Eminent Nigerians have been urged to intervene in the face-off between the federal government and Academic Staff Union (ASUU).
The national youth leader of the Action Congress (AC), Mr Timi Frank, who canvassed a quick resolution of the crisis, sought the sack of minister of education Dr. Sam Egwu “for not doing enough to remedy the situation.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Frank said the federal government should give equal attention to education as the Niger Delta; adding that the ongoing strike, which has crippled the nation’s tertiary institutions is a national embarrassment and a threat to the survival of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.
The silence of the political class on the issue is unfortunate and regrettable, as they have failed to add their voices to compel government to sincerely negotiate with ASUU and other striking unions,” he said.
Frank also said it is high time that nation’s elders complemented the efforts of the committee of chancellors of Nigerian universities in resolving the dispute.
He sought the intervention of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and civil society groups in the resolution of the impasse.
Urging the youth not to lose hope in the Nigerian project, Frank reiterated that Egwu should either resign or be removed.
“I therefore, call on all Nigerian youths not to lose faith in the Nigerian project and ensure that henceforth, they will be active agents of change by ensuring, that their votes count in elections so that responsive leaders that will project their interest at all times can be elected, the statement added.
The political row between former Kano State Governor, Alhaj Abubakur Rimi and the immediate past governor, Alhaji Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, has been resolved as both leaders have vowed to unseat the ruling All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the 2011 election.
Efforts to unite the political gladiators began at the August 15 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Congress, in the state.
Kwankwaso’s camp clinched the leadership position of the party.
This followed a meeting in Kaduna where PDP chieftains met to settle the differences between the two leaders.
The meeting which was presided over by the party’s North-West Vice-chairman, Dr Danladi Saikara, was convened at the instance of the national secretariat, Abuja.
Other PDP members at the meeting included former House of Representatives Speaker Alhaji Salisu Buhari and his successor Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’Abba.
The Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board says it has processed about 4.500 visas for intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
The board’s executive secretary, Alhaji Muktar Abdullahi, said yesterday in Kaduna that the visa issuance would be completed before the first week of October.
It was learnt that no fewer than 8.000 pilgrims are expected to perform this year’s pilgrimage from the state.
Muktar said 14 houses had been secured for the pilgrims at Murtalu in the Holyland, while more convenient residence would be hired to ensure the comfort of the pilgrims.
He added that government had bought two additional buses and would sponsor some pilgrims as well as officials.
The 23 local government areas, according to him will sponsor no fewer than 900 pilgrims in line with Govrnor Namadi Sambo’s welfare policy.
Muktar urged that pilgrims to reciprocate the gesture by obeying laws and exhibiting high sense of patriotism during their stay in Saudi Arabia.
Former Oyo State Governor Lam Adesina has scored president Umaru Yar’Adua low, saying he has failed to roll out polices that can lift Nigerians out of poverty.
He urged Nigerians to use the Ramadan to pray to Allah to touch the president’s heart so he can initiate policies that would raise the citizenry above poverty line.
The Action Congress (AC) chieftain spoke yesterday at a lecture marking the end of Ramadan in his Felele, Ibadan home.
Lamenting that Nigerian leaders have failed to use its resources to better the lot of the people, Adesina recalled that when he first travelled to Saudi Arabia in 1982 for Hajj, he slept in a dilapidated building in Medina but he was dumbfounded seeing that the same city had witnessed an unprecedented improvement in 2000.
Besides, Saudi Arabia had only four aircrafts Nigeria had 16.
But now while Nigeria has none; Saudi Arabia owns 200 aircraft, Adesina added.
His words: “A single government policy can change the fortune of Nigerians. Which good policy has president Yar’ Adua introduced? I am talking as a Muslim. We should pray to Allah to touch his heart to make good policies that will help Nigerians out of poverty.
The former governor said he was saddened by a report by the United States Agency for International Department (USAID) that of the nation’s 140 million people, 138.6 million are living below poverty line.
