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Staff threaten to shut universities over five months withheld salaries

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Workers under the aegis of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions (NASU) have threatened to shut Nigerian universities over their five months withheld salaries.

The university unions also revealed that President Bola Tinubu last October directed that four months’ salaries be paid to university staff, but only teaching staff were paid last February leaving non-teaching out.

Recall that the non-teaching staff two weeks ago embarked on a warning strike to press home their demands.

Commenting, the National President of NAAT, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, said the House of Representatives has waded into the matter.

“We were invited last Wednesday by the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education, representatives of the National Universities Commission NUC, the Committee of Vice Chancellors and others were there. Before our three-day warning strike, members gave the mandate that we should go on full blown strike.

“However, the committee pleaded with us that we should hold on. That they are now on recess and could do little. They pleaded that we give them the opportunity to reconvene after the recess and they would wade into the matter fully. In view of this, we want to give them the benefit of doubt and see what happens between now and the end of April,” he said.

The National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, said, “Our members went on strike in March 2022 and it was over the refusal of the government to fulfill the 2009 Agreement we had with the government. The agreement was to be renegotiated every three years but that was not done. Over 15 years now, what we have been having is taking a step forward and taking two backwards. Government keeps tossing us from one committee to another.

“They are owing us five and a half months from that strike action, but they paid teaching staff four months withheld salaries and forgot others. The same attitude is what obtains when you have Earned Allowance to be paid. Some people would just arrogate to themselves the power to take whatever they like from the money and leave the crumbs for others.

“Those who set up the university system knew the importance of all workers, whether teaching or non-teaching, if not, a single person would have been saddled with responsibility of being the teacher, driver, technologist, accountant and so on,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, Comrade Ibrahim of SSANU, wondered why non-teaching staff are seen as not important in the system.

“We were at a meeting late last year after the pronouncement by President Bola Tinubu that four months salaries would be paid and the Minister of Education was there and he gave the assurance that all would benefit, now the reverse is the case. We are not a strike happy union but we are being pushed to the wall. Between 2022 and now, we have lost over 100 members due to their inability to take care of themselves because of lack of funds.

“When they paid the teaching staff four months salaries, we wrote a protest letter to the government and the receipt of it was acknowledged, but could you believe it that this is the fifth week, we have not heard anything from the government,” he said.

“We have our own organs and the government have theirs. So, if our organs call for total and indefinite strike, which is one of the tools we use, the system would be shut down totally. Non-teaching staff are the ones in charge of power and water supply. They man security posts, if they all abandon such duties, let us see what would happen.

Ibrahim added that: “When education is funded adequately, the government would spend less on security, health and many vices would be reduced.”

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Nigeria deploys troops for peace keeping in Gambia

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The Armed Forces of Nigeria on Friday, announced the deployment of 197 personnel for the peace keeping mission in the Gambia.
The Chief of Operations Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen. Boniface Sinjen made the announcement in Jaji, Kaduna State, at the graduation of troops of Nigerian Company 9 Economic Community of West African States Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG).
The 197 troops began Pre-Deployment Training (PDT) on May 4, at Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) Jaji Kaduna State.
According to him, the PDT is in line with the commitment of the Chief of Army Staff , Lt -Gen Taoreed Lagbaja and the Armed Forces of Nigeria in deploying quality peacekeepers in support of international peace and security.
He said that the training had equipped them with the necessary tactical skills and knowledge required for peace support operations.
“It  has prepared you for the protection of civilians and the accomplishment of assigned tasks under the ECOMIG mandate.
“You have learned the importance of teamwork, leadership and cultural sensitivity as well as other factors that would ensure your success in the mission area.
“You have been trained in the latest techniques and procedures for maintaining peace and stability in a complex environment and instilled with the values of discipline, respect for human rights and compassion for the people you are going out there to protect.
“Your mission comes at a critical time, as The Gambia faces a period of
uncertainty and instability, “he said.
According to him, the country’s political crisis has affected the lives of many innocent civilians and their presence will sustain the existing peace and stability to the region.
“Your role is crucial in maintaining peace, protecting lives and promoting sustainable development.”
Sinjen  charged  the troops to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, discipline and respect for human rights.
He advised them to adhere strictly to the ECOWAS’ mandate, which guides your mission and ensure that your actions align with the principles of peace, stability and human rights.
”Remember that your conduct will not only reflect on yourselves but also on your country, the ECOWAS region and the international community.
”Additionally, your training has exposed you to the culture and religious diversity of The Gambia.
 “You are, therefore, expected to approach all interactions with sensibility and respect. Be mindful of the local customs, traditions and socio-political dynamics of the mission area.
”You must remain vigilant in the face of potential security threats and   avoid any actions that may be perceived as insensitive,” he said.
He said that as peacekeepers in a sovereign nation, they must adhere strictly to the UN principles and guidelines for peacekeeping operations.
 “Respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of The Gambia and avoid any actions that may be perceived as interference in the country’s internal affairs.”
He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria had zero-tolerance on sexual exploitation and abuse in line with United Nations’ policies.
”Therefore, any form of sexual exploitation and abuse will be met with severe consequences.
“As ambassadors of the armed Forces of Nigeria and our great nation, you must uphold the esteemed values and enviable image of this country, “Sinjen said.
Earlier, the Commandant of MLAILPKC, Maj-Gen. Ademola Adedoja, said the six weeks training had been intense, comprehensive, and was conducted in line with the Standard UN Core Pre-Deployment Training Modules.
Adedoja said the PDT was to equip the earmarked unit with the requisite skills and knowledge to function effectively and efficiently in their deployment to the Gambia.

