Monday, January 16, 2012


NLC betrayed Nigerians – Kayemo Ayodele Samuel, Lagos Major civil societies in the anti subsidy removal struggle which include the Joint Action Front (JAF) - the pro-labour civil society partner of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) and its allies of Nigeria Medical Association Lagos, Nigeria Bar Association Ikeja and Lagos, The Save Nigeria Group and the various Strike Action Committees yesterday dissociate themself from the declaration by the President of the NLC and TUC for the suspension of the Strike/Mass Action that commenced on January 9th saying were not consulted. JAF Secretary Comrade Abiodun Aremu in a statement said the suspension of the Strike/Mass Action as endorsed by Presidents of NLC and TUC as a betrayal of this legitimate demand by Nigerians that fuel price must revert to N65 as a condition for negotiation. He said the groups had resolved to intensify the struggle for the reversal to N65 and on other fundamental issues. “This was demonstrated with the street protest in Lagos today under the banner of JAF that was violently terminated at a point on Ikorodu road by the combined team of armed personnel that were deployed midnight across the country. “JAF reiterate its commitment to the needs and aspirations of the Nigerian people. Nigerians should not be discouraged by the abrupt and unwarranted suspension of strike by its Labour partner; neither should the militarisation of the protest centres deter Nigerians in their resolve to rid the polity of this class of looters and profiteers that are responsible for mass poverty, unemployment, social insecurity and untold hardships of the majority of Nigerians.” The Save Nigeria Group spokesman Yinka Odumakin told Peoples Daily last night that the group was not consulted before the action was taken “we are not in support of imposition of 97 on Nigerians, we are shocked by Labour action. “ We demand a reversal to the pre-Jan 1 pump price of N65 per litre as a basis for a conducive atmosphere for a national conversation on the oil sector and how to deal with the corruption that has brought this needless crisis on the 7th largest producer of crude in the world that has been made to depend on import for it's refined product consumption.” Also the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) said NLCagreeing to the N97 per litre when the working masses are still struggling for reversal to N65 per liter of fuel is a betrayal. CDWR Publicity Secretary Chinedu Bosah said The announcement by the TUC and NLC presidents, Peter Esele and Abdulwahed Omar respectively to the effect that they consulted with pro-people organizations/civil society organizations before agreeing to suspend the strike was a lie. “ It has shown that the labour leaders with an historical mandate to lead the suffering working masses of the country out of misery, oppression and dictatorship is shying away from this responsibility simply because they do not have an alternative socio-economic and political agenda different from neo-liberal capitalist policies.” He said the suspension of the strike by the NLC and TUC is not so much about compromise, which is not unconnected, but that these trade union centers lack the program, strategy and tactics to sustain the struggle, let alone win the struggle. Also Lagos based lawyer Festus Kayemo describe the NLC action as been unfair to Nigerians and a three step backward in the struggle to free Nigerians from the wasteful government. “It was too quick for labour to accept that position because the rot we are talking about went beyond 65 the issue is as a result of previous decay in the system, until we see have some action to address fundamental issues we should not accept the government offer”


Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare DEFINITION To subsidise is to sell a product below the cost of production. Since the federal government has been secretive about the state of our refineries and their production capacity, we will focus on importation rather than production. So, in essence, within the Nigerian Fuel Subsidy context, to subsidise is to sell petrol below the cost of importation. 2) THE UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT The Nigerian government claims that Nigerians consume 34 million litres of petrol per day. The government has also said publicly that N141 per litre is the unsubsidised pump price of petrol imported into Nigeria. (N131.70 kobo being the landing price and N9.30 kobo being profit.) 3) ANNUAL COST OF IMPORTATION Daily Fuel Consumption: ​​34 million litres Cost at Pump: ​​​​N141.00 No. of days in a regular year: ​​365 days Total cost of all petrol imported yearly into Nigeria: Litres Naira Days 34m x 141 x 365 = N1.75 trillion 4) COST BORNE BY THE CONSUMERS Nigerians have been paying N65 per litre for fuel, haven’t we? Therefore, cost borne by the consumers = Litres Naira Days 34m x 65 x 365 = N807 billion 5) COST OF SUBSIDY BORNE BY THE GOVERNMENT In 2011 alone, government claimed to have spent N1.3 trillion by October – the bill for the full year, assuming a constant rate of consumption is N1.56 trillion. Consequently, the true cost of subsidy borne by the government is: Total cost of importation minus total borne by consumers, i.e. N1.75 trillion minus N807 billion = N943 billion. Unexplainable difference: N617 billion The federal government of Nigeria cannot explain the difference between the amount actually disbursed for subsidy and the cost borne by Nigerians (N1.56 trillion minus N943 billion = N617 billion). 