As the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) enters its eighth month, President Muhammadu Buhari, said corruption in the education sector is undermining the Federal Governments’ investments.
This was as he challenged the notion that the incessant strikes, especially by unions in tertiary education, often indicate gross underfunding, saying “those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.”
Buhari was speaking at the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector held at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
This comes about eight months after ASUU, on February 14, embarked on a one-month warning strike.
Other associations such as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASUAEI) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) later followed suit, shutting down their activities in universities nationwide.
Although SSANU and NASU have since called off their industrial action, ASUU is yet to.
This stems from, among other things, the Federal Government’s refusal to acquiesce to the payment of workers’ salaries for the period of the strike.
Speaking further, Buhari said monies disbursed to the ministry of education alone constitute only a fraction of the government’s total commitment to the sector.
Therefore, he called on pundits to widen their scope to include allocations to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refunds from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND etc.
He also noted that corruption in the expenditure of internally-generated revenue of tertiary institutions had not received due attention from stakeholders.
Therefore, he urged stakeholders to advocate transparency in the IGRs of educational institutions and how such funds are expended.
Buhari said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies and investments, and creates an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.
“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.
“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.”
He argued that monies disbursed to the Education Ministry do not reflect the totality of the government’s allocation to the sector and should not be construed as such.
“The total education budget for each year is, therefore, a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed with other financial commitments in their totality.
“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone but should include an allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND etc.
“I am aware that the aggregate education budget in all the 36 states of the Federation and that of the Federal Government, combined with the internally generated revenues of the educational institutions themselves are also a subject that requires the attention of critics of government funding of education,” he said.
The President also noted the need for closer scrutiny of funds used by tertiary institutions, decrying what he called an “over bloated payroll” in many schools.
He said, “Government will continue to fund education within realistically available revenue, but stakeholders, including the media, should equally advocate for transparency in the amount generated as internally generated revenue by educational institutions and how such funds are expended.
“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.
“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.”
While noting that the government cannot fund education alone, Buhari tasked academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.
He congratulated the sole winner of this year’s Public Service Integrity Award, Daniel Amah, commending the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustafa, and the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, for organising.
Presenting the findings of the Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard 2022, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, revealed that none of the government ministries, departments and agencies evaluated attained full compliance.
He noted that out of the 260 assessed based on their administrative systems, only 61 MDAs had substantial compliance. 120 MDAs had partial compliance, 63 MDAs had poor compliance and 64 MDAS were non-responsive.
Jega, therefore, recommended that the FG implements consistent reforms and upgrading of its digital revenue and payment platforms, including the TSA, GIFMIS,
IPPIS etc, to safeguard it from the activities of hackers, fraudsters, and intruders and guarantee its integrity in the wake of increasing violations of these platforms.
The former INEC chief also urged the government to “enhance the enforcement of the statutory provisions on the rendering of periodic and annual audited reports by MDAs to the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation and the Public Account Committee of the National Assembly; by swiftly applying commensurate sanctions in the applicable statutes.”
Ikwerre Set To Deliver Two Projects Per Ward
The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Engr. Samuel Nwanosike, has noted that his administration was ready to commission two projects in every ward before the end of January, 2023.
Nwanosike stated this when he received in audience the Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive at his office, Isiokpo.
According to him, “My President did mention that we have done projects in all the political wards. I can announce to Mr. President that before the end of January, it will be clear that we have completed two projects in each of the 13 political wards.
“So, we have passed the stage of saying one project per political ward. As we speak, if not that we have entered the electioneering period, we would have had five projects lined up for commissioning”.
Nwanosike, while describing the courtesy visit as the most important since he assumed office on June 18, 2018, as chairman of Ikwerre LGA, thanked Governor NyesomWike for grooming and giving him and his team the opportunity to change the narrative of their people by managing their affairs.
He, however, narrated the achievements of his administration via the five-point agenda unveiled during his campaigns to the executive members of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council.
The Ikwerre LGA chairman listed the achievements as building and furnishing of health centres, return of peace and sanity through the help of the Governor of the state, Chief NyesomWike, and the security agents, sending the farmers back to farm, sending the youths back to school, building of police station at Ubima, building of markets at Elele, Omerelu and Apani, construction of more than 1.5km drainage at Elele, building of town halls at Isiokpo and Omagwa, building and furnishing of schools at Aluu and Omademe, among others.
He added that many more projects were under construction and would be delivered in due time, especially NYSC members Lodge at Isiokpo, etc.
“We don’t just talk; we do what we say we will do. Because if you don’t do it, the people will not understand that there is work to be done”, he said.
On the other hand, Nwanosike praised Wike for choosing a technocrat like Sir SiminialayiFubara to succeed him and continue the NEW Rivers Vision, reiterating that Ikwerre Local Government was already SIMplified.
He promised to assist in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre by giving his entire December imprest.
Speakingearlier, the Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Emma Okas-Wike, said they were in Ikwerre to pay the chairman a courtesy visit on behalf of the Paramount Ruler and Nyewe Eli Rumuepirikom, Eze Barry OparaOwabie, in order to identify with him as one of their own and specially thank him for always supporting their son, ChiefNyesomWike.
Okas-Wike said, “It might not be easy for somebody to talk about the footsoldiers of our leader, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief NyesomWike, without mentioning your name because when this fight started about 2007, we did the first fight, did the second fight, you were one of those that were inside caucus, inner caucus of those fights.
