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NASS mgt, legislative aides head for showdown over salary arrears, others

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National Assembly legislative aides on Monday grounded their activities temporarily following a peaceful protest over nonpayment of their 2019 salary arrears and other entitlements.

Numbering about 2500, they have resolved to commence a total showdown with the management of Ninth National Assembly to pursue their demands to a logical conclusion, OBSERVERS TIMES report.

The action, which took the aggrieved staff to the entrance of the Green and the Red Chambers of the legislature, did not disrupt the proceedings of the lawmakers who however suspended, shortly after their resumption, the plenary sessions and other businesses of the National Assembly for 24 hours to mourn the demise of members of the House of Representatives in line with the executive convention of the legislature.

In a press statement, the irate aides decried the “series of infractions and acts of impunity” that had be perpetrated by the management of the assembly against them.

The statement signed by Zebis Prince, Tony Omail, Waziri Anaba, Adebisi Kilanso, Chinedu Nwokeukwu and Audi Alaso, further expressed their “great displeasure at the miserable and inhuman working conditions” in the assembly.

Some of these capricious acts include non-payment of the routine Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), lack of training, non-implementation of the National Minimum Wage and the Consolidated Legislative Aides Salary Structure (CONLESS); benefits that are already being enjoyed by other workers in federal establishment. We are wondering why the money is being withheld by the CNA even after management had long admitted that the funds were available.

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“Let it be on record that having exhausted our patience and internal dispute resolution mechanism, we have resolved to pursue our grievances using all legitimate tools at our disposal. Apart from this sensitization campaign, we also intend to embark on sustained social media campaign, petition relevant agencies and NGOs to look particularly into legislative aides account and how it is bing administered.

“As a last resort, we may approach the National Industrial Court not necessarily on the vexed arrears alone but on other entitlements that have been denied us. We have been pushed to the walls but we have the resolve, resources and documents to pursue these matters to a logical conclusion. We will continue our sensitization rally for as long as it takes,” they stated.

The aides, who also revealed that they were determined to down their tools last December but for the intervention of the NASS Director of DSS that prevailed on them to stay action, expressed regret that, as usual, the assembly management failed to keep its words.

“On account of this breach, we have set machinery in motion to bring our plight to the attention of all relevant stakeholders and agencies,” they vowed.

OBSERVERS TIMES  recalled  that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Demi Gbajabiamila, had promised to wade into the matters to ensure speedy payment of the long overdue entitlements.

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Israeli: The End of the Netanyahu Era Israel’s president picks Lapid to form government

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Israel’s president on Wednesday chose Yair Lapid, a centrist politician and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest rival, to try to form a new government, but his path to success was still uncertain.

Israel’s longest serving leader, Netanyahu, 71, has been fighting to hold onto office through four inconclusive elections since 2019 and corruption allegations that he denies.

President Reuven Rivlin, in a televised address announcing his choice of Lapid, said the former finance minister had the pledged support of 56 of parliament’s 120 members, still short of a majority.

“It is clear that parliament member Yair Lapid could form a government that has the confidence of the Knesset, despite there being many difficulties,” Rivlin said.

In a statement accepting the nomination, Lapid, who heads the Yesh Atid party, said he aimed to establish a government of the left, right and centre “that will reflect the fact that we don’t hate one another”.

But Lapid, 57, has ruled out serving in a government with Netanyahu, citing the criminal indictment against the prime minister.

Appearing to hold out hope he could still stay in power, Netanyahu appealed to ultranationalist Naftali Bennett to join him and form a “solid right-wing bloc” controlling 59 seats in parliament, a number still short of a majority.

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An embrace by Bennett, of the Yamina party, would persuade other right-wing legislators currently pledged to Lapid cross back, Netanyahu said in remarks following Lapid’s nomination.

“It’s a simple truth: this (a Lapid-led coalition) will be a dangerous left-wing government,” said Netanyahu, who last lost an election before the turn of the century.

