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ASUU May Resume Strike In February, Varsity Unions Battle Over N40bn

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Wednesday indicated that it might resume its suspended strike in February if the Federal Government failed to implement agreements it signed with the lecturers.

The National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Lagos while shedding more light on the decision of the union to suspend its nine-month strike.

But while ASUU ended its industrial action on Wednesday, non-academic unions in universities threatened to go on strike over N40bn earned allowances government promised to release to all unions.

They described the sharing formula for the money as unfair.

Recall that ASUU had on March 23 begun a nationwide strike over the Federal Government’s insistence that all its employees must register for the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.

Although government argued that the IPPIS was meant to eliminate fraud, the union stated that it should not be applicable to universities on the grounds that it violated their autonomy.

In the alternative, ASUU developed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which it said would meet the peculiarities of universities.

Until Tuesday’s meeting between the two sides, they had disagreed over UTAS, which government said would only be adopted if it tallied with the IPPIS.

Besides its opposition to the IPPIS, other demands of ASUU are setting up of visitation panels for universities, payment of earned academic allowances and revitalization of infrastructure in the universities.

Ogunyemi, in the interview with newsmen on Wednesday evening, said if the government reneged on its promises, members of the union would not hesitate to withdraw their services.

Earlier at a press conference in Abuja, he said the union would as from 12am on Thursday (today) suspend its strike.

The decision to suspend the strike, according to Ogunyemi, was unanimously reached by the National Executive Committee of the union, after considering reports from the national secretariat and various branches.

While assuring Nigerians that ASUU would fulfil its own part of the agreements it reached with government, Ogunyemi warned that the union would not hesitate to resume its suspended strike should government fail to reciprocate the gesture.

According to him, ASUU is willing to return to classrooms and laboratories to rekindle the aspirations of its members to encourage their students to excel.

Ogunyemi further urged parents to take prime interest in their children’s welfare, learning, better funding, better laboratories, and free development to enable them to compete with their counterparts globally.

He said, “After diligent and careful appraisal of the various reports, especially the agreements reached by ASUU with the Federal Government of Nigeria on December 22, 2020, NEC resolved as follows:

“To accept the agreements reached between ASUU and the Federal Government on December 22, 2020, to consciously and diligently monitor the implementation of the FGN-ASUU agreements of December 22, 2020 in all branches.

“To ensure that no ASUU member suffers any loss of deserved benefits as a result of participation in the strike, to pursue fervently FGN-ASUU agreements in 2009 and the MoA (memoranda of agreements) 2013.”

According to him, both sides also agreed that the earned academic allowances should be backed by a law and the amendment of the Executive Bill in respect of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act, 2004.

He added, “Finally, NEC resolved to conditionally suspend the strike action embarked upon on March 23, 2020, with effect from 12:01am on Thursday, December 24, 2020.”

While shedding more light on ASUU’s insistence on the implementation of the 2009 agreements, Ogunyemi stated that the objectives of the agreements were found to have been made even more potent by the findings of the Federal Government Committee on the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities in 2012.

He stressed that the agreements, when implemented, would reverse the decay in the Nigerian university system and reposition it for greater responsibilities in national development;

Ogunyemi also stated that the implementation of the agreement would reverse the brain drain in universities and enhance the remuneration of academic staff.

According to him, university lecturers would be freed from “the encumbrances of a unified civil service wage structure.”

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Ex-Minister Aisha Al-Hassan ‘Mama Taraba’ Is Dead

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Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba is dead.

She died at 61.

Alhassan reportedly died from an unknown illness.

She was a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) before defecting to the United Democratic Party (UDP) in September 2018.

She decamped after resigning from the Buhari administration.

Details Later…

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Oil License: Reps Issue 14 Days Ultimatum To NNPC, Threatens To Summon Buhari

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The House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) has given the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) 14 days ultimatum to appear before it. Should the NNPC fail to appear, the committee said, it will summon the Minister of Petroleum, President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Premium Times, The committee is investigating the revocation and reversal order on the operating licenses of OML 123, 124, 126, and 137.

The oil assets have been the subject of dispute between Chinese-owned oil companies and the federal government. The dispute led to the revocation and restoration of the mining licenses by the Buhari administration.

On Thursday, NNPC, Addax Petroleum Exploration Nigeria Ltd, Kaztech Engineering Ltd, and Salvic Petroleum Resources Ltd all failed to appear before the committee. However, the Minister of Petroleum (State), Timipriye Sylva, and the Director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Sarki Auwalu, appeared before the committee.

