A two-percent increase in Ecological Fund allocation to States of the Federation has been recommended by the Committee on Environment at 2014 National Conference in Abuja.
A report from the conference has revealed that the Committee on Environment which is headed by Florence Ita-Giwa as Chairman and Yadoma Bukar Mandara as Vice Chairman said that the increase became necessary in view of the expanding cost of battling ecological issues in several States resulting partially from global climatic changes.
Florence Ita-Giwa in a discussion with journalists informed that the two percent increase towards bringing the total Ecological Fund allocation to five percent is still a drop in the ocean of needs. She emphasized that the Committee in its final report suggested the establishment of environmental courts nationwide which will be responsible for adjudicating on environmental pollution offences by individuals, groups and organizations.
The Chairman noted that such a court would be opened to hear cases involving gas flaring, desertification, erosion and oil spillage that have completely damaged the environment across the country. The Committee also recommended that compensation should be paid to the displaced Bakassi people over the loss of oil funds and aquatic wealth.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Richard Egbuna, who appeared before the Committee on Public Finance and Economy stated that the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission was encroaching on their constitutional duties. He told the Committee that the Commission has harmonized the salaries of the military, paramilitary, the police, the academia and the Civil Service. Adding, due to constant agitations by medical doctors, their salary has not been stable.
On the lingering strike by Polytechnic lecturers, Egbuna disclosed that the strike is not about salaries; stating that a Government panel set up in 2002 agreed that Polytechnics should cross the bar of level 14. He observed that during the implementation of the decision, staff were promoted one level ahead of their positions which accrued some unpaid arrears of over N40 billion.
He pointed out that the names of the workers of Staff Schools and Guest Houses run by Polytechnics and other Institutions which are basically private ventures have routinely been smuggled into the Institutions Staff list and payrolls, a development which he noted has left the Government with a bill of about N40 billion. He inferred that the said Commission also discovered that the Chief Executives of these institutions do increase their salaries at will.
While speaking on call duty allowance for doctors, the Chairman said that a unit of call duty was eight hours and the maximum unit payable is 40 units in one month. He further explained that doctors resist being put on roster to determine when they are on call duty, and that has resulted to every doctor getting 40 units a month whether they are on call or not.
On minimum wage, he observed that the Commission was created when the minimum wage was N250.00 (two hundred and fifty naira) until the year 2000 when it was moved to N5, 500.00; pointing out that job evaluation which was last carried out 42 years ago has been brought into the purview of the National Salaries and Wages Commission. “The Commission is in the process of carrying out another job evaluation,” he added.
He also said that the Commission is carrying out a regional pair survey and has three full time Commissioners and four part-time members. “The Committee on Citizen and Immigration agreed that Section 29 Subsection 4(b) of the Nigerian Constitution which deals with the Right of the Nigerian Woman to renounce her citizenship should be amended to 18 years,” he indicated.
“The Committee agreed that the phrase or clause which states that the President should appoint an indigene of a State as Minister should be repealed and that the President could appoint anybody who is resident in a State as the nominee of that State. The Committee also recommended the creation of a special unit within the Nigeria Immigration Service devoted to checking the influx of illegal immigrants.”