The Senate on Tuesday appointed the Deputy Majority Whip, Francis Alimikhena, as acting chairman of the Adhoc Committee on Minimum Wage. The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who made the announcement at plenary on Tuesday, said Mr. Alimikhena would work in an acting capacity while the chairman, Olusola Adeyeye, was away on health grounds.
Mr. Saraki charged the committee to expedite action on the matter to enable the Senate to be able to catch up with the House of Representatives which had already passed the bill through third reading.
The deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, had on Jan. 24, appointed the chief whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye, as chairman of an eight-member ad-hoc committee mandated to work on the minimum wage bill.
The members of the ad-hoc committee are Abu Ibrahim(APC-Katsina State); Shehu Sani (PRP-Kaduna State) and Sam Egwu(PDP-Ebonyi).
Others are: Suleiman Adokwe(PDP-Nasarawa State); Francis Alimikhena(APC-Edo); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos State) and Binta Garba (APC-Adamawa).
The House of Representatives had on Jan. 29 approved N30,000 as the minimum wage for workers in the public and private sectors.
The lower chamber increased the threshold for public and private sectors workers in states and local governments from N27,000 as proposed in the National Minimum Wage Act Amendment Bill to N30,000. (NAN)
Pius Adesanmi’s last interview as written by Musikilu Mojeed
Nigerian-born Canadian Professor, Pius Adesanmi was a satirical writer who confessed of his abusive relationship with Nigeria as well as his near death experience in a car crash. Pius died on March 10th, 2019 after his flight, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off.
One evening in early September last year, Pius Adesanmi, telephoned me frantically from his base in Ontario. He had been calling for days and due to my excessively busy schedule at the time and the time difference between Canada and Nigeria, we missed each other repeatedly. He would call while I was asleep, and I would do the same while he was perhaps dreaming away in Ontario.
In frustration, the man I called Akowe (Book man), left a message for me on WhatsApp: “O ga o. Olorun a fun alagbara yin ni suuru o.” (May God give the powerful the patience to be gentle with the masses). He was tactically and wittingly and proverbially reminding me that my editor-in-chief job was making me more and more unavailable to my friends.
I started calling Pius Akowe in April 2012 after he delivered a funny, brilliant and illuminating keynote at the African Literature Association in Dallas. At that event, the writer had cracked ribs when he narrated how his uneducated palmwine tapper in his native Isanlu, perched at the neck of a tree, would telephone him with a Blackberry to announce that his regular supply of palmwine would be delayed.
“Akowe, mo ti gbe de o,” (Book man, I’ve brought your wine), the tapper would say anytime he arrived the professor’s home, Pius wrote in the keynote entitled: “Face Me, I Book You: Writing Africa’s Agency in the Age of the Netizen.”
So from the day I read that piece, I began calling Pius Akowe. I would say, “Akowe, e tun tide” (Book man, you have come again) whenever he telephoned me. He would laugh animatedly, and respond: Musikilu Oniroyin agbaye, mo ti de o (Musikilu the global journalist, I have come again o). He would then launch into the real reason for his call.
I returned Pius’ call that day last September, and he updated me on his recovery. It was then about two months since he had a ghastly accident in Nigeria, and was evacuated to Canada. He had been away from work and from his column for PREMIUM TIMES and from social media. I convinced the professor to grant us an interview. He agreed. He wanted it done on the telephone, but I told him WhatsApp was better. He agreed.
But two days later he left me a message: “Musikilu can we do the interview by email instead? Won’t be easy for me to type answers here (WhatsApp).”
“If you insist,” I responded. “But it’s better here. It allows for follow-up questions.”
Pius: Ok. But my responses will be slow in coming o. U know Naija has adapted u people to doing serious work in certain conditions 😀
Me: Yeah.. it can be slow. But it’s better.
As agreed, both of us showed up on WhatsApp at the agreed time for the interview.
“Ok, fire the questions,” the professor said on arrival on September 17. “Today makes it exactly two months since the accident so we should start.”
The interview you are about to read, conducted between September 17 and November 17, was never concluded. Pius was as busy as a bee. He would disappear for weeks and then for months. I was hoping we would complete it this March. But my Akowe slipped into mortality, devastating everyone who encountered him in person or through his exceptional work.
Below, for posterity, is what appears his last extensive media interview on earth.
PT: You have been out of circulation for two months since you had a car crash. How has life been so far? How are you recovering? What has life been not being able to tweet, Facebook and write your column for PREMIUM TIMES?
PIUS ADESANMI: Thank you very much. It’s been a very long and tough battle to recovery. The car crash was pretty serious and I still don’t know how I made it out alive. It was after my medical evacuation to Canada that I came to terms with the full extent of my injuries. It has been one complication after another since then. It has also taken quite an emotional toll. I’m still doing intense physiotherapy. Of course, I’ve missed life in the public trenches of Nigeriana. I’ve missed my readers and followers in the public sphere. I’ve missed my column. I’ve missed my Facebook and Twitter communities. Not being able to engage at this critical conjuncture in the life of our nation has been tough. However, my accident taught me one lesson: only the living can fight for Nigeria.
