The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ahead of its Friday’s meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission, has said that its ongoing seven-week strike is in the national interest.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, who stated this in an interview in response to the call on the union to call off the strike, said nobody had the monopoly of national interest.
He added that the strike would not be called off until the Federal Government acceded to the lecturers’ demands.
There have been calls on ASUU to end the strike in the interest of the nation and to enable university students and the National Youth Service Corps members to work as ad hoc electoral officers during the February and March general elections.
As a result of the strike, many public universities have not rounded off the 2018/2019 session, thus their final year students have not gone for the NYSC.
The calls for the suspension of the strike became heightened last week when INEC raised the alarm that the face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU constituted a serious threat to the 2019 general elections.
The INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, had pleaded with ASUU to suspend the strike in national interest and for the sake of democracy.
He had in an interview where he said the commission had convened a consultative meeting involving its Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, national commissioners and ASUU leadership on January 4 (Friday) concerning the ongoing strike.
According to him, the meeting would focus principally on the issue of the role and involvement of ASUU members in the 2019 general elections.
Okoye said, “The national interest, the interest of our democracy and the reputation of Nigeria demand the immediate resolution of the issues that led to the strike and we so urge. It is next to impossibility for members of the NYSC to provide all the ad hoc staff needs and requirements of the commission and over 70 per cent of the ad hoc staff requirement in some states of the federation is drawn from students of federal tertiary institutions.
“Hence, the lingering strike by ASUU will no doubt have serious impacts on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections. We therefore call on ASUU and the Federal Government of Nigeria to quickly and genuinely resolve the lingering impasse that has led to uncertainty in the education sector.”
But while confirming the invitation of INEC to the meeting, Ogunyemi said ASUU did not declare the strike with INEC, adding, “It is what they (INEC) will tell us that will inform our response.”
He said, “Well, INEC has requested for a meeting. The INEC chairman has contacted us and we are willing to oblige them. So our own procedure is that since they have requested for a meeting, we will listen to them. It is what they will tell us that will inform our response. First of all, we didn’t declare the strike with INEC.”
On the call that ASUU should end the strike in the national interest, Ogunyemi asked, “Did you know that our strike is also in the national interest because we want to produce better graduates that can serve INEC better and serve Nigeria better? We want them to have better citizens that can understand the electoral process better. We want to give quality education that would curb all electoral malpractices.”
The ASUU president explained that all the goals he mentioned could only be achieved through the provision of qualitative education, which he said, informed the union’s strike.
He stated, “So, it is only by insisting on the best quality of education that we can achieve all those things. Nobody has the monopoly of national interest. ASUU has national interest at heart in going on this strike. It is not about national interest sentiment. It is about what we are willing to do about our demands.
“I’m sure the demand to call off the strike in the national interest cannot be the only grounds for the meeting and I don’t want to preempt the meeting. It is when we listen to INEC that we will know what to tell them. If I preempt that meeting, it will seem as if I am not a patriot.”
Ogunyemi, who described ASUU members as patriots, said, “We have national interest at heart in doing what we are doing and INEC also appreciates that. We appreciate INEC as much as INEC appreciates us. We will meet them and rub minds, whatever the two parties will need to do, we shall do.”
Polls: Amosun rejects deployment of soldiers in Ogun
Also on the February and March general elections, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, has rejected the deployment of soldiers by the Federal Government in the state.
Amosun stated this on Monday night at the New Year service held at Oke-Ilewo in Abeokuta. He said that the elections would be free of violence in the state.
He also boasted that the governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement, Adekunle Akinlade, would defeat the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Dapo Abiodun, in this year’s governorship election in the state.
The governor is backing Akinlade who defected to the APM after he lost the APC ticket to Abiodun at the APC primary.
Abiodun is currently battling alleged certificate forgery scandal.
The governor, however, called on the people of the state to make peace their watchword as the elections approach.
He stated, “Let us prove to the world that Ogun State is known for peace and a state which has produced a number of eminent personalities in the country.
“Let us tell them that we don’t need the service of the military and police for the conduct of elections because we are going to comport ourselves as peaceful people.
“And for the youth, don’t allow yourselves to be used as political thugs. Anybody who approaches you for such, tell him to bring out his children.”
He expressed optimism that the next edition of the event would be conducted by Akinlade and he (Amosun) would be invited as a former governor of the state.
Amosun said he had done his bit in adding value to governance, noting that the support he got from individuals and groups contributed to his achievements in office.
The ceremony attracted a number of fun seekers who were entertained by various artistes and musicians; traditional rulers led by Alake and Paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Adedotu Gbadebo.
Other notable personalities at the event included Sarafa Ishola, a former minister and Director General, Akinlade Campaign Organisation, Amosun’s wife, Olufunsho; the Head of Service, Olanrewaju Bisiriyu; Akinlade and Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Suraj Adekunbi.
Give us peaceful poll, fun seekers tell FG
Meanwhile, fun seekers at various recreational centres in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, have urged the Federal Government to improve the economy and ensure peaceful elections in 2019.
They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria at the popular Agodi Garden and Shoprite among other recreational outfits on Tuesday to commemorate the New Year.
