Cross River: Workers ignore “No Work No Pay” order of govt as NLC strike continues
By our Admin
The strike called by the Cross River State chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress entered the second day on Tuesday as Civil Servants under the employ of the State ignored a “No Work, No Pay” order issued by government on the previous day.
Government offices remained closed as the Labour leadership issued a counter statement through their Bulletin 7 to the worker.
The NLC bulletin captioned “GOVERNMENT’S NO WORK, NO PAY; AN UNFAIR THREAT”, read thus: “Comrade, you must have seen or heard of Government Press release threatening Workers with No work, No pay. Do not be deterred by this press release. Continue to stay at home.”
Adding, “We believe that our actions are just. How is it a crime that we asked that our dyeing Retirees are paid their Gratuities? How is it a crime that we asked for implementation of our promotions which have been pending for about 10 years? How is it a crime that we request that workers removed from payroll illegally for 10 months now be restored? How is it a crime that we asked that workers employed for two years now be pay rolled? Is a Promotion letter now a Certificate of Service?”
However, the State government statement issued from the office of the Head of Service and signed by his personal secretary, Emmanuel Enene Eke, “directed all Civil/Public Servants to ignore the strike action called by the Nigeria Labour Congress and remain on their duty post as the purported strike action by NLC is illegal and ill-timed.”
“Workers are hereby reminded that the major labour unions responsible for the affairs of the State Civil/Public Servants Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have disassociated themselves from the illegal strike action as the government has implemented the new minimum wage and has commenced phase implementation of other agreements reached with labour even in the face of the current global pandemic with the attendant economic challenges.”
“Workers are further reminded that the principal of NO WORK NO PAY is still in force and any worker who fails to report for work will not be paid his or her salary.”
“A team headed by the Head of Service will visit all MDAs and workers not found on their duty post would be sanctioned in line with the provisions of the Public Service Rule.”
WOMEN IN CROSS RIVER STATE SEEK GENDER INCLUSIVENESS IN COMMUNITY LAND RIGHTS
BY: Nsa Gill
Women from various communities in Akamkpa and Biase local government areas in Cross River State have called for assistance from Environmental Right Action/ Friends of the Earth, ERA/FoEN in other to address increasing cases of land grab, deforestation and to help enhance gender inclusiveness in community land rights.
This was part of the communique reached at by the women who attended a one day workshop organized by Environmental Right Action (ERA)/Friends of Earth Nigeria(FoEN) in collaboration with Community Forest Watch and other stakeholders to deliberate on women inclusiveness in communities.
The workshop with the theme: “Capacity building on Gender mainstreaming to enhance Gender inclusiveness in Community land rights”, held in Akamkpa local government area and participants brought out the increasing incidents of land grabbing and deforestation in various Cross River communities.
Presenting the communique to newsmen, a participant, Mrs. Philomina Umoh stated that the incidence of land, natural vegetation and forest loss was on the increase, which the participants agreed is occasioned by the activities of multinational Agro-based companies operating in their local communities.
According to them, “the activities of this multinational companies has adversely impacted on the livelihood of rural dwellers, women and youth in particular”.
The communiqué which was signed by Bar Mrs. Nkoyo Effiong from Mbarakom, Ntufam Alhaji Itasina (Mbarakom), William Ojobe (Biase), Moses Arikpo(Biase) and 16 others noted thus: “That land grabbing affects the women more than it impact on men basically because the forest serves as the storehouse to the women where they harvest products for livelihood”;
”Land grab has contributed immensely to global warming/climate change and the extinction of snails, bush mango, salad and other forest reserves and resources”.
“That our cultural heritage and values are eroded as our children have lost touch of our cultural values and have less ideas of what some species of wildlife look like”;
“That the emergence and entrance of multinationals and sudden take of our individuals, families and community lands were done without the prior consent of the rural dwellers. Hence, the MOU entered into by government on behalf of communities should be reviewed.”
They observed also ”Shortcomings in existing land-use act of 1978; Non-existence of realistic land-use plan; Poor land management; The impact of land grabbing is only one of the many problems of social and environmental degradation of biodiversity loss and livelihoods resulting from deforestation”.
They made some key demands such as; “Stop all forms of deforestation in our forest”;
“Review all existing MOU’s, and get community people actively involved in the process”;
”Provide for the protection of the rights of youth and women to ownership of the land, particularly the right of widows to the inheritance of lands of their late spouses”. Other key demands include, “Community inclusiveness in conservation and management of their lands”; “Women’s right in oil palm production should be respected”;
“Enhance community women education and inclusiveness in decision making”; “Establish an effective consultation with women by prospective investors”; and “ERA should assist women in Akamkpa/Biase take-up court cases against Wilmar and other multinationals on issues of women marginalization and land grabbing”.