Adesina hoped that the 2011 elections will bring the desired change.
At the lecture were politician and prominent businessmen and women.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has urged Yar’Adua to resolve the strike before nation’s 49th Independence Day celebration on October 1.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday the state chairman of the CLO, Mr. Eneruvie Enakoko, urged the president to ensure that the agreement between the federal government and ASUU was signed before October 1.
He said it would be bad for Nigeria to mark the event while its universities are shut.
Enakoko said honouring the agreement with ASUU will boost the people’s confidence in the policies of the Yar’Adua Administration.
He said education must be taken more seriously, “If Nigeria is to meet the Millennium Development Goals or realise the vision 2020 programmes of the federal government”.
ASUU embarked on a nation-wide strike on June 24 in protest against the government refusal to endorse an agreement which they reached in 2006.
The agreement stipulates the allocation of 26 per cent annual budget to education among other issues.
The Non Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) joined the strike, demanding a new salary structure too.
Despite the denial of the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Aondoaka (SAN), of an alleged move to remove the chairman of the Ekiti State Election Petitions Tribunal, Justice Hamma Barka, more criticisms of the “plot” are on.
The Ekiti Democratic Coalition Alliance (EDCA), which described Aondoaka’s denial as “feeble and unconvincing”, vowed that the people of Ekiti State would not condone any attempt to deny them justice after the last re-run election.
A socio-political pressure group, the Positive Force (PF), warned that any attempt to interfere with the work of the tribunal “will lead to anarchy and chaos.”
In a statement yesterday by EDCA National Co-ordinator, Mr. Morakinyo Ogele, the group wondered why some “powerful interest groups” are uncomfortable with the proceedings at the tribunal to the extent of plotting the sack of the chairman.
EDCA said the tribunal had been fair to all in its conduct.
It warned against any attempt to circumvent the rule of law and arm-twist the judges in the performance of their constitutional duties, stressing that it has no reason to doubt the authenticity of the report, which was first carried by an online news agency.
It urged all parities in the rerun dispute to present their facts before the tribunal and not resort to any unconstitutional act that could impede the wheel of justice.
SON Destroys Substandard Tyres, Cables, Others In Lagos
Lagos Metropolis, on Wednesday, witnessed mass destruction of substandard electric cables, engine oil, LPG cylinders, stuffed new tyres, unapproved cigarettes and low grade roofing sheets by the Standard Organization Of Nigeria (SON).
Director General, SON, Farouk Salim, while destroying the substandard products, Wednesday, noted that the substandard products affected the nation’s economy negatively.
Mr Salim revealed that all the products destroyed were imported into the country and smuggled through the ports.
He, therefore, called for the return of SON to the ports to help minimise the damage done by substandard products to the nation’s economy.
According to him, the burning of the substandard products is to assure Nigerians that SON is actually destroying them after obtaining a court order to that effect.
“Most of these substandard products were captured in the market where they are ready to be sold to customers and the unfortunate thing is that they passed through our ports.
“It will be much easier for these substandard products to be detected if our employees are at the source of the import of these products”, he said.
Salim regretted that SON was not always invited for joint inspection, adding that invitations for joint inspection are rare and far between.
“I guarantee you that if our officers have opportunity to inspect these products, the moment they look at it from experience, they will be able to detect the substandard goods.
“Don’t forget that officers of the customs service are trained to check for duty, they have no idea of how to detect substandard products easily, and our personnel are trained on how to check these products”, he said.
The SON boss denied that its officers had no unfettered access as stipulated by the constitution.
“Unless the law is changed by the National Assembly, signed by the president, the law says SON must and should be at the port, not at the discretion of any organisation”, he said.
Assistant Chief Scientific Officer and Sector Head (Domestic Rubber), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Lagos Liaison Office, Bisiriyu Adesewa said NESREA was present to ensure proper disposal of the products.
“We appreciate SON for ensuring that substandard products don’t enter the market, but we are particular about what happens to these things after the destruction.
