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Rumbles In The Academia

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Granted that many of our Public institutions have over the years been buffeted by fumbling and bungling through years of neglect, inadequate funding and administrative flip flop, issues which the Yar’Adua’s administration has been grappling with, but none has been so barraged to knuckle under as the academia due to many factors including the insensitivity of lecturers to, the plight of their students who bear the brunt of recurrent strikes. The result of this is the continued rail in the standard of education and any doubting ‘Thomas can apply any of the parameters to determine the level at which it has sunk and ten extrapolate dispassionate conclusion.

A few years before Chief Olusegun Obasanjo left Aso Rock he promised to give jobs to some graduates who performed creditably well in their degree examinations and as the ball was in the court of the Federal Civil Service Commission to conduct the recruitment exercise. it set a competitive examination, not just oral interview for the exercise, an examination which exposed the undies of our graduates. The performance or these graduates who was too appalling to be believable; some people who made first class and second class honours upper division scored 30 percent. Worse of it all is that even some mass communication graduates who scaled this examination hurdle and therefore adjudged to be intellectually sound can not write a publishable feature article after practicing for more that two years in media organizations.

Another invent that exposed the Achilles Heels of these graduates is a recent interactive session the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig. Gen. Maharazu Tsiga held with the media. Disappointed by lacluster performance of the corps members the Director General disclosed to his bewildered audience that some corps members were so educationally deficient that they could not appropriately fill the forms given to them. He said that in other to clear the doubt whether these people were not fake graduates he often enquired from relevant institutions whether the offending corps members were indeed their graduates. He said that the response was usually in the positive.

Some years ago when this writer was in the now defunct feature section of the ministry, he had a terrible experience with three of these semi-illiterate and half-baked graduates. The three of them were employed by the Federal Civil Service Commission which deployed them to the Ministry of Information. This was at a time the Government of the day was being lacerated unsparingly by the media for obnoxious policies and we needed more hands in the features section to be able to cope with the momentum of incessant media pillory. As a sequel the trio was posted to the section. The three were given a file containing news paper cuttings which were based on unfavourable comments on the government and we were faced with adverse press reports from six newspapers from where they should select for their rejoinders but after days of musing and sighing they admitted they could not react to the stories. They where bold to tell this writer that they were not mass communication majors for which I gave them topics which they should handle as term papers or projects. They fumbled and bungled the whole exercise for which they where sent packing from the section. This is the sorry state of education in spite of the fact that the universities subject ­candidates to pass the litmus test by going through a chain of examinations; the Post-UME Test after writing WAEC and NECO Examinations and above all the JAMB University matriculation examination.

Lecturers know the effect of long absence from the class room on their students yet at the slightest disagreement with the Federal Government they resort to strikes as a means of redressing their grievances and when invited to conference tables often prove intransigent thus prolonging the strike. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the 14th time embarked on another indefinite strike which as usual paralyzed academic activities in the universities affiliated to the union. The union’s demand this time include adequate funding of the university, adequate remuneration, autonomy and extension or retirement age amongst others. Those who justify the strike on the ground that the universities are at the bottom of .both Africa and global ratings in terms of wages and fringe benefits should have a rethink when they find out that since 1993 ASUU has gone on strike for 14 times, one strike too many:-

I 993 Three months

1994 Six months

1995 Four months

1996 Seven months

1999 Five months

2000 Two months

200I Three months

2002 One week

2003 Two weeks

2005 One week

2006 Three months

2007 Two weeks

2009 Warning strike: two weeks

Present strike; since June 23rd.

To resolve the dispute a committee comprising representative or the Federal Government as well- as ASUU was set up. The federal government team comprised Deacon Gameliel Onosode, Six pro-Chancellors, Senator Abdalla Wali (a former pro-chancellor) and the Executive secretary of the educational tax fund, 11 Advisers made up of the education secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), three former Vice Chancellors, three Serving vice Chancellors, one former University registrar and one serving registrar. Government has 12 observers comprising two representatives of the Federal Ministry of Labour, one deputy executive secretary (NUCY one representative from special services in the presidency, one representative from the Federal Ministry of Education, two representatives from the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, two representatives of the Federal Ministry of Justice, one representative from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of  the Federation and two representatives of The Federal Ministry of Finance. ASUU has 28 representatives from both Federal and State Universities.

The committee was to reverse the decay in the university system …, reverse the brain drain not only by enhancing the remuneration of the academic staff … , to restore Nigeria Universities through immediate massive and sustained financial intervention and to ensure genuine University autonomy and academic freedom.

The high point of the debacle is the rejection by ASUU of the 40% salary increase accorded to it by the Federal Government. The Federal Government delegation led by Deacon Gamaliel Onosode urged the lecturers to return to the classroom before further negotiation could commence. Government insists that having met three of the four demands, ASUU should reciprocate the gesture by returning to classroom while ASUU on its own insists that the federal government should sign the agreement reached before they call off the strike.