The most recent vote on March 23, held while Netanyahu is also on trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, yielded no majority for the incumbent or for a loose alliance of rivals from across the political spectrum aiming to topple him.

A 28-day mandate to put together a coalition ran out at midnight after Netanyahu failed to agree terms with potential right-wing partners, opening the way for Rivlin to assign the task to another member of parliament.

Lapid also has 28 days to try to form a coalition.

POWER SHARING

A power-sharing agreement to end the political stalemate has been widely mooted, in which Lapid would rotate in office with Bennett, 49.

Rivlin met the two separately on Wednesday, and each put his own name forward to lead coalition talks, the president said.

“I have just spoken to Yair Lapid and informed him that I am entrusting him with forming a government, whether this is a government that he will head at the beginning, or a government headed by someone else first in which he will serve as alternate prime minister,” Rivlin said in his address.

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Lapid’s party finished second with 17 parliamentary seats to 30 for Netanyahu’s Likud in the March election.

Netanyahu and his opponents have both courted the support of parties representing Israel’s 21% Arab minority, potentially giving them a say over a cabinet for the first time in decades.

Five of the Joint Arab List’s six legislators threw their support behind Lapid in a letter the party sent to Rivlin on Wednesday, backing which the president noted in his speech.

Failure to break the deadlock would lead to a new election, adding to political turmoil while Israel faces challenges from Iran’s nuclear programme and pursues economic recovery after a swift rollout of COVID-19 vaccine.

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Outrage As Benue Herders Murder 19, Bandits Vow To Kill 17 Varsity Students

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The herdsmen on Monday killed 19 persons, including children,  in fresh attacks on some communities in the Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State.

The communities attacked included Tse Amgbem, Udam near  Aondoana and Agbanu  Seghev/Ukuse all in the Gwer West LGA  area of the state.

 

Groups, including the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Middle Belt Forum, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union and a Tiv group, condemned the killing in Benue State and the threat by bandits to kill students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State.

Recall that 23 students and a member of staff of the privately-owned university, located along the Kaduna-Abuja highway were abducted from the school on April 20, 2021.  Few days later, five of the students were killed by the bandits.

Jalingo, in the interview with the Hausa service of the VOA,  demanded a ransom of N100m and ten motorcycles.

We cannot continue to watch while terrorists and
bandits continue to levy war on our nation, through our porous borders. This border force should be equipped with reconnaissance, intelli- gence gathering and preven- tion enforcement. It should, therefore, have air, sea, and land capability.”

The opposition party demanded that all the perpetrators of violence be punished according to the law.

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“All culprits who have levied war on Nigeria should be brought to book. It is unfathomable that several mass kidnappings have been successfully staged with the culprits not being held to account.

It is a shameful irony that a few bandit leaders that have been taken out were killed by rival gangs and not our security agencies,” he said.

According to him, security agencies should have been able to track, arrest and prosecute bandits if Sheik Gumi could detect and engage with them.

“The administration of President Buhari should completely shed weight on arrogance, lack of respect for Nigerians and its pretenses of being an island of integrity.

“He should begin to engage the citizens directly. He should address the nation on the various issues escalating tension in the land and pushing the nation farther to the tips of precipice,” he said.

On the economy, the PDP chairman told the go- vernment to stop borro- wing, adding that future generations are being mort- gaged and railroaded into an avoidable debt trap.
He called on the APC to do away with nepotism and hire experts that will “help to creatively navigate the nation through the dire eco- nomic challenges they have led the nation into.”

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“The country is bleeding economically and the opera- tions of the NNPC must be investigated and over-sighted by the parliament,” he said.

On politics, Secondus said it was worrisome that the National Assembly Joint Committee on INEC, which finished its work since February  2021, is yet to lay the report in the two chambers of the National Assembly.

“We are, therefore, alarmed at the decision of the APC-led leadership of the National Assembly to sit on such an important report, contrary to their promise to pass the Electoral Act by March, which has now been shifted to June.

