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Senate to face minimum wage brouhaha

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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)

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US suspends visa interview waivers in Nigeria

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The United States embassy in Nigeria has suspended drop box service or interview waiver for those renewing visas in the country.

President of the United States, Donald Trumpunited

In a statement, the world power said the interview waiver suspension will take effect from Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

“The Embassy and Consulate of the United States in Nigeria has suspended the interview waiver ‘Drop Box’ application process effective May 14, 2019,” the statement read.

This means those attempting to renew their visas must now attend visa interviews like first timers.

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Senate president, deputy pay tributes to David Mark

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Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, Governor Samuel Ortom, on Sunday paid glowing tribute to the former Senate President, Senator David Mark for his meritorious service to his constituents and the country, as the latter exits from the Senate after 20 years.

In their separate goodwill messages to Senator Mark at a thanksgiving mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church, Otukpo, Benue State, Saraki, Ekweremadu, Ortom and others described Mark as an icon and patriotic leader in the contemporary Nigeria.

A statement by the media assistant to David Mark, Paul Mumeh, said that the thanksgiving was to mark former Senate President’s exit from the Senate after 20 years.

It said that specifically, Saraki noted that his predecessor has set a record as the longest serving Senator since 1999, the longest serving President of the Senate and referred to him as an officer and a gentleman.

He said: “Senator Mark was our own equivalent of the US Senators Robert C. Byrd (51 years, five months, 26 days), Daniel K. Inouye (49 years, 11 months and 15 days) Strom Thurmond (47 years, five months, eight days), Ted Kennedy (46years, nine months, 19 days and Patrick J. Leahy (44years) in terms of institutional memory that he embodies”.

Saraki acknowledged that Senator Mark remains a stabilizing force in or out of the chamber pointing out that he remains relevant even when he left the position of the primus inter pares in the Senate.

According to Saraki, “while Senator Mark’s record in the Senate remains unbeaten, it is necessary to mention that he is a bridge builder and consummate politician. My colleagues and I in the Eight Senate, appreciate his humility, brilliance and patriotism”.

In his tribute, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ekweremadu underscored the leadership qualities of Senator Mark and added “your place of honour as a fine, perceptive, detribalized, patriotic, astute leader and a true democrat is unarguable and unshakable.

Besides leading the National Assembly to break the jinx of constitutional amendments and the successful electoral reforms, Ekweremadu added “your capacity as a wise, experienced, patriotic and true statesman manifested at a very trying time in the Nation’s history when you guided the National Assembly to invoke the Doctrine of Necessity to steer the country away from palpable constitutional crisis“.

Governor Samuel Ortom, in his remarks, noted: “your quality representation and indefatigable leadership in the Senate brought stability to the system and added enormous value to democracy.

“I am proud to identify with you for your selfless services to the State and the nation as well as providing mentorship to upcoming leaders”.

An elated Senator Mark expressed appreciation to his people for the opportunity to serve, promising to continue to work for peace and unity of Nigeria.

It said that in his homily, the Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Otukpo, Most Reverend Kenneth Odeh described Senator Mark as an icon of inestimable value saying that his contributions to the development of Nigeria cannot be wished away.

Reverend Odeh urged Nigerian politicians to emulate Senator Mark’s selfless service to the country.

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Buhari set to reappoint Emefiele as CBN Governor

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President Muhammadu Buhari is said to have forwarded Godwin Emefiele’s name to the National Assembly for reappointment as Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor.

News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday wrote that sources confirmed that President Buhari forwarded the name in a letter, expected to be read on the floor of the Senate.

Godwin Emefiele who is the 11th CBN Governor began his five-year tenure on June 3, 2014, which will come to an end in less than a month.

Emefiele became the governor at a time when there was visible pressure on the Naira as well as a decline in the country’s foreign reserves.

At his maiden news conference as governor, he harped on the vision of building a people-focused central bank that would deliver effective price and financial system stability as well as promote sustainable economic development.

Over the course of five years, Emefiele introduced policies which many economic experts have criticised, while many others hailed the policies.

Some of the major policies undertaken by the apex bank in the last five years include the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) which aims at increasing the country’s local food production and conserving the foreign reserves.

The CBN took the decision to also ban 41 items from accessing foreign exchange through official routes to encourage local production of the items and simultaneously conserve the nation’s depleting foreign reserves.

Since then, the CBN has raised the number of items affected on the list to 43, with the inclusion of fertiliser and textile products.

Some of the items not valid for foreign exchange at the Nigerian window include rice, cement, margarine, palm produce, beef, vegetables, poultry and eggs, private aeroplanes, wooden doors and Iron rods, among others.

The CBN also introduced the multiple foreign exchange system, which led to the creation of the Inter-bank/Wholesale, Invisible, Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the Investors/Exporters’ windows.

Also, in 2018, the CBN signed a bilateral currency swap agreement with the People’s Republic of China worth about 2.5 billion dollars.

The Currency Swap Agreement is designed to aid trade transactions between China and Nigeria and remove the need to first source for U.S. Dollars before payments for transactions involving the two countries.

The CBN through the Banker’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria also inaugurated a centralised biometric identification system for the banking industry tagged: “Bank Verification Number (BVN)”.

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Emir Sanusi gets United Nations appointment

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The United Nations (UN) on Thursday, May 9, appointed the emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II, as a member of the new class of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) advocates.

The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres made the announcement through his spokesperson, Farhan Haq, at a news conference in New York.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SDG advocates are 17 influential public figures committed to “raising awareness, inspiring greater ambition, and pushing for faster action on the SDGs.”

The report said Sanusi is one of the six new members of the group, which is co-chaired by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and the prime minister of Norway, Erna Solberg.

The other five new members, according to the report, are Hindou Ibrahim of Chad, Dia Mirza of India, Edward Ndopu of South Africa, Nadia Murad of Iraq and Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil.

Haq said the six new members would take over from the previous six who had been made SDG advocate alumni.

“The secretary-general looks forward to working with the group over the coming years to advance the SDGs,” he said.

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