6) BOGUS CLAIM BY THE GOVERNMENT A government official has claimed that the shortfall of N617 billion is what goes to subsidising our neighbours through smuggling. This is pathetic. But let us assume (assumption being the lowest level of knowledge) that the government is unable to protect our borders and checkmate the brisk smuggling going on. Even then, the figures still don’t add up. This is because even if 50% of the petrol consumed in each of our neighbouring countries is illegally exported from Nigeria, the figures are still inaccurate. Why? WORLD BANK’S FIGURES: POPULATIONS OF WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES NIGERIA:​​158.4 million BENIN:​​8.8 million TOGO:​​6 million CAMEROUN:​19.2 million NIGER:​​15.5 million CHAD:​​11.2 million GHANA:​​24.4 million The total population of all our six (6) neighbours is 85.5 million. Let’s do some more arithmetic: a) Rate of Petrol Consumption in Nigeria: Total consumed divided by total population: 34 million litres divided by 158.8 million people = 0.21 litres per person per day. b) Rate of Petrol Consumption in all our 6 neighbouring countries, assumed to be the same as Nigeria: 0.2 litres x 85.5 million people = 18.35 million litres per day Now, if we assume that 50% of the petrol consumed in all the six neighbouring countries comes from Nigeria, this value come to 9.18 million litres per day. 1) PATHETIC ABSURDITY There are two illogicalities flowing from this smuggling saga. a) If 9.18 million litres of petrol is truly smuggled out of our borders per day, then ours is the most porous nation in the word. This is why: The biggest fuel tankers in Nigeria have a capacity of about 36,000 litres. To smuggle 9.18 million litres of fuel, you need 254 trucks. What our government is telling us is that 254 huge tankers pass through our borders every day and they cannot do anything about it. This is not just acute incompetence, but also a serious security challenge. For if the government cannot stop 254 tanker trailers from crossing the border daily, how can they stop importation of weapons or even invasion by a foreign country? b) 2nd illogicality: Even if we believe the government and assume that about 9.18 million litres is actually taken to our neighbours by way of smuggling every day, and all this is subsidised by the Nigerian government, the figures being touted as subsidy still don’t add up. This is why: Difference between pump price before and after subsidy removal = N141.00 – N65.00 = N76.00 Total spent on subsidizing petrol to our neighbours annually = N76.00 x 9.18 million litres x 365 days = N255 billion If you take the N255 billion away from the N617 billion shortfall that the government cannot explain, there is still a shortfall of N362 billion. The government still needs to tell us what/who is eating up this N362 billion ($2.26 billion USD). 1) ILLOGICAL ASSUMPTIONS i) We have assumed that there are no working refineries in Nigeria and so no local petrol production whatsoever – yet, there is, even if the refineries are working below capacity. ii) Nigeria actually consumes 34 million litres of petrol per day. Most experts disagree and give a figure between 20 and 25 million litres per day. Yet there is still an unexplainable shortfall even if we use the exaggerated figure of the government. iii) Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cameroun, Niger, and Chad all consume the same rate as Nigeria and get 50% of their petrol illegally from Nigeria through smuggling. These figures simply show the incompetence and insincerity of our government officials. This is pure banditry. 1) FACT 9: The simplest part of the fuel subsidy arithmetic will reveal one startling fact: That the government does not need to subsidise our petrol at all if we reject corruption and sleaze as a way of life. Check this out: a) NNPC crude oil allocation for local consumption = 400,000 barrels per day (from a total of 2.450 million barrels per day). b) If our refineries work at just 30%, 280,000 barrels can be sold on the international market, leaving the rest for local production. c) Money accruing to the federal government through NNPC on the sale, using $80/bbl – a conservative figure as against the current price of $100/bbl – would be $22.4m per day. Annually this translates to $8.176bn or N1.3 trillion. d) The government does not need to subsidise our petrol imports - at leastnot from the Federation Account. The same crude that should have been refined by NNPC is simply sold on the international market (since our refineries barely work) and the money is used to buy petrol. The 400,000 barrels per day given to NNPC for local consumption can either be refined by NNPC or sold to pay for imports. This absurdity called subsidy should be funded with this money, not the regular FGN budget. If the FGN uses it regular budget for subsidising petrol, then what happens to the crude oil given to NNPC for local refining that gets sold on the international market? 