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We won’t return to class with empty stomach – ASUU

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it will not return to class with empty stomach as its members have not been paid for their salaries for a period ranging between four months and nine months.

The Coordinator, ASUU Calabar Zone, Comrade Aniekan Brown, told journalists in Calabar on Monday that “We are still in the trenches. And we will not return to the classes with empty stomach.”

He also said insisted that the Federal Government should adopt its University Transparency and Accountability Solution UTAS as the option against government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The Calabar zone covers seven universities within four states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Ebonyi.

ASUU also argues that the Federal government payment system IPPIS, which is made compulsory to university workers, including ASUU members is against the law of the land that granted autonomy to universities.

Besides, “the IPPIS is not temper-proof as presented, adding to the fact that it has national security risk being that the server is hosted from outside the country by an American company.”

He described the IPPIS as uncongenial with the modus operandi of the university system, given the peculiarities of universities.

“Kindly note that our Union has been rejecting the IPPIS since 2013; government challenged us to produce an alternative to IPPIS. The union took up the challenge, and has produced one. This is called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS. Presentations have been made to the appreciation of some quarters.

“The union has been ready for the final stage presentation to NITDA. Sadly, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGoF) is of the position that our members migrate first (during the intervening period) after which if UTAS is approved, we would be re-migrated to UTAS. We argue that it is a case of economic waste,” he explained.

He debunked the figures pandered in some quarters by the government that over 50,000 members of ASUU have voluntarily joined the IPPIS platform in obedience to the Federal Government directive as against about 14,000 yet to comply.

His words: “That is just a divisive and blackmail tactics. We don’t have such number of academic staff members in the country even if you put together both federal and state universities. May be they are counting other unions’ members within the university.”

He further insisted that “the university system is peculiar in its modus-operandi. The mode of employment, retirement age, sabbatical leave, adjunct engagements, part-time engagements, contract engagements, etc. are concepts that are unique to the university, and obviously alien to IPPIS.

“The OAGF has told a lot lies about addressing these peculiarities. Unfortunately, our Union had a number of meetings with the OAGF and, for all that the meetings are worth, they were opportunities to convince ASUU that the IPPIS is capable of addressing the concerns of our union. This did not happen!”

ASUU has complained that the Federal Government has continued to pay deaf ears to the revitalization of Public Universities and as it concerns the proliferation and funding of State Universities.

The union is also saying that Visitors to State Universities should stand up to their responsibilities and that state governments should not establish universities they cannot fund. Visitation Panels to universities have not been done in the last ten (10) years.

He said, “We seek the cooperation and understanding of the good people of Nigeria, and the general public on ASUU’s stance on the afore-stated outstanding issues and the IPPIS.

“ASUU has courted for itself an enviable pedigree of integrity, credibility and accountability. Our members would not return to the classes with empty stomachs.”

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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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