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Indignity of Labour: The Bitter Tales Inside Nigeria Flour Mills’ Sugar Eestate

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Sunti Flour Mill Estate
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By NGIJ team of Oluwasegun Abifarin and Olawale Abideen

The smoke of accusation and counter accusation has continued to rise over the indignity of labour and bitter working condition by workers of Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Limited, a subsidiary of Flour Mills Nigeria Plc. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Located on the banks of River Niger, in Mokwa, Niger state, Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Limited features 17, 000 hectares of irrigable farmland and a Sugar mill that process 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane per day. At full capacity, the estate is expected to produce 1 Million tons of Sugarcane which roughly translates into 100,000 metric tons of sugar yearly.

When Flour Mills of Nigeria took up loans amounting to about 60 Billion Naira facilitated by the Nigerian Government to acquire and complete the Sunti Farms in order to establish a sugarcane farm and set up a factory, the workers and host communities thought their sweet and happy moment had arrived.

And on 15th March, 2018, when the company was officially launched amidst pomp and pageantry, expectations and hopes were raised as there were promises of better living for host communities, their youths and the workers.

This eventually turned to a forlorn dream going by the layers of worker/labour indignity going on in the company.

One star case till date is the story of Mr. Amusa Monsuru Adewale who joined Nigeria Flour Mills on the 9th of April, 2014 as a Draftsman. The Human Resource Manager, Mr. Chatjock Chom on the basis of the strong recommendation from Adewale’s boss, Mr. John Beverley, confirmed his appointment as an Architect and also as a senior staff with job class 8 reward level 10.

In the course of Adewale’s employment, the company seconded him to Sunti Golden Sugar Estates Ltd where he has been working directly under the supervision of Engr. Akeem Kolawole Gbadamosi.

But on the 15th day of September, 2016 Mr. Adewale had an industrial accident on site which affected his left eye. Despite the accident, he continued to work diligently in the company, but on the 7th day of November, 2016 his was diagnose with severe keratitis on the left eye and he was placed on drugs. After some months, the Doctor recommended a Cornea transplant surgery for a clearer vision.

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On the 3rd of June 2018, he received the bill for the surgery which he submitted to the Human Resource department. Prior to the submission of the bill, Adewale alleged that his boss, Gbadamosi had threatened on different occasions, to sack him “without any reason.” And upon submission of the bill, Adewale said he received two queries within one week.

After answering the query, Gbadamosi recommended to the Human Resource department for him to be sacked, but the recommendation was declined and instead a 5 day suspension was given to Adewale on the 2nd of July 2018.

After his resumption on the 9th of July, Gadamosi demoted him to the position of a store keeper .And by a letter dated 9th of April, 2019, Adewale was sacked, citing medical grounds as the reason.

Adewale’s Counsel, Chief Afe Babalola, SAN however disputed this, saying his client is medically fit to undertake his responsibilities and that no medical examination was conducted to support the company’s claim.

In a bid to resolve the matter amicably, Flour Mills invited Adewale and his lawyers to a meeting in Apapa, Lagos on 21st June, 2019 by 10:00a.m, whereat it was agreed to convey the resolution to the management of the company and get back to Adewale’s team to know the next alternative to explore. Till date, nothing has happened.

Another sordid case is that of Adeleke Wuraola, a Procurement Manager Sunti Golden Estate. As one of the oldest employees in the company, he was reputed to be very intelligent and good at his job, but he allegedly had issues with the wife of the General Manger.

It was gathered that for years, they plotted his removal until he fell into the trap of one Magdalene, a female staff allegedly brought by the GM and his wife to do the hatchet job. “Magdalene does not have the intelligence and confidence to come up with this grandiose scheme. She is being pushed and encouraged by someone in management,” Adeleke said.

For now the GM is said to have brought a family friend who is out of job from South Africa to replace Adeleke.

The case of Dr. Akande Yusuf who manages the Sunti Clinic is another sore point. Yusuf, had reported verbal assault and several episodes of interference in patient management as well as the open confrontation on the professionalism of the medical team at the clinic by the General Manager’s wife.

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Specifically Yusuf recalled that on January 30th, 2019, the wife of the General Manager came to the clinic, assembled all the clinic staffs and dressed him down that he is “useless, unprofessional, and that she is ashamed of me.”

The medical doctor added that GM wife added that “she is the one paying my salary and that she can fire me if she wants; and when the GM’s wife is talking, I should not say anything ever again that I am disrespectful for thinking I can say something; that we are all fucking idiots.”

