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ASUU strike to continue till further notice – Union

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday said the ongoing strike would not be called off until the Federal Government fully implemented all the offers it made to the union after their last meeting.

The public university lecturers said they were tired of Federal Government’s antics of making unfulfilled promises, insisting that the strike would be called off after they got tangible evidence and concrete actions that the offers made to them by the Federal Government had been implemented.

The National President, ASUU,  Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi,  in an interview in Lagos on Thursday, said the team of the union that met  with the government on Tuesday did not reach any agreement with the Federal Government.

Asked when the strike would then be called off, Ogunyemi said, “Our members said they want to see evidence of satisfactory implementation of all they have proposed before the strike can be called off.”

On Tuesday, ASUU met with the Federal Government officials including the Minister of Education, Adamu  Adamu, as well as his Labour and Employment counterpart, Chris Ngige.

After their discussions, Ngige explained what the Federal Government was offering to the union.

He said the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance had confirmed with evidence that N15.4bn had been released to public universities.

But ASUU president recalled that last year, the government promised to release funds for the revitalisation of public universities, which was one of the demands of the union, but failed to do so.

Ogunyemi stated, “As for the proposal, it can be disaggregated. There are items there that require implementation. If they are setting up a committee on state universities, and they actually do, it is not something we need to agree on.  It is about action.

“If they have implemented it, it is off the list. If the government says it will pay a shortfall of salaries on a certain date, and the date comes and they release the money, it is also implementation. There is no agreement on the matter.

“On the revitalisation fund, we presented to the government that five tranches of N220bn each were outstanding. The government has not said it will release one, even if it is spread over a period of one year.  There is no agreement on that. What they are offering is not even up to one tranche.

“Last year, they promised to release the fund but they did not till November when the strike began. Long story short, our members are saying they do not want promises again, what they want is action, implementation or disbursement of funds. The government must act in a way to convince the union that agreement has not been set aside; to show that government has not set aside the agreement, they should release one tranche.”

He explained that in order to forestall a situation ASUU and the government would restart negotiations on arrears of earned academic allowances, both sides agreed that “it would be mainstreamed into the 2019 budget.”

According to him, such an agreement was reached last year, but he said the government failed to honour it.

Ogunyemi stated, “We are going to have  a discussion on when to commence renegotiation because there are still grey areas. If the government can substantially address these issues, we will be more confident to face our members on the way forward. For now, the feeler we are getting is that our members do not actually want to accept this government proposal from us.

“They said they would pay the shortfall of salary arrears of what was removed from workers’ salaries.  There are 20 universities identified. The money will be available by January 18. It is around the corner and we will see if it will come.”

…says FG’s  offers  far below its expectations

Also, ASUU, in its   Strike  Bulletin 8 issued   by its President, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents in Ibadan, said the Federal Government’s proposal was far below its expectations.

In its latest  bulletin, the union president said the offer from the Federal Government towards meeting the demands of ASUU as contained in the 2017 Memorandum of Action was still fluid and far from expectations.

Wait for further directive, union tells  lecturers

Ogunyemi asked members to await further developments on the strike.

According to him, the proposal from government towards resolving the demands of ASUU as contained in the 2017 MoA is still fluid and far from expectations.

The bulletin read in part,  “Though some progress has been made with respect to discussion with government agents (The Minister of Labour and Employment as well as the Minister of Education), at the moment, the proposal from government towards resolving the demand of ASUU as contained in 2017 MoA and Strike Bulletin 1 is still fluid and far from expectations. Hence, it is the view of the National Strike Coordinating Committee that members should await further developments which are rapidly unfolding.”

When contacted,  the spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Gong, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that, “What the ASUU president said, which I am privy to, is that, they have received government offers, they will communicate with their various branches across the universities and that the collective decision of those branches will inform the next step they will take. That they directed their various branches to hold their meetings today (Thursday).”

The ASUU leadership is expected to return to Ngige with the outcome of its meeting with the National Executive Committee over the offers made by government to the union.