He said as  part of their training, the troops were taken through crosscutting issues like Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Conflict Related Sexual Violence, Conduct and Discipline as well as Protection of Civilians amongst others.

“This graduation is a testament to the capacity and capability of the MLAILPKC as a United Nations accredited Centre to conduct quality training of prospective peacekeepers for deployment to multidimensional Peace Support Operations in fulfillment of her mandate.

“The Centre has within the last six weeks been able to train, retrain and refresh the troops on requisite knowledge and expertise to succeed in a Peace Support Operation environment.

” It is my fervent belief that these men are better informed and equipped to perform their roles in the Gambia, “Adedoja said.

He said the graduation ceremony once more showed the commitment of Nigeria and the Nigerian Armed Forces to global peace and security.

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Tinubu calls for stronger collaboration with FBI to fight cybercrime, terrorism

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President Bola Tinubu has called for stronger collaboration between Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the fight against cybercrime, terrorism, and other related crimes. 

The President made the call during a meeting with FBI Director, Christopher Asher Wray, at the State House on Friday in Abuja.

Tinubu described the presence of the FBI Director alongside his team in Nigeria as a recognition of the enduring partnership between Nigeria and the U.S. in the fight against financial crimes and terrorism. 

Security chiefs who attended the meeting included the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.

Also in attendance were the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) and Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Olanipekun Olukoyede; and the National Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Maj.-Gen. Adamu Laka, were also present.

Tinubu said it was an honour for him to receive Wray, the leader of an organisation that had demonstrated consistent procedural sophistication and a reputation for excellence over several years.

“Your visit conveys the importance of Nigeria and Nigerian partnership in the work of America’s law enforcement institutions and vice-versa.

“For us, it is a recognition of what stage we are at, who we are, and the level of interest both countries share in eliminating crimes locally and globally.

“We cannot achieve this important feat of eliminating crimes without collaboration.

“Incidentally, as the Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigeria is also collaborating with other West African countries to fight economic and other related crimes,” the President said.

He told the FBI Director that his administration had prioritised education as a tool against poverty, which was generally believed to be a driver of criminal activities.

“We are working hard to eliminate terrorism, cybercrimes, sextortion, and I am glad that we have a good number of agencies that are involved in reducing these crimes to the barest minimum, and they are also well represented at this meeting,” said Tinubu.

Noting that no single country could combat financial crimes in isolation, he called on the U.S. to support developing countries with the requisite technology and knowledge transfer required to combat complex international crimes.

In his remarks, Wray said he was in the country to enhance the “outstanding partnership” that existed between the government of Nigeria and the government of the U.S. 

He lauded Tinubu for supporting the growing partnerships between various agencies of government and the FBI in order to protect the citizens of both countries. 

“We appreciate the President’s vision in countering terrorism in the region, which is a dangerous threat, not only to the countries in the region but also to the United States. 

“We appreciate your vision in re-engineering the role of the Office of the NSA to effectively coordinate efforts on counter-terrorism, and this has already started to bear fruits in terms of the success you are recording against ISIS in West Africa and other terrorist groups. 

“We appreciate your support and collaboration on cyber-enabled crimes and sextortion, which has unfortunately resulted in a few tragic deaths in the United States. 

“I want to assure you of our support whether it is on counter-terrorism, cyber-enabled crimes, kidnapping, joint investigations, and intelligence sharing. Our relationship with Nigeria is a very important one,” the FBI Director said. 

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Saudi Weather: NACHON urges pilgrims to avoid direct sunlight

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The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has advised Nigerian pilgrims to use umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching sun.

The Executive Chairman of NAHCON, Malam Jalal Arabi, gave the advice in an interview with the newsmen, on Friday in Mina, a valley located eight kilometres South-East of the city of Mecca.

This year’s hajj is taking place in sweltering temperatures that test the endurance of worshipers during the mostly outdoor rituals.

He implored the pilgrims to always seek shade whenever possible to avoid direct sunlight.

Arabi said,” It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if they do not feel thirsty.

” Pilgrims are also advised to pay close attention to all health advisories and instructions provided by the medical team.

” To limit sun exposure, pilgrims should avoid going outside during peak heat. They should also stay cool by refraining from walking on or touching hot surfaces like rooftops.”

Meanwhile, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health has issued a heat advisory for the pilgrims in the wake of scorching surface temperatures, which pose a significant health risk.

The ministry highlighted the intense heat in Makkah as a major challenge for hajj, adding that prolonged sun exposure could be dangerous.

On Saturday morning, pilgrims will proceed from Mina to the plain of Arafat for the major ritual of standing.

Spanning approximately 33 square kilometers, Arafat hosts over two million pilgrims each year.

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