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FG may break ASUU strike with another option

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The Federal Government may soon call the bluff of the Academic Staff Union of Universities over the union’s insistence on getting the government to meet all its demands before ending its prolonged strike.

ASUU has asked students idling at home to get themselves busy with some vocational skills, travel and have fun, an indication that it is not ready to end the strike soon.

It also insisted on getting the government to adopt the union’s payment platform endorsed in addition to securing enough funds for the upgrade of the universities, apart improved salaries and welfare package.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the strike would be resolved by next week after the meeting between the Federal Government team and the union leaders.

He said if the matter was not resolved by then, government would explore the provisions in the labour law and other channels.

The union said the strike was over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action between them as well as the disagreement over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, which ASUU rejected.

Ngige, who spoke on Politics Today on Channels Television on Friday, said the government had met six of the union’s nine demands and that they would meet again next week with the hope of ending the prolonged strike.

He stated, “Even if countries go to war, at the end of the day they come to the negotiation table. I’m inviting them (ASUU) next week. We are doing side meetings on our part and we are collating everything. I’m collating responses from the Accountant General of the Federation’s Office and everybody who has something to do with this matter.”

He also said, “By next week, we will conclude this matter. There are so many options left. We have the labour laws and I have options left to me in the labour laws. I have other channels.”

The minister said government had agreed to give the University Transparency Academic Solution, the payment platform proposed by ASUU, a trial.

He however said the feedback he got from the National Information Technology Development Agency, the agency mandated to follow-up the trial with ASUU, showed they had just concluded the first phase and that the second phase to assess the functional requirement of UTAS had not been done.

He added, “UTAS has yet to be ready but government will not discourage them. And we have told them there is no need using the same old method of strike to make demands since such had been deployed since 2017.”

On the revitalisation fund, he said government had agreed to release N30bn out of the N40bn demanded by the union as the payment for November 2019 and September 2020, adding that the remaining N10bn would be staggered.

Ngige said, “A committee that looked into the needs assessment of universities held a workshop on how funds could be generated came up with the recommendation that other things could be done to raise funds because revitalisation cannot be done through the budget, especially when the country is running a deficit budget.”

 

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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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NANS apologises to Aisha Buhari, demands explanation from police over student’s arrest

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Aisha Buhari

National Association of Nigerian Students has apologised to Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the arrest of a student of the Federal University, Dutse Jigawa, Aminu Mohammed, by the police.

Condemnations had trailed the reported arrest of Mohammed over a tweet on the First Lady. Notable Nigerians including social activist, Aisha Yesufu, knocked Aisha for allegedly using her power against the student.

While initial reports were that Mohammed was arrested by the Department of State Services, NANS revealed that he was rather arrested by the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, who traced Mohammed to Jigawa where he was picked up.

NANS in a statement on Tuesday by its President, Usman Barambu, apologised on behalf of the Nigerian students to the First Lady, while also calling for Mohammed’s release.

“The leadership of NANS received with concern the news of the unlawful arrest of Mohammed by the Nigeria Police on the instruction of Aisha Buhari. Upon receiving the news, I, Mohammed’s family and friends swung into action to trace the whereabouts of Mohammed. After some days of searching, we got the information that he was at the police unit in Wuse Zone 2. I met with Mohammed at the police custody.

“It was alleged that Mohammed some weeks back posted Aisha Buhari’s picture on Twitter with the caption “Su mama anchi kudin talakawa an koshi” (translated from Hausa to ‘the mother has gotten fatter by eating masses’ money’).

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“Just like the normal way angry citizens have different ways of expression on the social media. On November 18, 2022, the police from Abuja tracked Mohammed to the Federal University Dutse and picked him without any written/verbal invitation or informing the school management or his family,” Barambu narrated.

The NANS President said Mohammed was taken straight to the Presidential Villa where he was allegedly brutalised, beaten, maltreated and humiliated by the police “on the orders of Aisha Buhari, after which he was unlawfully detained at a police facility at Wuse Zone II till date. I, alongside our team of lawyers, met with Mohammed at the police facility where he confirmed the incident to me. Until now, Mohammed has not been arraigned by any competent court of law or granted bail by the police.”

“We want to, on behalf of all the Nigerian students, tender our unreserved apology to the First Lady Aisha Buhari, for the action of Mohammed which might have caused her and her family pains. However, as leaders and public office holders, we must overlook some criticisms if we want to really forge ahead and do the right thing,” Barambu said.

“We demand a detailed explanation by the Nigeria Police on why they will go to the school premises and ‘kidnap’ a student without due process and took him straight to the Presidential Villa where he was brutalised which violates his fundamental human rights,” the statement said.

NANS said Mohammed had sustained various injuries and had not accessed any proper medical attention. “We call on the police as a matter of national interest and urgency to release Mohammed unconditionally or be prepared to face the Nigerian students.

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“However, we are calling on our teeming students to be careful and apply decorum in dealing with people especially our leaders. They should be mindful of what they post on social media.

“We want to inform the general public to be patient as we await response and actions from the Inspector General of Police on a letter earlier sent to his office,” the president added.

Disagreeing with the national body, the South-West zone of NANS, in another statement by its Public Relations Officer, Giwa Temitope, condemned the alleged action of the First Lady, saying Mohammed’s rights were grossly violated.

“The conduct of Aisha and the security officers involved in the brutality meted out to Mohammed is highly condemnable and shows that Aisha does not tolerate dissent. In a democratic dispensation, one would have expected the wife of the President to have instituted a case against the student (if at all there is any) rather than resort to violence.

“In so far it has been established that the student was ‘abducted’ by the police and then ferried to the Presidential Villa where he was tortured on the order of Aisha and then locked up at a police facility at Wuse II, the wife of the President and everyone involved have erred and violated his (Mohammed’s) right to dignity of human persons as guaranteed under Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“Our position as an association is that the wife of the President has exhibited conduct against the provisions of the Nigerian law which has therefore invalidated whatever case they might have against him,”  Temitope said.

Punch

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