Among the resource persons at the workshop were Dr. Becky Enuoh, Associate Prof. Raphael Offiong and Dr. Maurice Olory, the volunteer Coordinator of Community Forest Watch, Cross River State.
N3.5million COVID-19 relief package for budding gospel artists in Calabar
BY Our Admin
A gospel music competition is holding in Calabar, the Cross River State capital for budding artists with prize-money offers totaling N3.5million for winners.
The organisers, an entertainment outfit known as Dear Shepherd Production have fixed July 10th to 12th 2020 for the competition with the theme “Special Vessels”.
“It is open to those who can sing; youths of all ages, choristers and non-choristers alike,” Victor Shepherd, one of the coordinators the competition noted.
According to him, the 1st prize in the competition is one million naira (N1, 000, 000) for the winner. The 2nd and 3rd prizes are N750, 000 and N500, 000 respectively.
“There are also consolation prizes for early comers who may not make it to winning bracket. There is recording and marketing incentives as well”, he added.
“To participate, registration is ongoing at the Fountain of life Plaza #25 Murtala Mohammed Highway opposite Mobile Filling Station Calabar: contact phone number is 08105597272.”
The organisers further noted that the central idea is to create a platform for upcoming Gospel Artist to showcase their God’s given individual talent and begin to prepare them for a post-COVID 19 lifestyle of self-reliance and economic welfare.
They assured that all necessary preventive measures and protocol of COVID-19 will be observed at the venue of the competition which is a 3 days event; 7.pm daily at Gold City Gospel Ministry Int’l auditorium -#9 Ikot Abasi Obori Street, Calabar.
Dear Shepherd Production is partnering with the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation, Sparkling 93.3Fm as well as some other well-wishers. “We still welcome more partners and sponsors”, they said.
Media, Police should sustain actions to curb increase in Gender-Based Violence
BY: Nsa Gill
The European Union/United Nations (EU-UN) Spotlight Initiative have raised the alarm over increasing number of various forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Cross River and Ebonyi state during the Nationwide lock-down.
As a result, they have called for sustained actions of publicity from media practitioners and due actions towards prosecution from the Nigerian Police to curb the increasing cases of GBV.
The call was made on Monday at the opening of a 2-day media engagement dialogue on ending violence against women and girls organized for select journalists from Cross River State and Ebonyi State by the National Orientation Agency with support from EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.
Giving a remark at the event, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Enugu, Dr. Ibrahim Conteh said Nigeria needs to brace up because of the way things were going in case of the increasing cases of GBV following the lockdown as a consequent of COVID-19.
He said that ‘there is a lot ahead of us as we have responsibility to continue to deliver on our programmes.
"The message of COVID-19 resonates in big cities but in villages people do not care and when you are complacent, it will be difficult to manage and what is happening now. The media has a big role to play on this for the message to get to the communities,” he noted.
"So let us continue to work together to send out these enlightenment massages on COVID-19 and violence against children, Women and Girls at the same time," he said.
Also speaking, Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe ,Communication Officer UNICEF ,Enugu said there seem to be an increase in the incident of rape and other form of violence against women during the lockdown as a lot of people including children's movement were restricted as many of them were now out of school.
Her words; "We cannot sit and wait for the lockdown to be over while there is an alarming rate of violence against women and children this period. The Media should increase and sustain the publicity to curb the wrongful act.”
Adding, "We must all act now and make our voices heard in a meaningful way to end gender based violence by Supporting all forms of platforms that will boost the effort in the campaign against GBV.”
She urged media practitioners to make meaningful noise in a bid to ensure that the public is well sensitized so as to have a better understanding of the menace of GBV ravaging women and children in our communities and society at large.
"The girl child is usually vulnerable due to our laws, culture, constitution as well as religion. We must speak about the spikes because most times the perpetrators are insiders, family members and neighbours.
"Even with what we read in the media, we can still attest that GBV is not yet getting the needed reportage and coverage, sustained media attention can cause great change in the fight against gender based violence.
"The lockdown has its positive side but has also increased the number spate of rape and other forms of GBV in Nigeria and the search light must be beamed on the menace with the view of sensitizing the public and invariably putting an end to it," she said.
