The Federal Government, yesterday, said it was withdrawing the ultimatum given to striking university lecturers to resume or be sacked following appeals from well-meaning Nigerians and substantial compliance with the directive by some members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
According to the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN had confirmed that a sum of two hundred billion Naira agreed with ASUU at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on the 5th of November, 2013 had been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure Account.
Addressing journalists, the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe who showed to newsmen the CBN letter which was signed by the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Tunde Lemo and addressed to the Accountant General of the Federation, confirmed that the total sum of two hundred billion Naira was the balance in the account as required.
Okupe who noted that what the federal government was interested in how to resolve the six month old crisis in a peaceful manner for the overall interest of all concerned, said, “right now, the issue of ultimatum is not a matter for discussion anymore. There has been substantial compliance nationwide. If I say you must return to work on the 9th and 70% of the people that I am talking to have returned to work, that is substantial compliance.”
Meanwhile, (ASUU) yesterday, declared a three day fasting and prayer to seek divine intervention in the protracted dispute between the Federal Government and the union.
The decision to embark on spiritual intervention came during the union’s congress held at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan.
The congress which was presided over by the Chairman of UI chapter of ASUU, Dr. Olusegun Ajiboye, stressed the need for God to help Nigerian leaders to do the needful and document the resolutions of their meeting with the President.
The congress which expressed optimism that the strike would end soon listed three prayer points to include: “the need for God to touch the heart of the Federal Government to be committed towards funding public education and develop the nation.
They also asked God to protect the leadership of ASUU as they travel and that the purpose of the strike is actualized by placing universities in the league of world class institutions.”
Speaking after the congress, Dr. Ajiboye said the union did not need newspaper confirmation from the President that N200billion has been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He said it was impossible for anybody who had not opened an account with a bank to request the bank for a balance.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has summoned all pro-chancellors and vice chancellors of federal and state universities to a meeting in Abuja tomorrow following the adamant posture of some of the university lecturers to the ultimatum handed down by the Federal Government.
Although, authorities of some universities had responded to the Federal Government’s directive and ordered their staff and students to resume for normal academic activities, majority of the universities and lecturers were yet to comply with the directive.
The meeting at the instance of the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, is slated for today, Wednesday, December 11, 2013 and would be held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) auditorium, a statement signed by the Executive Secretary of NUC said.
According to the statement, “the vice chancellors are to come to the meeting with a list of their prioritised projects based on the Needs Assessment Report for funding. In addition, vice chancellors of state universities must come along with their account details.”
The members of the IMC are the Minister of Education; Executive Secretary of NUC, Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund); representatives of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Committee of Vice Chancellors, Committee of Pro-Chancellors, ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Academic Staff Union of Non-Universities (NASU) with the Director, Tertiary in the Federal Ministry of Education as Secretary.
Federal Government had, last week, issued a directive to governing councils and vice chancellors in all the public universities to re-open the institutions on December 9, with a sack threat to any defaulting lecturer.
The development had infuriated the striking lecturers who insisted that they were ready to be sacked en masse and that they would not return to classrooms unless their fresh conditions were met. These include settling of their four months salary arrears and disbursement of the N200 billion intervention fund and harmonising as well as signing the Memorandum of Understanding on agreement reached with President Goodluck Jonathan.
The proposed meeting with the pro-chancellors and vice chancellors was to ensure that all the federal universities enforce the directive of the government.
It was not clear whether the meeting was called to disburse the N200 billion the government said it had deposited in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which ASUU was insisting must be communicated to it formally.
President of ASUU, Dr Nasir Fagge Isa, said the lecturers were not moved by the N200 billion that the Federal Government announced that it had deposited with the CBN.
Declare Buhari’s Seat Vacant, Owuru Urges Court
The candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the last presidential election, Chief Ambrose Owuru, has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to declare the seat of President Muhammadu Buhari vacant.
Owuru, who was among the four petitioners that went to tribunal to challenge Buhari’s re-election, in his fresh suit, sought for an order to restrain the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from “undertaking or planning any other election into the office of the President”, in 2023.
The Plaintiff, in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/480/2021, maintained that Buhari is “an unlawful President that is illegally occupying the Presidential seat”.
It would be recalled that Owuru and his party, HDP, had in an earlier appeal they litigated up to the Supreme Court, insisted that the Justice Mohammed Garba-led Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, erroneously dismissed a petition they lodged against the return of Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the presidential election that held on February 23, 2019.
They specifically prayed the apex court to sack Buhari on the premise that he emerged through an illegal process.
According to the Appellants, INEC, failed to follow condition precedents stipulated in the Electoral Act, when it unduly postponed the presidential election that was originally fixed for February 16.