The meeting between the minister and the ASUU leadership may hold today (Friday).

ASUU had on November 4 last year declared the strike to demand improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.

Other demands of the union include the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU; 2012 and 2013) and Memorandum of Action (MoA, 2017).

It  also asked for the release of the forensic audit report on earned academic allowances; payment of all outstanding earned academic allowances and mainstreaming of same into salaries beginning with the 2018 budget.

The union went on strike in 2018 to compel the Federal Government to make funds available for the revitalisation of public universities, based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017.

Ogunyemi said the union would not participate in the 2019 elections but stated that members were free to take part.

The union had on January 4 met with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and some officers of the commission. After the meeting, it resolved that it would not participate in the 2019 polls, but said that its members could take part as individuals.

He said, “In accordance with the ASUU’s long standing position, ASUU as a union will not participate in the conduct of 2019 general elections, although members may voluntarily participate in the conduct of the elections

“However, members are prohibited from participating in the election processes using any material that bears ASUU or relates to the union.” – Punch.

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Expulsion: I’m still Imo APC leader – Okorocha

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Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has said he is still the leader of the All Progressives Congress in the state despite his suspension by the state chapter of the APC.

Okorocha said this on Sunday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo.

He said his recommended suspension by the Marcelenius Nlemigbo-led executive of the party in the state was not a source of worry to himThe statement said: “Contrary to what has been read in some sections of the media, the Imo State Chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, never at any time suspended or expelled its leader, Governor Rochas Okorocha from the party and has never contemplated doing that and won’t have any reason to think about that.

“There is also no faction in Imo APC. There is only one APC in the state with Daniel Nwafor as the chairman and Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the leader. Any other group claiming to be a faction of Imo APC must obviously be a gang of 419ers or league of fraudsters who are experts in issuance of dud cheques and collecting billions for jobs not done.

“The only contentious issue in Imo APC is that the national chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole imposed a known PDP member and a known character in the state on the party as its governorship candidate, and by so doing, pushed the party and its members to a very tight corner especially when it comes to the issue of marketing a candidate.

“If Oshiomhole didn’t want the preferred candidate of members of the party in the state, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu for any reason, and if he actually meant well for Imo APC, he would have taken one of the guber aspirants that formed the coalition who are known members of the party, and who is also from Owerri zone since that was the reason some of them in the coalition claimed that made them to leave the government.”

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Letter: Presidency fires back at Obasanjo, says he is a coward

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Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian leader needs a good doctor and in anticipation of a good treatment, a spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari, wishes he should ”get well soon”.

It was part of the response from the Presidential Villa to Obasanjo following the 16-page letter he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari and which he released this afternoon in Abeokuta.

Obasanjo, a partisan in next month’s election, is supporting opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who he had savaged in a book and dubbed a ‘corrupt man’ and even invoked God’s wrath upon himself, if he ever backed Atiku’s presidential ambition.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special assistant to President Buhari regarded Obasanjo’s attack against Buhari as puerile and the “the last push by desperate politicians who can’t handle the President(Buhari) politically and have resorted to subterfuge.

“This language of his 16-page letter, likening President Buhari to General Sani Abacha, a man he dreaded and the one who jailed him under military laws is most unfitting from a former President of Nigeria”, Garba said.

“The claim that President Buhari has put in place rigging machinery is both outlandish and outrageous. We are unable to get the words to describe a 90-year old liar, except to say that by the publication of this tissue of lies against the President, he Obasanjo, not the President will fall from everyone’s esteem.

“As repeatedly said of him, since Chief Obasanjo left office in 1979, he never let every succeeding leader of the country function freely, and this included the one he personally handpicked against all known rules drawn up by the party that put him in the office of the President.

“But Chief Obasanjo is jealous because President Buhari has more esteem than him and the sooner he learns to respect him the better.

