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Students applaud AbdulRazaq, as Kwara Govt distributes 50,000 cartons of noodles

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By Saka Laaro, Ilorin

Students leaders from across all tertiary institutions in Kwara State have applauded Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for his various initiatives in bringing succour to the students, saying the food palliatives is an indication that the administration prioritises students welfare.

AbdulRazaq on Wednesday, flagged off the distribution of 50,000 cartons of noodles to support students across state, federal and private tertiary institutions in the state.

In their separate remarks, student leaders said the food palliatives would bring relief to students across tertiary institutions in Kwara State.

Students leaders who spoke during the event included representatives of students of universities in Kwara State Soliu Abdulqadir; representative of students of Polytechnics in Kwara State Ayotunde Emmanuel, representative of College of Health Technology Offa Shuaib Adam and representative of private institutions in Kwara Aisha Manzuma.

They expressed appreciation to Governor AbdulRazaq for being a father figure.

“We expressed our heartfelt gratitude to the Governor for his laudable achievements. I must say we are up to a new trajectory and it is a good feat.

“Sir, your recent achievements in the students community such as disbursement of bursaries, provision of palliatives buses and today the distribution of food palliatives to students have shown your support to the students and serve as subvention for our financial burden.

“We must admit that your leadership exemplified companion and foresight. We are fortunate to have you as a leader, father and as our governor in this state,” the students leaders said.

While presenting the food to students leaders, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq who was represented by the state commissioner for youth development, Hajia Nafisat Buge, said that the gesture was in addition to the previous and ongoing interventions, policy directions and programmes to bring ease to the people.

“As I speak with you, 38,000 cartons of the noodles are right here, while the 12,000 balance will be delivered to you in the next few days,” the governor said.

Governor Abdulrazaq also said that the intervention was another stopgap measure to support the students at this moment, adding that similar social supports in different forms are being extended to different segments of the society.

“This is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our administration to support students and to ensure their well-being during these challenging times.” He said.

AbdulRazaq also made assurances that the government will continue to support the citizenry through this moment and always.

“Palliatives are only a temporary measure to show that we care. There are various short, medium, and long-term interventions being put in place across different sectors of the economy to empower the people, expand the economic base, and improve the living standards of the people.

“Before now, the government has rolled out a number of palliatives and relief packages to help the students cope with the challenges that came with the removal of fuel subsidy.

“These welfare supports include: The approval of the first phase of transportation palliative for students, which will commence in the metropolis in April. There are plans to extend this gesture to other schools as well. The approval of the 2024 bursary and scholarship for Kwara state indigent students, which has been a consistent initiative since the inception of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s administration.

“Others are continuous engagement with students, ensuring that their voices are heard and their concerns addressed. The approval of Sienna buses to the students’ apex bodies, NANS Kwara, and NAKSS National headquarters, facilitating ease of movement and coordination for student leaders. The approval of a secretariat for the leadership of the National Association of Kwara State Students, Kwara State axis, providing a conducive environment for student activities and initiatives.

“The provision of N10,000 palliatives for students during the subsidy removal. This again demonstrates our commitment to easing the financial burden on students during challenging times.

“These achievements underscore our dedication to the well-being and prosperity of our students. As we distribute these food palliatives, let us remember the importance of solidarity and compassion, especially during this holy month of Ramadan.

“Let us continue to work together towards building a brighter future for our students and our state. We also invite you to join the government’s advocacy against drug abuse under whatever guise. Let us kill drug abuse before it destroys our future,” he remarked.

In attendance were State Commissioner for Solid Minerals and Supervising Commissioner for Works and Transport Hon Abdulquawiy Olododo; Special Assistant on Students Affairs to the Governor, Salami Wasiu Onidugbe; Special Assistant to the Governor on Grassroot Empowerment Abdulkareem Alimat Motunrayo and the Special Assistant Humanitarian Affairs Abdulateef Adebara and the Chairman Ex-students Leaders Forum Comrade AbdulRazaq Sulyman.

Onidugbe said that the intervention is for both indigenes and non-indigenes among the students.

Onidugbe also said that a government monitoring team would be sent to each of the benefitting institutions to supervise the distribution to beneficiaries, charging the SUG leaders to ensure that the intervention reaches all students.

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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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