On his part, a Child Protection Specialist, also with UNICEF, Mr. Victor Atuchukwu said the are reasons why EU-UN Spolight initiative decided to choose the states for GBV intervention programmes in the selected states adding that they were basically on facts gathered in those states which were not too palatable and the narrative needed to be urgently dealt with .
He also called on journalists to always consider the survivors by portraying the right narratives instead of painting them as victims or further victimizing them.
Atuchukwu who explained that gender which refers to the physical and biological differences between male and female has evolved in context over time due culture and tradition.
He said there was need to consciously enlighten the traditional institution on the negative impact of all forms of GBV adding that ending blame game which he described as unacceptable must stop.
TRADERS SHUT DOWN BUSINESS IN CALABAR OVER HIGH RATE OF KIDNAPPING
BY: Joseph Ephraim
Shops’ owners and traders in Calabar, under the auspices of Calabar Traders Union made good their two days public protest with the shutdown of their businesses to protest the high rate of kidnapping and other criminal activities that have affected their members.
The shutdown of shops and market shades too place on Monday and Tuesday in Calabar with high level of compliance, thereby bringing many business activities to a standstill in the state capital.
Speaking at Bedwell Street, the biggest spare parts hub in Calabar, the Vice President Electrical dealers & Allied product, Akparawa David Esien said the protest is not by traders of Igbo orgin alone but by every person under the auspices of Calabar Traders Union.
He noted that the issue of insecurity in general and kidnapping in particular has become unbearable.
He acknowledged that the State government has recently embarked on a raid on kidnappers den and hideouts of drug dealers, evening demolishing some of their property; “that is commendable. They should continue in that direction. It is commendable but the hoodlums are not resting; they kidnap for ransom. They kidnap people, including our members, are being kidnapped on daily bases.”
“Over 18 of our members have been kidnapped in the last 10 months. As we speak, they are yet to set free one of our patrons, Chief Jude Odinka who has been in captive for about two months. Many of our members have either been kidnapped or attacked; some have died in their captors den.”
"We are closing our shops, shades and markets including timber markets, spare parts market/shops, electrical stores amongst others for two days to protest the incessant kidnap of our members.”
“The situation has degenerated to the kidnap of ordinary traders and not the moguls, that's how bad it is now. We can no longer keep quiet because our members are suffering, some of these traders use loans, while some get goods from importers on credit and pay back after sales.”
"But due to ransom they pay to these criminals they have become perpetual debtors because it seems they now work for the kidnappers. Some have paid as high as 7million naira to regain freedom.”
"We are appealing to the State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade and the police to come to our aid, the two day closure is just a warning to drive home our grievances. The compliance level of the shop closure is high because of the personal pains people have gone through over the level of insecurity.
"We are not happy, we do business in fear, the level of insecurity in Calabar is already out of hands and the state at large, there is an anti-kidnapping law, it should be enforced to the latter. They should beef up security and equip the security agencies”.
Another trader who spoke, Bro Festus Mbanu, Chairman Building Materials Traders Association Calabar, said, “this is our way of letting the authorities know that we are now doing business as traders in fear; most of us no longer go to our shops or business places, because you don't know if you are the next to be kidnapped. Spare parts dealers Association Chairman in Calabar, Obi Ajuluchukwu also urged the government to help security agencies carry out their duty adding that within the last six months about 7 of his members have been abducted.
"Some of my members have been kidnapped more than once, other traders too have been picked up many times, even a pregnant woman (Mrs. Okon) is still in their custody because they could not get the husband when they went for him. Many businesses have either shutdown or relocated from the state because of the situation.
In a reaction on behalf of state government to the shop closure, Dr. Alfred Mboto, the Permanent Secretary State Security Office, regarded the closure as a sectional exercise done by some Igbo traders.
He said, “the union is rather enjoined to encourage the state government on the on-going war against kidnappers, cultists, drug trades, armed robbers and other illegal operations in the state, instead of scuttling the effort of government.”
Also reacting to the issue, the Commissioner for Commerce, Pst Mrs. Rosemary Archibong frowned at the shops shut down without adequate consultations.
While sympathizing with traders over the kidnap incidents of their members, the commissioner assured them that the state government is seriously fighting against criminal activities in the state and so far its efforts is yielding positive results.
She charged them to return to their normal businesses as maximum security will be provided for them.
“Friendship is more responsible for happiness in marriage than love” – Chief Judge CRS BY: Nsa Gill
The Chief Judge of Cross River State, Justice Michael Edem has opined that happiness in marriage is attributable more to the level of friendship the couple attain than love.
Speaking as a Special Guest...