The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it has reached concrete proposals with the Federal Government on the ongoing warning strike embarked upon by the union. Mr Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President said this in Abuja while addressing newsmen at the end of a closed door reconciliation meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The meeting which began by 3 p.m ended at about 11 p.m on Tuesday. It would be recalled that ASUU began the warning strike on March 9, 2020 after disagreement with the Federal Government over issues of revitalization of universities, earned academic allowance.
Others are visitation panel, mainstreaming and most importantly Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) always and other issues relating to university funding.
Ogunyemi said that no pronouncement would be made until after presenting the new government proposals to members of the union.
According to Ogunyemi, we had some fruitful discussions, we have improved on where we were last time, we have what we can call concrete proposals and we have what we can take back to our members.
“But as we usually say, those of us here cannot give the final pronouncements on any of the proposals and we have assured the government that we will report faithfully to our principals and get back to government accordingly.
“We want to assure all Nigerians that we are concern on going back to our work like every other person, because we know that is where we find happiness, we are not happy outside our classrooms, our laboratories and our libraries.
” So, in view of this we will do our best to ensure that all concerns have the maximum benefits from this action because it is of national interest.
“If academics do not defend the universities who will defend the academics, ” he said.
Also speaking, Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said both parties had fruitful deliberations on contentious issues, especially the issue of IPPIS.
He said, “the meeting was longer than anticipated because we had to look at all the issues that were in our 2019 Memorandum of Actions, especially those that had not been fully addressed. We made new proposal on behalf of FG to ASUU.
“These issues range from funding, revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, salary shortfalls in Federal University of Akure and the issue of state universities.
“We also addressed payment of earned academic allowances to University of Ilorin.
“On the Nigerian University Pension Commission, certificate was issued last year but operational certificate had not been issued because we do not have a permanent PENCOM board in place.
“We have made proposal on how NUPENCO board will be able to fulfill its obligation, especially in terms of preparation of annual audit reports.
“Issue of visitation panel to the universities has been on the table since last year. The Government side made progress and that approval has been gotten, and we are waiting for the gazette of the membership of the visitation panel. ”
The minister noted that the Issue of IPPIS was also discussed and options and solutions were advanced.
He said that the government had a proposal, which had been given to the ASUU.
According to him, ASUU will take the issues that are outstanding back to its National Executive Council for them to be on the same page before they get back to the government.
“We have agreed on tentative date to get back to government is before the weekend runs out. We expect ASUU to write the government before then to see if there will be need for further meeting,” he added.
Nigeria News Agency reports that those also present at the meeting were, Minister of State, Labour and Employment Mr, Festus Keyamo (SAN), Executive Secretary of the National University Commission.
Others are Minister of State for Education, Accountant General of the Federation, Permanent Secretaries in the ministries of labour and that of education .
Edited By: Felix Ajide
World Teachers Day: 774 teachers to benefit from excellence award
Adamu, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukuemeka Nwajiuba, made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday as part of activities to herald the celebration coming up on Oct. 5.
He said that the PT&SEA was geared toward promoting excellence among the teachers.
The minister said that the 2020 WTD theme: “ Teachers: Learning in Crisis, Reimaginning the Future’’, highlighted the imminent challenges affecting teachers in all climes.
Adamu said that the theme reiterated the importance of teachers in nation building and their leadership roles in emergency situations.
“The theme also reiterates the need for nations to rekindle the interest of young people to take up teaching profession by sustaining the services of the extant profession.
“It is in appreciation and recognition of teachers and the quest to motivate them for productivity and quality service delivery that government, through the ministry, instituted the PT&SEA.
“Instruments for the nomination of potential awardees were sent to education ministries in all states and the FCT. Their submissions were backed up with evidence for authenticity.
“ However, only 24 states responded with submissions for the five award categories – Best Public School, Best Approved Private School, Best Public School Teacher, Best Approved Private School Teacher and Best Public School Administrator.
“Each category has three levels that accumulate to a total of 24 awards.
“ Furthermore, 774 best teachers, one from each of the 774 Local Government Areas from which the best teachers were chosen, will also be rewarded to ensure that the process starts to originate from each local government in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the National President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Nasir Idris, has called for regular training and sustained professional development of teachers.
Idris, represented by Mr Amba Audu, National Publicity Secretary, NUT, said that there was need for teachers to be provided with conducive environments and adequate support to meet the new trends and demands of the 21st century.
He also called for the approval and implementation of the 27.5 per cent professional allowance for teachers of Federal Government Colleges.
Idris also emphasised the need to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
“ This year’s WTD celebration provides us another opportunity to take stock of developments in the education sector.
“ In this direction, we will not hesitate to encourage the minister to redouble efforts to enhance the welfare of teachers and to achieve desired results in some thorny areas.
“Among these concerns are the upward review of the retirement age of teachers and education officers, establishment of a Teachers’ Salary Structure and other incentives for teachers to address the peculiarities of the teaching career.
“Establishment of the national secondary education commission for proper coordination and effective management of secondary education in the country.
“Implementation of new minimum wage for all teachers, including primary and secondary teachers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).’’
Idris commended the Federal Government for the concerted efforts made in partnership with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders towards combating COVID-19 pandemic.
He also urged the ministry to ensure that both state and non-state providers of education complied strictly with COVID-19 protocols as school reopens.
The day, which was first marked on Oct. 5, 1994, has become an annual event to mark the progress and promotion of the teaching profession.