“I want to thank you that you did not abandon our leader and our brother and our son. That’s why we felt that it is proper for us to come and pay you this courtesy call”.
He used the opportunity to congratulate Nwanosike on his infrastructural development, political and academic achievements, especially the acquisition of doctorate degree.
“Information available to us, not just us but to the public, shows that you have, just like the governor is doing, you have affected almost all the whole wards in Ikwerre Local Government. And when we look at the record, we find out that the projects you are executing are not just minor projects that will just be something that somebody will say what is this one, is it not what somebody can do? No. These are landmark projects and we want to commend you for that”, the chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive avowed.
While saying that Nwanosikewas part of Rumuepirikom Kingdom, Okas-Wike encouraged him to do more in order for his name to be spoken more within and outside Rivers State.
He appealed for his financial assistance in the renovation of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Civic Centre.
Those present during the courtesy visit were the Vice Chairman of Rumuepirikom Kingdom Council Executive, Chief Raymond Owabie; the Secretary, Sir Chief AllwellEgwurugwu; the PRO, Engr. Kingdom A. Johnson; the Legal Adviser, BarristerAmadi G. Nyebuchi; the Rumuepirikom Youth President, Engr. Samuel John Amadi; amongst others.
Highlight of the visit was a tour of some projects, including the NYSC Lodge being constructed by his administration at Isiokpo.
CDC Chairman Warns On Likely Crisis In Rumuagholu
Community Development Committee (CDC) Chairman of Rumuagholu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Comrade Amadi Okechukwu, has warned that there could be a breakdown of law and order in the community if the actions and utterances of certain individuals were not checked.
Okechukwu, who gave the hint while addressing journalists in Port Harcourt, yesterday, called on the Rivers State Governor,Chief Nyesom Wike, and security agents to call one NyegwaKiniganwo, to order to avoid breakdown of law and order in Rumuagholu.
Amadi said this had become necessary following recent radio announcement wherein Nyegwa addressed himself as Rumuagholu paramount ruler, while the matter was still pending in court.
The CDC chairman noted emphatically that Nyegwa’s actions could create serious crisis, if not checked.
Amadi said on no account should Nyegwa parade himself as a chief, let alone Rumuagholu paramount ruler.
He hinted that Nyegwa’s recent falsehood and blatant lies followed steps taken by the three communities that make up Rumuagholu to share some part of their land.
Amadi said the three communities: Rumuochukwuoke, Rumuowolu, and Rumuochukwualu, as a sign of indivisible entity, decided to work together to dispose some of their ancestral land.
The CDC chairman reiterated that Nyegwa’s action amounted to contempt of court, having been served court document to stop parading himself forthwith as a paramount ruler.
He said there was a court order instituted by Eze Bekwele Atam, stopping the accused from parading himself as paramount ruler, adding that until such orders are vacated, his actions and activities in respect of the land amounted to contempt of court.
Amadi warned the general public to desist from transacting business concerning the community with Nyegwa forthwith, and pointed out that anybody who transacted with him on behalf of the community did so at his peril.
He further hinted that such businesses should be channeled to him as the constitution empowered him as the CDC chairman to oversee the affairs of the community, including land issues.
He said Rumuagholu people were peace-loving but warned that such should not be taken for granted by Nyegwa and his cohorts, especially during this annual wrestling season which holds this week.
By: Chidi Enyie
FG Saves $300m Annually From Ban On Barite Imports
The Federal Government has said its ban on importation of Barite, an essential mineral in oil drilling, has saved the country $300million (about N195billion) annually.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, disclosed this in Abuja at the ninth edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard 2015 to 2023 series organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture.
The scorecard series was launched as part of the efforts of the ministry to showcase the numerous achievements of the administration.
Presenting the scorecards of his ministry, Adegbite said the ban on barite importation was part of the efforts of the Federal Government to ensure the downstream mineral policies took effect.
“When we came into office in 2019, we realised that the oil and gas industry use barite in their oil drilling and they were importing the mineral from Morocco to the tune of $300million every year.
“We also realised that the country has abundance of barite deposits but the problem was that we were not processing it.
“So, the ministry took it upon itself as a project and in 2021, we were able to produce made in Nigeria Barite with American Petroleum Institute (API) standard.
“Now, nobody is importing barite in to Nigeria anymore saving the country $300million annually that was being spent on imports of barite to the country,’’ he said.
The minister said within a year of production, Nigeria had attained excess capacity of barite and making plans to export the mineral into places like Ghana and South Africa.
“These are places that have just discovered oil and of course they need barite as well.
“We will ensure they can get it cheaper to buy from Nigeria than to go to northern part of Africa,’’ he said.
The minister also disclosed that his ministry had discovered new minerals that they did not know existed in the country.
According to him, the minerals included nickel, cobalt chromium and tracks of lithium.
He said the newly discovered minerals were called the “Future metals’’, adding “this is where the whole world is headed’’.
The minister also disclosed that they were auctioning bitumen blocks to 26 serious investors which had shown interest in its mining.
Adegbite said the process would culminate in concession of some of the blocks to the investors which would be given fairly limited time to start producing in Nigeria.
He said the process would make the country sufficient in bitumen, lower the cost of building roads and create import substitution.
According to the minister, Nigeria has sufficient quantity of bitumen deposit in Edo, OgunOndo and Lagos states.
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