PT: How close are you to full recovery? When are you likely back to work and to travels?
PIUS ADESANMI: You know, I’ve started to write a book about this entire ordeal so I should be careful not to give too much away to Premium Times in an interview in order not to incur the wrath of my publisher, Premium Times Books😀.
On a serious note though, I am hoping to be fully back to work and travels before the end of the year. I still have three problem areas: my right leg which was nearly amputated because my injuries were badly infected in Nigeria before I was evacuated to Canada, my right wrist and right shoulder also suffered ligament and nerve damage.
As I heal, I am eager to return to work and travel. You know, this accident happened in July in Nigeria. That was my fifth working trip to Africa this year. I’d been to Kenya (twice), Ghana (twice), and South Africa before Nigeria nearly got me. Since the accident, I’ve cancelled lecture trips to South Africa, Ghana, and France. I was in fact on my way to an African Union consultative meeting in Senegal when the accident happened so, obviously, I didn’t make it to Dakar. So, I am keen to get back to life as a peripatetic public intellectual.
PT: Sorry about the troubles this accident has caused you. I recall you were returning from a training tour when it happened. It was an emergency. Hope Nigeria did not do badly evacuating you and driver from the crash site. And then stabilising you.
PIUS ADESANMI: If you think of Nigeria as a system, as a state in a social contract with the citizen, then, obviously she failed me tragically and nearly killed me. But is that not the story, the personal tragedy of every Nigerian? That we have not been able to create even the most rudimentary forms of civilizational frameworks to secure our lives in the 21st century. I spent the first five hours after the accident in what is said to be the emergency unit of the general hospital in Oyo. If you put pigs in such a filthy environment in Canada, no, Canada is too much, make it Ghana, if you put pigs in such a place in Ghana, you’d go to jail for animal cruelty. That is where Nigeria puts her ordinary people in “hospitals” all over the country. As I said, my injuries were so badly infected in that filthy hospital environment in Oyo that I nearly lost my leg when I got to Canada.
PT: Hope this incident will not slow your commitment to Nigeria, your country of birth. The country that nurtured you and then exported to the world to rise, shine and explode.
PIUS ADESANMI: I am in an abusive relationship with Nigeria. No experience, no matter how horrific, can reduce my commitment to Nigeria. Nigeria is that malevolent, abusive, beastly husband who is physically violent, beats and hurts you but you remain in that relationship and people wonder why.
Well, you know that Nigeria’s beastly, cannibalistic nature (she feeds on her own ordinary citizens) is the handiwork of a few. The road that nearly claimed me is the handiwork of the visionless animals in the political leadership of the country. To reduce my commitment is to surrender to our enemies in the leadership. As I always say, Nigeria is a struggle for meaning and we must not allow the filthy political leadership to have the last word in that argument.
PT: Again, we are sorry about all you went through. We thank God you are alive and recovering. The last time we interviewed you, you agonized about those kinds of situations ordinary folks go through everyday. I recall you lamenting that your social activism was not making an impact. You said you were considering running for political office to aggressively push for change. Is that plan still alive?
PIUS ADESANMI: I think you are missing out on some of the nuances I teased out in my response to that particular question in the interview. I believe it was in specific reference to a political appointment. I recall saying that I wanted no such thing. Remember it was even still early days in the Buhari administration when Buhari’s cluelessness, incompetence, and irredeemable nepotism were not as manifest as they turned out to be.
I said I was not out for a political appointment precisely because we have a certain depraved national culture which makes what ought to be a transient phase of service in a citizen’s life become a shameful stage of accumulation and conspicuous consumption. This is what we mean when we say a person has arrived or God has blessed the person.
A political appointment becomes our singular indicator of success. Here I am for instance. Without being immodest, I’ve been one of Nigeria’s most prominent academic experts in my generation for over a decade now, highly in demand in Universities in North America, Europe and all over Africa. I average 30 keynote lectures per year across continents. I won the Penguin Prize for African Writing in 2010. Yet a Nigerian will look at me and consider a political appointment “a promotion”.
Here, at my level, colleagues who accept political appointments see it as a demotion. It is a sacrifice they make for the collective. I said I aspired to be one of the very few Nigerian public intellectuals to change the Nigerian perception of appointments as “arrival” instead of service. I want no part in the culture of arrivism. If you want me to address the part about the limitations of activism, I am happy to do that.
Osinbajo rallies APC supporters for polls in Kano, others
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged All Progressives Congress (APC) members not to relax or take anything for granted ahead of the March 23 governorship election rerun in some states.
Osinbajo communicated this while addressing party faithful at the PMB/PYO Volunteers Appreciation Dinner at the State House Banquet Hall on Thursday in Abuja.
