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ASUU Strike Continues Till Further Notice — Union

Peter Okunoren

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Thursday said the ongoing strike would not be called off until the Federal Government fully implemented all the offers it made to the union after their last meeting.

The public university lecturers said they were tired of Federal Government’s antics of making unfulfilled promises, insisting that the strike would be called off after they got tangible evidence and concrete actions that the offers made to them by the Federal Government had been implemented.

The National President, ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents in Lagos on Thursday, said the team of the union that met with the government on Tuesday did not reach any agreement with the Federal Government.

Asked when the strike would then be called off, Ogunyemi said, “Our members said they want to see evidence of satisfactory implementation of all they have proposed before the strike can be called off.”

On Tuesday, ASUU met with the Federal Government officials including the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, as well as his Labour and Employment counterpart, Chris Ngige.

After their discussions, Ngige explained what the Federal Government was offering to the union.

He said the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance had confirmed with evidence that N15.4bn had been released to public universities.

But ASUU president recalled that last year, the government promised to release funds for the revitalisation of public universities, which was one of the demands of the union, but failed to do so.

Ogunyemi stated, “As for the proposal, it can be disaggregated. There are items there that require implementation. If they are setting up a committee on state universities, and they actually do, it is not something we need to agree on. It is about action.

“If they have implemented it, it is off the list. If the government says it will pay a shortfall of salaries on a certain date, and the date comes and they release the money, it is also implementation. There is no agreement on the matter.

“On the revitalisation fund, we presented to the government that five tranches of N220bn each were outstanding. The government has not said it will release one, even if it is spread over a period of one year. There is no agreement on that. What they are offering is not even up to one tranche.

“Last year, they promised to release the fund but they did not till November when the strike began. Long story short, our members are saying they do not want promises again, what they want is action, implementation or disbursement of funds. The government must act in a way to convince the union that agreement has not been set aside; to show that government has not set aside the agreement, they should release one tranche.”

He explained that in order to forestall a situation ASUU and the government would restart negotiations on arrears of earned academic allowances, both sides agreed that “it would be mainstreamed into the 2019 budget.”

According to him, such an agreement was reached last year, but he said the government failed to honour it.

Ogunyemi stated, “We are going to have a discussion on when to commence renegotiation because there are still grey areas. If the government can substantially address these issues, we will be more confident to face our members on the way forward. For now, the feeler we are getting is that our members do not actually want to accept this government proposal from us.

“They said they would pay the shortfall of salary arrears of what was removed from workers’ salaries. There are 20 universities identified. The money will be available by January 18. It is around the corner and we will see if it will come.”

Also, ASUU, in its Strike Bulletin 8 issued by its President, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents in Ibadan, said the Federal Government’s proposal was far below its expectations.

In its latest bulletin, the union president said the offer from the Federal Government towards meeting the demands of ASUU as contained in the 2017 Memorandum of Action was still fluid and far from expectations.

Ogunyemi asked members to await further developments on the strike.

According to him, the proposal from government towards resolving the demands of ASUU as contained in the 2017 MoA is still fluid and far from expectations.

The bulletin read in part, “Though some progress has been made with respect to discussion with government agents (The Minister of Labour and Employment as well as the Minister of Education), at the moment, the proposal from government towards resolving the demand of ASUU as contained in 2017 MoA and Strike Bulletin 1 is still fluid and far from expectations. Hence, it is the view of the National Strike Coordinating Committee that members should await further developments which are rapidly unfolding.”

When contacted, the spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Gong, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that, “What the ASUU president said, which I am privy to, is that, they have received government offers, they will communicate with their various branches across the universities and that the collective decision of those branches will inform the next step they will take. That they directed their various branches to hold their meetings today (Thursday).”

The ASUU leadership is expected to return to Ngige with the outcome of its meeting with the National Executive Committee over the offers made by government to the union.

The meeting between the minister and the ASUU leadership may hold today (Friday).

ASUU had on November 4 last year declared the strike to demand improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.

Other demands of the union include the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU; 2012 and 2013) and Memorandum of Action (MoA, 2017).

It also asked for the release of the forensic audit report on earned academic allowances; payment of all outstanding earned academic allowances and mainstreaming of same into salaries beginning with the 2018 budget.

