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Taraba State: Gov. Darius Ishaku Committed to the Welfare of States Civil Servants – By Mshelia

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The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership.

For about two years now, there has been a massive overhaul in the Civil Service Commission in Nigeria, and also the demand by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for a rise in the minimum wage for all civil servants. The toil has been huge and a relative success was attained late 2019, by the declaration by the Federal Government, that all states must pay minimum wage irrespective of their ability to pay or not.

A couple of state as captured by a handful of Newspapers, especially the Leadership Newspaper for February 5, 2020, stating the 16 states that were unable to pay the minimum wage, of which Taraba State was captured also.

Swiftly, I beg to differ from the idle caption “Unable to pay”, and some that captured wrongly “Not willing to Pay workers”. Taraba can be among the states “Unable to Pay ALL”, not “Not willing to pay workers”, because, a number of state like Taraba State have put up systems in place to ensuring that the issue of minimum wage is implemented in the state. Machineries are pivotal in the implementation, because, it is not about taking actions hastily, but ensuring actions taken are effective and sustainable, so that all leakages blocked by the Government starting 2015 to date are not wrecked during these processes.

The case in Taraba State is unique and must be given top sensitivity to the process and systems designed to accommodate this law. I recall in 2015, when Governor Darius was elected as the Executive Governor of Taraba he noted in his inaugural speech and I quote:

My fellow citizens of Taraba State, as I stand here on this podium looking at the horizon of Taraba State, I see a promise of possibilities; I see a promise of a greater tomorrow; and I see a promise of a united indivisible Taraba State. Based on these promises, I have a vision. I have a vision that in 10 years, Taraba State will be the leading economy in the North East Sub-region
To the civil servants, we say that a lot will be demanded of your expertise, experiences, and proactiveness. You must brace up to take your pride of place as the fulcrum around which the machinery of government will oscillate. In this regard, we shall overhaul the civil service to reposition it for functionality; we shall examine the staffing, the anomalies, and the capacity gaps; we shall reconsider the funding arrangement of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and, we shall proactively engage the labour unions.

When re-elected to office 2019, the progress made was captured by the Rescue Captain:
We realized that a well-motivated civil service is the engine room of any successful administration. It is against this understanding that in my first inaugural speech, I said that I saw the reality of an oversized public service. In this regard, we resolved that we shall overhaul the civil service to reposition it for functionality; we shall examine the staffing, the anomalies, and the capacity gapswe shall proactively engage the labour unions. We have not reneged on these pledges in the past four years.

 The administration has successfully plugged leakages in the salary system and exterminated the ghost workers syndrome for good. The reduced civil service has enabled us to pay regular salaries and entitlements without backlog, as well as ensure their welfare and trainings. We are up-to-date with our salary and pension payments and have also commenced the reduction of Gratuities.

The prove that the administration of Governor Darius has remained committed to the welfare of the Civil Servants is evident in his undivided attention towards the needs and welfare of the states workforce. The prove to that also was when the Labour Leaders Commend Governor Ishaku for Labour Friendly Policies, November 13, 2019, the same time the issue of Minimum wage was at its pick. The Statement was made by the Chairman then of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Taraba State, Comrade Peter Gambo, when the entire team paid a courtesy visit to the Governor.

Comrade Gambo (late), particularly mentioned prompt payment of salaries. Pension and gratuities, employment, women and youth empowerment as some of those policies and urged him not to relent because Taraba State is a civil service state.

At the meeting Governor Darius stated: his administration achieved a lot during its first tenure because it enjoyed the cooperation of labour in the state, and on minimum wage, Gov. Ishaku said: the state government was waiting for the matter to be resolved at the federal level to decide what the state can afford.

Staying true to his words on employment, in November, 18, few days from the meeting with the NLC leaders, as part of his efforts to address the manpower needs of the state, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku approved the employment of over 300 people into the state civil service.

Hence, it is clear, that the Governor is in touch with all the dealings of the civil servants, and efforts are underway to implement the demand of minimum wage in the state at all level, according to the capacity of the state, just as it is done in sister states. It cannot be an absolute fact, when some journalist are still making reference to the statement of the NLC boss a year ago, when the National President of the NLC said: I can say authoritatively that its only in Taraba that nothing has started; the committee has not been inaugurated, the process of dialogue has not commenced. Every state is unique and have their model for operations.

