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SSANU, NASU Threaten Strike Over Unresolved Issues

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The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) said they would proceed on strike over unresolved issues with the Federal Government immediately the universities reopen.
Mr Samson Ugwoke, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC) of both unions said this while addressing newsmen on the resolutions reached by the unions yesterday in Abuja.
The resolutions were signed by the SSANU National President, Mr Samson Ugwoke, and the General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi.
The unions’ grievances included the lingering Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) debacle, nonpayment of arrears of earned allowance and minimum wage. Others are the alleged lack of seriousness by the Babalakin Committee renegotiating the 2009 FG/NASU, SSANU agreements, neglect and poor funding of state universities, absence of visitation panels, among others.
According to Ugwoke, long after many other sectors had been paid the arrears of the national minimum wage and consequential adjustment, university workers are yet to be paid. “We find this development totally unwholesome and very unhealthy.
“Given the time lag of over a year since it was implemented in other sectors, members of the public would agree that we have been patient enough in the university system,” he said.
He pointed out that in spite of the series of letters by the unions to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) Office since February, their members were still confronted with many challenges, including salary payment. Ugwuoke also said that their members, whose monthly salaries were being paid in the second week of the following month in the past seven months, were suffering as a result of the difficulties posed by IPPIS.
He argued that as responsible unions, they had avoided the planned action, adding that the unhealthy situation had made it inevitable.
Ugwoke said: “We have again cried out to the general public with a view to inviting stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to correct the anomaly of IPPIS. “Pay us the arrears of both earned allowances and minimum wage, among others.”
He warned that the unions would have no option than to embark on strike effective from when universities would reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.

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Wike Hands Over More Residential Quarters To Federal Agencies …Begins Ogu/Wakama Road Project Construction, Soon

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has handed over residential quarters and office spaces to Federal Government agencies in Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area.
The accommodation facility is made up of 48 units of one bedroom flats, 24 units of two bedroom flats and two multi-purpose halls.
The facility, which was constructed by the Wike-led administration to solve housing needs in the area, was handed over to the Chairman of the council, Navy Captain Victor Erasmus (rtd).
Wike, who visited the area, yesterday, directed the council chairman to commence the allocation of the accommodation to the various federal agencies in the area.
He said workers in those federal agencies provide services to the state and the accommodation support would enhance their performances.
“We do not like to discriminate. Workers of federal agencies serve the interest of the state. If they do not have accommodation, it will affect their performances.
“We built some of these residential houses because we found out that most of the staff of these federal agencies still come to work here from Port Harcourt.
“Today, we are formally handing over the houses to the council chairman, and I have directed him to allocate them to the benefitting agencies, National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), Nigeria Immigration Services, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), State Security Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp, National Population Commission, National Identity Management Commission and the National Orientation Agency,” he said.
The governor also inspected the extent of work done at the Government Secondary School, Ogu, and expressed delight at what has been accomplished at the Girls’ Section of the school.
“I have come to inspect the Secondary School here. We have seen the Girls’ Section, and you can see that the contractor has done well.
“We shall release more funds to them so that they can complete the project before December, 2020.
“Schools will reopen on the 5th of October, 2020. We want the Girls’ Section to be ready for them. After that, we shall focus on completing the boarding facility for the school,” he stated.
The governor also assured that funds would soon be released to mobilise the contractor for the construction of Ogu-Wakama Road project.

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Nigeria @60: Wike Calls For National Unity

