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ASUU: FG has no intention of resolving strike

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said the Federal Government has no intention of resolving its current face-off with the union and the ongoing strike.

ASUU said this on Monday in a statement by its Coordinator, Lagos Zone, Prof. Olusiji Sowande.

The union alleged that the slow pace of negotiations with government was an indication that the government had no intention to end the over seven-month strike.

He said this could be inferred from a statement by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that government would call for a further meeting with ASUU after collating necessary data to ensure pending issues were bought to the negotiation table.

Sowande said it was appalling that the government team, having had series of meetings with the union was just collating vital data required to engage the union.

He said, “Government has deliberately been wasting time and resources of our union on meetings and engagements it was not prepared for.

“It is therefore not surprising that Dr Ngige-led government team has not been able to return to negotiating table since the last engagement with our union on November 4, 2020.’’

ASUU urged parents, students and the general public not to be persuaded by Ngige’s statement that government could not afford to pay the conservative N110bn for the revitalisation of public universities.

It said the Needs Assessment Report of 2012 provided evidences of the need to save public universities from imminent collapse.

Sowande said, “In fact the document stipulated that N1.3 trillion injected over five years would save the public universities from collapsing.

“Government’s failure to faithfully release the revitalisation fund over the years is a deliberate attempt to allow the public universities to collapse.”

According to him, only recently, government approved N5bn as bailout fund to operators in the aviation sector to ameliorate the harsh realities of COVID-19 on their operations, adding that over the years, the Nigerian Government has spent over N1.5tn to bailout power generation and distribution companies to keep their businesses afloat despite the privatisation of the power sector.

Sowande said trillions of naira had been granted commercial banks as bailout funds to save them from collapsing, adding that if government could bail out private businesses for “business good” then Nigerian public universities deserved to be bailed out for “public good”.

He added, “In the interest of our students who have been at home for seven months, our union has shifted ground from the initial insistence of a release of one tranche of N220 billion revitalisation fund to demand for 50 per cent of one tranche (N110 billion) for government to show its commitment to revitalisation of our universities.

“This is a major reason government has not been able to return to negotiation with our union in the last two weeks.”

Sowande said the issues in contention go beyond ASUU’s rejection of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, for which the union had developed an alternative: University Transparency and Accountability Solution.

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Total power blackout in Kaduna as Labour unions begin strike

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The Management of Kaduna Electric has said that the current total power blackout in Kaduna State was due to the ongoing five-day warning strike embarked by labour unions.

Abdulazeez Abdullahi, Head of Corporate Communication of the company made the announcement in a statement issued on Sunday in Kaduna.

“In compliance with the NLC directive, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN has knocked off all our 33KV lines in Kaduna State.

“Consequently, we are appealing to all communities, security agencies and vigilante groups to be vigilant so that men of underworld will not cash in on the situation to vandalise power supply installations.

“Any suspicious movement around distribution sub-stations (transformers) should be reported to the relevant security agency”, he said.

He stated that it is the collective responsibility of citizens to protect critical national assets in their neighborhood.

Abdullahi added that the company appeals to both labour unions and Kaduna State Government “to strive at an amicable resolution for normalcy to return”.

NAN

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Osinbajo offers scholarship to Ekiti artist Abosede Okeowo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has offered a gifted physically challenged artist, Ms Abosede Okeowo,  a US online scholarship to enhance her skills.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said the presentation was made recently at the palace of Oba Adekunle Adeagbo, the Oore of Otun-Ekiti in Ekiti.

The 27-year-old artist had presented Osinbajo with his pencil portrait during his courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife in 2020.

Inspite of her limitations, Okeowo focuses on her artistic skills and has gained recognition because of her talent.

Okeowo, an indigene of Otun Ekiti in Ekiti State, suffered an illness when she was a child which resulted in her current state of health.

The self-taught artist who, nurtured her talent in drawing to her current stage of expertise, is known for making drawings of many dignitaries.

Okeowo first caught the attention of the vice president when she drew a portrait of his wife, Dolapo.

She yet again enthralled Osinbajo with her skills when she drew and presented a lifelike portrait of him.

Osinbajo, the statement said, was represented at the presentation by a team led by Sen. Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters.

Also in the team was Dr Ebi Awosika, Senior Technical Assistant to the Vice President on Community Engagement.

In her remarks, Awosika expressed gratitude to God for Okeowo, saying it was just the beginning of greatness for the young artist.

She presented to the talented artiste a special wheelchair, laptop and a scholarship in Hyper-Realistic Portrait Course, a virtual course offered through an American online programme.

“This scholarship will help Okeowo to realise her dreams and desire to own an establishment where she can teach others how to draw and help those who are physically challenged to also fulfill their life ambitions,”the statement quoted her as saying.

In his remarks, Adeagbo, who received the delegation on behalf of Okeowo’s family and Otun Ekiti community expressed gratitude to the vice president and his wife for making life meaningful for the artist and her family

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Ekiti to embark on Rice pyramid project

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Ekiti State Government on Sunday said it intends to produce of over one million metrics tonnes of rice within the next couple of years.

Mr Olabode Adetoyi, Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, made this known in Ado Ekiti at a news conference ahead of the official launch of the ” Ekiti Rice Pyramid Project” and flag off of the 2021 Wet Season Rice Cultivation, scheduled for Tuesday.

According to him, Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, would perform the inauguration of the rice pyramid project while Gov. Kayode Fayemi, would be the chief host.

The commissioner said the state was embarking on massive production of rice so as to be able to meet both local demands and for export.

He explained that the state government had brought in investors, who were ready to invest in planting and processing of rice, adding that the product would be of high standards and stone free.

Adetoyi added that the state government was working assiduously towards ensuring that youths ventured into farming by making it more attractive and lucrative, through various agricultural incentives

He assured farmers in the state that the government would not fail in providing adequate security for them to enable them go to their farms anytime without entertaining fears

Adetoyi disclosed that 23 new investors had already been allocated lands to plant rice, cocoa and palm oil, among others, as the government was doing all to attract investors through provision of enabling environment.

“ Top notch rice processing plant like Stallion, Dangote and Jumlar rice have been allocated land in premium location in Ekiti Knowledge Zone for quality rice production.

“ Land clearing and development of over 5,000 hectares of land for commercial agriculture is also on, out of which 1,000 is cleared for swampy rice along the river banks and valleys in the state. Over 40,000 hectares is to be made available as time goes on,” he said.

The commissioner said that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, had conceived the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide easy access to credit for farmers and processors at low interest rate, among others.

He added that the government of Japan had also brought in some equipment such as harvesters to provide high quality rice production in the state.

Adetoyi warned people in the habit of setting fire to bushes while hunting game to desist from such acts to avoid causing damage to peoples’ farms.

According to him, some farms had been destroyed in the process.

The commissioner said that government had approved money to buy seedlings that would be distributed to those farmers who lost their farms in such preventable fire incidences.(NAN

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