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ASUU set to end strike as union, FG finally reach agreement

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The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities ended an eight-hour meeting on Friday night with an indication that the union could call off its about nine-month strike next week.

Unlike the previous meetings usually ending in stalemate, both parties said after the meeting they had fruitful discussions at the Friday’s parley.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, addressing journalists shortly after the meeting held in Abuja, said that government had met all the demands of the union.

He said that ASUU would take the outcome of the meeting back to their members for ratification and revert to government with a resolution to call off the strike latest by Friday next week.

President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said that their talks were fruitful and that the union would in their usual practice take the outcome to the members before reverting to government on their resolution.

Ngige said at the beginning of the meeting that ASUU had submitted a written response to the government’s offer.

The government was said to have made further adjustments in its offer to ASUU ostensibly to avert another stalemate.

A week ago, the offer involved the amounts to be paid as Earned Allowances, revitalization fund and a pledge to offset their salary arrears.

The minister said, “What we said in the meeting and what we agreed was that in the interim (while) UTAS is being tested by NITDA and the Office of National Security Adviser for cybersecurity, the transition period, ASUU members that are not yet on the IPPIS will be paid through the platform with which they were paid the President’s compassionate COVID-19 payment done to them between the months of February and June.”

He also spoke on the new offer made to ASUU, saying prior to Friday’s meeting, government brought an aggregate offer of N50 billion to the union.

“The offer made is clear. You can understand it this way. Prior to the meeting of yesterday, government brought an aggregate offer of N50 billion to ASUU; N20 billion for revitalisation to show good faith that government is still with them on the issue of funding for revitalisation and pending the affirmation of the new sources of funding public education. There is a committee on that and the committee is working on sourcing new education funds; it is a NEEDS committee.

“So pending that NEEDS committee effecting a new funding source and strategy, government offered them N20 billion for revitalisation apart from the funds that are coming from TETFUNDS that is also used for revitalisation. They refused the N20 billion and said that they want N110 billion and that N110 billion is 50 per cent of a tranche of N220 billion. Government said they don’t have that kind of money and then increased that N20 billion by N5 billion to become N25 billion and if it becomes N25 billion, the Earned Allowances will be raised to N40 billion immediate payment making for a total of N65 billion for revitalisation and Earned Allowances in the universities.

“Government then said alternatively, ASUU could opt for the revitalisation to move up to N30 billion, while the Earned Allowances for all the unions in the universities will drop from N40 billion to N35 billion, that is the second basket offered them, either of the two. Either you choose N25 billion revitalisation plus N40 billion Earned Allowances or revitalisation of N30 billion and N35 billion Earned Allowances.”

 

 

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Zamfara killings: Buhari says it’s time to crush bandits

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President Muhammadu Buhari was aghast by the latest orgy of violence visited on innocent people in Zamfara State by bandits and issued a fresh order to security agents to crush the gunmen.

More than 25 people were killed in attacks on Gobirawa, Rini, Gora, and Madoti Dankule in Bakura and Maradun LGAs in Zamfara — the death toll has since risen.

The gunmen were said to have invaded the communities on motorcycles and shot sporadically, on Wednesday.

Reacting, Buhari said the “insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop”, adding that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later”.

A statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, on Thursday quoted Buhari to have said this, adding,“These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.

“The violence against poor villagers who are struggling with poverty and other severe economic challenges is not going to be tolerated by this administration.”

He directed security agencies to close all existing gaps in their operations while expressing hope that the special operation launched by security agencies will prove decisive in ridding the state of the “frequent and horrifying” bandit activities.

“Let’s not give these criminals any opportunity to succeed by taking the war to their own camps and stop them in their tracks before they even have the time to respond under our massive fire power,” the president added.

Buhari reassured residents of the state of his administration’s determination to defeat the enemies, despite the latest setback.

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MASSOB rejects UK asylum offer, says it’s plot against Biafra

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The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has turned down the United Kingdom’s offer of asylum for its members.

It said the offer was an arrangement probably taken with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to divert the attention of the people of Biafra.

A statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, made available to journalists in Enugu, said the asylum offer was part of plans by the Buhari regime hatched with the British government against the emergence of Biafra.

The statement read in part, “The government of Britain is the sole architecture of the political, economic and religious problems of the people of Biafra in Nigeria even till today.

“It has not shown any remorse or apologise to the people of Biafra.

“Britain killed, maimed mesmerised and wounded our fathers, mothers and brethren through the Hausa Fulanis. MASSOB rejects their asylum gift.

“How can the chief persecutor of the people of Biafra suddenly turn to be our pacesetter? Britain and Nigeria can no longer deceive the world again concerning the plights of the people of Biafra.

“Our unified resilience, resolutions and unshakable spirit of no surrender will continue to hunt down this geographical expression called Nigeria.

“MASSOB demands referendum on Biafra not asylum.”

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Security: Avoid 14 Nigerian states, US warns citizens

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The United States has asked its citizens to stay away from 14 Nigerian states considered as hotspots of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.

It stated this in its latest travel advisories even as it urged its citizens to “Reconsider travel to Nigeria”.

The US State Department in the updated advisory added at least 116 countries this week to its ‘Level Four: Do Not Travel’ list.

The UK, Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, Germany and others are on the list, citing a “very high level of COVID-19.”

Before Tuesday, the State Department listed 34 out of about 200 countries as “Do Not Travel.” The State Department now lists 150 countries at Level Four.

Nigeria is categorised as Level 3.

Unlike countries categorised as Level 4, based on the advice of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nigeria has a good rating on COVID-19 prevalence.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for Nigeria due to COVID-19, indicating a low level of COVID-19 in the country”, the State Department said.

It listed areas American visitors should avoid, while in Nigeria as Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping.

It also banned American citizens from going to Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.

In a country summary on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department wrote:

“Violent crime – such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, banditry, and rape – is common throughout the country.

“Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.

“Terrorists continue plotting and carrying out attacks in Nigeria, especially in the Northeast.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting shopping centers, malls, markets, hotels, places of worship, restaurants, bars, schools, government installations, transportation hubs, and other places where crowds gather. Terrorists are known to work with local gangs to expand their reach.

“There is civil unrest and low-level armed militancy in parts of Southern Nigeria, especially in the Niger Delta region. Armed criminality, including kidnapping and maritime crime, is also pervasive in this region.”

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