Abimbola Abatta and Deborah Onatunde
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has insisted that since the Federal Government failed to meet its demands, the union will not call off the ongoing industrial action.
ASUU’s President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this on Sunday in an exclusive interview with Nigerian NewsDirect newspaper.
Professor Osodeke stated this in reaction to the suspension on the five-month strike embarked upon by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU).
JAC spokesman, Peters Adeyemi, had announced the suspension in Abuja on Saturday, saying the relevant organs of the two unions decided to call off the strike after the Federal Government met most of their requests.
The two unions said the strike would be called off for two months.
However, the ASUU President said the unions “Decided to call off their strike because the Federal Government had agreed on what they want.
“But we will not call it (the strike) off because the government has not agreed with our demands,” he added.
A media report, yesterday, revealed that a source in the union, who was privy to the negotiations, explained that ASUU refused to resume further talks because of a ‘Greek gift.’
According to the report, the sources, noted that while there would be a paltry increase in the salaries of professors and a deduction in the salaries of graduate assistants.
On the proposed salary scheme, the ASUU President said, “We have negotiated with them [Federal Government], and told them what we want.
“What we have is collective bargaining, not a gift or award. This is what we keep on saying. It is still by collective bargaining that we can agree, not one person dashing people any amount. It is a collective bargain.”
Reacting to the speculations that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are planning to protest against ASUU regarding the lingering strike, he said, “If all Nigerian students are not in school and are wasting their time, and the government insists that they want to punish ASUU, well, the CSOs can go ahead to protest. They are free.
“We have finished negotiation with government. We have told them what we want. We have discussed all the issues. I don’t think there is any country in the world where all academic staff union of universities are on strike for six months. So, the CSOs have the right to protest.”
Nigerian NewsDirect reports that on February 14, the union commenced the ongoing strike, following the government’s failure to meet some of the lingering demands of the union.
The reasons, according to ASUU, bordered on the refusal to release revitalisation funds for universities; non-release of earned allowances to lecturers; end the proliferation of universities by politicians and State Governments; refusal to deploy the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of lecturers; and refusal to renegotiate the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the striking lecturers met with the Federal Government last week with the hope of resolving the industrial action.
When ASUU met with the Professor Nimi Briggs Renegotiation Committee, the committee appealed to the lecturers to suspend the strike, assuring that their demands will be captured in the 2023 budget, a development that was swiftly rejected by the striking lecturers.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had noted that the failure of the government to agree to the payment of six months arrears of salaries of the lecturers was stalling the suspension of the strike.
According to Adamu, ASUU insisted that its members must be paid for the period they have been on strike.
Lead City Voices rewards students with over N50,000 cash prize at annual debate
Lead City Voices, a student association in Lead City University has rewarded students with cash prizes worth over N50,000 at its annual debate.
The 8th inter-faculty debate competition had its theme as: “Nigeria Educational crisis: Is it Government, Students, Parents, Teachers, Curriculum the cause?”
Representatives from Lead City’s faculty of communication and information sciences, Faculty of Education, Faculty of management and social sciences, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Pharmacy, Environmental design & management, Engineering, Natural & Applied Sciences, College of Medicine participated in the debate.
In the grand finale, Faculty of Natural and Applied sciences ended with 140 points for supporting the notion given, Faculty of Law had a total of 145 points, Faculty of Management and social sciences garnered a total of 150 points to beat Faculty of Law.
The Faculty of Management and social sciences emerged as the overall winner with a congratulatory cash prize of N25,000 award certificate and Lead City Voices magazine and journal.
The dexterity of the Faculty of Law earned them the second position and a cash prize of N15,000 with an award certificate alongside Lead City Voices magazine and journal.
The eloquent and well crafted speech of the Faculty of Natural and Applied sciences made them emerge as the 3rd position with a cash prize of N10,000, award certificate, Lead City Voices Magazine and journal.
Commenting, the President of Leadcity Voices President, Ogunola Victor disclosed that the first round of the debate, which held on 21 November, 2023 afforded speakers from the participating Faculties five minutes each, while the chief speakers had an additional minute to summarise their points.
He added that participants were placed in two groups, with each having a topic to support or oppose accordingly.
Also speaking, the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Kabiru Adeyemo represented by the University’s Head of Marketing, Dr (Mrs) A. Deborah, praised LCV for organising the debate which will help students think critically as well as proffer tangible contributions to issues of worldwide importance.
Ogun Assembly urges tertiary institutions to reduce fees
The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, has appealed to tertiary institutions owned by the Ogun State Government to reduce fees payable by students.
Oluomo asked them to reconsider the plight of indigent parents by doing a downward review of the recently hiked tuition fees.
