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How Jonathan Stopped First-class Travel Among Ministers In 2012– Ex-minister

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Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Fellow Press

Former Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, has disclosed that former President Goodluck Jonathan restricted each of his ministers to the use of only two cars during the fuel subsidy removal crisis in 2012.

He stated that Jonathan also stopped members of his cabinet from travelling in first class with a view to providing more funds for other relevant government activities.

According to him, though some ministers didn’t comply with his directive, the ex-president told them to reflect on the sufferings Nigerians were going through by reducing the cost of governance.

The former minister spoke on the heels of the N27.5tn budget estimates for the 2024 fiscal year tagged the ‘Budget of Hope’ presented by President Bola Tinubu and currently being scrutinised by the National Assembly.

There have been mixed reactions from the public and the joint National Assembly Committees on the huge amount allocated to some items of ministries and agencies of the government in the proposed budget.

The Committee on Trade and Industry had frowned on the allocation of N1bn for a foreign trip to Geneva, Switzerland, by the Ministry of Trade and Investment.

The lawmaker representing Edo North Senatorial District, Adams Oshiomhole, at the defence of the 2024 budget of the ministry, cautioned against travelling with over-bloated teams, thereby increasing the cost of governance.

The State House had also earmarked N9.5bn for the purchase of tyres for bulletproof vehicles, Sport Utility Vehicles, operational vehicles, plain cars, and the construction of an office complex for Special Advisers and Senior Special Assistants.

Earlier, the sum of N160bn was appropriated to purchase SUVs for lawmakers of the National Assembly.

Speaking in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, the former minister expressed the need to reduce the cost of governance.

He said Nigerians would have hailed the National Assembly if they had reflected on the sufferings of the people by using part of the funds on constituencies and purchasing Nigerian cars.

He said, “I remember in January 2012, during the issue of the fuel subsidy. That was the first time the former president, Goodluck Jonathan, wanted to take the issue of fuel subsidy head-on. I remember at one of the meetings, former President Jonathan told us that as ministers, we could no longer travel first class.

“He also said we could no longer move around with sirens and we could only go out with our car and one other backup car. He said we needed to reflect sensitivity to the feelings of the people. Some people complied and some others didn’t comply, but the principle was very clear, and we also tried to adjust.

“I tried to imagine a National Assembly where a decision is taken that, given the situation of the country, they (National Assembly) are going to buy from Nigeria cars like Innoson Motors and they can use some part of the money for their constituency. I can’t imagine how Nigerians would hail them if that kind of decision were taken.”

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Accept FG offer above N60,000 as new minimum wage, Opeyemi Bamidele to labour

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The Senate Leader, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, APC, Ekiti Central has pleaded with the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC
to accept whatever the federal government offered them above N60,000 as the new minimum wage.

Bamidele urged the NLC and TUC to toe the path of dialogue and peace in the negotiation of a new minimum wage, which the President had promised to send a bill to the National Assembly for this purpose.

The Senate Leader has reiterated the need for Nigerians to demonstrate more patriotic spirit and oneness in their daily activities as the nation journeys through its socio-political trajectory towards the promised land.

He made the call in an Eid-el-Kabir message by his Directorate of Media and Public Affairs on Sunday, just as he highlighted some achievements of the administration of President BolaTinubu.

Bamidele said, “The federal government has conceded to N60,000, which translates to a 100 percent increase. But both NLC and TUC turned down this offer, leading to a two-day industrial action.

“The federal government has promised to make more concessions in this respect. As the federal government reveals its new offer, I plead with the organised labour to accept it in the national interest. The economy will remain in this condition. Collectively, we are taking multi-pronged measures to reverse disturbing economic indicators.”has conceded to N60,000, which translates to a 100 percent increase. But both NLC and TUC turned down this offer, leading to a two-day industrial action.

“The federal government has promised to make more concessions in this respect. As the federal government reveals its new offer, I plead with the organised labour to accept it in the national interest. The economy will remain in this condition. Collectively, we are taking multi-pronged measures to reverse disturbing economic indicators.”

While identifying with all Muslim faithful nationwide, Bamidele who noted that Nigerians, regardless of religion and tribes, should team up with and rally support for the Tinubu administration to safely steer the ship of the nation into a successful end, emphasised that no nation could travel the journey of national rebirth alone without the unwavering support of its citizens not minding their political, cultural and social backgrounds and orientations.

He assured that the current administration would leave no stone unturned in alleviating the economic hardship being faced by the majority of Nigerians and re-offer them a sense of pride in their home country.

In the spirit of the season, the Senate Leader urged all Muslims to emulate love and good neighbourliness exemplified by Prophet Mohammed (SWAT) during his time and how he related very well with people of other faiths and nationalities.

Bamidele who appealed that the ongoing reengineering efforts of the Tinubu Administration could only yield democratic dividends in an atmosphere devoid of insecurity, but where lives and property are protected, said: “Just to mention a few among ongoing projects like the 700 kilometres Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, the establishment of N50 Billion Pulako Initiative and annual recruitment of 30,000 new police personnel are Key Performance Indicators of this government.

“Only recently, this government declared a state of emergency in agriculture and launched the National Agricultural Development Fund with N100 billion, in addition to the Dry Season Farming Initiative and the Green Imperative Programme to ensure food security across the land.

“All these and other components of the 8-point Renewed Hope Agenda require the patriotic support and prayers for their deliverables to multiply at the doorsteps of Nigerians in the remaining three years of the first term of this government.”

He further urged the Muslim faithful to use the season of Eid el-Kabir to pray for the leaders of the country for divine wisdom and understanding that can match the enormous tasks of leading the country especially at a time when economic realities are not favourable around the world.

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FG updates on UAE lifting visa ban on Nigeria

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The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, has revealed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government will soon announce the date for lifting the visa ban that has been imposed on Nigerian travellers.

This information was shared during an interview with Otega Ogra, Senior Special Assistant to President Bola Tinubu, which is available on the official YouTube page of the State House of Nigeria.

Keyamo acknowledged that while a resolution was reached between President Bola Tinubu and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during President Tinubu’s working visit to the UAE in September 2023, additional processes were required before the ban could be officially lifted.

He said the processes have now been completed, paving the way for the imminent announcement from the UAE government.

“After that high-level meeting, Mr. President, credited to him, made things very easy for us all. We did our follow-ups as his ministers. We have done everything. We have resolved everything.

“Just wait for the announcement from the UAE government, and that announcement is imminent,” Keyamo stated.

The Minister further mentioned that he is aware of the specific date when the travel restriction will be lifted, but he emphasized that it is up to the UAE government to make the official announcement.

The lifting of the ban is expected to restore ease of travel for Nigerian citizens to the UAE, thereby enhancing bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.

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