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ONE REASON FOR THE CONTINUOUS PROTEST BY IMO PENSIONERS

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On reason for the continuous protest by Imo Pensioners recently..

By Kissinger Ikeokwu

Pensioners protesting over arrears of pensions owed them were attacked by thugs of the accidental governor imposed on Imo State on the 4th August, 2020. Recall that Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha had placed payment of pensions on auto-cruise before the Supreme Court calamity that relapsed stable governance Ihedioha had established in Imo State within his short seven months on the saddle…

On assumption of office on 29th May, 2019, Ihedioha set up the Imo State Financial Advisory Committee headed by the erudite Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, the former DG Debt Management Office on 10th June, 2020. The committee was drawn from Imo best brains in the private sector. Their term of reference was to help government resolve the problem of pensions accumulating in arrears in Imo State.

While they were working out a solution, Ihedioha also set up an independent Pension Committee under the supervision of the then Chief Technical Adviser of his government- Barr. P. G. U Madu- a highly respected legal and management expert. That committee had seasoned professionals in the areas of Pension, Finance, Administration, Civil Service and also members of the National Union of Pensioners Imo State Branch. The work of these committees resulted in the following:

a. Engagement of a professional pension consultant- CROESUS Integrated Ltd- a highly skilled pension reform consulting firm.

b. Recruitment of over 800 Imo graduates with computer skills on ad-hoc basis

c. Acquisition of over 400 laptop computers for Imo State Government

d. Acquisition of 27 Computer Severs for Imo State Government

e. One week intensive Training of Pension staff and the ad-hoc staff

f. One month biometric and data capture exercise of all pensioners in the State Civil Service and Local Government Service, which has been adjudged the best, most humane and most transparent verification exercise ever conducted, by no less a group then the pensioners themselves.

For the very first time after the verification exercise, Imo State had a comprehensive digital database of all its pensioners, authenticated by their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN). This eliminated the dubious process of manual pension calculation and double loading which was costing Imo State Government an excess of over N200m monthly. The only exception to this was pensioners residing abroad who were to be captured as soon as they returned to the State. All these actions were completed in a record two and half months from inauguration of the Pension Committee to the completion of the exercise and setting up of the digital infrastructure.

The pension payment process was follows:

a. The list of pensioners with their BVN and corresponding entitlements was uploaded to the computer system of the Accountant General AG of the State, who is the only person that has the authority to the payment module on his computer (no other person can pay, even the Pension Commission Chairman cannot).

b. The AG funds the account through which he pays. The account name is IMO STATE GOVERNMENT PENSION ACCOUNT currently domiciled in Zenith Bank.

c. This account is a non-checking account such that even the AG cannot withdraw money from it. Rather after payment every month, the leftover funds (if any), automatically returns to the particular government account from where the AG raised them.

This is the fraud/interference proof system the Ihedioha administration put in place. The consultant does not have anything to do with the pension funds, only the AG does. Many consultants bided for the pension job in Imo State and the cheapest was for N1.8bn, others were above N2bn. Ihedioha ignored all the costly proposals and decided to handle the Pension Reforms in a direct labor manner. He used the skill of members of the Committees, Government Appointees, then got a Consultants to supervise the process. All these were at a cost below N500m including the cost of 400 laptops, 27 servers, training over 850 people, logistics, allowance of ad-hoc staff and the Consultant’s fees.

Upon the removal of Ihedioha by the Supreme Court on the 14th January, 2020, the Consultant CROESUS Int. Ltd. engaged senior officials of the Hope Uzodinma administration and even met with the Governor. The Consultants provided every piece of information the new government asked for and even more. But rather than build on the gains of the Ihedioha government on Pension Reforms, the current administration appointed a fresh consultant- AFRISOFT and was bent on going back to the pre-Ihedioha pension era where there was no credible database.

FOR THE RECORDS: The Ihedioha administration paid pensions for five consecutive months commencing immediately after the verification exercise from August to December 2019. These payments were made with data from the verification exercise and on the digital platform set up thereafter. For the first time in Imo State, BVN of each individual pensioner was used for direct payment into their Bank accounts. The records of the payment are with the Accountant General as well as the Pension Staff in the Imo State Civil Service and the Local Government Pension office. The payments were all made electronically and the pensioners were promptly notified by Bank alerts.

The joy of Imo Pensioners made them nickname the Chairman of the Pension Commission under Ihedioha administration “Mr Alert” for the consistency and frequency of Bank Alerts they received for their pensions.

By the time the Supreme Court removed Ihedioha, the Pension Commission office under his administration left 5 Computer servers and 50 laptop computers with the Pension Office in the Accountant Generals Office, Treasury House, Owerri. Those servers contained the pension database as well as verification details of later exercises done in December 2019 and January 2020 that have not been processed and uploaded to the Pension payroll. The Consultant CROESUS Int Ltd forwarded, the contents of the digital database to the consultant (AFRISOFT) appointed by the present administration, of which they acknowledged receipt. The 22 computer servers and 350 laptops procured and used for the Pension Verification and Data Capture exercise were left at the custody of the Government House Store department.

The Ihedioha administration paid pensions for 5 months up to date from August, 2019 to December, 2019. Pensions were paid up to date until his administration was removed in January 14, 2020. In fact by the time the Supreme Court removed Ihedioha on the 14th January, he had already made January payroll approvals. That was why salaries and pensions were paid seamlessly in January. The whole trouble started from February, 2020 when the current governor effectively became responsible for payment of salaries and pensions.