Worthy of note, the Government of Arc. Darius has maintained a continued and a cordial working relations with the organized labour and its affiliates. A number of Labour Unions and Organizations have recognized his numerous efforts with several notable awards which include:

Vanguard personality of the year, Governor of the Year by Daily Assets Newspaper 2017, Leadership Governor of the Year 2018, Award of Excellence by the Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry for outstanding performance in Trade and Investment (at 2017 Abuja international Trade Fair), and the Most Youth Friendly Governor by the National Youth Council of Nigeria. Others awards include: Distinguished service Award by the Nigeria Medical Association, Water Man of the Year 2018, Electricity Man of the Year 2018 and joint Award by ALGON and NULGE to mention only a few.

With these facts, I am of a strong believe, as someone who have followed carefully the dealings of the Darius’ administration over the years, that his government intends to leverage on the harmonious relationship in the years ahead for an accelerated development in all sectors of the state.

Written from Abuja by A. A. Mshelia.

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Opinion

Sahara Reporters And Dearth Of Investigative Journalism – By Philip Agbese

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Pro-protest and pro-terrorist news blog, Sahara Reporters, has maxed out its usefulness and may just be on the last lap of its viability going by the nature of the sub-par news items it is now pushing out in the name of exclusives or investigative reports.
The latest of such impaired offering from Sahara Reporters was sensationally headlined, “EXPOSED: Buratai, Olonisakin, Two Other Service Chiefs Get Eight Flashy Vehicles, Over 40 Soldiers, More As New Retirement Benefits”.

To start with, there is mischief written all over the headline, which leveraged basic arithmetic to create a sense of impropriety. By lumping the cars for four military chiefs together it promoted the impression that each of the chiefs would get 40 cars when they retire as opposed to the four they are actually getting. Granted that there is the tyranny of the headline, which allows publication to be attention seeking, the body of the story did nothing to clarify this lumping together of the number of cars.
It also omitted to fairly disclose that the cars that goes to each retiring office holder are not necessarily situated in the same city. To have a sense of this, a person of the calibre of a military chief would use a staff car, a pilot and back-up at the very least. The gruesome murder of a former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Barde (rtd) is a lesson to how and why military commander of that status need security and logistics provided as part of their pension.
In my opinion thy the Chiefs deserve what is legally allotted to them even if it is 20 vehicles each and a private jet. Though I know that the modesty of these people will not permit them to have more than two vehicles. Also add that Buratai as COAS still attends public hospitals with his family anytime he requires medical attention.

Interestingly, the Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers (HTACOS) that Sahara Reporters based its malicious publication upon was revised in 2017, which leaves one wondering how that is a big news. It is farcical how the news blog attempted to make it look like the Military chiefs were self-serving by unnecessarily drawing attention to how the HTACOS was revised under their watch. It shows the depth to which the discredited news platform will sink in its quest to tarnish the standing of certain people in Nigeria.

One would have expected that Sahara Reporters would have included in its report the retirement benefits of the counterparts of these service chiefs from other countries of corresponding means. Unfortunately, the web rag failed to do this basic investigation and comparison that would have rubbished its supposed exposé. It would have likely end up with a story that reveals how Nigeria is unable to keep up with other countries in the care of those that risked most of their productive lifetime in safeguarding the rest of the population. The bet is out as to if Sahara Reporters if ever capable of publishing such a report and that is assuming it has the capacity to be objective enough to do same.

Bottom line, the shallow report is a continuation of a tradition that is guaranteed to destroy Sahara Reporters as a news source. Emphasis is on news source because one dare does not qualify that phrase with the “credible” because it is an expression that should not exist in the same sentence with the name of that web rag.

