The lingering industrial crisis at the Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, worsened on Wednesday as the national leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) staged a solidarity rally round the community.
The rally, led by the National President of the union, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, caused gridlock at the centre of the town.
The Tide’s source reports that chairmen of local branches and past presidents of the union joined in the protest that witnessed a large turnout of lecturers.
Addressing newsmen beside the statue of the late former Governor of old Bendel State, Prof. Ambrose Alli, Osodoke frowned at ASUU’s ban in the university by the State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.
The Governor, he said, lacks the power to suspend a properly registered union such as ASUU that had the right to operate anywhere in the country.
The ASUU President also noted that the setting up of Special Intervention Team (SIT), headed by an holder of Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE), to run the university as against a governing council negated the law.
“As we speak to you, this university does not have any substantive officer.
“The Vice Chancellor is acting, deputy vice chancellor is acting, bursar acting, registrar acting, Librarian acting, which is against the rules of any university,” he said.
The union leader decried the situation where all principal officers of the institution were appointed in acting capacities.
Osodoke, however, asserted that the only way to guarantee industrial harmony was for the state government to retract its decision and allow the union to run without interference.
He also called for the payment of salary arrears to the lecturers as well as the remittance of deductions for dues and contributions for cooperative.
The AAU ASUU branch Chairman, Dr Cyril Onogbosele, said the solidarity rally was to show there was no distinction between union in state and federal universities.”We want revitalisation of public universities. We want better conditions of service, infrastructural development, universities autonomy. That is what the strike is all about.
“In AAU, one of them is inadequate funding. For a long time, we have had these problems.
“Workers have been denied their salaries for 19 months now.
“Many of us are dying as a result of that. We cannot meet our financial obligations to our families because of unpaid salaries,” he said.
The branch ASUU chairman claimed that no fewer than 19 lecturers had died because they could not afford medicare.
On his part, the immediate past President of the union, Prof. BiodunOpeyemi, said the union needed to rise up against the action of the state governor, proscribing union activities in the state owned institution, in order to deter other state governors from following Obaseki’s step.
In her reaction, the State Commissioner for Education, Dr Joan Osa-Oviawe, said the State Government was focused on prioritising the academic welfare of our students and ensuring that there is value for money.
Tertiary education, she said, was being revamped in the state to ensure that graduates were ready for the world of work and also skilled enough to be relevant in the 4th industrial revolution in a technology-driven, hyper modern world.
The source reports the Edo State Government and the ASUU at the state owned institution had been at a loggerhead for years over accusations and counter-accusations bordering on welfare of academic staff.
Police Kill Five Suspected Kidnappers, Rescue Victim
Police operatives in Edo State have rescued one Innocent Achebe, 38, from a kidnappers den, killing five suspects in the process.
Achebe was rescued on Sunday in Ughosi-Afe bush in Ibilo, Akoko Edo Local Government Area of the State, where the victim was held in captivity for days.
This is contained in a statement by Deputy Public Relations Officer, Edo Police Command, ASP Jennifer Iwegbu, on Monday in Benin.
She said that the operation was part od the command’s commitment to rid the state of violent crime, including kidnapping.
“This feat was achieved following credible information at the command’s disposal that hoodlums suspected to be kidnappers were operating in Ughoshi- Afe bush, Ibillo in Akoko Edo LGA, Edo State.
“On receipt of the information, the command immediately mobilised its tactical team of operatives from the Ibillo sector in collaboration with vigilantes and hunters to the scene.
“The kidnappers on sighting the operatives opened fire on them which led to a gun duel that left five of the kidnappers fatally injured and were later confirmed dead,” Iwegbu said.
She added that the victim, who was rescued unhurt, had been reunited with his family.
The police spokesperson said two locally made pistols, charms and cartridges were recovered from the scene.
Iwegbu said the Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, commended the gallantry exhibited by the operatives and pledged that the command would work with relevant stakeholders and law-abiding citizens to secure the State.
Bayelsa Spends N3.52bn On Debt Service
Bayelsa State Government said it spent N3.52 billion on servicing its loan obligations to commercial banks for the month of May.
The Tide’s source reports that domestic debt stock data from the Debt Management Office for Bayelsa as of March 31, stood at N151.41 billion.
Technical Adviser to Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Treasury Matters, Mr Timipre Seipulo, stated this while giving an update of the state’s income and expenditure profile for the months of May and June in Yenagoa.
According to the financial highlights, the state generated some N1.68 billion from internal sources in addition to a gross inflow of N22.86 billion from the federation account to make a total of N22.91 billion for May.
Of the amount, derivation revenue, a 13 per cent of value of crude oil produced within the state for May stood at N17.82 billion.
On the other hand, non oil revenue of N124.69 million accrued to the state for the month under review.
According to Seipulo, the state’s wage bill for civil servants and political appointees gulped N6.2 billion.
For the month of June, Bayelsa got N18.67 billion after deductions at source from the federation account.
Oil derivation accounted for N14.02 billion, while the internally generated revenue was N1.99 million.
The total wage bill for the month of June was N6.14 billion.
Delta Seals Gas Plant Over Student’s Death
The Delta Government sealed a gas plant over outbreak of seizure leading to the death of a student in a close-by school.
The gas plant closure followed the report of an emergency committee, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, officials of the Ministry of Health and the management of Mary Mount College.
It was recalled that on July 16, 10 students of Mary Mount College, near Handeskia Gas Plant in Boji-Boji, Agbor, were suspected to have showed signs of strange ailments and seizure due to gas emission.
One of the affected students died few weeks after her parents took her to the hospital.
Mr Godspower Asiuwhu, the state Commissioner for Environment, warned the gas company that stiffer sanctions would be meted on it, if the seal was broken.
“The activities of the company has posed ecological and health threat to students of Mary Mount College, Agbor, situated in the environs.
“The management of Handeskia Oil and Gas should desist from causing havoc to residents of the host community,” Asiuwhu said.
The commissioner frowned at the unruly behaviour of staff of the gas company, saying that the state government would not condone any attempt by the company to unseal the premises.
According to him, a task force will be set up to monitor activities of the gas company after it had been sealed to ensure they did not return back to business.
Also, Mr Victor Ebonka, the Chairman, Ika North East Local Government Area, said the council had earlier sealed the gas company twice, adding that they later went back to unseal the premises.
“Since the activities carried out by the company were endangering the lives of residents, there is every need to seal the gas company and put a stop to all their activities,” Ebonka said.
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