1) TACTICAL BLUNDER The federal government is making the deregulation issue a revenue problem. Nigerians are not against deregulation. We have seen deregulation in the telecom sector and Nigerians are better for it, as even the poor have access to telephones now right before the eyes of those who think it is not for them. What is happening presently is not deregulation but an all-time high fuel pump increase, unprecedented in the history of our nation by a government that has gone broke due to excessive and reckless spending largely on themselves. If the excesses of all the three tiers of government are seriously curbed, that would free enough money for infrastructural development without unduly punishing the poor citizens of this country. Let me just cite, in closing, the example of National Assembly excesses and misplaced spending as contained in the 2012 budget proposal: 1. Number of Senators​​​​​​109 2. Number of Members of the House of Representatives​​360 3. Total Number of Legislators​​​​​469 4. 2012 Budget Proposal for the National Assembly ​​N150 billion 5. Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member​​​N320 million 6. Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member in USD​​$2.1 million/year Time has come for the citizens of this country to hold the government accountable and demand the prosecution of those bleeding our nation to death. Until this government downsizes, cuts down its profligacy and leads by example in modesty and moderation, the poor people of this country will not and must not subsidise the excesses of the oil sector fat cats and the immorality cum fiscal scandal of the self-centred and indulgent lifestyles of those in government. Here is a hidden treasure of wisdom for those in power while there is still time to make amends: PROVERBS 21:6&7 “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death. The violence of the wicked will destroy them because they refuse to do just.” A word of counsel for those who voted for such soulishly indulgent leadership: “Never trust a man who once had no shoes, or you may end up losing your legs.” This is the conclusion of the matter on subsidy removal: i) “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.”(Proverbs 29:12) ii) “The Righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness. Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and will not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:12&13) Thanks for your attention. God bless you all. Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare Sunday, January 15, 2012


By Ayodele SAMUEL in Lagos and Ablawa BOKO in Cotonou The price of gasoline adulterated commonly called “kpayo” tripled in Republic of Benin following price increase in neighboring Nigeria . The kpayo (the fuel sold in informal sector brought from Nigeria to Benin ) sold usually between 250 and 300 francs (Cfa) per liter, increased to 400 francs on Saturday. Since then, the price of gasoline has climbed. Currently, it is sold at 700 francs per liter. “At the wholesale level, the container purchased 8000 CFA before, is sold today to retailers at 14,000 CFA francs”, said Razack, selling fuel in Cotonou . Within days, the price of kpayo has soared across Benin . This has an effect on people whose main source of fuel is the informal sector. The shortage was related to the recent increase in PMS in border country Nigeria . "Every increase in pump price in Nigeria affects , the distribution of kpayo knows some disruption." said Ernest, fuel seller at Gbégamey ( Cotonou ). Raphael, a client, is surprised that this has lasted as long. "Usually, this crisis comes at the holiday season, and just after, the trend is the opposite," he said. Except that this year, the crisis seems very deep and there are many reasons to worry. The removal of subsidies on fuel prices in Nigeria is the cause. THE GIANT OF AFRICA COUGHS, BENIN CATCHES COLD The Nigerian government announcement on last Sunday has resulted in increase prices at the pump. Nigeria is the first oil producer in West Africa and the only supplier of fuel to the biggest sector of fuel selling in Benin , the informal sector. Because of the removal of subsidies on fuel prices and this oil crisis in Nigeria , the customer begins to feel it very difficult to get fuel. The sellers are speculative and prices vary from one seller to another. Some sellers of kpayo had to store their tables and bottles to engage in other activities. In the ranks of motorcycle taxi drivers called “Zémidjan”, prices are revised upwards. For a distance, a week ago to 100 CFA francs, now it costs more and sometimes twice. The price of travel from one place to another have also increased. Taxi drivers in the international destination of Burkina Faso , Cote d'Ivoire and Togo have also revised their tariff. Some have parked their cars and waiting for the return of the situation to normal. Traffic is more fluid. Clients reconnect with products Sonacop A 