Barely two months after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off its nearly-six-month old strike, the Nigerian university system may soon be thrown into another round of crisis.
ASUU, last Saturday, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, alerted the nation of an alleged non-compliance by the Federal Government with the agreement signed between both parties, last December, prior to ASUU’s decision to call off the industrial action.
Accusing the President Goodluck Jonathan administration of breaching its agreement with the union, ASUU pleaded with Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to see to the implementation of the contract, particularly the aspect that deals with funding of universities, so as to prevent another round of strikes.
ASUU’s National Treasurer, Dr. Ademola Aremu, who made the appeal on behalf of the union, alleged that the Federal Government had not kept its own side of the bargain.
Aremu recalled that the government had promised to fund universities, but wondered why, despite the assurances; it was yet to do so.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government recently released N200billion to the universities before ASUU called off its strike, with an expectation that a total sum of N1.3 trillion would be released in the next six years.
The resolution was signed between ASUU and the Federal Government on December 11, 2013, in the presence of the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar.
On December 17, 2013, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the lecturers’ body resolved to suspend the strike it embarked upon on July 1, 2013, and directed its members to resume work forthwith.
Aremu said: “ASUU members are not strike mongers; our last strike was inevitable, although it was preventable.
“Of the N220billion that the Federal Government promised to release to our universities for their development, as we are talking now, the money that is to be warehoused with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to be released.
“The Federal Government’s promises remain just promises. We are appealing to Nigerians, through the media, to help us appeal to the Federal Government to make the promises become a reality,” Aremu said.
ASUU maintained that, inasmuch as its members would not want to resort to strikes in settling issues with the government, they would want Nigerians to know that the conditions of the universities really needed to be improved upon.
Also, Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Dr. Olusegun Ajiboye, insisted that all that ASUU members stand for, is a free society, where individuals’ rights and entitlements are not trampled upon.
Ajiboye said ASUU members would continue to kick against injustice in the country until governments do the right thing.
He urged the media, more than ever, to sensitise Nigerians on the plight of ASUU and its members in universities and allied institutions, maintaining that the struggle was meant for all Nigerians, irrespective of status.
“A current case in point is the recent sack of over 90 workers at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), simply because their appointments were not confirmed. This development is unacceptable to ASUU, and we are kicking against it. Nigeria must be a free state for everybody.
“Despite the fact that ASUU was initially called names during our strike, is ASUU not vindicated at the end of the day? What we are saying is that ASUU’s struggle is for all. We appreciate the contribution of the media to our struggle, and we urge you not to relent, Ajiboye stated.
In the same vein, the union had recently directed its members not to fill forms, distributed by the National Universities Commission (NUC), warning that it may lead to an industrial action.
The NUC had given out the forms for a new method of payment, tagged: Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS).
The directive was given by the same University of Ibadan branch of ASUU, claiming that the method of payment had been roundly condemned in the health sector after noticeable flaws in the system.
The lecturers cautioned the NUC not to distract them now that they were trying to cover lost grounds occasioned by the six-month strike, while declaring that the method of payment negated the principle of university autonomy agreed upon since 1992.
“Our attention has been drawn to NUC’s circular, directing university staff to fill IPPIS forms. This is to remind you that the union’s position on IPPIS has not changed.
“Until NEC reviews its earlier decision, no ASUU should fill the form. NEC is to discuss this issue later this month (February) and give further directive. United we bargain, divided we beg,” he said.
Ajiboye said, “the integrated payment system does not take into consideration the peculiarity of the work of academic staff, and it negates the principle of autonomy, which ASUU won since 1992.
“IPPS negates the principle of university autonomy that ASUU fought for. We are employed by our respective governing councils, and not centrally by NUC.
For salaries to be paid from Abuja is strange to the world university system, apart from the dangers inherent in it,” he said.
Attempts to get reactions from the Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, on Saturday was unsuccessful, as he was said to be outside the country on official assignment, while the permanent secretary in the ministry could also not be reached.
Wike’s Personal Assistant, Mr. Lambert Oparah, told our source in a telephone conversation, that he was not competent to comment on the said looming strike.
His words: “Please, I am not competent to speak on the topic. Only the minister or the permanent secretary can make statements or comments on such matters. The minister is out of the country on official duty and the permanent secretary cannot be reached until Monday (today). But I assure you that the minister will speak on it on Monday (today).”
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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