The union went on strike in 2018 to compel the Federal Government to make funds available for the revitalisation of public universities, based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017.

Ogunyemi said the union would not participate in the 2019 elections but stated that members were free to take part.

The union had on January 4 met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and some officers of the commission. After the meeting, it resolved that it would not participate in the 2019 polls, but said that its members could take part as individuals.

He said, “In accordance with the ASUU’s long standing position, ASUU as a union will not participate in the conduct of 2019 general elections, although members may voluntarily participate in the conduct of the elections

“However, members are prohibited from participating in the election processes using any material that bears ASUU or relates to the union.”

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‘Evil Shall No Longer Have A Voice In Nigeria; I Am Your Nightmare’ — Buhari’s Aide, Onochie Blasts Atiku

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Angered with the demands and statement released yesterday by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Social Media aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, Lauretta Onochie, Monday, boldly replied Atiku, noting that “evil shall no longer have a voice or say in Nigeria.”

Disclosing this in a statement obtained by Vanguard, Onochie opined that the reason why Atiku’s aides are fighting her was because she ‘is Atiku’s nightmare’.

She accused Atiku’s team of trying to make her lose focus especially now President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory is being challenged by the same person, at the election tribunal.

Recall that the former vice president’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), had in a letter to Onochie on Sunday, demanded five hundred million Naira, (N500m) and a written apology in six national and one international daily, as well as on all social media platforms wherein the said publication was made.

Onochie had in one of her tweets averred that Atiku was on UAE watch-list. She said that security operatives in the United Arab Emirates, (UAE) are keeping a close tab on Atiku who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks.

She later asked a question which she later answered. What is he (Atiku) doing there? Answer, Me (Onochie): Shopping for Terrorists?

However, miffed with the allegation, Atiku’s lawyer, Ozekhome (SAN), wrote to Onochie and demanded a retraction and apology on or before 48 hours and failure to do so, he would sue Onochie for N2bn.

In the face of this threat, Onochie said; “EVIL SHALL NO LONGER HAVE A VOICE NOR SAY ANYWHERE IN NIGERIA.

(Vanguard)

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Wike Dethrones Top Monarch In Rivers Over Cult Activities

Peter Okunoren

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has approved the immediate withdrawal of Certificate of Recognition and staff of office from His Royal Majesty, Chief Frank Noryaa, Gbenemene Baabe.

This was made known yesterday in a statement by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Governor on Electronic Media.

According to the statement, the withdrawal of government’s recognition from HRM Noryaa followed his alleged indictment on cult-related activities within his kingdom.

“The traditional ruler was also indicted for harbouring cultists, leading to insecurity in the area,” he said.

The statement quoted Governor Wike as saying his “administration remained committed to the promotion of peace and security across the state.”

Also, the governor warned other traditional rulers and government functionaries against being indicted for promoting insecurity, saying they will face the full weight of the law.

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‘Give Us Security Votes To End Kidnapping, Banditry, Others’ – Iwo Monarch Tells Buhari

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Oluwo of Iwoland in Osun State, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, has called on the Federal Government to make provision for security votes for the traditional institution to help fight insecurity in the country.

Akanbi, who spoke to journalists in Osogbo yesterday, said the traditional rulers were closer to the grassroots and were privy to the intelligence needed to curb crimes in communities.

He said: “Traditional rulers should be empowered to domesticate security at the grassroots which constitutes higher percent of the hideouts for kidnappers. Co-opting monarchs will unavoidably decimate security threat.

“Traditional institution should be given security vote to engage local hunters, vigilante, the Agbekoyas, trusted local Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), among others.

“In my own capacity, I am trying my utmost best in my domain but the institution I represent deserves security funding to act more.

“I have personally arrested a criminal in my domain and handed him over to the police. I know the nooks and crannies of my city. No criminal can survive with illegality here. I have instilled the fear in them and this has decimated atrocities in Iwo. I am ready to do more if empowered by engaging trusted local security details.

“The police saddled with this primary responsibility is underfunded and under staffed. Nigeria of over 200 million population is parading about 300,000 policemen. The police should be equipped with modern tools and should be paid good salaries and as well be assured of job security to motivate them for maximal performance.

“Government should provide surveillance helicopters to aid technical detective assignments by the police, most especially when searching kidnappers’ hideouts.”

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