The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday dashed the hope of millions of Nigerians stating that it had no plans to suspend the eight-week-old strike insisting the Federal government had not shown any commitment to addressing its demands.
Addressing newsmen at ASUU, University of Lagos secretariat, the National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed that since the start of the strike on November 4, the union met six times with government agents and there was no clear commitment from government to resolve the issues in contention.
Flanked by the ASUU Lagos zone Coordinator, Prof Olusiji Sowande, and other branch chairmen, Prof Ogunyemi asked the Federal government replace the Chairman of the Renegotiation Committee on the FG/ASUU 2009 agreement, Dr. Wale Babalakin, based on its experience during over one year of negotiation.
Ogunyemi disclosed that government appeared to have adopted the “keep-them-talking” strategy while deceiving the public that progress was being made thus a partial agreement had been reached between the government and the union.
“Our expectation from a very responsive and sincere government is that by now, all outstanding issues would have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Unfortunately, government is yet to show sincerity in addressing the problem.
“As at today, there are no concrete commitments on the part of government to warrant considering the suspension of this strike action, which we did all that was possible to avoid.
“Government should demonstrate serious commitment to implementing the spirit and letters of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement, as well as the resulting 2013 MoU, for the rapid transformation of Nigeria’s public universities for improved efficiency, infrastructural development and global competitiveness.”
The ASUU president said the purported release of N20billion due for release in September/October 2017, which was widely publicised by government, had not been confirmed to and had not been received in any public universities while it had also not made any commitment to payment of the outstanding five tranches of the balance of N1.1trillion Needs Assessment intervention fund for revitalisation of public universities.
According to him, government, through its forensic audit report had acknowledged that members were being owed arrears of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) from 2009 to 2016 including two extra years and hoped government would have factored that into the 2019 budget to avoid clamour for payment of arrears in future.
He regretted that government declared that steps had been taken to address the injustice, payment of EAA to its loyal members in University of Ilorin while that was yet to be effected, stressing that government appeared to paying lip service to the issue.
The ASUU boss revealed that arrears of shortfalls in salaries had not been addressed and there was no agreed date for the payment of the verified claims to the affected universities.
On the demand for government to sack the chairman of the renegotiation committee, Prof Ogunyemi said there were unresolved issues about him as the leader of the government team and head of the renegotiation.
“We have strong reasons to believe that the continuation of Dr. Babalakin as the head of the renegotiation with ASUU would not yield good fruit. He is ideologically fixated on tuition fees and does not agree that education is a public good. ASUU strongly objects to this.
“Our experience with Dr. Babalakin for over 14 months tells us that Dr. Babalakin cannot relate objectively to any of the issues in our demands at the negotiation table. We, therefore, once more call on government to replace Dr. Babalakin as the chairman of the renegotiation committee of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement,” Ogunyemi stated.
He used the opportunity to debunk insinuations that ASUU strike was meant to scuttle the 2019 general elections adding “our strike has nothing to do with election. We are not planning to abort any election.”
On claims by some government officials that the ongoing strike had political colouration, the ASUU president said the allegation was laughable and that the union was not perturbed by the insinuations saying that it was when government did not have solutions to its demands that it came up with the claim of sponsorship. “In 2013, ASUU was accused by the then government; so we are not surprise or moved by the allegation.”
Ex-Gov. Abubakar Spent N2.3bn To Buy Burial Materials, Bauchi Governor Alleges
As the blame game continues in Bauchi State, Governor Bala Mohammed has alleged that his predecessor, Mohammed Abubakar spent a whopping sum of N2.3 billion to buy materials for burying dead bodies in the state.
The governor who spoke through his spokesperson, Dr. Ladan Salihu, in an interview with newsmen in Bauchi over the weekend, alleged that the said funds were spent between January and May 2019.
Ladan Salihu explained that over N900 million of the money was spent in buying white cloth materials used for wrapping dead bodies while over N1.4 billion was used to buy the wood for lacing the graves for the burial.
According to him, the government discovered various issues of corruption, venality, daylight robbery of the commonwealth of Bauchi State where billions of Naira were syphoned illegally.
The spokesperson further alleged that: “These monies which ought to have been appropriated by the Assembly before expenditure, all of a sudden emanated from our treasury books.
How could you imagine that a state government, within five months that is between January and May, 2019, spent well over N2.3 billion on funeral materials, the clothes that are used in wrapping dead bodies and the woods that you lace the graveyards with?
