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FG explores private sector partnership to fund tertiary education

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The Federal Government is exploring the option of private sector partnership to fund tertiary education, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said.

Such arrangement has become a necessity in view of the current reality that the government cannot sustain the funding of the institutions alone, according to the minister.

Ngige gave this indication in an interview he granted Arise News Channel Sunday night.

He said in keeping with economic realities, the government had decided to seek alternative funding sources from the private sector to meet the requirements of public tertiary education.

He said, “The Federal Government alone cannot sustain the tertiary education or even the education system in Nigeria. Do not also forget that education is on the concurrent list,” he said.

The minister also faulted the funding options recommended by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, saying they were not implementable.

“We agreed with ASUU to put up a NEEDS assessment committee, which they are members. That committee has come up with suggestions on possible sources of funding the universities but when they were presented to government, they were found not to be implementable.”

Ngige said one of the recommended sources of funding universities, as recommended by ASUU, was the Value Added Tax (VAT) but explained that 85 per cent of the revenue would go to the states, leaving only 15 per cent for the Federal Government.

The minister said ASUU also suggested stamp duty proceeds should be used to fund the universities, adding that the proposal isn’t feasible as only the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) can collect stamp duty.

“So, these two funding sources suggested by ASUU could not be pushed through by the ministry. So, the NEEDS committee is now working on another validation of other sources, targeting the private sector,” he said.

He appealed to ASUU to accept the Federal Government’s offer and call off its eight-month industrial action.

Ngige said the Federal Government had met almost all the demands made by the union.

 “I feel that even this offer is one of the best they have ever got since I started conciliation with them. I do not see why they should not accept it. Everything they asked for has been granted. I don’t think they should say the offer is not good.

“But I told them before they left that asking the nation and the students to wait from Friday to Friday is unfair; they should come back to us by Tuesday. They have done that before when we negotiated with the Senate president. The offer was made on a Thursday and they came back to us on a Tuesday.

“So, that’s what I expect them to do this time around. If they do so, the nation will appreciate them and regard them as patriotic citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I expect them to get back to me much earlier than Friday.”

Ngige explained that part of the proposals made to ASUU is that the Federal Government was ready to provide N40 billion for payment of earned allowances to all university workers and N25 billion as revitalisation fund to improve infrastructure.

He said government had asked ASUU as an alternative to accepting the provision of N35 billion as earned allowances and so as to raise the money for revitalisation fund to N30 billion.

The minister also said that the government had agreed to pay striking lecturers the withheld salaries for February to June.

He, however, added that the problem was how the payment would be done since the affected lecturers were not registered on the IPPIS.

Ngige said the government agreed that the lecturers be paid using the old method.

On the evaluation of the ASUU’s alternative payment platform, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), Ngige said the software was undergoing integrity test at the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

“I am not a scientist; I am not a guru. I will only rely on what experts in the Nigeria Information and Technology Development Agency tell me and the same way they will write to ASUU, the Federal Ministry of Education and the Accountant General of the Federation. We have an AGF who does not speak with the media and a minister of finance that is very busy with managing the country’s economy and talking to our creditors and bilateral partners. So, as a conciliator, it is me that will say what the situation is with government,” Ngige said.

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Hold Peter Obi, supporters responsible if anything happens to me – Reno Omokri

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Reno Omokri

Former presidential aide, Reno Omokri has raised an alarm over the continued threat to his life and that of his immediate family.

Omokri who served under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration said Peter Obi and his supporters should be held responsible if anything happens to him and members of his family.

“If anything should happen to my immediate and extended family and I, Peter Obi and his consultant broadcast journalist should be held responsible!”

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Galandachi, National Mosque Imam, cautions politicians against using religion to divide Nigeria

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Elder statesman and Imam (Murshid) of the Abuja National Mosque, Prof. Shehu  Galadanchi

Elder statesman and Imam (Murshid) of the Abuja National Mosque, Prof. Shehu  Galadanchi, has cautioned politicians against using religion to divide Nigerians, saying it would not augur well for the country.

The cleric, who spoke at the National Inter-Religion conference organised by the Kano State government observed that some politicians from both Christianity and Islam, have already started exploiting religion to cause confusion and violence in their campaigns.

He also flayed politicians who out  to rig the coming elections by hook or by crook, alleging that among those determined to use illegal methods to win the polls were those ones deploying religion in their campaigns, including religion, to achieve their goals.

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“Some of our politicians, unfortunately from the two religions, are using their religion to emphasise our differences and causing disagreements, violence and fights among Nigerians.  This has already begun to happen during their campaigns in many places…Let me say that one would be standing on a highly dented ground if he used religion in this manner and at the expense of his own country. I find it pertinent, in a situation like this, to remind ourselves as Nigerians that Almighty Allah has graciously granted us, in this country, unlimited bounties. We have a very beautiful country, this is a very beautiful country, a very fertile country, full of natural and human resources.”

Galadanchi observed that all of these were granted to Nigeria so that its people would work together for its development and to bring it at equal standing with the rest of the developed world.

He restated the need for the political class to be reeducated to recognise the fact that Islam and Christianity preach tolerance and peaceful coexistence among its people and among the members of the human community. SUN

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Obasanjo: 2023 poll should be Nigeria’s turning point

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is optimistic that next year would be a turning point for Nigeria after successful general elections.

He however cautioned Nigerians not to allow emotions cloud their sense of judgement at the poll.

Obasanjo spoke on Sunday when the leadership of Mzough U Tiv, a Benue socio-cultural group, paid him a visit at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He said the elections should be a turning point for Nigeria, adding that he is in support of a change of leadership from the North to the South.

The former president urged the middle belt to subsequently advocate for power to come to the region.

“If Nigeria is ready to get it right, the 2023 election should be a turning point. We should not go for emotion that will destroy us,” he said.

Obasanjo said with the growing population of the country, agriculture would be the solution to feeding Nigerians and not oil and gas.

“Only farming and agribusiness could tackle the nation’s growing population. Farming and agribusiness is what will feed the nation,” he said.

Obasanjo encouraged Tiv people to focus on farming and agribusiness, adding that he hopes to establish an industry in the state next year.

Iorbee Ihagh, leader of the group, said the visit was “basically to interface with you as our former head of state, a political pillar, a nationalist and elder statesman to appreciate your overwhelming love, passion and concern you have demonstrated over the Tiv people”.

He asked the former president to consider the need for the establishment of a fruit juice industry in Benue state and the power-sharing formula in the country.

“With regards to the current power equation in the country, we in the Mzough u Tiv in conjunction with the Middle Belt Forum had unanimously resolved for power shift from the north to the south for fairness, justice and a true federalism,” he said.

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