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As FG, ASUU Dialogue

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As the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meet today to deliberate on issues affecting Nigeria’s university system, there are indications that something reasonable would come out of it.

The National Assembly through the Senate President, David Mark, announced last Wednesday, the approval of the extension of retirement age of professors from 65 to 70 years.

This is one of the issues ASUU is demanding from the Federal Government.

Since December 5, 2011 the umbrells body of lecturers in federal and state – owned universities had embarked on an indefinite strike alleging that the federal government was foot-dragging over the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, which promises better funding of universities, extension of the retirement age of professors to 70 years, university autonomy and better condition of service, among others, after signing the agreement with the Federal Government in October 2009, after nearly three months of strike, the union, led by its National Executive Council (NEC) President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, has been complaining about the non-implementation of most components of the agreement and issued several warnings, especially last year that it was running out of patience.

In May 2011, after a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the union, it accused the federal government of insincerity,  said, members were calling for a one-week warning strike which began on September 26, and then till now.

The  Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquyyatu Ahmed Rufai, has urged the union to be patient and stated that the bill was before the National Assembly.

Prof. Rufai, while briefing newsmen at the end of a meeting between Federal government and ASUU which ended in deadlock last month, appealed: “I will still insist and plead again that ASUU has to call of the strike.

“We have already agreed that we will continue to negotiate in terms of ensuring that all the issues at stake will have to be addressed”.

The Education Minister urged students to be patient and understand the situation in the country.

While assuring that the federal government was making efforts to transform the country and was not pleased with the shortfalls in the universities.

Expressing her views on the latest development, the Owerri Zonal Cordinator of ASUU, Mrs Emilia Jaja, in a telephone interview with The Tide, acknowledged that the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU is meeting with Federal government today and that is when Federal government will officially present the document to the leadership of the union.

According to her, “It is a big sacrifice from the Professors anyway, because they are giving out a lot, but it is okay.

“Well we are very hopeful, if they meet on Monday, every other thing would be looked into, you know, that is not the only thing we have”.

She said when federal government looks at the other things, ASUU would call its national officers for briefing before local chapters would take action.

Her words: “We are hopeful that by Monday, something reasonable will come out of it. It will be reasonable enough”.

Bearing his mind on the move, in a Short Message Service (SMS), the ASUU Chairman, Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Chapter, Dr. Felix Igwe, recalled that the strike was called due to the non-implementation of the 2009 agreement.

According to him, “After the meeting on Monday, the union will convene NEC meeting to review the level of implementation of the said agreement and subsequently, decide on the way forward”.

He, however, appealed to governing councils of both federal and states universities that have not made any effort to implement the agreement to pay the requisite arrears of the accrued salary difference from July 2009.

He said that has become necessary so as to avert further strike after the national strike is been suspended.

Also expressing optimism about today’s meeting between the federal government and ASUU, a school teacher, Mrs Hannah Obiekwe, who said, if the National Assembly has approved the retirement age of Professors from 65 to 70 years, acknowledged that it is better for us.

“Experience has shown that the more you teach, the more experience you gain and the society taps from this laudable experience of teachers”.

“A nation without human capital development cannot flourish in modern competitive economy”, she expressed.

She advised government to treat members of ASUU with respect and dignity arguing that without them, students would have no future.

Also speaking, a non-academic staff in one of the tertiary institutions in Port Harcourt, Mr. Durum Nnanna, but they expressed optimism that the two parties would reach agreement today to enable students go back to school.

He cautioned that strike action should not always arise between Federal government and ASUU can reach agreement to avoid disruption in the academic calendar.

However, the National President of National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), Mr. Warmate Awoloye, expressed concern over the issues of ASUU’s incessant strike actions and appealed to ASUU to see to the plight of the federal government on education vis-à-vis the removal of fuel subsidy.

Awoloye said based on that, he is hopeful that the standard of education students crave for in the universities would come to fruition.

He advised both federal government and ASUU to dialogue and call off the strike as soon as possible because according to him, “we are tired of staying at home and we want to avoid further demonstrations on the streets”.

In his reaction, the President of Student Union Government (SUG), RSUST, Mr. Godswill Amadi said yes, federal government has met one of ASUU’s demands.

“So, probably on Monday, the strike will be called off”, he assumed.

ASUU members feel they had so many disappointments in the past and so would not take anything for granted.

Just last Thursday, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruquyyatu Ahmed Rufai again, expressed optimism that the strike embarked upon by ASUU would soon come to an end.

Her words: “We are going to meet again with ASUU on Monday, and it is our hope and desire that after that meeting, we expect that they will call off the strike”.

I think what  is left are one or  two grey areas that  need to be addressed and Nigerians and undergraduates wish the federal government to reach a compromise with the lecturers.           There is a concensus that universities should come back to normal.

With the move by the federal government, to resolve the crisis, public university undergraduates should expect positive results from today’s meeting.

