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ASUU Rules Out Further Negotiation With FG

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has ruled out the possibility of further negotiations with the federal government saying that it would go back to work only when the government signs the 2008 agreement with the union.

Our correspondent reports that the president of ASUU, Prof. Uka Chukwu Awuzie, said in Calabar that the two and a half years of lobbying, dialogue and negotiation were enough time for government to act.

Presenting ASUU’s case on the strike in answer to the recent claims by the Minister of Education, Sam Egwu on National Television, Awuzie said that if the federal government signs the agreement in the next 2 hours, ASUU would immediately call off the strike.

He dismissed claims of the minister on why the government wants to review the agreement before endorsing it saying, “the issues raised by the minister fly in the face of indisputable facts and provoked the government’s insincerity and insensitivity.”

According to him the issue of reviewing the agreement because of the global economic meltdown as claimed by the minister need not arise as the agreement was reached and communicated to government in 2007 when the price of oil was about $50 per barrel, noting that oil currently sells for about $70 per barrel.

“The issue of meltdown has been brought to the centre stage by the government because it has misplaced its priority and relegated the education of the citizenry of this nation to the background,” Awuzie stated.

He added that even though the present government touts education as one of the issues in the seven point agenda, the allocation to education in the 2009 budget betrayed its lack of commitment to the education of Nigerians.

“ASUU believes that with an average of N120 billion earned from oil each day, government should be able to fund education effectively, including free and compulsory education, under a fair and conducive environment. If it considers this impossible, then money should be enough to increase access to education by a greater majority of our people. We cannot aspire if the bulk of our citizenry remain uneducated as is the case today.”

On the adoption of an alternative to strike as a means of pressing home their demand, he called for suggestions on a better alternative warning, however, that such must not include lobbying, dialogue and negotiations.

“For lobbying, we have lobbied for two and half years. Dialogue has become a discussion between the deaf and dumb.”

Our correspondent further gathered that the Vice President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Jerome Egbe, has called on the federal government to grant the demands of the striking university lecturers as part of the demands for the federal government to sign and implement the December agreement government had with ASUU.

He questioned the logic of pushing for vision 2020 when “there is no consideration to develop human resources. President Yar’Adua’s administration will only achieve its vision when there is a departure from the deceit of previous administration,” he said.Egbe noted that students will “unequivocally support any struggle that can improve the status and well being of Nigerians, lecturers and we will frown at any attempts by government to deliberately frustrate our teachers who, by their calling, are poised to build the future of the youths.”

He said students were not impressed by the administration’s seven point agenda, saying: “NANS is unimpressed about President Yar’Adua’s seven point agenda. Our president and his government should realize that the hope of this country rest on the shoulders of lecturers.”

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Niger Delta

Ayade Suspends Carnival Over Insecurity, COVID-19

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, Yesterday suspended the 2021 Carnival Calabar over fears of a renewed outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The governor disclosed the decision after a prolonged debate among his aides including Commissioners, special advisers special assistants, speaker of the House of Assembly, council chairmen, during an enlarged executive council meeting.
Announcing the suspension, Ayade cited the health concerns arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 variant, Omicron, as well as the prevailing security situation as reasons for the suspension.
He said he would not as a governor and leader compromise the lives and safety of the citizens for the fleeting excitement of the carnival.
Before announcing the suspension, Ayade had subjected the decision to popular votes, following which the majority of the stakeholders voted for the suspension of the carnival.
“We voted more than three times to arrive at No Carnival this year for the best interest of Cross Riverians!
“I’m sad of course as I wanted Carnival for 2021 but the majority carried the day. Dear Cross Riverians, we need to be alive first to enjoy Xmas and Carnival.
“The New Covid-19 Variant is dangerous and won’t portray a good image for the Governor who is the hero of Covid-19 prevention,” the governor told the people of the state.
One of the speakers and former Minister of Culture and Tourism, High Chief Edem Duke even opined that it would be a mockery for a state whose Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, is the Chair of Nigerian Commissioners of Health Forum to hold a carnival amidst the dangers of the new Covid-19 wave.

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Niger Delta

Lawmaker Empowers Edo Youths, Women

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Senator representing Edo South Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Matthew Urhoghide, has trained and supported over 222 youths and women in the state with starter kits to commence businesses.
The training, facilitated by the senator, was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Cross River Basin Development Authority, as part of the lawmaker’s effort to improve livelihood of unemployed persons in the state.
Addressing newsmen at the training session in Benin City, the senator, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, said he had so far upgraded skills and empowered over 7,000 persons across the seven local government areas that make up the senatorial district in the state.
Urhoghide, represented by Pet Eghobamien, legislative aide to the senator, said: “The programme is facilitated by Senator Matthew Urhoghide. He promised all of these things during electioneering that he will improve lives and livelihood of Edo people.
“There are different classes of participants. For metal works, we have 200 and for barbing, hair making and fashion, we have 22 persons. Those that will be trained on metal works and local fabrication will go home with N50,000. We are not giving the other ones money but we have given them full complement of what they need to start their businesses.”
Ogbomo Tona, chief resident officer, Human Resources, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, who represented the Edo State controller of the ministry, congratulated the trainees, pointing out that capacity development is key to nation building.
Items distributed were generators, sewing machines, and dryers, among others.

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Niger Delta

Pirates Kill Three, Abduct Seven Oil Workers

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Gunmen, suspected to be pirates, in the early hours of Sunday, attacked two oil installations, killing three and abducting seven oil workers in Bayelsa State.
The Tide learnt that the pirates ambushed their unsuspecting victims in Okoroma and Ogbokiri-Akassa communities of Nembe and Brass Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
Sources close to the affected oilfields said the gunmen reportedly shot dead two staff of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company and a personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The driver of their boat, an indigene of Okoroma community, is still missing, according to the local sources who witnessed the incident.
According to the sources, in the ambush that occurred at Ogbokiri-Akassa in Brass Local Government Area, six oil workers said to have been doing maintenance job close to their platform were abducted.
The Agip oil workers and their security guards, it was gathered, came under attack at about 6 a.m., while working close to a manifold in the deep swamp.
The NSCDC spokesperson in Bayelsa, Ogbere Solomon, confirmed the incident on Sunday evening.
Mr Solomon said a civil defense officer died in the ambush, while two others, who were missing, have been found and are currently receiving treatment at a medical facility in Yenagoa.
“Yes, our officers were ambushed and attacked by some unknown pirates while on their lawful duty of providing protection to some Agip oil workers close to Obama manifold in Okoroma community of Nembe Local Government Area.
“One personnel was killed while the other two that were missing have been found and are responding to treatment,” he said.
The youth president of the Okoroma Clan, Tarinyu Joseph, said indigenes of the area had recovered the corpses of those killed.
He said those injured were taken to the hospital while the boat driver is still missing.

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