Myrki Adar (APC, Sokoto), the chairman of the committee, issued the ultimatum and expressed readiness to summon the president if the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, should fail to appear before the panel.

He disclosed that the NNPC sent a letter to the committee that the matter was at the Supreme Court. However, Mr Sylva disputed the claim that the matter was in court.

While issuing the ultimatum, Mr Adar said the panel will not hesitate to summon the president, since he is the petroleum minister.

“Our message to all those that fail to appear before us as invited namely the NNPC, Addax petroleum company limited, Kaztech engineering ltd and Salvic petroleum resources limited.

“We are giving them two weeks from today. We would reschedule this meeting from now to two weeks to appear before this committee and continue our business.

“Unless they want us to invite President Muhammadu Buhari as minister of petroleum. If they do not come, we will not hesitate. Buhari is a minister. He appointed himself, approved by the parliament and he is doing his job. We would invite him. And I know as a law-abiding president he would come. If he comes, Nigerians should know that it is the failure of the NNPC to come that led him to appear before us.”

Background

On April 6, the DPR revoked four oil assets belonging to Addax, now owned by Sinopec, a Chinese state oil company.

A presidential panel headed by a former senator, Magnus Abe, had accused the oil company of “economic wastages.”

The DPR revoked the four Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) citing the inability of the firm to comply with agreed terms.

The assets were re-awarded to two indigenous companies; Kaztec Engineering Limited/Salvic Petroleum Resources Limited (KEL/Salvic) Consortium.

Less than two weeks later, the federal government in a statement by the spokesperson to the President, Garba Shehu, restored the mining right of OMLs 123, 124, 126, and 137 to the NNPC which has a Production Sharing Contract with Addax Petroleum; thus reversing its operations back to Addax.

Aborted motion
Last week, a motion to investigate the matter was listed on the Order Paper of the House.

The motion was in the name of Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta). However, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, asked the motion to be stepped down.

The motion was stepped down and not considered by the House.

Minister Speaks

On Thursday, Mr Sylva said the NNPC wrote a counter-memo against his memo on the Addax assets. He added that he is yet to recognize the restoration order issued by NNPC.

“I wrote a memo to Mr President and it was approved, and NNPC wrote another memo against my memo.

“Having said that, the issue at hand is that no law was breached at all as far as Addax affairs are concerned. I am also not aware of any matter at the Supreme Court on this particular matter. I have just consulted the director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) who also told me that he is not aware.

“The matter of Addax was not commenced by me, this asset has been sub-optimally managed from the beginning of the acquisition to this moment, it has not been optimally operated.

“When Sinopec group acquired this asset from Addax, production was 130,000 barrel per day, as at today, we struggle to produce 35,000 barrel per day, from this asset, because there are no new investments, and the asset has progressively declined. We believe that with the requisite investment, we would have probably taken the asset to beyond 130,000 barrels per day.

“Obviously, there was an issue of mismanagement of the asset. Now, in the wisdom of the attorney general of the federation, he wrote to the president to say that this asset has not been properly managed. The letter was forwarded to me by Mr President for me to review,” he said.

He added that “NNPC is not in a position to withdraw a revocation or advise the withdrawal or revocation.”

President Buhari is the substantive minister for petroleum and has been since 2015. However, back in December 2020, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had said that the National Assembly cannot summon the President.

 

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Probe Begins Monday As FG Suspends NPA Managing Director, Bala-Usman

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has suspended the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, sources familiar with the development said on Thursday.

It was learnt that a panel of inquiry had been constituted to look into the matter that prompted her suspension, as well as other concerns. The panel begins its work on Monday.

It was, however, not clear what necessitated the suspension of the NPA boss, who was only reappointed in January this year by Buhari.

Senior staff members of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the parent ministry of the authority, confirmed the development but insisted that there was no official statement on the matter yet.

The spokesperson of the ministry, Eric Ojiekwe, could not be reached for comments on the development, as he did not answer calls when contacted on Thursday night.

Bala-Usman was first appointed as the managing director of the NPA in 2016 and was reappointed in January this year for another five years.

On Wednesday, the suspended NPA boss led her organization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Bureau of Statistics and the Nigerian Ports Authority to commence the production of statistical information and data analytics on port-related activities..

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