 

Eunice Choko-Kayode

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Education

RSG Begins UTME Fees For Candidates Process

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In fulfilment of Governor Nyesom Wike’s promise to ensure that every Rivers child has access to education and equal opportunities, the Rivers State Government has begun the processes that will lead to the payment of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination fees for eligible Rivers State students in SS3.
According to the state Ministry of Education, principals of public and private schools are to register all eligible students on the platform of Rivers Education Management Information System, RIVEMIS on www.rivemis.riversstate.gov.ng
In a statement made available to The Tide last Friday, following a meeting with principals of public and approved private senior secondary schools, the state Commissioner for Education, Pro Kaniye Ebeku said Governor Nyesom Wike was desirous of impacting the lives of Rivers people.
Prof Ebeku stated that the registration on RIVemis is to furnish the state government with the accurate number of students eligible for the examination.
He directed the principals to ensure that all eligible Rivers students were uploaded on the platform before the close of work on Tuesday, 14th January, 2020.
The Education Commissioner warned against uploading names of persons who are not Rivers State indigenes and students on the platform.
“Our Governor, who is education friendly as well as infrastructure friendly has in his wisdom decided to improve on the problem of access by ensuring that all students in SS3 have the opportunity to write the WAEC examination at the appropriate time and also to write NECO. I have been directed by the governor to ensure that all eligible candidates are presented to him as early as Monday (Jan 13, 2020), so that he can do the needful by releasing the money to pay for their JAMB.
“This is why we asked you to come within the short notice, we need your assistance to get the authentic list as soon as possible.”
Also speaking, Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT, Ibufuro Asawo, explained that the registration of students on the RIVemis platform is free.
He expressed worry that many schools were yet to take advantage of the platform despite series of campaigns by the ICT department on social and conventional media.
However, he expressed readiness to ensure all students of the schools were uploaded on the platform before the deadline with the cooperation of principals of senior secondary schools in Rivers State.
On her part, JAMB Zonal Coordinator for Rivers State, Oyinkansola Odhigada, lauded the state governor for the decision of sponsoring Rivers indigenes for the examination.
Odhigada hinted that the examination board will commence mock exams in preparation for the UTME on the 18th of January and expressed the willingness of the board to work in synergy with the state government through the Ministry of Education.

 

Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Education

2020 UTME: JAMB Suspends NIN Requirement

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) last Saturday suspended the use of the National Identification Number for registration for the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME.
The Registrar of JAMB, Ishaq Oloyede, made this known while speaking to newsmen in Abuja.
According to him, the decision was made to provide more time for candidates to get their national identification numbers.
Oloyede also stated that the suspension was to address the technical challenges experienced at some centres, adding that the exam body will consider the use of NIMC for 2021 exams.
We also decided to suspend that prerequisite based on some technical issues on ground,” he said.
Oloyede spoke further: “We came to a decision yesterday and decided that we will suspend the use of NIN as a prerequisite for the 2020 UTME and Direct Entry (DE) registration until 2021.
“By then, all candidates would have been given one year notice to register.
“This does not affect our permanent and adhoc staff who will participate in the exercise as they will require the NIN for verification.
“We have gone round and seen the passion and commitment of the candidates; the reality on ground is that what we expect is not attainable at the moment, so we shall not inflict more pain on candidates.”
Oloyede also noted that technical issues on ground with regards to the system of registration at the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), was one of the major reasons for the suspension.
According to him, plans are underway for the provision of a more advanced system that will be more efficient for the exercise.

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Education

VC Tasks Varsity Staff On Recreational Activities

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The Acting Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University (RSU), Port Harcourt, Prof. Opuenebo Binya Owei, has stressed the importance of recreational activities to human development and  has therefore charged staff of the institution  to find time to relax after close of work each day  in order to have a stress free life.
Prof. Owei gave the charge while speaking to members of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) at the Annual End of Year Get-Together / reception for newly employed staff of the Union.
The acting Vice Chancellor commended the leadership of the Union for sustaining the Annual End of Year Get-together, noting that the initiative gives members a sense of belonging and provides a platform for interaction and relaxation outside the working environment.
She assured the union that the management of the university will continue to work with her and other sister unions to ensure that the university remained on the path of steady growth.
In his remarks, the Chairman of SSANU, Comrade Cheta Azumah congratulated the newly employed staff on their appointment, calling on them to see it as an opportunity to serve.
Comrade Azumah admonished them to imbibe the attributes of humility and respect, stressing that it was the engaging approach to learning from their seniors and growing on the job.
On his part, the Registrar of the University, Mr. Sydney Enyindah, called on the old staff to be open to the new ones and mentor them.
He described SSANU as the most enviable union in the university, noting that her members work in every department in the institution.
“SSANU members should see those in the teaching cadre as their colleagues and not rivals”, he added.

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