It was gathered that students of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun and those of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, recently took to the streets to protest the hike in fees by the learning institutions.
During plenary on Wednesday, the Minority Leader and lawmaker representing Odogbolu State Constituency, Lukman Adeleye, called the Assembly’s attention to the sudden rise in fees and the protests that greeted the development.
Adeleye, earlier in his presentation, recounted the recent mass protest by the students of Tai Solarin University of Education, pleading that the Assembly wade into the matter to ensure a reduction of the hiked fees.
Reacting, Oluomo acknowledged the adverse effects of the economic challenges being faced by parents currently.
The Speaker noted that it was “important for the Heads of the tertiary institutions to show more compassion and empathy by allowing the new fees to wear human faces so as not to put the students at a disadvantage.”
He explained that though the institutions might have the compelling need to increase their fees to meet their pressing needs, given the high rate of inflation, the fees should be affordable.
NDA matriculates 439 cadets, emphasises discipline, integrity
The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), has matriculated no fewer than 439 cadets of the 75 Regular Course, while charging them on discipline, integrity, loyalty and dedication to their chosen career.
It was gathered that the 439 cadets, including one allied cadet from the Gambia, made the admission into the academy out of about 30,000 applicants.
Out of the 439 cadets, 138 would be formally introduced to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, 118 into the Faculty of Science and 37 into the Faculty of Engineering and Technology.
Similarly, 55 cadets would be introduced to the Faculty of Management Sciences while 91 cadets would be going to the Faculty of Military Science and Interdisciplinary Studies.
The event was the high point of the academy’s 12th matriculation ceremony on Wednesday in Kaduna.
Its Commandant, Maj.-Gen. John Ochai, said at the NDA, matriculation usually takes place at the end of a successful seven weeks of intensive military orientation programme which the fresh cadets were subjected to.
He recalled that the journey for cadets of 75 Regular Course began in August 2023 when they reported to the academy and commenced their selection process.
According to him, only identified best candidates in terms of physical, medical and mental abilities were selected.
Ochai, therefore, urged the parents of the matriculating cadets to maintain all the necessary support and encouragement to them as the academy would continue to prepare them for future national responsibilities.
He stated that currently, all the academy’s undergraduate degree programmes have been accredited by the National Universities Commission.
“The NDA of today has therefore transformed into an effective military institution of international standard.
“It is continuously being equipped with all it takes to meet global standards in consonant with the requirements of our constitutional roles,” Ochai said.
The Commandant, therefore, said the cadets must have the courage and zeal to surmount all difficulties and brace up to the demands and exigencies of training which they would pass through in the academy.
Ochai urged them to bear in mind that their entire training in the academy is aimed at equipping them for national defence and professional discharge of constitutional responsibilities.
He, therefore, urged that they must live up to expectations and adhere strictly to basic rules and regulations guiding their training in the academy.
Ochai thanked President Bola Tinubu for his continuous support and encouragement, while also being grateful for the direction and support received from the Chairman and members of NDA Governing Council towards the success of the training activities in the academy.
Earlier, the Special Guest of Honour, Mr Ahmed Aminu, the Executive Secretary (ES), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), said the defence university has consistently been regarded as a factory for knowledge generation, application, dissemination and a grooming institution for future military leaders.
Aminu, represented by Dr Munir Sirajo, added that since its establishment in 1964, the NDA has relentlessly been committed to the pursuit of academic innovation, skill-based training and a tradition of excellence in teaching, research and community service.
He said that there was no doubt that Nigeria has benefited immensely over the years, from the production of well-rounded, locally relevant and internationally competitive military officers blazing the trail in all assigned tasks.
Aminu encouraged the cadets to be highly motivated to abide by the rules and regulations required of them to achieve academic education and military training goals.
He also advised them to imbibe attributes such as bravery, discipline, courage, diligence, honour, perseverance, patience, loyalty, determination and endurance to achieve their training goals.
Aminu also appreciated the staff for delivering on the training mandate of the Academy, adding that the dynamics and nature of 21st-century warfare demand an elevated level of intellectual capability and creative critical thinking by military leaders.
He stressed that the nature of war and war theatres keep shifting and changing, thus necessitating the development of innovative minds capable of confronting, accommodating and mitigating the multifarious security challenges across nations of the world.
“For instance, I understand that there are ongoing military operations to counter the insurgency across the length and breadth of our country, Nigeria.
“The territorial integrity of Nigeria like other nations of the world is continually threatened by violent non-state actors.
“Hence, a need for sustained recruitment and systematic training of minds to confront emerging and highly sophisticated security threats across our territory,” Aminu said.
He implored the staff and officers of the academy to view their assignments as a call to active duty to cultivate and nurture future gallant military heroes highly patriotic to defend and protect the nation.
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