800 Francs per liter, the kpayo is very expensive, more expensive than the pump. " The sellers of adulterated gasoline stormed the stations where they refueled to go sell it. Note also that the stations were not prepared for such a crowd" left hear a station manager of the place. According to Ernest, the kpayo was firmly rooted in the habits in Benin . It's like a reflex, people do not ask too many questions. For this purpose they are hopeful that the crisis will be resolved very quickly. Otherwise, the purchasing power of the Benin risks becoming weak. " With a few differences, prices at the stations of Sonacop (national society of marketing of petroleum products) are currently below than those charged by sellers of kpayo. In Sonacop stations, gasoline is sold at 570 FCFA. The rush to these places begins to increase and once daily sales begin to improve. Some students were forced to park their bike at home. They prefer to walk or seek the services of their comrade. SUBSIDIES PRODUCT FROM NIGERIA FIND ITS WAY TO BENIN Large quantity of Nigeria’s PMS are daily smuggled into the Republic of Benin through its Badagry/ Seme porous border after the Nigeria government has subsidies the product for its citizen. In spite of the removal of petrol subsidy by the Federal Government, smuggling of the product into neighboring Benin Republic persists because of price differential. The border towns of Owode and Kpogidi in the Seme-Badagry area of Lagos state, showed that though the removal of the subsidy has increased the price per litre in Nigeria to about N140, the same litre was N250, officially, in Benin Republic . Though the black market price of a litre of smuggled Nigeria petrol in Benin Republic has been increased to N200, it was still cheaper than buying from filling stations there at N250. Until the January 1 deregulation which raised the pump price of petrol from N65 to about N140, smuggled Nigeria petrol was sold at N100 per litre in Benin Republic, while it was N200 a litre at the filling stations in the Francophone country. Residents of Kpogidi (a border town )hardly patronised the filling stations that sold at the official pump price of N250 per litre. the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido had said most of the products claimed to have been imported found their way to neighbouring countries through unscrupulous marketers. For further information on this report contact, Ayodele Samuel in Lagos , Nigeria is a reporter with Peoples Daily Newspaper could be contact on Ablawa BOKO in Cotonou , Republic of Benin , is a reporter with Tamtam-afrik newspapers: contact address nadbok@yahoo.fra

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011: Industrial sector still comatose as more firms close shop

From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos The 2011 is gradually ticking its way to history, but bruises it afflicts on corporate organizations, especially the manufacturing sector can’t be wished way. Worthy of note of course is the ever present unfavorable business climate which 2011 calendar year inherited from 2010. The dilapidating infrastructures, a harsh business environment; unstable power, absence of security and host of other obstacles continually beset 2011 without succor. The Federal government under President Goodluck Jonathan had raised hope of infusing fresh air that would jump-start the comatose manufacturing sector mid-year when he was sworn in for his fresh mandate having successfully, completed his joint ticket with late Umaru Shehu Musa Yar’adua. The re-christening of former Ministry of commerce and Industry as Trade and Investment Ministry man by former Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga raised positive expectation but it turned out the usual dashed hope with virtually no significant improvement recorded. The view of Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN, Ikeja branch Isaac Agoye captures it all. He lamented that the 2011 like years before it, never give expected impetus to manufacturing sector. 2011, as MAN scribe further lamented leaves the sector in throes of bad shape as many struggling businesses got wiped out. “The capacity utilisation has nosedived from 70 per cent in the 1980s to 45 percent in 2010. The ever busy industrial estates have now become shadows of their past glories and what government at all levels keep saying indirectly is that they need more funds and the manufacturing sector must provide it without a commensurate provision of the required enabling environment,” Agoye added. Nigeria has lost what used to be industrial estates. In 2011, the remnants of what used to industries at once thriving Ikeja industrial estate in Lagos have closed shop and in their ashes, spring up churches, event centers and relaxation spots. They closed shops not because the plot housing them has vanished, but primarily due to unbearable hostile, very challenging business atmosphere. The key being absence of power and secondly lack of security. Though government managed to unveiled power sector road map to resuscitate and rejuvenate the sector, the reforms is yet to impact positively as PHCN staff have given