“It is imperative to state  that INEC and the government  of the United Kingdom have equally raised concerns over these undue delays, as it appears this current amendment is going the way of the Electoral Act amendment in the 8th National Assembly that was ultimately  not signed by Mr. President,” the party chairman stated.

Corroborating the PDP chairman’s statement, Taraba State governor Darius Ishaku said the party had decided to put opposition aside and work with government  to find lasting solutions to the security crises.

”We at the states are having it worse. We find it difficult to explain to our people why we cannot protect them – because security is not under our control,” he said.

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Ishaku decried the use of the military as the first resort in internal security crisis, noting that the police should be properly equipped to place its role as the lead security outfit in internal matters.

Former Senate President Bukola Saraki also urged the federal government to listen to the demands of Nigerians on ensuring the protection of lives and property.

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BIOGRAPHY OF AN ICON OF IGALA KINGDOM, Prince Alhaji Matthew M. Opaluwa Oguche

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_Prince Alhaji Matthew M. Opaluwa Oguche_ was born into the Royal family of late Chief Opaluwa Oguche Akpa.

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He is the number nine (9) of the sixteen (16) surviving children and the forth (4) of the six (6) male children of Late Chief Opaluwa Oguche of the humble Aju- Ameacho Ruling Dynasty of Igala Kingdom. His mother was Late Mama Eke Opaluwa (nee Edicha).

*Educational Qualifications*
Prince Alhaji Matthew M. Opaluwa Oguche started his early education at St. Boniface Primary School, Idah and obtained his first school leaving certificate in the year, 1975. He proceeded in the same year to St. Peter’s College, Idah and obtained his West African Schools Certificate (WASC) in 1980.
In his quest for education as his father advised him, in 1981 he gained admission into the School of Basic Studies, Ugbokolo and obtained “A” level papers in 1983.

That same year, he gained admission into the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and acquired Bachelors of Science (B. Sc.) degree in Business Administration in 1986. He did his National Youths Service (NYSC) assignment in Niger State and served at the State Board of Internal Revenue, 1986/87 service year successfully.
Still in his quest for more knowledge, Prince Alhaji M.M. Opaluwa Oguche went back to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and acquired his Masters (MBA) degree in Business Administration in the year 1997.

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*_Working Experience_*
The cognate working experience of this great man started with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 1988 as administrative officer and rose through ranks and now a Deputy Director. He has served in many Local Governments Areas of Kogi State as Electoral Officer which include; Idah, Ofu, Ankpa, Dekina, Bassa, Ibaji, Mopa/Amuro, Ogori/Magongo, and Okene respectively.
Prince Alhaji M. M. Opaluwa Oguche was transferred to Kaduna State INEC Headquarters and made in charge of Transport Unit. Still in Kaduna State, he has served in the following Local Government Areas as Electoral officer (E.O);
Sabon – Gari, Kajuru, Kaduna South, Kauru, & Kaduna North L.G.As respectively.
Prince Alhaji Matthew M. Opaluwa Oguche was again transferred to Katsina State INEC Headquarters in July,2009 and was made to take charge of Research and documentation Unit. There after, he was transferred to Dandume local government area as Electoral officer. After 2011 general elections, he was seconded to Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT as Electoral officer. He was transferred after back after the exercise to Katsina State and served in the following local government areas as Electoral Officer; Danja and Dutsinma respectively after 2011 general elections. Finally, he was moved to Katsina LGA in the same capacity during the 2015 general elections till date.
Prince Alhaji Matthew M. Opaluwa Oguche is a humane, generous and gentle easy going personality of impeccable character. A bridge builder who derives pleasure in creating peace. His passion for the Igala traditions, cultural value and unity cannot be over emphasised as such, engenders his willingness to always help the Igala sons and daughters and mankind generally. He has learned his helping hands to orphans, the less privileged and widows. He is a man with amiable personality and natural aptitude. He is happily married and blessed with children.
I present to you, men and women of Igala Kingdom
*Prince Alhaji Matthew* *M. Opaluwa Oguche*

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