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ASUU strike continues as FG, union meet again Friday

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Hope of reopening universities soon appears dimmed as the discussion between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities over a number of contentious issues has been moved to Friday.

The meeting, initially slated for Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment in a statement on Wednesday night, has been moved to Friday.

The strike was declared since March this year and meetings had been held on a number of vexed issues and no concrete agreement reached yet

ASUU had opposed the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System used in settling workers’ salaries by the FG and instead, developed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution which is currently undergoing test-run by the National Information Technology Development Agency.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union equally proposed the University General and Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System in place of the IPPIS.

This followed the complaints against the IPPIS which allegedly caused salary delays and shortchanged the university workers.

Spokesman for Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, said in a text message on Wednesday that the meeting with the ASUU leaders would hold at the minister’s conference hall.

The government said it had agreed to pay N30bn earned academic allowance, N20bn for the revitalization of the education sector and the arrears of salaries to the university teachers, adding that the only outstanding issue was the disagreement over the payment platform.

But ASUU insisted that the government had not met its demands and hinted that the resolution of the eight-month strike was not in sight.

This is coming as ASUU has said it will not call off the strike even if the federal government withdraws the IPPIS as a means of paying them.

The Benin Zone of the union expressed doubt over the capability and commitment of Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to midwife any peaceful resolution of the issues that led to the strike.

The Coordinator, ASUU Owerri zone, Mr Uzo Onyibinama, stated the union’s position on the IPPIS in a press briefing held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.

He said Federal Government was feeding the public with lies about the strike, stating that the main reason for the strike was the government’s inability to keep previous agreements and not about IPPIS as being propagated by the government.

He said the union would not call off the strike until all its demands were met by the federal government.

Onyibinama said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the issues in contention remain revitalisation fund for public universities, arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), visitation to universities, proliferation of state universities and issues of governance in them, and conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement. The later issue of IPPIS was a new introduction and a diversion as no university in the world runs such a system.

“Instead of apologising to the Nigerians and hiding their heads in shame on the serial failures of Governments particularly the present Government which came on the mantra of ‘change’, the duo of Ministers Chris Ngige and Emeka Nwajiuba have been feeding Nigerians with lies and half-truth.

“Ministers Ngige and Nwajiuba have on many occasions on various media organisations said that agreement have been reached on virtually all the issues that necessitated the seven months old strike

“They should please tell Nigerians, who are their masters, those agreements that have been reached and implemented. As far as our Union is concerned, no agreement has been reached on any of the demands.”

He also said, “So, instead of constantly running to the press, Ngige and Nwajiuba should sit down and painstakingly do the work that they are paid to do. It is on record that the date given by the Minister Ngige to reach our union with government improved position has elapsed without any communication.

“The proposed new timelines for implementation of some proposals such as the appointment of a new team for renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, gazetting of visitation panels among others have elapsed without any implementation. This shows the insincerity on the part of the Government.

“On the IPPIS, our union has been consistent in rejecting the platform as it compromises the autonomy of the university system and a threat to national security considering that the software is hosted in Washington, the USA with a sub-platform at Gombe State.”

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Some public servants earn more salary than the president – RMAFC boss

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Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC)

Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), says some political appointees earn more salary than President Muhammadu Buhari.

Shehu disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television on Thursday.

The RMAFC boss, who spoke on the commission’s plan to review judicial and political holders’ salaries, said some officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) collect salaries higher than the president.

He said the country needs to review allocations as some agencies remit less revenue. 

“The severance package of the president is just N10.5 million. This is after the president leaves office. You can imagine after spending four or eight years, that would be the only take-home. The salary of Mr President is not up to N1.3 million a month,” he said.

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“There are people in the private sector and others in other public sectors that earn twice, three times or four times. No public servant should earn a salary bigger than Mr President. But we do have public servants that earn salaries bigger than Mr President, such as in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), etc.

“My argument has always been that no public servant should earn allowances, severances, or salaries larger than the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and I stand by it.”