conditions that must be met if power reforms must be carried out. However, a novel idea of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) was given considerable vent during the year. The government realising that it can’t do it all alone is partnering with private sector to execute some key projects in a form of partnership. The construction sector was virtually in comatose as its key ingredient component, cement witnessed price tumbling severally. Beginning January 2011, cement price had risen from 2,600 to N3, 000 with disastrous effect on the quality of blocks and prices of other building materials leading to unprecedented rise in accommodation cost. It took President Jonathan intervention to get a firm commitment from cement manufacturers to peg the price at N2, 000. Nigeria is virtually a dumping ground for import items without a corresponding export making Nigeria to maintain export deficit. A report obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed imports in the second quarter of the year were also 175.5 percent higher than the N1.22 trillion recorded in the corresponding period in 2010. According to the Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. David Adulugba, the agency disbursed a whopping N45 billion in the second quarter of 2011 under the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) scheme designed to induce performance of non oil exporters in the country. The initiative certainly paid off as many local manufacturers attested to the fact that they were part of the grant which definitely saw their business kicking off to another new level but not including the Leather and Allied Products Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (LAPAN) kicked against the total implementation of the Scheme. LAPAN President Alhaji Mustapha Nabegu, said the EEG scheme has weakened the capacity of the nation’s manufacturing sector to create jobs and drive economic growth. On the battle for standard, The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) seems to be the most active government agency in the sector. It set up in mid-year, a consumer compliant desks in major markets across the country to check substandard products. The agency decided to take proactive steps to drastically reduce the influx of substandard products into the country, by destroying several containers loaded with substandard products worth millions naira. Another highlight of the agency that attracted divergent views include a claim by the agency to have spent about N20 million to destroy more than three million fake and sub-standard tyres nationwide. Experts say hope for active industrial sector may not totally be lost after all. The government, they say just have to rise to the occasion and be sincere in implementing experts’ recommendations. The government will have to genuinely tackle the poor electricity issue, it will have to create tax holiday and abolishing multiple taxes; it has to wake up to contain the security challenges that has make investment elusive and finally show sign of commitment to tackle corruption. The Nigerian textile industry was the second largest in Africa after Egypt’s in 1997, with over 250 vibrant factories operating above 50 per cent capacity utilization. Then, the local textile market had a share of about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s textile products with the balance of 80 per cent being imported. As at 1980, the textile industry in the country could boast of over 175 textile factories, but today only about 25 are still producing, as most of them have closed shop. For instance, Afprint, once a household name in Nigeria had since diverted to other businesses. The company is now selling cars and edible oil. Undoubtedly, the textile industry had its unfair share of the country’s penchant for foreign goods, smuggling, faking and counterfeiting. The recent spate of closure in the industry was driven largely by smuggling at the borders, failed government policies, high operating cost arising from prohibitive raw materials, energy cost and sheer lack of political commitment to industrialisation by Nigerian politicians. At its prime, textile factories in Kaduna and other cities were the second largest employer of labour after the government . But for over a decade now, the closure of these factories and the low capacity utilization of existing ones have become a very disturbing feature in the Northern states and the succeeding governments could not do much to redress. The workers that were laid off had since joined the unemployment market,while taxes in billions derived by governments from these factories had become a thing of the past. In his mission to industrialise the North, the late Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the defunct Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello started by establishing textile factories to use the large quantity of cotton grown by farmers in the North. Thus, the Kano Textile factory in Gwammaja and the Kaduna Textile Mill (KTL) were established , transforming the two cities into textile marketing cities with other related factories such as weaving and spinning springing up.

