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14-Day Ultimatum: FG Succumbs To NASU, SSANU Demands

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There are indications that the Federal Government may have agreed to implement the demands of the non-teaching staff unions in the universities that necessitated the issuance of the 14-days ultimatum so as to avert the planned shutdown of the nation’s ivory towers.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) had issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government last week to either address their grievances or they will embark on total and indefinite strike.
The ultimatum was supposed to expire on August 19.
Among the contentious areas included the Earned Allowances which the non-teaching staff unions claimed that they were short-changed in the sharing formula.
They said that out of the N23billion released to the four unions in the university, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) allegedly took over about eighty per cent of the money, leaving only twenty per cent for the three unions.
They also lamented the inability of the government to obey court judgment, especially the judgment of the Industrial Court in 2016 that directed the government to reinstate sacked workers of staff schools which has not been complied with and the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement.
In what may be described as a proactive measure, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Ochono, last week, summoned the leaders of the two unions under the umbrella of JAC at the ministry’s headquarters, Abuja, to discuss the problems in a bid to find a lasting solution.
It was gathered that the Federal Government through the permanent secretary alongside the directors in the ministry, promised to implement the three contentious issues.
In an interview with newsmen, yesterday, Chairman of JAC and President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke said that the government has promised to address the issues by reversing the status quo in the sharing of the Earned Allowances, bring back the sacked workers of the University Staff Schools who are still alive and also begin renegotiation of the 2009 agreement with the unions.
But a member of the JAC and General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi said that despite the decisions reached at the meeting, it was difficult to trust government when it comes to keeping agreements.
However, Ugwoke said, “We had a meeting convened by the permanent secretary, Ministry of Education, over our 14-day ultimatum for government to implement all our demands or else by 19th of August, we proceed on one week total and comprehensive warning strike.
“In response to that, they invited us to a meeting yesterday at the Minister’s Conference Room, Ministry of Education. NASU and SSANU were well represented, the executive of JAC was there and we had a discussion with them. The permanent secretary tried to give us the update on major three items, vis-a-vis the Earned Allowances, the University Staff Schools matter and the renegotiation.
“On the renegotiation, he observed that we are correct that since this year 2019, we have never met. He said that the ministry has written, discussed with the chairman to commence re-negotiation with us and ensure that the renegotiation is within six months. A copy of the letter will be given to us to that effect we said okay.
“But we informed him that we have not been contacted by the Secretariat of the renegotiation committee, he said he was going to repeat a call and a letter to the chairman to commence renegotiation immediately and end within six months.
“As for the University Staff Schools, yes, he repeated the stand of the government on the court judgment of 5th December, 2016, which he said, that government was not ready to appeal and that government was ready to implement.
“To this end, he said that from the advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and others, that government can go ahead and recall them.

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NASS Passes N10.59trn Budget For 2020 … Jerks Its Appropriation By N264bn, Gives Reason

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The two Chambers of the National Assembly (NASS), yesterday passed the Appropriation Bill of N10.59 trillion budget for the 2020 fiscal year with a view to returning the nation’s budget cycle to January to December.
The Lawmakers jerked up the budget as proposed by President Muhammad Buhari to the tune of N246 billion.
The lawmakers passed the 2020 budget following a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on Appropriations of the two Chambers.
Briefing the press after plenary session, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Barau Jubril and Stella Odua, respectively, defended the additional N246 billion the lawmakers injected into the budget.
The Chairman described the budgeting process as the best so far because it is the first time the Executive, Senate and House of Representatives came together on a roundtable to agree on a united document as budget of the country.
He defended the N264 billion increase injected into the 2020 budget as not padding of the appropriation bill, but harvested additional revenue, saying the additional fund was brought in conjunction and consultation with the Executive.
Denying that the extra funds injected was padding, Senator Jibrin Barau said the word padding is alien to the 9th Senate because the infusion on additional vote for capital projects was done in collaboration with the executive arm of government.
According to him, the Senate saw avenue to make additional revenue and “just fixed the expected increased revenue to sectors in need of additional revenue”.
He said “In a Presidential system of government, there is room for checks on what any arm of government is doing by the other. President Buhari no doubt presented a perfect budget, but it is our own responsibility as the parliament to critically look at what was presented by the executive and make corrections where necessary.
“During the course of deliberating on the budget, we saw opportunities of where we can get additional income for the government and we deployed them to areas that need further spending.
“The National Assembly has the right to do it and that is what we have done”, he said.
Presenting the report, Senator Barau Jibrin said the increase of N264billion allowed for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health.
A breakdown of the budget, Senator Jubrin said, is that Statutory Transfer stood at N560.5billion, recurrent expenditure-N4.8billion, capital expenditure-N2.5billion, debt servicing-N2.7illionbn, fiscal deficit-N2.3trillion and deficit to GDP of 1.52 per cent.
He pointed out that daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day, Oil Benchmark stood at $57 per barrel against $55 proposed by the Executive, while the exchange rate stood at N305 per dollar.
Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040; Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.
Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.
Also, for the 2020 fiscal year, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.
Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks after the 2020 budget was passed, said, “when we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.
“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.
“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.
“Let me also commend the buying-in of the executive arm of government. When we continued to preach that we have to receive the 2020 budget estimates before the end of September, it was not easy for the executive.
“I know they (Executive) worked day and night. So it was presented to us on the 8th of October. We have been able to work harmoniously. There is no way we can achieve this without all of us working together.
“I want to commend our colleagues from the opposition. This Senate from the beginning, we said, will be bi-partisan. You have given us all the support that we require, and indeed, this is the way it should be”, Lawan added.
The Senate President also noted that with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government is sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.