It would be a pipe dream to expect that Sahara Reporters will turn a new leaf to embrace objectivity where Nigeria’s military is concerned. Its desperate bid to hurt that institution and the people that lead it is legendary. This makes it pertinent to counsel the military and its leadership not to waste any effort in addressing the mischief that is replete in that shabby piece. Joining issues with Sahara Reporters is akin to wrestling a hog, one would invariably come out of the tussle all soiled with mud even when one defeated the hog.

What the military chiefs should rather do is to continue to deliver to Nigeria the superlative performance that has been the source of the publication’s anger. The military should continue to decimate the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists that Sahara Reporters is beholden of while sustaining the denial of space to other terrorist outfits that the news site is working for. They should continue to frustrate the foreign partners that collude with this evil platform to torment Nigerians by routing for the ascendancy of terrorism in the land.

For Sahara Reporters, we are assured that nothing will stop its death spiral as it is increasingly glaring that its publisher, Omoyele Sowore’s ambition of being named as a member of an interim government that would arise from the illegal sack of the current government by mob action is what is driving the dearth of investigative journalism in that publication. The only favour the publication owes Nigerians as it were is to speed up its own demise and it will achieve this by publishing the kind of junk referenced in this piece. It is a matter of time before its shallowness finally turns away those that had endured its lies for some time now.

Agbese is the CEO, TheNigerian News and wrote from Abuja

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Opinion

Nigeria And Her Betrayal By Diaspora – By Thomas Uzah PhD

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Interventions on the political and economic fronts by Nigerians in the Diaspora have been anything but complimentary of our leaders, systems and policies.

It is as if once our intellectuals find their feet in other shores, they develop a contemptuous mindset towards their country and anything happening in the country is viewed from negative prisms.

These Diasporans become perpetual critics whose thirst for castigating Nigerian leaders and their policies is hardly satisfied.

This posture had made many patriotic citizens to conclude that most of these Nigerians living in foreign countries are driven by regime hate hence are not capable of critically and objectively dissecting the situation they choose to interrogate not to talk of proffering  positive solutions.

Rather than come up with ideas for the political and socioeconomic upliftment of their people, Nigerians in the Diaspora have constituted themselves into a nation of nay sayers, cynics and pessimists trying hard to drag the Nigerian state down. 

It is typical of comments from there to reduce every economic breakthrough to happenstance, every good policy to a mere mistake while challenges are elevated as the norm.

While the nationals of other countries seek ways to better their country through researches and pooling of funds from their host countries, the Nigerian Diaspora community is more interested in seeing itself as an opposition party. 

In the 70s, it was a group of Malaysians in the Diaspora who stumbled on the Nigerian palm fruits  and through researches, were able to extract pure vegetable oil from the fruit which they now export to other countries.

But decades after we have sent our sons and daughters to the most technologically advanced countries, our mothers and sisters are still using grinding stones to grind pepper while our men are still using raffia to climb palm trees.

Good and commercially viable agricultural products still perish on their ways to the market because there’s no means of preserving them.

While they have failed in their patriotic duties of using their experiences to help in the development of their country, they appear unrelenting in the bid to rubbish whatever progress Nigeria is making.

This was why when Nigeria was categorised as one the fastest developing economies in the world, it did not make an impression on these set of intellectuals, neither have they said anything since our military turned the tide against terrorists and insurgents that have been disturbing the peace of the country.

Unofficial reports state that there are about 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora and can be found in most countries of the world especially the United States and the UK, followed by South Africa, UAE and other European countries such as Italy and Spain. 

The largest Nigerian Diaspora community is in the US with around followed by the UK.

A survey conducted in the US indicated that Nigerians in the US are one of the highest educated migrant groups.

The survey found that 29% of the Nigerian diaspora older than 25, held a master’s degree, Ph.D. or an advanced professional degree compared to 11% of the US population overall. 

It is said that no country in Sub-Saharan Africa receives more remittances than Nigeria, estimated by the World Bank at around 24.3B per year and 6% of GDP.

This makes Nigeria the sixth country in the world in remittance inflows. 

This ordinarily should have been celebrated as it is quite huge, but the benefits of such potentials are hardly seen at home. This id because they are only channelled towards luxurious and personal interests. Hardly are the inflows invested into the Nigerian economy with a view to ensuring a multiplier effect.

