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We can’t afford N110bn ASUU demand for varsities – FG

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  • Again ASUU-FG meeting ends in deadlock

Contrary to the impression given by the government that an end to the prolonged strike by university lecturers was at sight, a meeting held to resolve all lingering issues on Wednesday ended in a deadlock.

Specifically, the meeting attended by representatives of the Federal Government and those of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, was over the poor funding of Universities and the controversy surrounding the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System payment platform.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, told journalists after the meeting that the government could not meet the N110bn demand of ASUU for university revitalisation because of the damaging effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

 

According to him, the Federal Government has offered the union N20bn for revitalisation and N30bn for Earned Academic Allowances, making a total of N50bn as a show of its commitment towards ending the strike.

He said, “There are three issues. revitalization fund where government offered ASUU N20bn as a sign of good faith based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation they had with government in 2009. This present government is still committed to it. That is why we are giving them offers of some fund.”

He also said, “This government is not against revitalization but this government says that because of dire economic situation and  COVID-19, we cannot really pay the N110bn which they are demanding for revitalization.

“We offered N20bn as revitalization fund. On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30bn to all the unions in the universities, making it N50bn all together.

“ASUU is saying that the N30bn should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this N30bn.

“Again, another cardinal issue is the University Transperancy and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS. Today ASUU submitted their document on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.”

Ngige explained that the transition period and how to disburse the Earned Academic Allowances and other entitlements remained unresolved as ASUU wanted an exemption from the IPPIS whereas the government team led by the Accountant General of the Federation insisted on the IPPIS, being the only government approved payment platform.

He said, “So that is where we are for now. So we are all going back to our principals and they will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what federal government has to offer.”

The two teams agreed to reconvene on Friday November 6.

 

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FG establishing oxygen plants in 36 states – NEC

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The National Economic Council (NEC) says the Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states of the federation.

Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi made this known to State House correspondents after a virtual NEC meeting on Friday presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Umahi said that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who chaired the NEC Ad hoc committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ease the lockdown of the economy, presented a report to the council.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states in the country, but currently six states have been provided with oxygen cylinders so far.

“The Federal Government has paid for 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines coming in batches and therefore a considerable amount of the vaccines will come into the country between now and January 2022. Nigeria is now classified among the 50 countries in the green zones.”

Umahi said that NEC also received states’ performance report on COVID-19 from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said that the council was also updated on the global situation of COVID-19.

He said, “Over 237 million confirmed cases and over 4.8 million deaths due to COVID-19. There are now over 6.3 billion vaccine doses administered.  Nigeria is still in the first wave of vaccination and vaccination tools will improve as the country receives additional vaccines. COVID-19 cases have declined by 7.5 per cent over the last week.”

Umahi said that states were urged to continue to push testing activities in order to detect new cases before the situation worsened.

According to him, an update on travel restrictions on certain countries expected to be announced soon by the Federal Government.

The governor said that the council also received an update on the situation regarding Cholera outbreak.

“Current Cholera situation in the country; suspected number of cases   is 88,704. Number of states is 31 and the FCT. Number of deaths is 3,208.

“Multi-sectoral emergency operation centres activated at level 2 continues to coordinate the national response,” he said.

He listed the challenges to include difficulty in accessing some communities due to insecurity, open defecation and lack of potable drinking water.

Umahi said other challenges were lack of basic health primary healthcare infrastructure, inadequate health facility and cholera commodities for case management.

Umahi said that NEC commended the insightful presentations and congratulated the outgoing Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his new appointment at the WHO and also welcomed the incoming Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa.

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Bakare meets with Buhari, opposes clamour for power rotation

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Founder of Citadel Global Community Church, Tunde Bakare, says the region to produce the president of Nigeria should not be an issue.

He stated this in Abuja on Friday during an interaction with reporters at the presidential villa after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that Nigerians are only bothered about a leader that would ensure the prosperity of the country.

The pastor said the “immaturity” of the citizens is responsible for “making us say power must either be in the North or be in the South, instead of looking for the best.

“Listen to me, if where the President comes from will make the place he has come from to be better, the northern part of Nigeria should be richest and the most progressive and the most developed because out of 61 years, the North has produced either the President or heads of state for 40 to 41 years and yet, see the retrogression in the North.

“If it’s from the South, why should a person like President Obasanjo freeze and seize the account of Lagos State in his own tenure? If it’s from South-South or South-East, why couldn’t President Jonathan use all his powers to develop South-South/South-East?

“If there are agreements between politicians on rotation, a bargain is a bargain. That is between them. But as far as this country is concerned, what we need at this stage is a man who can drive us to the Eldorado.”

The pastor commended the national assembly for empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of transmitting election results.

“Perhaps one of the best things the present national assembly has done, especially the senate, because, with that, Nigerians can vote and then results can be transmitted so easily,” he said.

“Not only that, part of the state of the nation address that I did on October 10, I emphasised how Nigeria youth, especially undergraduates, are disenfranchised in our country.”

 

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FG declares Tuesday Oct 19 Eid-il-Maulud holiday

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The Federal Government has declared Tuesday October 19 a public holiday to mark the Islamic festival of Eid-il-Maulud in “commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).”

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, in a statement signed by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore.

Aregbesola congratulated the Muslim faithful both at home and in the diaspora for witnessing this year’s occasion.

He urged all Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, patience and perseverance which he said “are the virtues of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), adding that doing so would guarantee peace and security in the country.”

The statement added, “Ogbeni Aregbesola enjoined Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality. As the indisputable leader of our race, we must show responsible leadership in Africa.

“While calling for a stop to all divisive tendencies across the country, the minister urges all Nigerians and the youth in particular, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition to fellow humans, irrespective of faith, ideology, social class and ethnicity and cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari’s led-Administration in its effort to build a progressive and enviable nation that all citizens would be proud of.”

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