In his letter to the HR Manager, dated February 14, 2019, Yusuf lamented that “I have been brooding over these utterances in the last two weeks against the background of prior confrontational threats and intimidation from the GM and his wife on 18th of October 2018 in which case a lot of hurtful words and insults were hauled at me.

“Permit me to sincerely note that the derogatory remarks, verbal abuse, offensive words, threats, emotional and psychological subjugation from both the General Manager and his wife are having their toll on me and by extension, the other medical staffs. Our morale are down.”

On the frosty relationship between the company and the host community, Samuel Iboroma, FMN Corporate Communication Manager had maintained that Sugar Golden Sugar Estates has enjoyed very cordial relations with its host communities.

He also sent a letter of appreciation sent by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar acknowledging the receipt of four thousand cartons of chicken indomine noodles donated to the community by FMN recently.

But a recent letter by the host community addressed to the Chairman of FMN points to another direction. They complained that the Sunti GM “has been showing so much disrespect to the community leaders and the citizen together with the Community Liaison Officer, Mr. Samuel.”

According to them, “the community no longer has source of income for our livelihood because of the activities of the Company and the autocratic nature of the GM has also led to the termination of the appointment of many skilled, and experienced personnel from the company.”

Sources informed us that communities such as Kusogi, Jaagi, Batagi, Kupanti, etc suffered most from the activities of Sunti Golden Estate.

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On the allegation of poor working condition, Iboroma argued that the “assertions all wrong,” adding that “like most of our investments in the food value chain, we are creating jobs and empowering our communities through active collaboration.”

But some of the workers who spoke to our correspondent in the estate last week countered Iboroma’s assertion arguing that “slavery continues here.” They pointed to the meagre salary and the un-abating casualization of workers as a major twin evil. “A graduate earns N30, 000 here, an amount too little for the so called expatriates to spend at a shopping,” one of the workers told us last week.

Attempts to get the company’s reaction to the latest allegations were futile last week. There was no reply to mails and messages sent to Iboroma’s through phone, wattsapp and emails address.

Instead, Sources at Sunti hinted early this week that the company is planning to bring some selected journalists to the Estate to ”come and see things for themselves.”

“It is expected that journalists will be around within this week, and they have been improving on things they believe could implicate them. Presently, they have been going about begging workers not to speak ill of the company,” a worker told our correspondent last week.

Strangely, some of the journalists have also been calling our correspondent to back off from the story, pleading that “Flour Mills is their client.”

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

Business and Economy

IMF Predicts Drop In Global Economic Growth In 2023-24

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International Monetary Fund, IMF
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicts that global economic growth is projected to fall from 3.5 per cent in 2022 to 3.0 per cent in both 2023 and 2024.

This is according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update Report for July 2023: “Near-Term Resilience, Persistent Challenges” released on Tuesday. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The report said though the forecast for 2023 was modestly higher than predicted in the April 2023 WEO, it remained weak by historical standards.

“Compared with projections in the April 2023 WEO, growth has been upgraded by 0.2 percentage points for 2023, with no change for 2024.

“The forecast for 2023–24 remains well below the historical (2000–19) annual average of 3.8 per cent.

“It is also below the historical average across broad income groups, in overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as well as per capita GDP terms. ”

The report also said that advanced economies continued to drive the decline in growth from 2022 to 2023, with weaker manufacturing, as well as idiosyncratic factors, offsetting stronger services activity.

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“For advanced economies, the growth slowdown projected for 2023 remained significant, from 2.7 per cent in 2022 to 1.5 per cent in 2023.

“About 93 per cent of advanced economies are projected to have lower growth in 2023, and growth in 2024 among this group of economies is projected to remain at 1.4 per cent.”

While the report said in emerging markets and developing economies, the growth outlook was broadly stable for 2023 and 2024, although with notable shifts across regions.

“For emerging market and developing economies, growth is projected to be broadly stable at 4.0 per cent in 2023 and 4.1 per cent in 2024, with modest revisions of 0.1 percentage point for 2023 and –0.1 percentage point for 2024.”

The report showed growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to decline to 3.5 per cent in 2023 before picking up to 4.1 per cent in 2024.

It revealed that economic growth in Nigeria in 2023 and 2024 is projected to gradually decline, in line with April WEO projections, reflecting security issues in the oil sector.

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The report showed that economic growth in Nigeria is projected at 3.2 per cent in 2023 and decline to 3.0 in 2024.

The report said Global headline inflation was expected to fall from 8.7 per cent in 2022 to 6.8 per cent in 2023 and 5.2 per cent in 2024.