 

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

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Wike, Building Legacy For Tomorrow -Nsirim

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The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information And Communications, Rivers State, and Commissioner-designate, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, says the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike is building lasting legacies for tomorrow through the various developmental projects going on across in the state.
Nsirim said the traffic gridlock being witnessed in major roads across part of the state, was due to the concerted efforts by the state Chief Executive’s transformation policies which, he said, havw turned the state to a construction site.
He, therefore, urged residents and visitors to the state, to bear with the State Government and not worry about what they see around, saying that it is the vision of the NEW Rivers mantra to place the state on the trajectory of leadership and governance.
Nsirim, said this while declaring open a two-day workshop for Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC), State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), and Heads of Public Relations (PR) and protocol being hosted by the RSUBEB in Port Harcourt yesterday, with the theme, “Bridging the Gap and Breaking New Grounds in UBE Public Relations/Protocol Practice”.
He described the role of PROs and Protocol officers in basic education management in the country as very strategic and urged them to improve on their professional competencies in order to drive the programmes in their various boards.
“Your roles in basic education is very strategic.There are new strategies being introduced by government to ensure that basic education receives a boost in the country”, he stated
Nsirim also urged them not to see the workshop as an avenue to make new friends, but to improve on their proficiency in order to bring in various stakeholders into the activities of the board .
“What ever opportunity and duty you find yourself, see it as a service to God and write story of prosperity”.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the state SUBEB, Ven. Fyneface Akah, said the workshop was a unifying event that offers a moment of exchange of ideas and skills as well as orderliness among the Public Relations Officers and Protocol managers in order to streamline the way of doing things.
According to him, the workshop will help them on how to get the public to know and understand the workings of the board, adding that they have much work to do in making people understand the activities of the board.
In his own speech, the head, UBEC Public Relations and Protocol, Abuja, Mr. Ossom M. Ossom, who read the good- will message of the UBEC Chairman, said “Public Relations and Protocol practitioners owe it a duty, especially to Nigeria’s school-age population, to use every available opportunity in drawing the attention of all UBE stakeholders to the fact that our country cannot afford to berth and pass through the coming decade as largely uneducated entity and with the largest population of out-of-school children in the world”.
Earlier in an interview with newsmen, the Head of legal and Public Relations, SUBEB, Barr Karibi T. George, said “Public Relations is the live wire of every organization because it builds on the corporate image and reputations of organisation to build public Confidence”.

 

 

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We’ll Monitor Commissioners’ Performance -RSHA …As NUJ commends Wike on Nsirim’s Appointment

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The Rivers State House of Assembly has finally confirmed the nomination of 13 Commissioner-nominees sent to it by the governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.
The confirmation was finally done after debate and sitting to scrutinize complete tax certificate and clearance of one of the nominees, Mr. Sylvanus Nwankwo.
Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani said it was the constitutional mandate of the legislature to screen and confirm Commissioner-nominees; hence, it was not a witch-hunt on any of the nominees.
Debate on whether the nominees should be confirmed after they appeared on the floor of the House on Tuesday started when the Leader, Hon Martin Amaewhule, described all the nominees as, “fit and zealous” persons with requisite qualifications.
In the same vein, Hon. Matthew Dike of Tai Constituency said, “The Commissioner Nominees sent to this Assembly are landmark. It is full of men and women of proven integrity “.
On his part, Hon. Michael Chinda of Obio/Akpor Constituency 2 submitted that the Assembly will beef up its oversight on them, and therefore urged the nominees to be alive to their duties or bow out.
Chinda insisted that performance is key, saying that the House will monitor the activities of the screened and approved Commissioner nominees.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has commended the Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for appointing their past State Chairman and two times Press Secretary to the Governor, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim as Commissioner.
Chairman of the State NUJ, Stanley Job Stanley, in a chat with The Tide, said the union is excited that after few years a professional communicator has been chosen to serve the state.
Though the nominees, who have been screened and confirmed by the Assembly, are yet to be sworn in and assigned port, folios, the NUJ Chairman expressed confidence that Nsirim will man the Information and Communications Ministry which he (Nsirim) had been a Permanent Secretary in the past three years.
“We are happy for the appointment because as a union, we have been advocating that professionals be appointed to man the Ministry.
“It will be a boost to the image of the NUJ because Nsirim was our former Chairman and for a very long time we have been longing for press/government relations to be cordial,” Stanley stated.
He described the appointment of the Permanent Secretary as well deserving, urging him to use his good offices to boost journalists/ government relations in the state.
Pastor Nsirim was among the 13 Commissioner-nominees screened and confirmed by the Assembly on Wednesday.
Nisirm, a Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Information and Communications until his nomination as a Commissioner, is currently the State Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations(NIPR).
He has in the last six months championed a statewide image advocacy campaign tagged,” Our State, Our Responsibility.”

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