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NASS To Investigate UNN Students’ Protest

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Apparently disturbed by the violent demonstration by students of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) which led to the immediate closure of the institution last Saturday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, Chief Ayogu Eze has called on National Assembly to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the upheaval to avoid further unrest at the university.

Senator Ayogu who spoke to reporters in Enugu, Sunday, condemned the ugly development at UNN, saying it was high time sanity was brought to the nation’s citadel of learning which he noted had been the pride of not only the South East, but the nation in general.

His words: “My attention has been drawn to the riot by Students of the University of Nigeria Nsukka on Saturday, January 16, 2010 leading to the destruction of valuable property. I condemn this action by the students in very strong terms. I have however studied the situation leading to this sad development and I have found out that the management of the university has a lot of questions to answer. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Bartholomew Okolo has been most inaccessible to the Students’ Union leadership and where he is, has been most intransigent in dealing with issues of administration”

According to him, “The immediate cause of the riot was an attempt to raise school fees by as high as 150 percent without, as it were, taking all stakeholders on board. As the Senator representing the area where the university is located, I know next to nothing about what is going on in the university. Since this riot broke out, I have called the Vice Chancellor over 20 times and sent text messages all of which have been ignored. Gone are the days when Vice Chancellors operated like mini-gods and looked down on everybody”, he  stressed.

Chief Ayogu who did not hide his feelings during the chat further said, “If a senator can be ignored so brazenly, only God knows how this Vice Chancellor relates to his subordinates. I wish to ask the Committee on Education in the Senate and House of Representatives to conduct full hearing on this matter with a view to getting to the root of this matter”.

He also made it clear that the people of his district were also worried about reported moves by the Vice Chancellor and the school authorities to move out professional courses from the school, adding “We are major stakeholders in that university and refuse to be ignored in the affairs of the school”.

In a swift reaction, the embattled Vice Chancellor of UNN, Professor Barth Okolo, dismissed rumours making the rounds that a hike in school fees ignited the recent violent demonstration by students of the institution. Professor Okolo , who addressed newsmen at the Enugu Campus of the university, also insisted there was no time that the management of the institution proposed any hike in students school fees, maintaining that students did not organise the unrest. He accused some staff of the institution who contested the position of the vice chancellor with him of masterminding the protest that led to wanton destruction of properties of the institution, saying that the sponsors of the unrest were not happy with his administration’s giant strides within a short time. His words: “The protest was not caused by any hike in school fees. We never proposed any increment in school fees. We did not increase students’ schools fees. Students did not arrange the protest. Some miscreants who contested the position of the VC with me and failed arranged the protest. We have their names. They destroyed the new things that we brought to the institution. “As I said before, there is a process for school fees increment; it is not our work to increase school fees. The management has no powers to determine school fees. We assured the Student Union Government ( SUG) and other stakeholders that they will be informed when schools fees will be increased”, the embattled VC added. It would be recalled that students of UNN, Saturday January 16, 2010 embarked on violent demonstration destroying properties of the university worth millions of Naira which led to the immediate closure of the institution by the authorities of the school.

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FG Hails Rivers Top Spot In Literacy Education Dev

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The Federal Government has commended the Rivers State Government over its concerted efforts in the development of basic education that has guaranteed the state the highest ranking in literacy education in the country.
The state scored 70per cent ahead other states of the federation in a recent national ranking.
The Coordinator in charge of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), Federal Ministry of Education, MrsAminaHaruna made the commendation, while speaking at a one-day state Technical Workshop on improving BESDA implementation at Bougainvillea Hotels in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Haruna said it was of good note that Rivers State has shifted to where it was before and attained a commendable height in the development of literacy education, adding that such feat was worth celebrating.
The BESDA coordinator, disclosed that Rivers State has also taken the lead to replicate the just concluded performance review meeting held in Abuja, recently, adding that the technical meeting was essentially designed to bring all stakeholders in the BESDA together to brainstorm on way forward.
She said that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring that the menace of out-of-school children in the country was resolved, adding that it was what informed the Federal Government decision to borrow $11million to tackle the menace headlong.
She called on parents to ensure that they give their children the right to education, adding that the importance of education in the society cannot be over-emphasised.
“Rivers State has done well in literacy education, and they are ahead of other states. So, whoever that has done well; praise him or her”, she stated.
Also speaking, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku said one of the cardinal policy trusts of the present administration led by Governor Nyesom Wike was to provide access to quality and qualitative education for children in the state, saying that BESDA programme was one of the links to actualise it.
Ebeku thanked the Federal Government and the World Bank for initiating the BESDA programme, adding that it has given hope to many out-of-school children to have access to education literacy, saying that the cult clashes that ravaged some communities was responsible for the over-crowded nature of schools in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas of the state.
He expressed satisfaction with the performance of both teachers and pupils in the BESDA schools in the state, adding that children in the conventional schools were not doing better than the ones in the BESDA schools.
He, therefore, solicited for cooperation among all stakeholders in driving the programme, and assured that the state Ministry of Education would drive the supervision and monitoring to ensure it achieves set objectives.
In his speech, the Executive Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Ven. Fyneface Akah said the workshop was organised to replicate the Federal Government’s model on peer review performance by getting all stakeholders involved in achieving gaining more grounds in the BESDA programme in the state.
Akah said the board under his leadership was determined to ensure both children of fishermen and those who are out-of-school have access to quality education, which he said, was essential.
“It is not about the reward but the effort and impact. We are organising literacy content to ensure that those children in the programme read, write and understand numerical skills, and whoever that acquires literary skills has acquired the knowledge for further education”, he stated.
In her remarks, the RSUBEB Director in charge of Physical Planning, Mrs Joy Ojirika, who doubles as the state BESDA focal person, gave a scorecard on the progress of the programme in the state.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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Wike, Okonjo-Iweala, Others For 4th DAAR Awards, Dec 6