INEC has fixed March 23 for supplementary elections in Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Kano, Plateau and Sokoto states where governorship elections were declared inconclusive.
He thanked the volunteers for their commitment and trust, saying that with the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria was on course for greatness.
“I believe that with your support our country will continue to move forward; everything we want for our country will be done, and by the grace of God, every one of the President’s projects will be done.
`Our economy will turn around and we will see prosperity in this great nation.
“Let me just say that we are still not done with elections.
“On March 23, we still have some outstanding states; as you know, there are rerun elections in about six states.
“ And we still need to put efforts in those six states. We cannot afford to slack up and say the job is done; we still have some things to be done,’’ he said.
Osinbajo expressed APC’s condolences to the families of those who lost their lives during the process, and asked for a minute silence in their honour.
He said that the campaign was about the Nigerian people whom he said were very trusting and supportive of their leaders without asking for much.
The vice president said that the Buhari-led government had achieved much in four years in spite of earning less—a feat which was achieved because of Mr President’s honesty and integrity.
Mr Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, said that Nigerians had demonstrated their confidence in the ability of Buhari and Osinbajo to pilot the nation.
He said that Nigerians not only voted but made sure that their votes counted.
Ipaye commended the President and vice president over their energetic campaign that saw them going round the country.
The deputy chief of staff also thanked God for securing the President, vice president and the campaign team throughout the campaign.
Retired Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa, Director, Women and Youths, APC Campaign Team, expressed appreciation to Osinbajo for arranging a platform to thank the volunteers.
He thanked God for protecting the vice president in the helicopter crash as he and the crew all came out unscathed.
Marwa said that Osinbajo exhibited uncommon commitment and courage by proceeding with his schedule shortly after the crash.
“Something told me we will be victorious after the vice president survived the crash.
“Why else should the vice president survive if not that God has prepared him for another four years.
“He continued with his campaign immediately after the crash; he deserves applause.
“We thank God for the president who was able to visit all the states; he went to each and every state.
“This is the first time we are seeing a vice president mingling with the downtrodden in the markets and everywhere.”
There were also goodwill messages from some other party functionaries.
The gathering was thrilled by a cultural troupe and comedians.
APC dismantle two symbolic broom statue in Abuja
The gigantic broom symbolising the All Progressives Congress (APC), constructed at the City Gate in Abuja, has been dismantled.
The construction of the broom project, which signifies the APC logo and was done with iron rods, came to limelight in February.
There was another giant broom constructed at the Unity Fountain, also in Abuja.
The project had been widely criticised at the time it was mounted, a few days to the general election.
However, on Friday, construction workers disassembled the projects at the two locations.
Many Nigerians had condemned the project as a waste of resources, especially as Nigeria is not a one-party nation.
The Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA) was also not left out of criticism for permitting the party to use the site for the erection of the statue.
At the time of this report, it could not be ascertained if the order to dismantle the project was given by the APC leadership or the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
Nigeria joins other countries in grounding Boeing 737 Max
The federal government has banned Boeing 737 Max airplanes from flying into Nigeria’s airspace until further notice.
Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
This is a direct reaction to the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 crash on March 10 morning enroute from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew on board. Subsequently, the European Union, UK, China and India banned the Boeing 737 Max from flying over their airspace due to concerns over passenger safety. Also Ethiopia, Singapore, China, France, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia have all temporarily suspended the 737 Max.
The aviation minister yesterday reiterated that no operator in Nigeria was using that type of airplane. He said: “Regarding Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 that have been in the news recently, there is no cause for alarm as there is no operator in Nigeria that is using that type of airplane.
“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), whose mandate it is to issue advisory, has already issued advisory that nobody should fly into Nigeria or out of Nigeria using Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 pending the determination of the actual cause of the crash in Ethiopia and also pending the outcome of the response of the manufacturer, which is Messers Boeing.”
He remarked that “regardless of the enormous safety records of this plane, Boeing 737, it has caused concern in the world of aviation and you know aviation is universal – whatever affects one affects the other, because aircraft will be flying in and out.
“So, we have issued directive that no operator with Boeing 737 Max 8 or Max 9 should operate into and outside our airports and this is being carried out.”
Speaking on the orders placed by Air Peace and Arik for the supply of that brand of airplanes, the minister noted that they would not be delivered in the country until the next two years “and this is enough period to sort out whatever problem it is with that plane.
“The world of aviation will not be sleeping just as we in Nigeria will not be sleeping. And it is normal standard practice that once a particular aircraft type is involved in accident back to back, it is withdrawn from the market to see if there is something they are doing wrong. And if it is confirmed that a particular problem, say for instance, landing gear, they will issue an instruction to ground such plane worldwide until the problem is fixed. So, this case is not different,” he said.
Sirika gave assurance that authorities would be alive to their responsibility, which is to secure life and property.