The illegally imposed Hope Uzodinma administration has adduced all manner of excuses as reason for their failure not to pay pensions up to date from non-availability of the Ihedioha pension reform database, to blaming Pensioners for not providing their BVN or other verification details. In most cases they selectively pay Pensioners from Level 1-10 leaving from Level 11 upwards. In other cases they deliberately pay a selected few to placate the media that pensions have been paid. Those who didn’t receive their pensions are labeled ghost pensioners or guilty of not providing information up to date.

WHY THEN ARE THE PENSIONERS PROTESTING REGULARLY?

The Pensioners are being owed various months of pension already, ranging from three, four or five months. The Pensioners are simply fighting to ensure their case do not relapse to the Okorocha era where they were owed arrears up to twenty months thirty six, forty eight months. Ihedioha administration may not have cleared arrears of two months owed for the period of June-July, 2020 pre-verification period, but he gave them something to cheer. Regular payment of pensions running along with payment of salaries was a major achievement of the Ihedioha administration.

Under Ihedioha the pensioners were not restive because they saw fidelity and guarantee that the days mountain pension arrears had become a thing of the past. For the period Ihedioha administration stabilized the Imo pension payment, pensioners received their alerts at convinience. Even the pension verification exercise by the Ihedioha administration gave the pensioners so much to cheer. Pensioners were captured at their various LGAs. Food and health care personnel were provided in all the center. Arrangements was made for Pensioners who couldn’t appear at the capture center due to health challenges to be captured in their homes or hospital.

The Pensioners are simply saying they do not want to return to Egypt- the era of pension arrears during the pre-Ihedioha verification era. The Hope Uzodinma administration should be sincere and come clean. He should explain to Imo people why he is unable to keep up with the pension system which Emeka Ihedioha’s short lived administration placed on auto cruise.

Imolites know the truth and the people that matter most in pension matters – the Imo pensioners themselves will ever be the best judges.

It is unfortunate the monumental setback the Supreme Court decision of 14th January, 2020 has put Imo State.

Resource credit to Sir Chime Aliliele,
Former Executive Chairman, Imo State Pension Commission
in the Ihedioha Imo Administration.

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

Domestic violence is a violence or other abuse in a marriage.
Domestic violence could involve any body but I’m looking at it in a family setting between a man and his wife.

Domestic violence includes

  • Physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religion reproductive and sexual abuse.

Many people are going through a lot in marriages today, some Christan homes inclusive. This has caused a lot of harms in homes, churches and the society at large. So many women have lost their lives in the process,men inclusive but women are mostly at the receiving end. And they endure mostly even to the point of loosing their lives. This they do because of:

  1. The love they have for their spouse
  2. Because of their children
  3. What the society will say about them
  4. Because of their faith and religion.

Please when beating and sexual molestation becomes the case in your home, there’s need for separation.

Now in as much as the Bible frowns at divorce, I don’t think it’ll be reasonable for one to remain in an abusive marriage where his/her life is a stake. The same children you think about will still be maltreated, neglected and will be forced to face horrible situations the moment you are gone. The same society you are thinking of what they will say will still blame you for not speaking out on time. Your making heaven is even very slim because I don’t think your heart is clean in that condition. Your bad thoughts, unforgiveness and bitterness is enough to send you to hell. And instead of you to commit murder, I think you should separate if that’s the only option left.

Many women are going through alot. When a domestic violence involves life threatening abuses, there’s need for you to seek for help.

Many women have died in this process. Pls being born again doesn’t mean your brain should be suspended. Yes divorce is a sin but you shouldn’t die either because you are married. You are being asked to keep praying often times, yes but you could do that also while away. Many women are dying silently. Women please speak out in such conditions, don’t keep quiet. Make sure the problem is not from you. Make sure you are not the cause of it.

I have seen a woman beating blue black by her husband. Not once not twice. Infact the man always use cane,belt etc on her. And she’s asked to keep praying. What if she die one day? What if she couldn’t take it any longer and tries to defend herself and kill her partner in the process, what will be her lot?

Women should take the necessary steps the moment they see that things are getting out of hand.

Try to see how you could save the situation by involving your spiritual leaders, your both families,the people your partner respects so much and if there’s no changes please take a break while you pray and take the necessary steps to save your marriage.

Pls note that your being away is for the mean time. Even while away you are to remain and keep your body. It’s not a time to go about messing up. If you do that you are commenting sin. You are to maintain sexual purity. Even when your partner is doing otherwise. The only time remarriage is possible is when one partner is dead. See Romans 7:2,1cor.7:39.

Neighbors should as well look out for their fellow women/men. Please speak out for them. Some of them are in a tight corner and can’t help themselves.

Stay tuned for the next post on this same topic!

Say no to domestic violence.

What’s your take on this? Share your opinion.
Will you allow your daughter, sister, brother,son go through domestic violence?
What will you have them do;the abused?

By Chika Helen Nwabueze’

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

By Oladimeji Ramon

A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.

The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’

The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”

Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.

It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.

“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”

The group said the organisers of the #EndSARS protests deserved commendation for the resourcefulness, transparency and accountability which they demonstrated.

The group condemned “the growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for government reprisals.”

It said, “Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President should stop all these acts of witch-hunt.”

The FSD solicited support for the Lagos State Government to rebuild and replace the vandalised public assets.

  • PunchNg

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday

By Richard Partington

The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.

The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.

Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.

The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.

Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.

The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.

The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.

It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

  • TheGuardian

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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