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ZAMFARA STATE GOVERNMENT AND THE NEW MINIMUM WAGE REGIME : THE STARK REALITY FOR NOW.

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The Federal Government last year, struck a deal with the Nigeria Labour Congress for the implementation of a minimum wage of N30, 000 upward from the present N18, 000. The Federal Government and Labour earlier had a running battle with the Nigeria Governors Forum in arriving at the agreement for states and Local Government Areas to equally implement the minimum wage. Indeed, as reported in the media, both the Federal and some state Governments have implemented the said wage for their staff.

However, the implementation of the new minimum wage came along with it some expected hiccups. The Federal Government itself, found a very challenging impending fiscal deficit in the offing regarding the financing of the new wage as worked out by the Federal Ministry of Finance. This forced the Federal Government to foot-drag in its implementation of the agreement and later, worked out a formula of paying the minimum wage based of graduating percentage where grades levels one to seventeen were categorised with varying percentages of benefits.

Hence, the new agreement equally became particularly worrying to many states and local government areas due to the stark reality of their revenue and income base vis-a-vis the volume of liquidity required to finance the new regime of wages. Very well-to-do states such as Lagos had no problem accommodating the new wages regime due to their robust internally generated revenue base. The same applies to states enjoying special revenue allocation such as the 13% derivation formula in crude oil sales. Some less privileged states who hurriedly implemented the new wage are now introducing many other avenues of using their left hands to retrieve what they actually gave out with their right hands. Significantly, all the Local Government Councils in such states are quietly groaning under the new arrangement. It has become obvious that if some states have to implement the new minimum wage, they may have to resort to the bitter option staff rationalisation; and, indeed, the Labour will hear none of it. Of course, however, it is not the fault of Labour, nor the paying employer’s either. It’s the system that’s just faulty, ab initio.

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Consequently, all state Governments, especially in the Northern part of the country, foot-dragged in upholding the new regime due to very glaring and, indeed, genuine realities facing the successful implementation of the agreement. Among these states, We discover, Zamfara state is one state severely hit by the dilemma of its zeal to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of its workers in this regard. Indeed, there is the stark reality of non-existence of revenue base to accommodate this noble resolve in that state.

One of the peculiarities in Zamfara state is the fact that its share of the monthly Federation Account allocation is so meagre that it cannot finance the the new wage regime, much less as to have any significant remnant for other services which are mandatory to the running of every government such as provision of treated water to the public, oiling an effective judicial system and provision of security of lives and property. In this confused dilemma, the citizens look upon the Government for developmental projects such as provision and maintenance of good roads, healtcare facilities, provision of fertiliser and seedlings to farners as well as finance public sector education.

Note that a bundle of billions of naira worth of liability has been left behind by the previous administration which the Matawalle administration has to service from the meager resources accruing from the Federation account; and much of it deducted at source.

But, then, someone will ask about locally generated revenue in the state which ordinarily should augment the coffers of the Government in addressing these challenges. The Internally generated revenue of the state Government remain extremely low and insignificant to boost the state income significantly due to a culture developed since the inception of the state 24 years ago. At a time when Lagos State generates N73 billion a month, Zamfara state is generating less than one billion naira in the same period.

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Oh, what do one expect of a state whose major source of internally generated revenue is the PAYE, which is a mandatory tax deducted on wages? Citizens in the state have been erroneously placed on wrong notion of “government doest it all” and are not used to taxation, nor will they take it kindly if proper tax regimes are now introduced to them. For instance, owners of landed property do not pay ground rent to the Government. Commercial shops do not pay taxes and there is absence of functional factories or industries where taxes can accrue to the state Government. To compound the situation, social services consumers do not pay for the services provided to them. For instance, records show that the sum N19 million is spent by the state Government every month in the provision of treated water to the public with virtually no revenue generated from the supply.

The state Local Recenue Board is, itself, handicapped in the sense that it cannot diversify its sources of revenue generation even in the generally accepted category of taxation across other poverty stricken Northern states of Nigeria. This is borne out of the fact that previous administrations have placed the people on the wrong premise of “We can do without it, you need that respite”. Today, any attempt to diversify revenue generation in the state will be viewed and resisted as anti-people and totally reactionary.

To compound the situation, the little generated by the revenue board in the state is discovered to be systematically drained through syndicated leakages where the state Government is now working hard to dismantle with utmost difficulty. A case in point is the recent discovery of a secret house where staff of the Revenue Board were caught manufacturing fake vehicle number plates and receipts obviously being produced in place of the original authentic products, even as the revenue accruing from such will now end up in private pockets!

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With these scenario, the state Government is faced with the option of paying the minimum wage to civil servants at the total detriment of social services and human empowerment. As much as civil servants must be paid their legal dues, the farmer in the village also needs fertiliser. The poor peoples children need medical care at the grassroots. The ordinary person in the street needs security. The grassroots children need to go to public schools. The motorists needs good roads. The urban people also need portable water supply. To strike a balance between these multiple of demands and responsibilities on one hand and the need for improved pay on the part of civil servants, there hast to be an understanding between labour and government on the workability of this agreement considering the stark reality at hand.