“We understand that most of them are going to recycling companies and the only one not recyclable for now is the oil and we will link SON with a facility that can help them dispose it so that there will be zero waste.
“The disposal process here is in line with our rules and regulations. The first thing is to dismantle and seperate them, which they have already done, next is the recycling”, she said.
Also, Head, Federal Competition and Consumption Protection Commission (FCCPC), Lagos Office, Susie Onwuka, said the commission had a Memorandum of Understanding with SON and different sector regulators on removal of substandard goods from the market.
She commended SON for the massive seizures, noting that more work needs to be done.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Annex, Alagbon, Lagos, Lawrence Iwodi, said the police was working with SON to ensure that standard was met in relation to goods imported into the country.
Healthcare: Osinbajo Calls For Improvement, Cooperation Among West African States
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on West African countries to improve their levels of cooperation to better address problems of healthcare access and out-of-school children, among other human development indices.
Osinbajo said this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, when he received the Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Mr Nuno Nabiam, ahead of yesterday’s ECOWAS Integrated Regional Human Capital Development Forum hosted by the National Economic Council.
According to a statement signed late Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Vice President thanked Mr Nabiam for honouring the invitation to attend the conference, saying, “The Human Capital Development meeting is very important, it is an opportunity to share experience and help each other”.
Prof. Osinbajo noted that Nigeria’s “National Economic Council has done a lot of work on Human Capital Development, focusing on various challenges including questions around out-of-school and healthcare access” and would “significantly improve the human development indices in West Africa”.
He, however, acknowledged that the indices show that a lot more work still needed to be done.
The Vice President commended President Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau for his strong support for Nigeria, describing him as a very good friend of President Muhammadu Buhari and the country.
He noted that Guinea Bissau and President Embalo had always supported Nigeria internationally and congratulated the country for recently warding off a coup détat that would have ousted his government.
On his part, the Prime Minister extolled the leadership qualities of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo, stating, “What the President of Nigeria and Vice President are doing inspires us too”.
Fuel Scarcity: Stop Panic Buying, IPMAN Tells Nigerians
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has backtracked on the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petroleum.
The Association advised Nigerians to stop panic buying, saying its members would sell petrol at government approved price of N165 per litre.
President of the Association, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, spoke at a press conference on Wednesday against the backdrop of earlier indications by petroleum dealers that the pump price of N165 per litre was no longer sustainable.
The Tide recalls that the IPMAN Secretary in Lagos State, Mr Akeem Balogun, had on Monday, declared a PMS pump price of N180 per litre.
But Okoronkwo at the press briefing, reversed the declaration and urged members of IPMAN to maintain the “status quo ante” of N165 per litre.
He said the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and the Petroleum Products Marketers Company (PPMC) had released petroleum products from their tank farms that could sustain the nation for the next 32 days, hence, there was no need for panic buying.
According to him, “The status quo ante must be maintained moving forward since the NNPC and the PPMC have responded positively by releasing products from their tank farms that can sustain the product needs of the country for 32 days”.
Explaining why the IPMAN Secretary in Lagos arrived at N180 per litre on Monday, the President said: “The decision was taken because its members could no longer operate at a loss.
“While the government had fixed N165 per litre as the pump price of petrol, the current realities in the market showed that the minimum the product should be retailed at the stations should be N180.
“I told you the cost of doing business has changed and my members in Lagos before they did what they did, they called me and told me that they are now getting this product at N162 to N165 per litre with transportation another N8.00, aggregating to about N170 to N173, even the N10.00 which is supposed to be our gain has been eroded, what do we do?
“Now you know and I know that it is only NNPC that imports this product into Nigeria. Some of these tank farm owners who have gone to collect this product, don’t blame them because the cost of doing business has also changed.
“It became so difficult for them to sell at N148.17, but yesterday (Wednesday), I want to tell you that NNPC and PPMC went to their tank farms and released products.
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