They are remittances through family ties and have not been substantial enough to jump start any aspect of the economy, let alone develop one.

Even the Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, NIDCOM, which “has the responsibility to coordinate and organize Nigerians in and from the Diaspora to contribute human capital and material resources, including their expertise, for the development of Nigeria and its constituent states,” has not been forthcoming in that regard. 

Worse still, many of the Nigerians in the Diaspora, wreak havoc of the image of Nigeria by their involvement in crime across the continents.

A release by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for America in year 2020 showed that Nigerian citizens are among the leading nationals in crime.  

Clearly, they have become bad influences on their home country by becoming emergency activists who go out to ruin the peace of the country . 

It has even been alleged that some of their unpatriotic interventions are sponsored to destabilise Nigeria for which they receive financial gratification. 

But these have got to stop. Nigerians abroad must start seeing the good in their country and project same to the world. They must serve as the catalyst for technological advancement and steer clear of the underground moves to use them to destabilise their own country .

Uzah PhD is Head, Mass Communication Department, Kwararafa University Wukari.

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Opinion

ICC: Understanding The Insurgency Within Insurgency – By Richard Murphy

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Nigeria has for over a decade been enmeshed in an intractable insecurity mess due to the unfortunate conspiracy against it by notable international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International among others, and kowtowing the script of the renegade and insurgents on its soil.

This is indeed a very unfortunate and dreadful situation, as the plot of these people is to ensure a systematic breakup of the country, after it has inexplicably defied all their wicked predictions.

What is unclear or absurd to some, is how it is taking the Nigerian Armed Forces so long to totally bring the insurgents to a complete halt. Given the dare-devil and mindless mindset displayed by these faceless groups, such people are unaware of the huge obstacles strewn on the paths of the Armed Forces in curtailing internecine wars.
In the first place, the Armed Forces of every country is primarily trained and conditioned to wage wars against external aggression and defend its territorial boundaries only.

So, the Nigerian Armed Forces are saddled with a task that they were never prepared for, against their professional ethics to turn their guns against the very citizens they are supposed to protect. This is made more complex when one notes that the insurgents and terrorists are mingled with the civilian population, while the troops are in clear view of the renegades to pick out as guinea pigs.

It is indeed a very sad and miserable situation the Nigerian Armed Forces have found themselves in.
It is therefore most uncharitable for hitherto respected international bodies like the ICC and Amnesty International, to always rise up to the defense of the insurgents, any time the scale of balance is tilted against them.

It is a monumental shame for ICC that ought to know better to allege that the troops are either using excessive force or committing crimes against humanity, when routing the same insurgents that could stop at nothing and deploy any means to prosecute their macabre insidious agenda.

While it is understood that the Armed Forces are under obligation to ensure civilian casualties are minimized in the course of their operations, there is no justification for setting any standards for the Nigerian troops, unless to incapacitate them, faced with the potent danger like terrorism and insurgency.

It is absurd and lamentable that the ICC and its cohorts rather than call these deranged elements to order, or chart a path to ease the crisis, would prefer to stoke the embers of the inferno and tactically fuelling the insurgency further. Less we forget, the International Criminal Court is an international organization and as well a Tribunal that sits in The Hague, in Netherlands, is the first and only permanent International Court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

It is in every material fact intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction, only when National courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute such crimes.
Against this backdrop, the antics of ICC and it’s cohorts to level allegations of excess force or crimes against humanity on Nigerian troops, smacks of deep hatred for the Nigerian people and a deliberate ploy to frustrate the Government from overcoming this scourge. If the ICC is sincere in its obligation to protect humanity and human rights, what stops it from condemning the posture of the insurgents and terrorists who are bent on rubbishing Nigeria’s Sovereignty?

It is evident and crystal clear that the ICC’s claims must be aimed at discrediting the gains being recorded by the Nigerian troops, which according to the National Coordinator of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, (CNM) Patriot Sabo Odeh, is a vivid attempt to undermine the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

This explains why ICC and Amnesty International, always abashedly raise their voices to stop the momentum in their nefarious bid to not only prolong the insurgency war but to as well demoralize the Nigerian troops and invariably embarrass the Government.

