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Nigeria’s cultural economy flourishes on global stage — Minister

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The Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, says the ministry is engaging with the international arts industry for collaboration toward fostering partnerships and attracting inward investment.

Musawa said this in a statement issued by her Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Nneka Ikem-Anibeze, on Thursday.

The minister said this aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s economic diversification strategy, aiming to enhance the global recognition of Nigeria’s creative arts sector.

According to the minister, the month of February has seen unprecedented levels of recognition on the global stage for Nigeria’s creative arts.

“On Feb. 3, four Nigerian artistes – Burna Boy, ASAKE, Davido and Ayra Star – were nominated at the Grammys, the international music industry’s most prestigious awards event.

“Last Sunday, the NFL Super Bowl featured an inspiring commercial titled, ‘Everyone Has a Role to Play,’ directed by Nigerian photographer and filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu.

“The TV advertisement was rapturously received by viewers all over the world.

“This weekend, the focus shifts to the animation sector. Renowned illustrator and director, Shofela Coker, has been nominated on three categories at the industry-leading Annie Awards in Los Angeles.

“This is the first time that a Nigerian has been nominated, and Coker is the first African to receive three nominations.”

Musawa said during her recent trip to Los Angeles for the Grammys, she met with leading industry figures to explore ways in which Nigeria could build greater pathways for young talent to reach their global potential and improve opportunities at home.

According to her, the ministry’s strategy is reflective of the fact that the nation’s burgeoning arts scene is gaining in popularity the world over, with music, film, fashion and visual arts at the vanguard of an increasingly globalised sector.

“African art and culture is surging in popularity, and Nigeria is riding the crest of a wave with its unique art forms, which the whole world is truly embracing.

“Our artistic community forms an integral part of our cultural economy, which we are aiming to significantly expand in the coming years,” she said.

Musawa said this was part of the nation’s drive to attract investment and facilitate greater opportunities for Nigeria’s creative classes.

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ASUU issues two-month ultimatum to FG over withheld salaries, others

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has given the Federal Government a two-month ultimatum to implement all its demands or else it will use all legitimate means, including invoking ‘no pay, no work’ to enforce compliance.

Speaking on Tuesday during a press conference held by the Lagos State Zone of ASUU at the University of Lagos, Zonal Coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya, said Nigeria was on the verge of collapse.

Over the years, ASUU has frequently resorted to prolonged strike actions to pressure the FG into implementing its numerous demands aimed at benefiting the university system and its teaching staff.

Unfortunately, despite the government’s promises to the union on numerous occasions, these pledges often remain unfulfilled.

Some of the unfulfilled promises the government made to ASUU were the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement, the non-release of withheld salaries and arrears of Earned Academic Allowances, inadequate funding of universities, proliferation of universities, and deceitful Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.

He said, “At our last NEC meeting on May 11 to 12, held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, we decided to give the government just two months to implement all our demands or else our union will raise powerfully in defence of the Nigerian public universities. Nigeria is on the verge of collapse, and all of its parts are being pulled along with it by the type of leaders who control its political and administrative spheres.

“It should not go without saying that our great and patriotic union will not give up even a single square inch of territory to grasshoppers that want to destroy our country, whose sole objective is the cavalier accumulation of illegal wealth.”

Odukoya narrated that ASUU would not fold its hands and watch politicians who prioritised themselves over and above the development of Nigeria destroy the public universities.

He maintained that if things continued as it is, ASUU as a patriotic union, would also rise powerfully in defence of the over-burdened and inhumanly over-taxed Nigerian people.

Odukoya revealed that the inadequate funding of Nigerian universities was intentional to keep the country perpetually backwards.

He said, “As you can see, the university’s inadequate funding is intentional. It is in tandem with the neoliberal agenda of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which is to keep us perpetually backward and underdeveloped.

“No surprise our universities are in a programmatic way being transformed into superfluous entrepreneurial establishments that process bread and pure water, rather than to citadels of innovation and creativity of advanced technology.

“The intention is to make the country a consumer of technology rather than a veritable player in the knowledge and technology industry. ASUU rejects this in all entirety and calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to join in our crusade to force better funding for education and universities as an agent of liberation for our people.”

Odukoya explained that the renegotiated 2009 Agreement remained in its drafted form, owing to the government’s refusal to either sign the document or request a review if it had issues with certain areas.

“The Agreement, as you might be aware from past documents, covers not just conditions of service (salaries and allowances), but funding of universities, university Autonomy and Academic Freedom, and other matters.

“The refusal of the government to conclude the renegotiation indicates a lack of understanding of the profound nature of the document such that the government is now pretending that giving a salary award has now rested the matter.