The HDP claimed that its candidate, Owuru, secured over 50million votes in a referendum that was conducted by both electorates and observer networks that were dissatisfied with the unilateral postponement of the presidential election by INEC.
However, in a unanimous decision, a five-man panel of Justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Odili, struck out the appeal for constituting “a gross abuse of the judicial process”.
Meantime, in the fresh suit, Owuru and his party argued that their suit against Buhari at the Supreme Court was inconclusive.
The Plaintiffs argued that the case was fixed outside the 60 days period that was allowed by the law.
Owuru asked the court to declare him the authentic winner of the last presidential poll, as well as, to issue an order for his immediate inauguration to take over from Buhari.
He prayed the court to declare that he is entitled to serve out a tenure of 4 years after his formal inauguration.
More so, the HDP presidential candidate, aside from asking for Buhari’s immediate removal from office, equally prayed the court to compel him to refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected while he unlawfully stayed in office as President.
Owuru also asked the court to give an order that salaries, allowances and emoluments be paid to him from May 29, 2019, when he ought to have been sworn in, till date.
The Plaintiff further applied for, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves and acting through their agents, servants, privies and or proxies howsoever from any further organizing, undertaking or planning of any other election into the office of the President of Nigeria or any such other Presidential Election interfering, harassing and or disturbing the Applicant adjudged acquired right as unopposed and unchallenged winner of the original scheduled and held the February 16 Presidential Election thereof until the 1st Applicant unserved constitutional four years term of office is served pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit by this honourable court”.
Cited as 1st to 3rd Respondents in the matter were Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, and INEC.
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the matter to be heard.
World Bank Report Exposes Buhari’s Lies, PDP Affirms
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the report by World Bank that 7 million Nigerians have been pushed into poverty in the last year, has clinically belied the integrity posturing of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The opposition party said the World Bank report came in the face of the recent claims by President Buhari that his administration has lifted over 10 million Nigerians out of poverty in the last two years.
The PDP asserted that the report by the World Bank has further vindicated its position that President Buhari runs an uncoordinated and clueless administration that thrives on lies, false performance claims, deceit, and perfidious propaganda.
The statement added that, “Nigerians can now clearly see why the APC and President Buhari’s handlers are always in a frenzy to attack our party and other well-meaning Nigerians whenever we point to the poor handling of the economy and on the need for President Buhari to always be factual on pertinent issues of governance in our country.
“Unfortunately, it indeed appears that Mr. President enjoys living in denial while watching millions of Nigerians go down in abject poverty, excruciating hunger, and starvation as our country now ranks 98th out of 107 in Global Hunger Index under his watch.
“Otherwise, why would Mr. President claim that his administration has lifted over 10.5 million Nigerians out of poverty while official figures even from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show worsening poverty rate with 142.2% growth in food inflation and over 82.9 million Nigerians being unable to afford their daily meals due to the failure of the administration to take practical steps to grow and protect the food sector?
“Under President Buhari, Nigerians are now subjected to the worst form of poverty and hardship, with collapsed purchasing power, occasioned by a voodoo economy management that has wrecked our productive sectors and pummeled our naira from the about N167 to a US dollar in 2015 to the current over N500 per dollar.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. President will choose to always bandy fictitious figures and false performance claims, when he has, in a space of six years, destroyed our national productivity and reduced our country to a beggarly nation, a laughing stock and object of pity among the comity of nations.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note President Buhari and APC’s similar false performance claims in other critical sectors, including power, transportation, road infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, security, aviation among others, where the Buhari administration has been bandying fictitious figures with no tangible project to point at.
“Our party counsels President Buhari, his handlers as well as their party, the APC, to note that Nigerians have seen through their deceitful clams.
“The PDP, once again, urges Mr. President to end his false performance claims and get more competent hands to manage the economy before every Nigerian is turned into a street beggar.”
Amnesty Kicks As FG Pushes Social Media Regulation
Amnesty International has strongly opposed the call by the Nigerian Government to regulate the use of social media and online broadcasters.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act organised by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add, that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content— including Twitter,” he said.
Reacting, Amnesty International, in a tweet via its Twitter account, yesterday, kicked against the motion.
It noted that when social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the internet and limit access to social media.
It further noted that criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“When social media is regulated, authorities can arbitrarily have powers to shut down the Internet and limit access to social media.
“Criticizing the government will be made punishable with penalties of up to three years in prison.
“Regulating social media in Nigeria could be easily abused to punish critics of government policies and actions, and anyone who asks difficult questions could find themselves liable for ‘diminishing public confidence in the government.’
“Seeking a law to prohibit abusive, threatening and insulting behaviour is open to very wide interpretation. This section would pose a threat to critical opinion, satire, public dialogue and political commentary,” the statement added.
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