The antecedents of the Matawalle administration has shown that it is worker friendly. It has demonstrated more than any administration in the state its love and care for the workers. We have seen how in its first six months, the administration re-instated 1,040 abandoned workers and 556 abandoned teachers. It paid leave grants to workers which was never paid in ten years and promoted over 6,000 workers all at once. To lift the vast unemployed chunk of its Youth, it engaged over 8,000 of them and pays them a monthly stipend of N10, 000 each. Indeed, the Matawalle administration will be glad to implement the minimum wage for its civil servants provided the stake holders will understand and co-operate with the government on the workability of this agreement vis-a-vis the stark reality as evidently manifested in Zamfara state today.

Banking

FIRSTBANK: SETTING THE PACE IN WORLD CLASS BANKING SERVICES, CITIZEN EMPOWERMENT AND SOCIAL INTERVENTION IN AFRICA AND BEYOND

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With its over 126 years of business operations in Nigeria – indeed the first Nigerian company to be listed and broadcasted on CNN 100 club – the bank has been at the forefront of empowering the young and indigent elderly citizens, lifting the downtrodden out of poverty and hardships, rekindling hope, putting smiles on the faces of younger generation of Enterprenuers through issuance of low and friendly interest credit facility which transcend to building and promoting the small and medium scale businesses in the remotest rural areas and urban cities across the Niger.

These are and many more strides have distinguished FirstBank in Nigeria.

HEALTH SERVICE PARTNERSHIP WITH THE LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT

To ensure that Lagos Residents at the grassroots across the state has unhindered access to affordable, effective and qualitative health care services, the Lagos State Health Management Agency partnered with FirstBank to utilize its over 13,000 FirstMobile Agents as payment channels for the Lagos State Health Scheme.

During the flag off ceremony, LASHMAGM, Dr. Emmanuella Zamba Said “The partnership became necessary to facilitate ease of health insurance premium transactions for Residents, especially at the Grassroot.

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Zamba however mentioned that FirstBank was selected for the partnership in recognition of its effectiveness, efficiency and large clientele.

For easy access and stress free payment of Lagos Residents’ health insurance premiums, Firstmonie payment platform was considered the best.

Dr. Zamba explained that the partnership offer opportunity to pay either N40,000 annually for family plan or N8,500 annually for individual plan via the Firstmonie Agents.

“Once the insurance premium is paid before 25th of every month, such enrollee can receive care from the first day of the following month at any public or private hospital of their choice within the scheme’s network of Providers”, Zamba clarified.

While commending the Lagos State Government, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Gbenga Shobo said “the initiative will have a crucial role at improving the life expectancy of Lagos Residents whilst promoting their increased contribution to the growth and development of state.

FIRSTBANK, LAGOS STATE EMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND PARTNERSHIP AND SMES

FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF). The scheme was launched in September by the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan.

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It is designed to cushion the resultant effects of the Covid-19 on low-cost private schools at an attractive lending interest rate.

While delivering his speech, Dr. Adeduntan said “At FirstBank, we recognise indelible roles played by the Education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with the Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government -including this partnership to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the Covid-19.

The 2019 KPMG’s Annual Banking industry customer satisfaction survey named FirstBank as the ‘Biggest Mover in the SME Space’. It also earned the financial institution the most popular Bank among MSMEs for deposit transactions and credit loan facilities with 20% of SMEs surveyed.

In recognition of the role SMEs play as the engine of the economy, FirstBank has been at the forefront of having them equipped with the required knowledge and information with a view to easing their sustainability. These have been achieved through several SME events including; an SME Business Clinic train that moved from Lagos to Abuja and Port-Harcourt in February.

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The Bank later embarked on virtual SME-based events, in order to adhere to the social distancing guideline essential to promoting the safety of every participant in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. These SME based webinars include SME Business Clinic in May as well as the SME Connect webinar to promote the growth of education sector held in July amongst others.

The value generated from the Bank’s unprecedented business support and development activities to the small and medium scale enterprises, especially the young entrepreneurs across the Niger cannot be quantified.

With its mantra, You First, FirstBank leaves no stone unturned in putting its customers first as it continues to deliver the gold standard of value and excellence to the banking and business climate across the world.

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Banking

US-based Nigerian billionaire to invest N3b in Fidelity Bank

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  1. Banking

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Adigun stated that the acquisition was part of his planned investment in the Nigerian economy, adding that the process of buying Fidelity bank was almost done, attributing the little delay to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Fidelity bank purchase is almost done. COVID-19 delayed the process a little due to everything closing down, but the process just picked up again. I was told I have to open a bank account and will need BVN. I am planning to come to Nigeria to do that as soon as possible,” the businessman was quoted as saying in an interview published on Friday.

