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NUJ appeals to ASUU, tasks FG on insecurity, inflation, rule of law

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ASUU ”Conditionally” Calls Off 8-Month Old Strike

Mr. Chris Isiguzo, President NUJ (M), /Mr. Shuaibu Liman Usman, National Secretary NUJ (L), and Ladi Bala, National Chairperson NAWOJ (R) during the press conference on Thursday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off the over five months strike to allow students to go back to continue their studies.

NUJ also called on the Federal Government to address issues of security, healthcare, food security, inflation, rule of law and intimidation of journalists in the country.

Also read: Railway workers bemoan FG’s Insensitivity to ASUU, Others’ legitimate demands

NUJ National President, Chris Isiguzo made the call in his state of the national press conference on Thursday in Abuja.

“We have looked at the abysmal situation in the education sector with particular reference to tertiary education in the country vis-à-vis the five months old strike embarked upon by ASUU.

“We appeal to the leadership and members of ASUU to in the overall interest of the nation, accept some of the offers the Federal Government is proposing to allow for the resumption of academic activities in the universities.

“We can only remain and call ourselves Nigerians only on the premise of the fact that there is a country known and addressed as Nigeria.’’

He said a look at developments within the country, it “does not require beating the drums for any discerning and critical mind to know, understand and appreciate the need for an urgent appraisal to assist the country.’’

“The NUJ as a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian project feels seriously concerned of the need for the Federal Government to quickly move more than ever before in addressing some critical areas of governance.

“On insecurity, it is almost becoming unbelievable the geometric rate of attacks by terrorists/bandits in different locations. The unfortunate development is certainly unacceptable particularly with the proportion and dimension insecurity has assumed in the country.

“The security agencies must rise to the occasion, especially in Imo where some arrests have been reportedly made with suspects making mind-boggling revelations of their sponsors. Such revelations should not just be ignored,” Isiguzo said.

The NUJ President said that just last Tuesday night, the audacity of criminal gangs was expressed in a daring raid on the Kuje Correctional Facility in Abuja.

According to him, the Correctional Centre was breached for hours without any reinforcement being sent after the soldiers and other guards were overpowered.

“Before then, a Presidential convoy conveying an advanced party of officials for the Sallah visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Daura was attacked and it took the Presidential Guards much effort to repel the attackers.

“We commend the Federal Government, the Nigerian military, and other security agencies for their commendable efforts in tackling the situation.

“We, however, appeal to the government not to be deterred but to continue in providing the needed support to the Armed Forces, Police, and other security agencies in the fight against insecurity.

“The war will surely be won by Nigeria and the enemies of the country will be defeated,” he stressed.

On healthcare, Isiguzo said considering the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had become imperative for the provision of modern healthcare facilities and the upgrade of existing hospitals to acceptable world standards.

“This will help in reducing medical tourism to the barest minimum and also save the country the needed foreign exchange.

“It will also put a stop to avoidable embarrassments some of our top government officials suffer in the countries they go to seek medical interventions,” he said.

On the economy, he said Nigeria seemed to be the only country without mechanisms in place for price control of goods and services.

“No wonder, prices of essential commodities are galloping on daily basis thus, making the cost of living unbearable for the people, especially the downtrodden that are now unable to afford one meal per day.

“This calls for a serious and desirous review of the policies of some of the agencies of government that seem to be at variance with the good intention of the Federal Government.

“Simply put, agencies of government cannot continue to increase the cost of services without enabling laws to back such increases and expect the cost of goods and other essentials to remain constant.

“There is therefore the need for a central harmonization and control mechanism committee or panel that should be empowered by the presidency to always harmonize some of the policies of the different agencies of government.

“The present inflation rate cannot be sustained and or coped with by the people that are already at their wit’s end,” he said.

Isiguzo also called on the Federal Government to address violations of rule of law in the country, address food insecurity, bad roads, and intimidation of journalists.

 

Education

Afolabi Foundation To Award 2000 Scholarship In 2024, Donates Furniture To Abia School

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Afolabi Foundation To Award 2000 Scholarship In 2024, Donates Furniture To Abia School

The Ajoke Ayisat Afolabi Foundation (AAAF), the philanthropic arm of SIFAX Group, has set a target of awarding a scholarship to 2,000 indigent students nationwide in 2024.

Foluke Ademokun, Executive Coordinator, AAAF, while speaking on the activities of the non-governmental organisation in the first quarter of this year, noted that the driving force behind this initiative was to support indigent parents and tackle the menace of out-of-school children.

She said: “We are focused on helping the government reduce the number of out-of-school children, so in our way, we have provided a platform where we source and pay for school fees of indigent students across Nigeria so they can access quality education, despite the financial circumstance of their parents or guardians and we have been doing this since the inception of the Foundation about 15 years ago. Thousands of underprivileged children have benefitted from the Foundation.

“In the first quarter of 2024, we have paid for over 237 students in Lagos and Zaria and we are optimistic that before the end of the year, we should reach more than 2,000 students. The Foundation also plans to equip the students with in-demand skills, promote life-long learning opportunities, and reduce inequalities in access to quality education.”