Speaking further on how salaries would be reviewed, especially on current realities, Shehu said salary review would go through processes.

He, however, added that salaries may be reviewed upward after going through due processes.

“When you do a review, the takeoff point is not immediate. And this is a process that has to go to the president and then to the national assembly, and then it becomes a law,” he added.

“I can not tell you whether we can afford it or not, but what I can tell you is there are unremitted revenues out there, probably estimated from N6 trillion to N7 trillion that should be remitted to the federation account.

The Cable

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Buckingham Palace aide resigns over racist comments

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A Buckingham Palace aide has resigned and tendered an apology over racist comments reportedly made to a black British guest at a reception hosted by the Queen Consort.

Ngozi Fulani, the founder of a charity supporting victims of domestic abuse, alleged that she was repeatedly asked by a royal aide at a Palace function where she was “really from” in Africa.

The palace said it was taking the incident “extremely seriously”.

An eyewitness to the conversation, Mandu Reid, confirmed the account and told the BBC the questions put to Ms Fulani were “offensive, racist and unwelcoming”.

Reid said she had a “sense of incredulity” about the exchange with a member of the Royal Household, in which Ms Fulani was “interrogated” about where she was from – even though she had explained she was born and lived in the UK.

Ms Fulani is the founder of the London-based charity Sistah Space, which supports black women who have faced domestic and sexual abuse.

Along with 300 guests, she had been invited to a high-profile reception at the Palace on Tuesday, where the Queen Consort, Camilla, had warned of a “global pandemic of violence against women”.

But after the event, Ms Fulani described her conversation on Twitter, where she was challenged by a royal aide to explain where she was from.

She recounted how she said: “We’re based in Hackney,” and the aide replied: “No, what part of Africa are you from?”

She said, “I don’t know, they didn’t leave any records”, and the Palace member responded, “Well you must know where you’re from, I spent time in France. Where are you from? Here, UK.”

“No, but what nationality are you?”

“I am born here and am British.”

“No, but where do you really come from, where do your people come from?”

She said that members of the Royal Household were circulating at the reception and making “chit chat” – but she said it became a “really unpleasant interaction”, when despite Ms Fulani’s replies there was an insistent questioning about her background.

Ms Reid said they were “stunned into silence” afterwards and says that Ms Fulani should receive an apology and those working for the palace should receive training.

Both Ms Reid and Sistah Space have decided not to name the royal aide believed to be involved.

Palace reacts

In response, Buckingham Palace said, “We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details.

“In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made.

“We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.

“In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect.

“All members of the household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.”

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Adeleke denies sacking workers, monarchs

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Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke

Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, has denied making executive orders to sack traditional rulers and workers in the state.

He said he only set up a review panel and nobody has been sacked.

His Chief Press Secretary, Olawale Rasheed, who in spoke Rave FM in Osogbo, said executive order one to five shows the intentions of the administration to review, nullify, and set aside while the instrumentality to effect the orders was order six which is the composition of the panel.

He said: “There was never sack of any worker or traditional ruler. We only set up a review panel. It is impossible to sack and put a review panel in place.

“The review panel is to look at the numbers of the people that were employed, due processes of the employment, and qualification among other things.

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“Before our taking over, there were issues of backdating of employment, even till last year. So, order 1-5 will be operationalised by order 6 which are the panels.

“Those that were employed from July 17 till our takeover are still at work presently, they have not been sacked. The staff audit will review the employment.”

However, a statement by Rasheed said the governor has approved the dissolution of all non-statutory boards in the state with immediate effect.

“As a follow-up to the pronouncement of Governor Adeleke, on Sunday, November 27, 2022, all non-statutory boards, commissions and parastatals, including those of tertiary institutions (with exception of UNIOSUN) are hereby dissolved in the state, forthwith.

“Consequently, all accounting officers of such boards, parastatals and commissions are to take charge with immediate effect.”

Sun

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