“The immediate past government spent N2.3 billion, that government did not spend a quarter of that amount in our own hospitals and clinics. They have the temerity to want to put up a show of shame,” he lamented.
When asked if the government has any proof to substantiate its claim, he said that there is no iota of doubt on the matter saying that there are documental evidence to prove it.
“All these are captured in the report of the Transition Committee and these were gathered from documents and vouchers and payments made from our treasury books. There is the Freedom of Information law, go there and find out for yourself from those documents.
“We are talking about the principle behind it. You have bought these materials for funerals in graveyards, what have you done to the Christian cemetery? But we are saying that it is wrong completely, it is not the duty of government to buy burial materials for anybody.
“It is the responsibility of the family, the community and people of goodwill. It has never existed in our history books that the government bought those materials in the first place.
“So, you know that these things were bought for a reason, you would not see the materials, because they have disappeared into or out of ballot boxes,” he alleged.
Ladan Salihu further vowed that: “Government will take very, very stern measures, we will recover every kobo that has been looted or stolen by the immediate past administration and in fact, the administration before it. Where it is established that there is a clear case of misappropriation or outright stealing of public funds. It is an obligation, you don’t allow criminality to run roughshod on the rest of us because these are public funds.
“We must take steps, there’s no factor of fear or favour or ill will, it is just the way the business of government must be conducted. We will take every measure, we use every institution and go after everyone that has stolen Bauchi State’s money.
“We will pursue this case in the relevant institutions of recovery whether it is EFCC, ICPC, the constitution of a Special Recovery Mechanism within the state, I can assure you, we will pursue these issues vigorously, rigorously and without let,” he added.
When our correspondent contacted the Special Adviser to the former Governor Abubakar on Media and Strategy, Ali M. Ali, on phone, he simply said, “that is very ridiculous, I cannot make further comments on the issue because I am not aware of such allegation.
“I’ve not heard of anything like that, so I will speak on it when I make my findings but this is laughable. I will get back to you on that when I have done my findings from my principal,” he added.
Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal And DRC To Speak At The Largest Annual Gathering Of African Entrepreneurs
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s champion of entrepreneurship, has announced the line-up of speakers and activities for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum — the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.
For the Forum’s Presidential Dialogue, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E Félix Tshisekedi will join previously announced President of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame and President of Senegal, H.E Macky Sall, in an interactive, charged plenary session that opens Day 2 of the Forum. The Presidential Dialogue will be moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, and will feature all three presidents engaging directly with an audience of 5,000, comprising of entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors and business leaders, with thousands of people interacting live online, through TEFConnect.
The Forum presents the largest single annual opportunity for entrepreneurs and policy makers to interact directly and all sessions at the Forum have private sector and public sector leaders anchor panel discussions, masterclasses, and a dynamic pitching competition that will engage an audience of start-up entrepreneurs, development institutions, and policymakers.
The speakers expected for this year’s Forum include Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of African Export-Import (AFREXIMBANK); Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AFDB); Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder, Avon Medical; Kennedy Uzoka, Group CEO, UBA Group Plc; Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, First Lady, Guinea; amongst other notable global business leaders.
Every year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation hosts the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders in one location. This year’s Forum, themed “Empowering African Entrepreneurs”, will take place at the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja. The Forum will also include the UBA Marketplace, where UBA, Africa’s global bank, brings together businesses from across the continent.
At the 2018 forum, TEFConnect, the largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs was launched to connect entrepreneurs to the opportunities they need for business success. TEFConnect will take centre stage at this year’s Forum as global debates move to technology as a key driver of economic development in Africa.
For more information: https://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/forum2019
Jim Ovia Advocates For Disruptive Technology To Scale Businesses In Africa
According to Zenith Bank Founder/Chairman, Jim Ovia, businesses stand a chance to triple growth rate and earnings through innovation and technology.
The options are to “innovate and transform or die”, he said. It is the technology age and businesses operating out of Africa should continually adopt technology to experience exponential scale in their business development.
He made this statement while chairing the launch of the PwC Experience Centre. Mr. Ovia added that the Experience Centre is a forward-thinking way to disrupt the over $1tn consultancy service industry yet to be digitized.
Therefore, the Experience Centre is an effective move towards expanding PwC’s innovative solution services across West Africa.