The Osun State-born billionaire is the owner and chief operating officer of Golden Glades Treatment Center, as well as Adigun Investment Group, with stakes in nine companies operating in commercial real estate, several e-commerce companies. as well as wind and solar energy among others.

“Mr. Peter Aletor, Managing Director for Apel Asset Limited, and a friend, Mr Tosin Afolabi, have been very helpful on the acquisition of Fidelity Bank. Afolabi will be partner in my bank venture in Nigeria with small shares,” he said of his foray into the Nigerian economy.

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Adigun expressed willingness to bring his airline company, healthcare, technology as well as solar and wind energy to Nigeria in the future.

He narrated how his previous efforts to purchase failing Polaris Bank in Nigeria was thwarted, on the grounds that he was not known in Nigeria and being an investor from Southern Nigeria.

Adigun is an alumna of Olivet Baptist High School in Oyo, Miami Dade college, Florida Atlantic University and Walden University.

He has served in several US organisations as a police officer, substance abuse counselor and clinical director before he opened his first business in 2017.

Meanwhile, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assumed office as the bank’s chief executive officer/managing director on January 1. She took over from Nnamdi Okonkwo.

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Brands and Company

Dangote completes Nigeria’s longest concrete road

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Road

The Dangote Group has completed Nigeria’s longest rigid pavement located in Kogi State.

 

It is the first of its kind, top engineers say.

 

The 43KM Obajana-Kabba road constructed by Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), as 

been described by motorists as the country’s most strategic highway that is aiding travelers between the North and the South.

 

Olatunbosun O. Kalejaiye, the Project Director, said he was excited that the Corporate Social Responsibility Project is being delivered for use by Nigerians, adding that while the rigid pavement has been completed, the company was dressing the shoulders.

 

Site Engineer Samuel Obosi assured that the dual carriage way will be durable and less susceptible to potholes and repairs like asphalt road, adding that it would crash the rate of road accident in the country.

 

Motorists said it is now one of the busiest roads linking the two regions in the country.

“Thank God it is a concrete road. It can withstand any heavy duty vehicle,” Alhaji Lamidi Sikiru, a driver expressed optimism.

 

John Moses, a member of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, said his taxi business is booming compared to when the road was very deplorable with potholes and barely used by motorists.

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A community leader of Apa Bunu Kingdom and spokesperson for the community Sam Omosayil commended the Dangote Group, saying that the road has attracted a lot of businesses along the road.

 

Traditional and community leaders eulogized the President of the Dangote Group.

The Bajana of Obajana Land, King Idowu Senibi described the project as gigantic and the first of its kind anywhere in Nigeria.

 

“Dangote is our son. We would protect his huge investment and gigantic concrete road. I am happy that this is happening in my lifetime and in my Kingdom. This is a great opportunity for us and many generations to come. Our society will be opened as you can see vehicles and commercial activities have started coming up. May God Almighty bless Dangote and all his staff.”

 

Speaking in the same vein, the traditional head of Akpata Land Frederick Durojaiye Balogun said his people were very proud of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, adding that the Dangote Cement, Obajana plant, which is the single largest cement plant in the world, has brought honour and respect to their Kingdoms.

 

“His presence has brought a total turnaround in our lives. Also permit me to appreciate the Federal Government for this joint effort. We are very grateful,” he said.

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Speaking, the King of Okebunku Land in Kabba Bunu Local Government, Timothy Omonile commended the President of the Dangote Group and charged other philanthropists to emulate him, adding that that is the only way Nigeria can develop its economy and infrastructure.

 

 

He said the construction of the road has helped cut down the rate of criminality in the state, while describing the Group President of Dangote Group Aliko Dangote as God sent.

Rechel Olatunji, a businesswoman said she makes more money now and that business is booming because of the road.

Another businesswoman Veronica Samuel prayed fervently for the Dangote Group, adding that the new road has changed her life, and enabled her to sponsor her children to school.

 

Worried by the huge sum of money used in road repairs, President of the Dangote Group Aliko Dangote had said plans were afoot to revolutionize Nigerian roads with concrete, stressing that resources used in road repairs and maintenance would be channeled to other more important needs of the nation.

 

“We are going to be building concrete roads in the country so that anytime we build a road, we do not have to go back to repair after the third raining season, but move on and use the resources to address other pressing needs of Nigeria,” Mr. Dangote had said.

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It would be recalled that as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS), the Dangote Group had earlier commissioned the 26 km Itori-Ibese Concrete Road.

 

At the commissioning, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, had noted that the stride by the Dangote Group demonstrated the unwavering commitments of an indigenous investor towards the industrialization of Nigeria.

 

A statement from the Corporate Communications Department of the Dangote Group said: “Concrete road last longer than asphalt roads and do not have potholes. It does not require frequent maintenance as asphalt roads. It saves fuel for motorists and protects tyres from wear and tears.”

 

The statement said it is part of the Group’s determination to support government and Nigerians in order to grow the economy and facilitate ease of doing business.

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