The Late 5: Show us where to get funds or keep quiet about our borrowing – Fashola; NURTW says it will join labour strike | Other top stories

These are the stories that drove the conversation today:

Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has asked critics of the Muhammadu Buhari admnistration over its borrowings, urging them to tell the administration how to raise funds for the abandoned projects in the country.

Speaking with reporters during a two-day retreat in Sokoto, Fashola blamed the delay of the 2018 budget by the National Assembly as the reason for its decision to resort to borrowing to complete abandoned projects, stating that the Buhari government had to borrow through the Ministry of Finance and invest on roads to enhance productivity, reduce journey, cost and time for business in order to generate income and wealth creation to payback the loans.

“Those who complain we borrow too much should tell us where else to find funds. We are not raising tax and if we do, they will still complain,” he stated.

The Senate has said it will on resumption of plenary further probe the claims by the NNPC, on diversion of dividends from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to the satisfaction of Nigerians.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who gave the assurance while reacting to questions from newsmen at the Ilorin airport said he had received a lot of calls from Nigerians to probe the claim, adding that “the revelations by the NNPC GMD have justified the need for this investigation and they have shown that we are acting in good faith.”

“Let me assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We are confident the adhoc committee will do a thorough job. All the issues will be unearthed,” he said.

Ahead of the nationwide strike by organised Labour, expected to commence midnight of Tuesday, the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), on Monday announced that it would join the industrial action, should government fail to resolve their differences with the workers. 

According to the Chairman of the NURTW in Lagos, Tajudeen Agbede, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, “we are an affiliate of the NLC, we shall obey its directives. So, we have no choice than to join the strike anytime we’re called upon to do so.”

The NNPC had on Sunday however debunked reports of an impending petroleum products scarcity in the country as a result of the strike, assuring that it has a stock of petroleum products to sustain a minimum of 39 days sufficiency and about 25 days availability on land.

In a related development, Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, has appealed to the Federal Government and Organised Labour to shift from their extreme positions and create a new middle ground in the negotiations for the new minimum wage.

In a statement by his Media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki urged both parties to make paramount the interest of the people, noting that any labour strike will cause inconvenience and discomfort to Nigerians, who he said were already battling with the harsh economic conditions in the country.

“While the government and labour are representing the interest of the people, it is important to also ensure we avoid any action that will not show sensitivity and sensibility to the plight of the people,’’ he said.

Former Ekiti Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has cautioned the Federal government against increasing the pump price of petrol from N145 per litre to N185 in March 2019, stressing that smuggling is an outdated excuse for increasing petrol pump price and will no longer be accepted by Nigerians.

In a statement by his media aide, Lere Olayinka, Fayose alleged that the delay in increment till March is owing to its effects on the February 2019 elections, pointing out that the presentation to the Senate last week by the NNPC that N145 fuel pump price was unrealistic and that the pump price of petrol ought to be N185 per litre was a way to prepare the minds of Nigerians for the planned increment.

“Nigerians are suffering. Millions of jobs have been lost and even many of those still employed are not gainfully employed. The federal government must not add to the burden of the suffering masses by increasing the pump price of petrol as being planned,” he stated.

And stories from around the world:

Seventy eight (78) students and their principal have been kidnapped by armed separatists from a Presbyterian school in Nkwen village in Cameroon, Governor Deben Tchoffo said Monday.

The United States imposed strict sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and industrial sectors on Monday and threatened more action to stop Tehran from pursuing “outlaw” policies, steps the Islamic Republic condemned as economic warfare and vowed to defy. (Reuters)

Child suicides in Japan are the highest they have been in more than three decades, the country’s education ministry says, with schools saying the reasons behind about 140 of the deaths are unknown as the students did not leave a note. (BBC)

Delegations have been grilling Saudi Arabia on its human rights record at the UN in Geneva as it faces a torrent of international condemnation over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Al Jazeera)

The outgoing commander of American troops in South Korea voiced support on Monday for controversial measures to reduce military activity along the border with North Korea, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepared for talks with North Korean officials on denuclearization and plans for a second leaders’ summit. (Reuters)

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