Ademokun further said the foundation also extended support to Umunna Comprehensive Secondary School, Umuosu in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State with the donation of 3-in-1 desks and seats to foster a good learning environment that would impact the student’s overall learning experience and success.

 “When we visited the school and we saw that the environment was not conducive for learning especially the tables and desks used by the students, we knew that an intervention was necessary to make the school attractive for the students, this was why we initiated this donation of new desks and seats. We believe that the students will be motivated and better engaged with the new desks and seats”, she noted.

Other projects executed by the Foundation and SIFAX Group in the first quarter of the year, according to Ademokun, include the provision of daily meals for indigents in Zaria, donation of foodstuffs to over 1,000 Lagos residents, free medical outreaches in Lagos and Ogun states, digital training for market women in Lagos, distribution of energy-efficient stoves to women in Abia state, and start-up grants to women in Zaria, Kaduna state. 

While commenting on the various projects, Basil Agboarumi, Executive Director, Corporate and Governmental Affairs, SIFAX Group noted that the Group was committed to investing in the underprivileged Nigerians through its various intervention projects aimed at improving their quality of life.

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Education

Lion Kills OAU Zoo Attendant 

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…Lion killed instantly 

Mr Olawuyi Olarewaju, a veterinary technologist with Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun,  has been killed by a Lion.

It was learnt that Olarewaju, who had been in charge of the OAU Zoological Garden for over a decade, was attacked by a nine -year-old male lion on Monday.

He was said to have been attacked while feeding the lion at the zoological garden of the university.

Confirming the incident, Mr Biodun Olarewaju, the OAU Public Relations Officer, said the management of the university had been thrown into mourning following the incident.

Olarewaju, in a statement in Ile-Ife, said that other members of staff of the university, who were at the scene of the incident did everything within their powers to rescue the deceased but the wild cat had already caused severe fatalities.

He said that saddened by the tragic event, the aggressive lion had been euthanized.

“On hearing the sad news, the management team, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adebayo Bamire, abruptly ended an on-going meeting for an on-the-spot assessment.

“The vice chancellor was informed on arrival by the Acting Director of the University Health and Medical Centre, Dr Tirimisiyu Olatunji, that all first aid and medical efforts to save the life of the victim failed.

“The deceased has been taking care of the lions since they were born on campus about nine years ago but tragically, the male lion killed the man who had been feeding them.

“The university management has sent a delegation to the widow and children of the deceased,    imploring them to take solace in God who gives life and also has the power to take life,” he said.

Olarewaju said that the management had ordered a comprehensive investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the incident.

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Education

ASUU Says 46 Members Lost Their Lives To Economic Hardship

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abuja zone, has disclosed the death of some of its members due to economic hardship alongside poor remuneration of academics and unfavourable working conditions.

The 1st zonal coordinator, ASUU, Abuja zone, Salahu Muhammed made this known while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Muhammad said no fewer than 46 academics lost their lives in universities under the Abuja zone.

They are the University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State University, Nasarawa, and the Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai.

He said that the union recently lost an eminent Professor of Fisheries, Johnson Oyero, of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, due to inability to afford quality medical facilities.

“In the last decade, more Nigerian academics are leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures, thereby overworking the patriotic ones that remain in the system whose level of patriotism is dwindling daily due to poor remuneration and working conditions.

“It is also worthy of note that the union has lost several members during the period under review due to herculean working conditions, psychological and emotional stress, and diseases related to these conditions.

“For instance, universities in the Abuja zone have lost 46 members,” Muhammed said.

He decried the payment to their members, of amputated two-month salaries by the Federal Government out of the seven-and-a-half month withheld salaries.

Also, the 2nd ASUU Abuja Zonal Coordinator, Mr Salahu Lawal, said the salaries were withheld when the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy on members of the union that embarked on a strike that lasted eight months in 2022.

Lawal said despite the order by President Tinubu for the release and payment of their withheld salaries, some members have reportedly received an amputated two-month salary of the seven-and-a-half-month withheld salaries, while many were yet to get anything.

“This is far below the expectation of the union and further weakens the morale of our members and the union’s trust in government promises.

“We use this medium to call on all that are involved in this inglorious act to do the needful with regards to lecturers’ withheld salaries as there is nothing more to prove,” he said.

Lawal also lamented the inability of the government to implement the exemption of Federal Universities from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as approved by the federal Executive Council in December 2023.

‘’In December 2023, the Minister of Education after a FEC meeting told the world that tertiary institutions are now exempted from the IPPIS an imposition on federal universities by the immediate past Buhari-led government.

“It is worrisome that two months after that pronouncement, the directive has not been implemented rather there was a funny narration on the salaries paid in January stating ‘’New IPPIS’’.

“This is lack of political will to carry out a directive from the president or even FEC by some elements who are beneficiaries of the dubious payment platform,’’ Lawal stated.

He further called on the Federal Government to sign and implement the Professor Nimi Briggs committee renegotiation agreement.

The ASUU Zonal Coordinator called for the immediate implementation of salary awards of 25 percent and 35 percent and payment of its arrears from January 2023 to date

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