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ASUU Will Not Suspend Strike, FG Hasn’t Shown Any Commitment —- Union’s President

Gbemileke Ajayi

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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.”

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Melaye Vs Adeyemi: INEC Fixes November 16 For Fresh Kogi West Senatorial Election

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The fresh Kogi West Senatorial election involving Sen. Dino Melaye of the PDP and Sen. Smart Adeyemi of the APC is to hold on November 16, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Melaye and Adeyemi INEC, in a statement, signed Mr. Festus Okoye, Chairman of its Information and Voter Committee, said that the senate election would hold simultaneously with the Kogi governorship election.

Okoye, INEC National Commissioner, in a statement made available to journalists on Monday in Abuja, said that another by-election for the Sabuwa State Constituency in Katsina State had been slated for November 30.

“The decision was taken at the commission’s meeting held on Monday,” the statement said. He said that the fresh election was a sequel to the nullification of the Kogi West Senatorial District election conducted on February 23, by the Election Petitions Tribunal and its subsequent affirmation by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal had upheld the ruling of the Election Petitions Tribunal which nullified the election of Sen. Dino Melaye (PDP), following a suit filed by Sen. Smart Adeyemi of the APC.

The Appeal Court, on October 11, 2019, ordered INEC to conduct a fresh election within 90 days from the date of judgment with all those who participated in it as eligible candidates. Okoye appealed to the candidates and political parties to conduct issue-based campaigns. “We also enjoin stakeholders to eschew violence and avoid acts capable of creating apprehension or a sense of fear before, during and after the elections,” he said.

Okoye also disclosed that following extensive consultations with stakeholders and a review of the security situation with the relevant security agencies, the Commission fixed Nov. 30 for the conduct of bye-election in Sabuwa State Constituency, Katsina State.

He recalled that the Katsina State House of Assembly, vide a letter with Reference Number KTSHA/PER/HON/l24/VOL.l/24, dated Sept. 26, notified INEC of the death of Mustapha Abdullahi, who represented the constituency, and subsequently declared the seat vacant.

He said that the Commission would issue the Notice of Election on October 23, while the conduct of party primaries would take place between October 24 and November 6.

According to Okoye, the last day for the submission of personal particulars of candidates (Form CF001), and the list of candidates (Form CFOO2) is November 8.

“The last day for the submission of names and addresses of polling agents is November 15, while campaigns will end on November 28,” he said.

(Vanguard)

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BREAKING: Heavily Armed Thugs Attack Kwankwaso In Kano, 8 Persons Critically Injured

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Former Governor of Kano State and the immediate past Senator representing Kano Central, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, was attacked by thugs who are yet to be identified in Kano, Monday.

The attack, which followed the former governor’s visit to his hometown, Madobi where he had gone to open a midwifery school, was said to have been carried out around the state underpass.

Eight persons were said to have been critically injured while several cars were damaged beyond recognition.

However, Hajiya Binta Sipikin, Kwankwaso’s media aide, linked the attack to thugs loyal to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.

She said, “This attack was preplanned because we were told that heavy-armed thugs were waiting under the bridge to attack us when we were coming from Madobi.

“We believe Ganduje was behind this attack because we heard one of his aide names being mentioned during the attack.”

She noted that scores of their members were seriously injured and currently receiving medical attention in various clinics including the International Hospital while 10 vehicles destroyed and personal items carted away by political thugs believed to have been sponsored by the Kano State Government at Sharada Panshekara Sabon Titi bridge.

However, one of the Governor’s top aides, who pleaded not to be named, denied being behind the attack on Kwankwaso’s convoy.

He alleged that the attack was an internal wrangling between the Kwankwasiyya members who were apparently tired of their boss, Kwankwaso.

He said, “The attack was a misunderstanding between the Kwankwasiyya members, who accused Kwankwaso of betraying their trust by after them for his personal gains.”

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BREAKING: Court Orders Forfeiture Of Saraki’s Houses In Ikoyi

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A federal high court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of two properties of Bukola Saraki, former senate president, in the Ikoyi area of Lagos state.

Nnaemeka Omewa, a counsel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC), had approached the court, seeking an order of interim forfeiture of the properties located at 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa local government area of Lagos.

He had told the court that they were acquired through “proceeds of unlawful activities”.

Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC included “An order of this honourable Court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situate, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity”.

The commission alleged that while serving as governor of Kwara state, Saraki withdrew over N12 billion cash from the account of the Kwara government and paid the same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistant, Abdul Adama.

Delivering ruling on the application, Mohammed Liman, the presiding judge, ordered interim forfeiture of the two properties.

He also instructed that the EFCC should publish the order in a national newspaper within 14 days, for anyone with interest in the properties to show cause, why they should not be finally forfeited to the federal government.

The federal government had arraigned Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) while he was the nation’s number three citizen.

He was accused of failing to declare his assets, an allegation he denied, alleging that he was being witch-hunted.

The supreme court subsequently dismissed the false assets declaration trial.

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