Edited By: Celine-Damilola Oyewole and Ephraims Sheyin
ARP presidential candidate urges Buhari to sign electoral bill
Alhaji Yahaya Ndu of the defunct African Renaissance Party (ARP) presidential candidate in 2011 and 2013 General Elections, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to accent the electoral bill into law.
Ndu made the appeal while reacting to the conduct of Sept. 19 governorship election in Edo via a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday.
He said that accenting into law would further strengthen the country’s electoral process.
He commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for successful and peaceful conduct of the election.
Ndu also said that the electoral bill would guarantee more credible and transparent elections in the country.
On the Edo governorship election, Ndu said that as far as the conduct goes, “I think it was well conducted in a transparent and credible manner’’.
Ndu, who is also the President, Peoples Movement for a New Nigeria, a pro-democracy group, emphasised the need to promote party ideologies with a view to ensuring good governance in the country.
NAN reports that in a keenly contested election, the winner Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) polled 307,955 votes to defeat Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who got 223,619 votes.
“We should go beyond elections if we want the country to move forward.
He said that political parties were about creating fences and divisions, not about unifying the people and good governance.
“If we want our country to move forward, we must find a way to work together regardless of our political affiliations.
“I am happy on how the election was conducted in Edo state and I urged the president to sign the Electoral Bill to further strengthen the country’s electoral process to engender transparent and credible elections.’’
Ndu noted that before and after the 2019 presidential election, the bill has not been signed and “we don’t have any guarantee that it will be signed before the next elections’’.
“Democracy is about mass participation in governance, many Nigerians don’t have any direct contact with their representatives in the National Assembly and the masses have no input on how they are governed.
He further advocated for a reduction in the amount of money expended in conducting elections in the country, describing it as outrageous.
According to him, there is a need to prune the cost spent in conducting elections in Nigeria.
“If we calculate the money, time and lives lost and channel the funds towards productive endeavours, we find out that this country would not be borrowing money for anything,’’ Ndu said.
Edited By: Kabir Muhammad/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Lagos assembly begins probe on auditor-general’s report on MDAs
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday began probe on the 2019 Auditor-General’s Statutory Report on the accounts of the state’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Chairman of the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on State, Mr Nurudeen Saka-Solaja made this known while addressing newsmen before commencement of the exercise in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the public accounts committee is a statutory establishment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The committee is an important instrument of checks, probity and accountability by the legislature both at the federal and state levels.
Saka-Solaja explained that the purpose of the probe was not to witch-hunt but to invite all heads of the indicted MDAs.
He added that the exercise was to seek clarifications as regards the outstanding queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report to enhance better service delivery in the state.
Saka-Solaja noted that Sections 125(2) and 129(1) (c) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, empowered the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Assembly to ‘summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place’.
“The committee is also empowered to direct the person to produce any document or other things in his possession or under his control and examine him as witness and require him to produce any document.
“The committee can also direct him to produce other things in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions’ during the deliberation and consideration exercise of the audited report of the accounts of MDAs submitted by the Auditor-General of the state.
“Accordingly, in consonance with the need for effective and best practices in the pursuit of its statutory objectives, the public accounts committee (State) of the Lagos state house of assembly today commenced the deliberations and considerations of the audited report of the state auditor-general on the accounts of the state.
“This is for the year ended, December 31, 2019,” he said.
Saka-Solaja however assured Lagosians that all monies budgeted for the MDAs would be properly scrutinized to ensure it was judiciously spent as captured in the budget of the state.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Razak Owolabi
Gov. Sule urges IFAD, World Bank to support women-small-holder farmers
Gov Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has called on the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Bank and the Federal Government to jointly support women- small-holder farmers in the state.
Gov. Sule made the call on Tuesday when he played host to Hajiya Fatima Mukhtar-Buhari, the Market Enterprise Development Advisor of the Federal Government of Nigeria/IFAD Value Chain Development Programme Nigeria, and her team at Government House, Lafia.
According to the governor, IFAD’s support can go a long way toward value chain addition because Nasarawa State being predominantly agrarian, is also a commercial agriculture drive of the present administration.
The governor added that the inclusion of Nasarawa State among the nine states that will benefit from IFAD’s intervention, was not by accident.
According to him, the state has the agricultural potential to take over from Benue as the food basket of the country.
“By the time most of our commercial agricultural programmes , as well as the small holder farming programmes are fully incubated, Nasarawa State will take over from Benue as the food basket of the nation.
“The state will require support in the areas of value chain addition by the time the Dangote Sugar Refinery in Awe Local Government Area, covering 68 hectares of land becomes operational.
“Also, when the 10, 000 hectares of land in Doma being developed by Olams Food start operating, the state will require support for our growers who are mostly women.
“We want IFAD and the World Bank to support the women, because women are excellent farmers of rice,” the governor said.
According to him, it is the practice around the world, particularly in Thailand and in India, that women can also play key role as out growers.
The governor added that IFAD, the Federal Government and the World Bank could come together and support women in the state.
Earlier, Hajiya Mukhtar-Buhari said that Nasarawa State was selected by IFAD among eight states because of its enormous agricultural potential and its support for small, medium and large scale businesses.
She said the visit was part of the implantation support mission of IFAD and value chain development programme.
According to her, this focuses on enhancing of productivity and profitability of small-holder farmers and small scale agro processors by improving their access to market and capacity.
She said that of the 63 local government areas across the selected nine states, 100,000 households, 91,000 small holders farmers, 8,000 processors and 1000 traders would benefit from the intervention, aimed at reducing poverty.
Edited By: Deji Abdulwahab/Peter Dada