“The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 98 addresses the principle of collective bargaining within which our union continues to engage the government on this topic. The ILO’s C095 Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 provides for “mutual agreement in alteration of wages payable in virtue of a written or unwritten contract of employment by an employer to an employed person” (Article 1) The provisions of ILO’s C095 (Article 2 1 & 2) assert.”

Also speaking, former chairman, ASUU-UNILAG, Dele Ashiru, added, “In two months, if all of these outstanding issues are not implemented, the NEC will convey to take further actions. We are here to draw government attention and alert the Nigerian people to the lacklustre nature of government response to the unresolved issues between the government and our union.

“We put the people of Nigeria on notice that should there be a crisis in the university system, Bola Tinubu should be squarely held responsible. One year is ample time to begin the process of rectifying the shortcomings of the APC-led Buhari administration.”

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Student loan for all public institutions – NELFUND

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The management of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND) has described reports that the student loan programme is exclusive to federal institutions as false and misleading.

NELFUND clarified in a Tuesday statement titled, “Clarification: State Institutions Included in Student Loan Programme” that the narrative pushed across social media is incorrect.

PUNCH Online reports that this new position corroborated what the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Akintinde Sawyerr, said on Monday at a Pre-Application Sensitisation Press Conference in Abuja.

He noted that the first batch will be for students in federal schools and the next for state schools.

“The loan application process has been streamlined to ensure easy access for all eligible students in federal tertiary institutions,” he had said.

However, in the new statement, signed by the Media and Public Relations Lead for Nigerian Education Loan Fund, Nasir Ayitogo, NELFUND confirmed clearly that state schools’ students would also benefit.

“State institutions are unequivocally by law included in our student loan programme. The programme is designed to roll out in phases to ensure effective and efficient management of the process.

“The first phase for a start will focus on students attending federal institutions.

“The second phase, which will be launched shortly after the initial rollout, will extend the programme to students at state institutions.

“NELFUND is fully committed to providing financial support to all eligible students, regardless of whether they attend Federal or State tertiary public institutions,” the statement read.

The mission of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda is to ensure that all desirous students have access to the financial resources necessary to pursue their educational goals and aspirations, NELFUND posited.

PUNCH Online reports that NELFUND is a pivotal financial institution established under the Student Loans Act, 2024.

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Reps seek waiver of airport, train station tollgate fees for Armed Forces

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Members of the House of Representatives have called on the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, to waive tollgate fees in all Nigerian airports for members of the nation’s armed forces.

Coming under Order 8 Rule 5 of the House Standing Orders, sponsor of the motion of urgent public importance, Abdulsamad Dasuki, said there’s the need to exempt members of the armed forces given their unique duties of keeping the nation and citizens safe and secured.

Keyamo, on May 14, 2024, announced the cancellation of exemptions on all airport access payments for VIPs due to the huge revenue losses they cause to the Federal Government.

Speaking on the motion, Dasuki noted, “Men and women of the armed forces honour our nation with the highest form of service and without reservation; keeping us safe from harm, protecting our wealth and territorial integrity, ensuring safe navigation on our territorial waters, protecting our borders including the Gulf of Guinea, creeks, Sahara Desert and forests, and fighting armed bandits who invade our communities.

“It is important to show gratitude by honouring our brothers and sisters who are voluntarily serving under our flag, putting in their active years to keep our nation safe with some losing their lives, and some becoming disabled from the battlefield amidst other effects.

“Honouring these men and women in uniform, and also encouraging fellow citizens to acknowledge their service to the nation is the right step to take as a way to appreciate the immeasurable sacrifices they make.”

He further justified his call for the exemption of airport tollgate fees for the armed forces on the premise that it is capable of inspiring young ones to enrol in the military to serve the nation.

“Honouring those who fight for our survival, will also inspire our youths to enrol in the military not as a means of escaping the web of unemployment, but as a valuable call to higher service to the nation.

“Members of the armed forces are subjected to paying for access to our airports where they are also expected to protect citizens and foreigners alike whether or not they are on duty and even while they are passengers themselves.

“Their services though remunerated cannot be quantified especially when the risks to them and their dependents are considered, we should not be hesitant to show them in our little way that we see them and we acknowledge their sacrifices,” he added.

He stressed that “Unless we are intentional in showing our appreciation to them by extending privileges like the proposed exemption, our nation would appear to underrate their services and lack knowledge of the value that they bring.”

Before putting the prayers to vote, the motion was amended to include exemptions of payment of toll gates at train stations and seaports.

Following its adoption, the motion was referred to the House Committee on Aviation to ensure compliance.

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