It is in the light of these facts that the Chief of Army Staff Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the CNM boss , earlier urged the troops to discountenance ICC allegations and remain focused on the task at hand.

ICC, Amnesty international and their cohorts have no moral fabric to question how Nigeria deals with its internal security challenges, not after they have demonstrated times without court that they mean to derail our territorial integrity, rubbish our sovereignty and have openly displayed their contempt for our heterogeneous setting.

So, Nigeria needs to brace up to decisively tackle this scourge regardless of empty charades of the promoters and sympathizers of the terrorists and insurgent groups. God is always on the side of the just and would surely see Nigeria through these harrowing hard times.

It is therefore imperative to now know the enormity of the task at hand. We must all rise up to the challenge and speak with one voice, because ICC, Amnesty International and their cohorts are only exploiting our fault lines to achieve their nefarious plot against our collective wellbeing.

Since ICC has abandoned its statutory mandates and takes delight in compounding our insecurity challenges, it is inevitable to embark on concerted efforts to woo well meaning international power blocs to see reason and check-mate this evil plot.

The international community should put its searchlight on ICC and it’s co-travelers, as they have derailed, compromised and doing the bidding of face-less paymasters.
The insecurity challenges in Nigeria really appear daunting, but with resolute determination, valour and dynamism we can overcome this malady.

The agents of destabilization have perfected their inglorious plans to make a mockery of our democracy.
Nigeria can no longer afford to treat the ravaging insecurity challenges with kid gloves, since our troops understand the danger posed to our democracy by this intractable insurgency, we should rally round them and give all the support they need to check this debilitating menace.

All those either colluding or conniving with these renegade elements do not deserve any sympathy or mercy. Anyone feigning support for the insurgents and terrorists, are in all material fact enemies of our dear fatherland and should be so treated. As an international organization that courts global relevance, ICC cannot and should not be seen to be with the hunt and the hunted.

The territorial integrity of Nigeria supersedes any veiled inordinate ambition of any group, no matter the immense resources at its disposal.  There is no doubt that ICC, Amnesty international and their ilk have hidden agenda and would stop at nothing to play out their given scripts, but we must resist them stoutly, with total vehemence and bravado.

Thank God, the whole world is keenly watching and we should press for overhauling of the structures in ICC, to ensure the intendments that necessitated its existence, are duly served.
Institutions may be noble in frame work but the human angle if left unchecked, could mar, imperil and rubbish its essence.

This is the crass state the ICC has presently degenerated into; hence the UN as a family must save ICC from itself.
The leadership of ICC having derailed since, are now overwhelmed with scheming to appear playing to the gallery while in fact acting out given scripts of their paymasters to the detriment of the sacred responsibilities, they ought to be upholding.

In such a scenario, ICC stands discredited, compromised and lacks the moral fabric to question how Nigeria prosecutes this nauseating insurgency strife. It cannot be working in partnership with our enemies and yet expect us to take it seriously, this is simply because ICC is yet to come to terms with the stern stuff Nigerians are made of.
In the light of the foregoing, Nigerians must eschew tribal-religious differences and work concertedly to stamp out the insurgency threat.

As it is, Nigeria is facing the terrorists cum insurgents at the war front and in the same breath being distracted at will by ICC and Amnesty international, whenever the scale of balance tilts against the renegades.
Since the infractions of ICC and Amnesty international are getting bolder and unceasing, it is imperative to change our approach to the manner of dealing with this itch.

ICC and Amnesty international must not wish us well before we survive. Our survival is from God, who has ordained our existence and weathered all our storms, so it is high time we called the bluff of ICC and its cohorts.
Nigeria is indeed destined for greatness. To attain such a height is a matter of dint of hard work, overcoming all obstacles with total focus on the goals. The present insurgency scourge will in no time fizzle out, once our leaders summon the political will to do the needful. What is fueling the insurgency craze is ineffective planning of our affairs and now that Government is tackling the issue frontally by ascertaining who every Nigerian is, we are sure to soon get there and ICC and its cohorts can go to blazes.

Murphy is a security expert based in Calabar.

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