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Strike: ASUU dismisses FG threat, insists no agreement reached

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities says no agreement has been reached with the Federal Government on any of the contentious issues holding back the resumption of students.

It also denounced a Twitter handle credited to the union as saying students should prepare for resumption nect week

Contrary to the position of the government that all the contentious issues except one have been resolved, President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, says none of their demands has been met by the government.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, said in Abuja that only one issue was outstandaing.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, is also optimistic that the dispute would be resolved this week at the meeting of the two parties and the strike called off.

But Ogunyemi said they had not reached any agreement that could be described as concrete enough to make its lecturers resume from the seven-month strike.

The union also rejected claims that eight out of the nine demands raised by ASUU had been met.

He said, “As far as we are concerned, nothing has been delivered to our members and our members don’t want empty promises. Let us take the issues one after the other.

“The withheld salaries of our members which is between four to eight months have not been paid; if paid, accounts of our members would have been credited. Same for earned academic allowances, they are yet to be paid.”

The ASUU president also said visitation panels were yet to be constituted for the universities, adding that the issue relating to the proliferation of tertiary institutions by state governors had not been resolved.

He asked, “So, on which of these issues has the target beneficiaries seen any concrete action being taken? We are getting to understand the way people in government work.

“When they are still discussing with you, they will go to town and tell people what has not been done. Their intention is to paint ASUU as the aggressor.”

The ASUU president said the union would not feel threatened by a warning by the government that it could invoke labour laws if a resolution was not reached between the two parties.

The union went on strike to pressure the government to address its concerns about remuneration, working conditions, earned allowances and obsolete infrastructure, among others.

The union also kicked against a salary payment platform introduced by the government, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and has come up with its own system.

Meanwhile, ASUU has denounced the Twitter account, registered in its name, which asked students of public universities to prepare for resumption as a positive outcome was expected from the union’s meeting with the FG on Wednesday.

Ogunyemi described the information as fake news, saying that the union had not operated any Twitter account.

He said, “Those people are impersonators; they are impostors. They are using that Twitter handle and other Twitter handles to create confusion. We don’t know anything about the Twitter handle and we never said what they are attributing to us.

“That is not the way we share our information; we have a way of sharing our information and that is why we are advising our friendly media to always double-check with us anything they are in doubt of. ASUU will never say any such thing on Twitter.”

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Buhari to present 2023 budget proposal to NASS Friday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2023 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Friday.

The appropriations bill will contain budget proposals for the 2023 fiscal year.

He made this known in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, which was read out at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

The formal budget presentation is scheduled for 10am

and it will be the last main budget Buhari will be presenting as he will leave office on 29 May 2023 when his second four year term will end.

The Federal Government is already proposing an aggregate expenditure of N19.76 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year with a budget deficit of about N12.41 trillion.

Some key assumptions in the proposal include an estimated oil benchmark of $70, crude oil production put at 1.69mbpd, exchange rate of N435.57/$ and inflation rate at 17.16 per cent.

The Federal Government pegged growth rate at 3.75 per cent because it believes that “Growth is expected to be moderated to 3.30% in 2024 before picking up to 3.46% in 2025.”

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.

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ASUU also corrupt, undermining govt investment – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said a number of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are involved in corrupt practices.

He said the corruption in the universities and other institutions was undermining government’s funding and investment in education.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over increase in lecturers’ allowances and salaries as well as improved funding for the universities.

Buhari has appealed to the union to call off the strike but the lecturers have stood their ground.

The President on Tuesday while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said ASUU was no less complicit in the corruption in tertiary education.

He said corruption in the education sector had continued to undermine investments, while critics downplayed funding by focusing only on budgetary allocations, urging a more comprehensive re-evaluation of expenditure.

The President said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and create an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.

“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.

“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.

“The total education budget for each year is therefore a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed as other financial commitments in their totality.

“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.

“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.

“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the Unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.

“Due to declining resources, the government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.”

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Seven police officers dismissed, 10 others demoted

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The Police Service Commission (PSC), on Tuesday, dismissed seven senior police officers over gross misconduct.

The commission also announced the demotion of 10 other officers through reduction in rank.

These decisions were taken during the continuation of the 15th plenary meeting of the commission.

The meeting is expected to end on Thursday, October 6, 2022, according to a report by The Trust.

Presided over by its acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the meeting considered all the Pending Disciplinary Matters (PDM) before the commission.

The PDMs, which totalled 47, also treated some appeals from dismissed police officers.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, the spokesman for the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said, the dismissed officers include one CSP, one SP and five ASPs.

He said that one SP was retired in public interest, adding that the commission reduced the ranks of one CSP to SP, three SPs to DSP, and two DSPs to ASPs.

The commission further reduced the ranks of four ASPs to Inspectors.

10 senior police officers, including an ACP, a CSP, a SP and two DSPs were given the punishment of severe reprimand.

Five ASPs were also awarded the punishment of severe reprimand.

Thirteen officers received the punishment of reprimand; two are to receive letters of warning while four officers were exonerated.

Ani quoted Justice Ogunbiyi as saying the commission would henceforth give the desired attention to Pending Disciplinary Matters so that those found guilty are punished immediately while those found not guilty are cleared to continue with their career progression.

Justice Ogunbiyi called on police officers to ensure they operate within established rules and avoid taking laws into their hands.

The commission, she said, would continue to work to sustain a professional police force.

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