“Underlying (core) inflation is projected to decline more gradually, and forecasts for inflation in 2024 have been revised upward. ”

It said inflation could remain high and even rise if further shocks occur, including those from an intensification of the war in Ukraine and extreme weather-related events, triggering more restrictive monetary policy.

The report said financial sector turbulence could resume as markets adjust to further policy tightening by central banks.

“China’s recovery could slow, in part as a result of unresolved real estate problems, with negative cross-border spillovers.

“Sovereign debt distress could spread to a wider group of economies.”

It, however, said on the upside, inflation could fall faster than expected, reducing the need for tight monetary policy, and domestic demand could again prove more resilient.

The report said in most economies, the policy priorities remained to achieve sustained disinflation while ensuring financial stability.

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“Therefore, central banks should remain focused on restoring price stability and strengthening financial supervision and risk monitoring.

“Should market strains materialise, countries should provide liquidity promptly while mitigating the possibility of moral hazard.

“They should also build fiscal buffers, with the composition of fiscal
adjustment ensuring targeted support for the most vulnerable.

The report said improvements to the supply side of the economy would facilitate fiscal consolidation and a smoother decline of inflation toward target levels.

NAN

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Debt Servicing: Gombe State Govt Spent N33bn in 4 Years – Transition Report

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Chairman of the Gombe State Transition Management Committee, Dr Ibrahim Daudu
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  • N6 billion for settlement of four years backlog of gratuities owed retirees from 2014 to 2017

The Gombe State Government has paid about N33billion from the N100bn debt inherited from the administration of former governor Ibrahim Dankwambo. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({});

The Chairman of the Gombe State Transition Management Committee, Dr Ibrahim Daudu, made this known while submitting the 2023 transition report to Gov. Inuwa Yahaya on Monday.

Daudu said that Gov. Yahaya also paid N6 billion to settle four years backlog of gratuities owed retirees from 2014 to 2017.

According to him, the payment to retirees is the largest payment of gratuity made by any government in Gombe State.

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“During the course of our work, we were able to determine that out of over N100 billion in debt inherited from the previous administration, your administration has paid approximately N33 billion,” he said.

The chairman also stated that the state government within the period was able to attract N26 billion as a result of its prudent public financial management through the implementation of the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability programme.

He said that in view of the state’s prudent resource management, Gombe State ranked fourth most successful state in public financial management in the country.

While commending Yahaya for effectively managing the finances of the state in spite of the huge economic challenges caused by COVID-19 and economic recession, the Daudu-led committee urged the government to boost the state’s internally generated revenue going forward.

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The 11-member committee which was inaugurated on  May 26 further advised the state government to within the next four years, reform the civil service while prioritising job creation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the major responsibilities assigned to the committee was to develop a blueprint for consolidating on the achievements made during Yahaya’s first administration.

Also, to incorporate lessons learned, identify priorities, policies, and programmes for the new administration.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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Euromoney Awards: GTBank Ranked Best Bank in Nigeria

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Guaratny Trub bank, gtb rank high at euromoney awards for excellency 2023
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Guaranty Trust Bank Ltd. has been ranked the”Best Bank in Nigeria” at the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2023.

The bank said in a statement on Monday that the latest recognition underscored the bank as the leading financial institution in Nigeria. push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Announcing the award, Euromoney said: “Nigeria’s best bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, has continued to do a good job of convincing investors that it is better placed than its key competitors to deal with the risks ahead and perhaps to take advantage of opportunities in economic and policy transition.

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“Despite a difficult operating environment, the bank continues to deliver exceptional results as the flagship franchise of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc.

“It recorded a profit before tax of N214.2 billion, pre-tax return on Equity (ROAE) of 23.6 per cent, and Cost to Income Ratio (CIR) of 48.0 per cent for the period ended, Dec. 31, 2022.”

Euromoney is an authority for global banking and financial markets and the annual awards for excellence, celebrates financial institutions that demonstrate leadership, innovation, and resilience in the markets they operate.

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Commenting on the award, Mrs Miriam Olusanya, Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Ltd., said, “we are honoured to be named the Best Bank in Nigeria by Euromoney.

“This recognition reflects our unwavering commitment to the values of excellence and innovation which form the bedrock of our value proposition as an institution and has guided the mother-brand to achieve remarkable success for over 30 years.

“As part of a thriving financial holding company, we will continue to prioritise service delivery and innovation whilst maintaining our strong financial performance,” she said.

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