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The Federal Government has directed the immediate payment of February salaries to enable workers wishing to travel for Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly election to do so without much difficulties.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council.
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) observed that federal workers usually received their salaries between 25th and 30th of each month.
But, the minister disclosed that already the relevant authorities had been directed to commence the payment of the salaries to the federal workers from February 19.
According to him, this is to enable the civil servants planning to travel for the elections to do so before Saturday.
“On the part of the Federal Government also, we decided that to make it easy for those who will want to go back to vote, salary payment started yesterday (Tuesday) as opposed to the normal 25th of every month.
“This is just to ease the burden of people who want to go back and cast their vote,’’ he said.
The minister added that the council deliberated and reviewed some of the palliatives put in place to help people return to cast their votes.
He said the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), with a membership of about 50,000 had agreed to cushion the effect of the postponement by reducing the price of pump price of petrol from N145 to 140 from February 21 to 25.
The minister said the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) with about two million members and operates motor parks in all the 774 local government areas across the country had offered to provide discount to travellers.
“This discount is also to encourage voters who would have normally been disenfranchised as a result of INEC’s postponement. This discount is also valid between February 21 and 25.
“Arik and Aero airlines have also thrown in their own incentives. Aero contractors have offered 50 percent discount to all travelers who present their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) at the purchasing point.
“Arik will be selling their one way ticket at N16,000 to any destination across the country. This is to support Nigerians looking to travel to cast their vote. The discount is valid between the 18th of February and the 11th of March.
“All these are aimed at encouraging voters who might have been disenfranchised by the postponement,” he said.
NAN reports many who travelled to their voting destinations were forced to return to their bases following the postponement of the general elections.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had on Saturday, shifted the Presidential and National Assembly elections to February 23.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said he briefed the council on latest economic statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
Udoma explained that the economic indices released by the National Bureau of Statistics “are very positive and reassuring by the growth numbers.’’
The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winfred Oyo-Eta, who spoke on the eight new permanent secretaries sworn in by President Buhari, said their postings would be made public later.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has declared tomorrow, Friday, February 22, 2019, as a public holiday, in preparation for the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The Ministry of Interior in a statement on Wednesday, however, excluded bankers and those offering essential services across the nation.
“Federal Government declares Friday 22, February 2019 as work-free day. Those providing essential duties and bankers are excluded.
“The work-free day is to enable citizens return to their poling units for the rescheduled Presidential & National Assembly elections.
“Security agencies have been directed to ensure safety of lives and property before, during and after the general election,” the statement read.