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; and Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; are among those to be honoured at the fourth edition of the DAAR Awards.
The DAAR Awards, scheduled to take place on December 6, 2021 in Lagos, is organised by DAAR Communication Plc, which owns RayPower broadcasting station and African Independent Television.
At the ceremony, Wike would be honoured with the DAAR’s Man of the Year Award, while Okonjo-Iweala would be honoured with DAAR’s Woman of the Year Award, just as Okowa would receive award for outstanding leadership in public service.
In a letter to the recipients by the Group Managing Director of DAAR Communications Plc, Tony Akiotu, said the awardees were selected for their exemplary qualities and immeasurable contributions to the sustainable development and progress of humanity in various sectors.
On the criteria for selecting Rivers State governor,Akiotu said, “The Editorial Board and DAAR Communications panel of assessors for the 4th DAAR Awards had unanimously voted to confer the award of Man of the Year 2021 on Wike for his giant strides in infrastructural development of Rivers State and deepening of Nigeria’s democracy”.
Akiotu said that Deputy Senate President, OvieOmo-Agege would also receive award for Outstanding Leadership in Public Service along with Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; Oyo State Governor, Engr. OluseyiMakinde; and Osun State Governor, Prof. Adegboyega Oyetola.
Also to be honoured are the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, who would receive award for Outstanding Performance in the Academia, and Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who would receive Outstanding Performance on COVID-19 Pandemicaward.
According to DAAR CommunicationsPlc, it would honour Ogundipe for extensive work on molecular systematics, plant anatomy, food security, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation.

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Senate Blasts Saipem Over Breach Of Local Content Act On NLNG Train-7

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The Senate Committee on Local Content has expressed displeasure at Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, a company handling the Train-7 gas project, for what it termed “deliberate breach” of Nigeria’s Local Content Act.
The company’s management has been evading appearances before the committee until last Wednesday after the panel threatened to compel their appearance with sanction.
However, the panel, chaired by Senator Teslim Folarin, after inference from evidence made available to the panel, demanded an explanation from Saipem Contracting Company why the gas project company awards contracts to foreign companies for supply of steel, rods, among other materials for execution of the project contrary to local firms in clear breach of LCA.
According to the committee, they have been flooded with petitions from the public over the sharp practices of the company in connivance with some Nigerians.
The committee said it was based on that the Train -7 gas project was invited while pointing out the breach of the local content act on the award of contract for the purchase of items for the gas project.
The committee, however, regretted the non-appearance of Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Saipem and Daewoo, which they said their appearances would have deepened investigation on why foreign firms habitually shortchange the nation.
It rescheduled the meeting and asked the committee clerk to issue fresh letter of invitation to the absentee organisations.
Senators Folarin and Sabi Abdullahi in reference to a petition pointed out that Saipem management is aware of contracts to foreign firms than Nigerian companies for supply of materials running into millions of euros in breach of the provision of the local content act.
Teslim said: “Can you explain, how you came about awarding the contract for the supply of steel for €4million, to TK Corporation, a Korean company, and €4.27million, contract to another Korean company for pipes, €3.86million to an Italian company and another €5.5million.
“All these are not Nigerian companies.”
He said the local content act provided for 50percent Nigerian content in the execution of the project.
In his response, the Managing Director of Saipem, Mr Walter Peviani said execution of the project by the company was based on a contractual agreement, and documents presented to the company by the NLNG and the NCDMB.
“Within the contractual documents, which we received, entailed, a project Nigerian content plan and entry procedures for Nigerian companies compliance certificate,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Executive Secretary of the National Content Development Management Board was absent despite invitations, a development, the committee said was deliberate and suspicious.

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