nation’s economy.

The former BOA boss also said the CBN-Anchor Borrowers on rice production in the country under the Federal Government Anchor Borrowers programme is being implimented by the bank in about 13 states of the federation.

Danju also identified lack of funds as one of the major challenges of the bank, noting that the only way out was the restructuring of the nation’s agricultural bank.

He thanked the staff and the entire management of the Bank for the corporation extended during his stay, urging them to extend similar gesture to the new management.

He said:”I want to congratulate the management, our partners in CBN as well as on the ministry and especially in Kebbi State where the people worked extremely hard under difficult circumstances to deliver on what was a national assignment.

“Going forward, we think the anchor-borrowers programme is now in a better shape.

“I must say that the most challenging issues which we must all worked together for the development of our country is to restore to the Bank of Agriculture that crucial role in the development scheme of the country.

Danju added: “We have not funded agriculture in general but in particular the Bank of Agriculture has been neglected. We tried very hard to make sure that funds come to the bank. We tried hard to get our staff trained, exposed in terms modern practice but the limitation of funds continued to drag a wedge between what we wanted to do and what we could do.

“The idea of restructuring the bank so that we get funding not only from within the country but and more importantly from World Bank, Africa Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank is the most important thing to pursue.

“If we compare Bank of Agriculture in Nigeria with what obtained in poorer African countries like Zambia or Rwanda and not to talk of Kenya or South Africa in terms of conditions of service for the staff, skills and in terms of the overall welfare and the resources available, we feel that more could be done.

“The restructuring, I hope we will continue to partner and get the support of these donor agencies as well as the necessary support from the presidency, ministry of agriculture so that we will have if not a world class, at least, Africa class bank of agriculture that will support small medium and large scale farmers with modern technology.” Danju explained.

Fuel scarcity looms as Shell shuts down Nembe pipeline, 232,000 barrels trapped

Nigeria stands to experience a shortfall in its oil exports earning as Shell Plc said it had shut down the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, which exports Bonny Light crude oil.The company said it shut the trunk line to remove theft points.

The managing director of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said the company was working to “remove a significant number of oil theft connections and repair any leaks on the pipeline.”

The line, operated by Aiteo, is one of two along with the Trans Niger Pipeline that carries Bonny Light crude oil to the export terminal.

Exports of roughly 232,000 barrels per day (bpd) were planned in April, according to loading programmes, but it was not immediately clear how much of this would be impacted by the pipeline shutdown.

“SPDC will work with the security forces during shutdown to clear illegal connections on NCTL,” SPDC said.

Shell declined to comment on the impact of the pipeline outage on its operations, but oil traders said the loading programmes were so far not affected.

There have been widespread loading delays on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil, with yet another revised export plan issued on Friday.