Press Statement on Wednesday attack Daily Trust in Kano

The Young Journalists Forum has strongly condemn Wednesday’s attack on the Kano regional office of Media Trust Limited, the publisher of Daily Trust and Weekend Trust title, by armed thugs over a report that the Kano State government has supported the removal of petroleum subsidy. In a press statement signed by its president, Ayodele Samuel and Secretary, Zacheaus Somorin, the attack purportedly sponsored by the Kano state government is described as irresponsible of a democratic government and infringement on the freedom of the Press. “No sane government in this democratic era would clampdown on the media for carrying out its function to inform the public of government policy, but the action of the state government is not only condemnable but rejected by the media,” the statement said. In what it described as first attack and gaddafian strategic crackdown, the young journalists forum argued that bourgeois ideologues of the state government shows that Nigerian cannot see the truth about the fuel subsidy facade. The group therefore demanded for immediate apology from the state government while calling on president Goodluck Jonathan to reverse fuel subsidy removal which it described as a '' nauseating economic haven for upper class banditry of the nation's resources." The journalists’ group again questioned president Jonathan on why the citizens cannot enjoy subsidy, which they said is the only benefit they derive from the government since they provide other basic things themselves – water, education, electricity, health, clothing, food and shelter. YJF posited that the capitalistic tendency of President Jonathan is becoming unbearable saying his excuse of cabal, the esoteric clique, blamed for the hindrance to the possibility of building a local refinery is stomach-turning. The forum also declares its total support to the organized labor in its fight against the anti-people government of President Goodluck Jonathan. “We are in support of all actions to force the government to reverse the removal of petroleum subsidy which is presently causing untold hardship to Nigerians. The forum however urged all young reporters regardless of their beat to give prompt and effective coverage to all Labour activities during the strike which begins Monday until the will of the majority of Nigerians is done. Ayodele Samuel, Lagos 2348074420617,

Cashless economy: Lagos banks, depositors shun CBN directive

As business activities fully kicked-off in Lagos on Tuesday, banks and depositors shunned Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy on cash-less economy as cash deposits above the stipulated N150,000 was being lodged in banks across the state. Some commercial banks monitored by Peoples Daily in Lagos, observed through banks’ lodgment books showed that customers still conduct their usual transactions at GT Bank, First Bank and Oceanic bank in Ogba. However, only few banks in the metropolis have started debiting service charges on transaction above N150,000 while customers argued that the policy will not succeed in the state as no facility has been put in place to ease the mode of payment. A depositor at Ogba branch of Oceanic bank who spoke to our reporter confirmed lodging about N300,000 to his account but only after a serious argument with the cashier. “I threatened to close my account; Imagine, I am into selling tyres, which involve about N500,000 daily; Will I keep the money in my house and later lose it to robbers or tell a mechanic, who can hardly operate his phone to do e-payment, without losing the customer to another competitor in the business?” he queried. Another trader, Mr. Sunday James, who spoke to Peoples Daily correspondent in Lagos yesterday said the CBN should put a lot of things into consideration before coming up with such policy. “Although it is helping some people doing business but its not helping the informal sector where heavy cash exchange hands daily. The CBN should look for another alternative that will benefit we traders in the state. If I need N500,000 to buy goods in the market and its impossible to cash it once then business will not flow”. Customers however expressed the fear that all extra charges associated with e-payment channels would be transferred to customers at the end of the day, thereby making banking service expensive in the country. With the commencement of the e-payment policy the large crowd within some banking halls in Lagos are expected to reduce as customers are expected to engage in mobile banking and electronic funds transfer without going to the banks. Lagos traders not prepared for cashless economy Thursday, 29 December 2011 18:11 administrator From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) prepares to on Sunday, 1st of January 2012, traders in the Computer Village, Ikeja; Balogun Market in Idumota among other places visited by People’s Daily in showed low preparation to go cashless. The trades lamented poor information about the policy while a few others claimed complete ignorance on the envisaged policy introduction. Samuel Akitu, who deals in of computers in Ikeja, said many Nigerians are not adequately informed by the CBN on how the policy operates. “Many of our customers who buy up to 300,000 to one million worth of goods daily are not inform we don’t have enough POS machine so how do we go cash less” he queried. Also, the leader of New Computer Traders Association, Mr. Eze Nbueze said its members handle more than N100 million worth of transactions daily. “All together, we handle more than N100 million here daily; the CBN does not make provision for we the traders but we will encourage our members to embrace it”. Also at Balogun market, some traders said the policy is dead on arrival. “I am not aware that I will not be able to deposit or withdrawal N150,000 but if government wants it like that, we will go back to our traditional method of saving money,” Mrs. Akin Olaosebikan told People’s Daily. The African Renaissance Party (ARP) Lagos state chapter argued that the CBN cashless policy is a new year economic disaster package to Lagosians, the policy is doomed to become a colossal failure right from the point of commencement and indeed have exposed the CBN governor as incompetent and inexperienced. The state chairman of the party, Udoka Udeogaranya in a statement said, “Lagos state, chosen by CBN to experiment their cashless policy, is not ripe for a programme that has to be effective right from the word go. The effectual implementation of an all encompassing cashless policy has no chance in a state that struggles with poor electricity supply, poor information technology services, poor ICT maintenance units and poor ICT literacy. “We dare the CBN governor to visit a merchant city like Guangzhou in China and see how the Chinese government, which is austere with its economy, yet allow merchants to have their way there, while industrial cities like Ningbo, Yiwu and Xiemen can thrive with over regulatory financial policies. In the livelihoods of merchants it is cash first and prices varies, therefore regulations are minimized. “This cashless policy will see retrenchment of bank staffs as many of the work will now be piled up for information technology gadgets to do and which will culminate into high rate of unemployment that is already a threat to the nations security”. Cash deposit or withdrawals exceeding the stipulated of N150, 000 (for individuals) and N1 million (for corporate bodies) would not attract the punitive processing charge on the commencement of the pilot scheme in Lagos on Sunday, January 1, 2012.