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As Nigeria marks her Diamond Jubilee Independence Anniversary, Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians to continue to work towards the unity, progress and development of the nation.
The governor made the call during the Inter-denominational Church/Thanksgiving Service held in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee Independence celebrations at the St Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, noted that it was the responsibility of all citizens to make the country great as all persons must work and keep the hope of achieving a great nation alive.
He eulogized the sacrifices made by our founding fathers, and regretted that their dreams of a prosperous nation was bedevilled with the challenges of insurgency, poverty, unemployment and fragmented democracy.
“As we go through the passage of nationhood today, we need to pay respect and begin to think about the sacrifices that were made by our founding fathers who sacrificed everything important, who were so heroic and so patriotic in their course to make sure we can be called a nation”, the governor stressed.
The governor was optimistic that Nigeria would be a great nation, and urged all to pray for the peace and unity of the country.
“It is by his infinite mercy that we have remained as a nation. I urge us to continue to pray for the unity, progress and development of Nigeria. There is so much more God wants to do for us as a nation”, he added.
Wike said, “We need to pray because we know God has been answering our prayers and that is why, today, we are able to celebrate, even in the midst of the global pandemic, our nation is still one”.
Earlier in his sermon, His Lord Bishop, Diocese of Niger Delta North, Rt. Rev. Wisdom Budu Ihunwo, charged all to rededicate themselves to God and to remain patriotic to national growth.
The Bishop, who represented by Ven Kingsley Ogbonda, suggested that government should explore other areas in agriculture, security, hospitality, education and transportation to diversify the economy.
He said, “Nigerians have allowed ethnicity and religion to eat deep into our system”, noting that the solution is to humble ourselves in brokenness before God, strengthening the hands of those who mean well for the nation and the need to lay fresh firm foundation for the nation to move forward.
Special prayers were made for the nation and her leaders, Rivers State, the State Executive Council, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
Prayers were also made for the governor and his family and for the church and her leaders.
The service was also attended by the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani; the Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adama Iyaye-Lamikanra; the service chiefs, the state Chairman of PDP, State Executive Council members, former deputy governors, chiefs, elder statesmen and other top government functionaries.

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RSG Reopens Schools Next Monday Stakeholders Work Out Modalities This Week

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Following the directive by the Rivers State Government for all secondary schools, universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions in the state to reopen next Monday, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku, has said that various stakeholders in the education sector in the state would meet within the week to work out modalities towards the full reopening of schools except the primary schools.
Although Ebeku did not give the exact date for the meeting, he, however, said that the meeting would deliberate on critical issues to determine the next class students that would resume and the number of students to be taken into each classroom to ensure social distancing, acceptable school hours as well fees to be paid by students, among others.
The commissioner stated this via text message while responding to questions by The Tide on the way forward on the reopening of schools by the state government.
It would be recalled that the state government had, last Friday, announced that the State Executive Council had approved the full resumption of schools in the state with effect from Monday October 5, 2020.
The council took the decision at an emergency session presided over by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, last Friday, at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Ebeku, who announced this while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, explained that all secondary schools, vocational centres, universities and other tertiary institutions in the state, were affected by the directive.
He, however, stated that the council did not approve the reopening of primary schools based on expert medical advice.
Ebeku added that the council also approved the setting up of a Seven-man Task Force to Monitor and Enforce the Compliance of Covid-19 Protocols in the various schools.
The task force, he said, has the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Amb Desmond Akawor as chairman while the Head of the State Civil Service, Barrister Rufus Godwins; Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike; Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa; and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim are to serve as members.
According to the council’s resolutions, the Commissioner for Education, Prof Kaniye Ebeku is to serve as secretary.
However, some parents and students in the state have commended the state government for the reopening of schools about six months after the education institutions were closed to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
One of the parents, who spoke with The Tide, Mr Chinwendu Nwubi, said parents have long anticipated the gesture, adding that the news was, indeed, received with admiration.
According to him, students in the state have suffered untold educational backwardness as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged the state government to ensure that they monitor compliance by the schools in the state.
Also speaking, a student of Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Rumuola, Port Harcourt, Miss Ifenyinwa Amaliri, lauded the state government for reopening of schools.
According to her, students have suffered much during the pandemic, noting that many students have been involved in various anti-social activities during the period the schools were closed.
Speaking earlier after the SEC meeting, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, also announced the reopening of public places such as parks, cinemas and restaurants that would operate within the hours of 6am to 9pm daily.
Nsirim stated that night clubs and bars as well as Oil Mill Market and Slaughter Market, Oginigba, remain closed.
He said that all the reopened public places must adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols or face severe sanctions.
In her remarks, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma, said that the government reviewed the compliance of citizens as it relates to Executive Order 16 on the conduct of marriages in the state.
Aguma stated that henceforth, applications for marriages must be accompanied with an affidavit stating that there would be no reception.
According to her, a fine of N100million awaits defaulters of the extant regulations.
She added that local government chairmen were to be held responsible, if they fail to monitor compliance in their various areas.
Speaking further, the Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, said that the council also reviewed issues regarding public burials during the Covid-19 period.
According to him, all public burials in the state are to be conducted in line with the Official Gazette of the state which stipulates that not more 50 persons are allowed at such ceremonies.
Chike stated that henceforth, families applying for burials must provide death certificates and an affidavit that they must adhere strictly with all Covid-19 protocols.
He said that defaulters would be liable to a fine of N100million while local government chairmen are to ensure that the directives are complied with in their various areas.

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