ASUU should back pedal because it has lost the sympathy of all. The state governments support the government arguing that had the Federal Government signed the agreement it would have negated the principal of federalism. Further more both the Federal Ministry of Labour and Industrial Arbitration panel had asked ASUU to call off the strike and resume work in support of the Federal Government’s stand of no-work-no-pay. The Senate Committee on Education which was brokering a truce between the Federal Government and ASUU was not happy with the stand of ASUU as a result or which it cancelled the truce.

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Women

‘It Is Time To End Violence Against Women’

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While pervasive, gender-based violence may seem to appear inevitable in our own clime, African Women Lawyers, Rivers State Chapter, believe that it can and must be prevented. To them, stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transforming harmful social norms, and empowers women and girls.
With women and girls living in danger around the world owing to conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations, which in turn exacerbate violence against women, this great body of women lawyers have decided to raise their voice against all shades of violence against women whether it be domestic or official
In pursuant of their aims and objectives, AWLA commemorate land mark dates set by the African Union and United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of women and children.
As the world engages in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the body avails itself the opportunity to highlight some violent and of course harmful practices Nigerian women are continually subjected to, as well as condemn such and create the awareness among the populace that perpetrators of such inhumane acts on a folk that deserves and desires protection in all spheres, will receive a bang of the law.
This year, AwLA is using the window provided by the United Nations via the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, to contribute their own quota especially as it relates to condemning in concrete terms, societal practices that run foul to the healthy development of the women.
Activities outlined in commemorate of the 2021 version of the 16 days of activisms against gender based violence include; advocacy and sensitization visits to Khana Local Government and Oginigba in  Obio/Akpor Local Government on 26th and 30th November respectively while free legal clinic takes place in Port Harcourt Local Government on 29th of November.
While the program lasts, stakeholders are expected to brainstorm on how to solve the challenges faced by women, while women will be enlightened on their right as well as be sensitized on how to seek redress.
In a chat with The Tide woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, the Coordinator of the African Women Lawyers Association, Hilda Desmond-Ihekaire, said her association is quite proactive on issues that bother on women and children’s rights.
She encouraged women to speak out against injustice meted on them by people who are supposed to protect their interest, stating that the era of accepting every awkward treatment against them is over. She enjoined them to avail themselves the opportunity of the free legal clinic provided at this season to vent out their grievances.
The AWLA coordinator revealed that her association is already handling matters of gender based violence in court at the moment and would stop at nothing until the public comes to appreciate that women are also human that should not be treated unjustly.
AWLA is a group of women lawyers with the aim and objective of protecting the right and interest of women and children in Africa. They do this through multi facetted approach, using advocacy, sensitization campaign and probono litigation services on women and children’s issues
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Women

NAWOJ Moves To Check Violence Against Women, Girls … Seeks More Action, Resources

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Chairman, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, has called for strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women and girls in the society.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, November 25, 2021 to commemorate this year’s 16-Days of Activism, with the theme: ‘Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now’, the Chairman, NAWOJ, Rivers State Chapter stated that violence against women and girls reached pandemic proportion especially during the COVID-19 hit that resulted to lockdown.
Serekara stressed that as lockdown measures were implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, domestic violence intensified as school closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
“We believe  that ending violence against women will require strengthened actions by the government through more investment in women and girls,” she said, regretting that formal reports of domestic violence have decreased, yet survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. She further noted that the 16 days of activism is an expression that gender-based violence though not inevitable, can and must be prevented.
“While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls  and teenage girls who are employed as house helps . Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights,” Serekara added.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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Women

NAWOJ Seeks Adequate Protection, Provision For Children

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Aware of the numerous problems children face especially with the current harsh economy of our nation, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State has stressed the need to protect the lives of children while investing in their future.
The association said this during this year’s commemoration of “The Universal Children’s Day”, that had “investing in our children means investing in our future”, as its theme.
This was contained in a statement signed by the association’s Chairman and Secretary, Mrs Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and Dr Ngozi Anosike, respectively.
The statement described the essence of the day as a time to improve the welfare for all children.
“NAWOJ is using this special day to call on governments at all levels to ensure that every child is given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually, while cautioning parents against reproducing the number of children they cannot properly care for but give them out at their tender ages as house helps thereby exposing them to all forms of abuse.
“NAWOJ appreciates the fact that to invest in our nation requires that the child that is hungry is fed, the child that is sick nursed, the child that is backward helped, the delinquent child reclaimed, and the orphan and the unsheltered are secured”.
It commended the Governor of the State, Chief Nyesom Wike for ensuring that the Rehabilitation Centre at Iriebe is operating at optimum capacity.
NAWOJ recalls that during the commissioning of the rehabilitation Centre, Governor Wike magnanimously doled out N250million to the ministry of social welfare, just to ensure regular power supply and smooth running of the facility, a gesture NAWOJ appreciates so much as it translates to giving the children a sense of belonging.
The association also stressed the need to save the lives of new born babies in maternity homes and hospitals and called on Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to as a matter of necessity ensure regular power supply to those facilities.
The association in the statement regretted the death of premature children in the Intensive Care Unit of OPM Free Hospital at Aluu axis of the State as a result of power outage.
“Universal Children’s Day, celebrated annually on the 20th of November, is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination”, the statement added.

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