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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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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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