“It is a notorious fact that in dealing with any leader that he failed to control, he resorted to these puerile attacks. As the grand patron, more correctly the grandfather of corruption as described by the National Assembly, Chief Obasanjo released today’s letter purely for the reason of rescuing his thriving corruption establishment.

“The elections starting in February will be free and fair as promised the nation and the international community by President Buhari.

“What Chief Obasanjo and his co-travellers in the PDP should expect is that from the outcome, we will teach them a political lesson that they will never forget. This margin will be much bigger than we had in 2015.

“Claims that President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have embarked on the president’s “self- succession project, by recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda, in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count” is not only utterly false, but a copious note from the book on the failed third term agenda of President Obasanjo.

“The man, President Buhari who has taken Nigeria’s reputation to a higher level internationally and is working hard to improve on the records of elections he found in place cannot descend to the level that Obasanjo has himself sunk.

“As for his attacks of the administration’s records in fighting corruption, what the former President said is no more than evidence that President Buhari’s war against corruption is succeeding. They thought it is all a joke.

“A leader who took USD 16 billion “upfront” to supply electric power yet failed to add a single megawatt to the national grid and to date, there is no trace of the money is jittery that he will be called to account. He is a coward.

“Chief Obasanjo, manifesting a confused state of mind blames President Buhari for the fall of Libya into a failed state and the unholy alliance between the Boko Haram terrorists and the ISIS, while at the same time calling it an African problem, saying “the struggle must be for all West African, Central African, North African and most East African States,” which really does not amount to saying anything new.

“Nigerians looked up to him as a role model and a ray of hope to ethical and clean leadership until President Yar’Adua called him out to explain what happened to the sixteen billion dollars of taxpayer’s money. It is clear that with him sitting on top of the heap of corruption, he is no different from the crowd he leads”.

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Why Buhari did not attend presidential debate – Spokesperson

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The campaign office of President Mohammadu Buhari has explained why the president was absent for the debate slated to hold on Saturday evening.

According to a statement credited to the campaign spokesperson, Festus Keyamo SAN, FCIArb (UK), the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is also the APC Presidential Candidate in the forthcoming Presidential Election, President Muhammadu Buhari, could not attend the Presidential Debate organised by the Nigeria Election Debate Group and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria which held today, Saturday, January 19, 2019 for the following reasons:

Firstly, out of several opportunities afforded our candidate to interact with the Nigerian people directly by different organisations, our presidential candidate has taken full advantage of another town-hall meeting organized by another group which held on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. He was also joined at that town-hall meeting by our Vice-Presidential candidate who is also the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. Nigerians from all walks of life who were physically present and through on-line platforms asked uncensored questions which were adequately answered. It was also transmitted live by various broadcast networks in Nigeria.

In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme. Today, Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau States where his time was over-stretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both States, (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening.

Whilst we thank the organisers for the invitation, we want to assure Nigerians that we shall continue to hold these debate groups and Nigerians in high esteem which our candidate has demonstrated during past election debates when he honoured similar invitations. Nigerians will also recall that a few weeks ago, our Vice-Presidential candidate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, also attended the debate organized by the same organisations.

Lastly, we note the statement of the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who actually came for the event and left the venue when he did not see Mr. President, who is our candidate. According to him, he would not want to “attack” Mr. President in his absence.

It should now be obvious to Nigerians that for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, this election is all about attacking the person and programmes of Mr. President and not about proffering their own solutions to the problems they created during their sixteen years of misrule, maladministration and looting of the nation’s resources. When they cannot see President Buhari to attack, the content of their campaign becomes hollow, empty and “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Now that Atiku Abubakar had a unique opportunity to explain to Nigerians his own vision and mission without a President Buhari in the picture, he ran away. Afterall, he has his own eight years of crass and grand corruption as Vice President to defend before the Nigerian people.

On February 16, 2019 we urge Nigerians to demonstrate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the PDP, through their votes, how empty indeed their campaign has always been and to vote massively for President Muhammadu Buhari and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN who have started the rebuilding process of our great nation.

Thank you.

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