Labour begins strike, protests Monday

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have threatened to shut down the country with indefinite strike action and mass protests should the Federal Government fail to revert back to the old price of fuel by Monday, January 9. This is coming as the Joint Action Front (JAF), a coalition of civil society groups, foreclosed the possibility of dialogue with the government before the commencement of the strike. The National Executive Councils (NEC) of both the NLC and TUC had yesterday met simultaneously in Abuja and Lagos respectively, with the two labour groups issuing a joint communiqué which slammed President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration for jerking up the pump price of fuel last Sunday even while government claimed to be consulting with Nigerians. The communiqué read by the NLC President, Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar, stated in part that: “Due to this upward review of prices, the pump price for petrol is now selling for between N141 and N200 per litre nation-wide rather than N65. This prohibitive increase in price of PMS once again confirms the position of Labour that deregulation to this government means incessant price increase of a strategic product (petrol) that impact on cost of living, cost of production and the general well-being of increasingly impoverished Nigerians.” “The immediate generalised negative impact of this price increase on transport cost, food, drugs, school fees, rents, indicate that government is totally wrong to underestimate the impact assessment of the so-called deregulation policy,” the communiqué stated. Omar stated further that: “In view of the untoward hardship workers and other Nigerians are experiencing based on excessive increase in petrol prices, there have been sporadic protests by Nigerians in at least 10 cities.” These peaceful protests, he noted, have witnessed the use of unprecedented force by the police, leading to harassment, intimidation, arrests and the murder of a protester in Ilorin. The NLC boss disclosed that there was a subsisting understanding between the Congress and the Federal Government in 2009 that removal of subsidy will not commence until certain conditions were met. The conditions, according to him, include the fixing of all the nation’s four existing refineries and building of new ones, regular power supply, and provision of other social infrastructure such as railways and repairs of roads as well as elimination of the corruption associated with supply and distribution of petroleum products in the downstream sector. He decried that these conditions were not fulfilled before the latest surreptitious subsidy removal by the Jonathan administration. Against this backdrop, he said: “After exhaustive deliberations and consultations with all sections of the populace, the NLC, TUC and their pro-people allies demand that the Presidency immediately reverses fuel prices to N65. If the government fails to do so, they direct that indefinite general strikes, mass rallies and street protests be held across the country with effect from Monday 9th January, 2012”. Beginning from Monday, 9th January 2012, all offices, oil production centres, air and sea ports, fuel stations, markets, banks, amongst others would be shut down, he said. He advised Nigerians to stockpile basic needs especially food and water and called on them to participate actively in the entire efforts to make government rescind its decision. “The emphasis is on peaceful protests, rallies and strikes while refusing to be intimidated. Labour calls on the police, armed forces and other security agencies to reject orders that they turn their weapons on fellow Nigerians. We warn that anybody who does so will be individually brought to justice”. “The primary objective of this patriotic call and movement is to revert PMS price to N65, restore normalcy and reclaim Nigeria for Nigerians,” he stressed. Meanwhile, the Joint Action Front (JAF) after an emergency in Lagos yesterday, insisted on nationwide protests and mass rallies, saying the was no need for dialogue with the Federal Government. TUC President, Comrade Peter Esele, who briefed newsmen at the end of the group's meeting at the PENGASSAN office in Lagos, said that the organised Labour would not dialogue with the Federal Government on the removal of fuel subsidy, insisting that the price of fuel must be reverted to N65 per litre. Also present at the meeting was Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, who stressed that the battle is "a fight to finish", saying that if court wants to stop them, they have also organised their own lawyers to fight the cause. He announced that Lagos lawyers would join the protests today.