A father, Mr Taiwo Olusola, said the Federal Government and the National Assembly should work together to ensure timely passage of the 2019 budget.
He said, “It is not good for the 2019 budget to be passed in September for example; it will surely affect the economy negatively.
“Government should also try to improve the budgetary allocation to all the sectors of the economy, especially the agriculture sector to create more jobs.
“Every sector of the economy should be improved at least, to the barest minimum. When these are done, people’s lives will improve and the economy will become better.”
Also speaking, another fun seeker, Mr Mustapha Aliyu, urged the government to improve electricity supply and infrastructure development.
He added, “Virtually no business can thrive without adequate power supply; it will reduce the use of generators which causes a lot of environmental hazards.
“Government should also do its best to repair a lot of damaged roads in our society.
“We thank God at least, for being alive to celebrate the season, especially for the children, things shall be better.”
Also, Mrs Oyindamola Ademola, said government should make effort to prioritise peoples’ welfare.
“We want leaders who will love the people, treat us equally and desist from corruption, embezzlement and other evils. I also urge fellow citizens to sit up and work harder in this New Year. We must acquire more knowledge and think of possible things we can do to better our lives.
“We are very happy to see the New Year and thank God who shows us mercy and grace.
“In spite of the financial issues we had last year, we went the extra mile to see that the children celebrated and have fun,” she said.
One of the operators at the Shoprite’s children playground, Mr Adeshina Akinyele, also called on the government to create more jobs for youths to reduce the rate of social vices.
He also urged politicians to always keep to the promises they made to the citizens during campaigns and avoid disappointing the people.
“Government should give us the best this year. We must put God first, I believe when we put God first, we will have peaceful elections and peaceful society,” he said.
Common Entrance; Kogi Parents Groans Over Inability To Pay 13,500.
Some parents in Kogi state has described as an extortionist policy by kogi state government, for payment of common entrance examination fees of 13,500 by pupils preparing to transit from primary school to secondary school, OBSERVERS TIMES report.
This is against the background of the government policy directing Principals of secondary schools to channel such payment through a pay platform, created by the state government through the Ministry of Education.
Hithero, payment for common entrance examination is usually free of charge,so the new development has raised unnecessary pressure on the poor parents in Kogi state.
This is coming at a time salary payment to workers is in percentage and not forthcoming to sustain the daily running of various homes,with poor business environment.
Most parents can not even afford such payment as it is on the high side,as many of the pupils may loose the chances of transiting to secondary schools for lack of funds.
The state government has resorted to mopping up of funds from agecises of government and parastatatals, owing to dwindling federal allcations and inability to access further loans from commercial Banks or financial institutions.
Kogi,though not on the disadvantaged states list educationally,but the indices in the last five years shows alot of backwardness in its education program owing to policy somersault.
The Abducted students were moving in a mini van from Okigwe to Uturu between 7pm – 8pm,Abia State gives detail
Abia State Government is currently monitoring an incident that happened in Okigwe, Imo State, yesterday which led to the suspected abduction of yet to be determined number of students of the Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU), who apparently ran into a yet to be identified gang of hoodlums operating along the Okigwe-Uturu Road.
Preliminary information available to us indicates that the students were moving in a mini van from Okigwe to Uturu between 7pm – 8pm when they ran into the armed gang who marched them into the nearby forest along with other yet to be identified travelers. Two of the students managed to escape from the hoodlums while others are still being held at a yet to be identified location.
We are working with the government of Imo State and relevant security agencies in both states to ensure the rescue of the abducted students and others.
Members of the public and ABSU community are advised to remain calm as we will spare no resource in ensuring the safety of the victims.
No criminal operating within our environment will be allowed to escape justice as we take the job of protecting lives and property of Abians and visitors to the State very seriously
Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Honorable Commissioner for Information, Abia State
EXCLUSIVE: Abuja Schools Shut Down As Truckload Of Bandits Arrives In Border Town
Despite assurances by the police authorities that the Abuja is safe, private schools in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday, hurriedly shut down their activities over fear of possible attack by kidnappers.
LEADERSHIP learnt that some schools hurriedly sent their students home when news got to them over 200 unidentified men suspected to be bandits were dropped by a truck in Sabon Wuse area of Niger State, a border town with Bwari, Abuja.
A source disclosed that some private schools closed their schools with instructions to student to remain at home till further notice.
Some parents who do not want their identities revealed told our correspondent that the schools gave the instructions on various group WhatsApp platforms of the schools.
In the last two weeks, over ten persons have been kidnapped in Bwari area council with ransom of about N10million paid to secure their release.
Last week, about seven persons were kidnapped in Sabon Fulani area of the council and about N5 million ransom was said to have been paid.
According to residents, the fear was heightened following the report that over 200 unknown persons were dropped from a truck in Sabon Wuse area.
A parent who spoke to LEADERSHIP said, “We were asked to come for our children in their school before the time they were supposed to close for the day.
”I don’t know if they will be going to school tomorrow because we are still waiting for further directives from their school group WhatsApp platform”, the parent, who does not want her identity revealed said.
Another parent told LEADERSHIP that there was specific instruction for students to remain at home until further notice from the school authorities.
”My children came back home before the usual closing hour. When I enquired, the school said there were reports that kidnappers had surrounded Bwari area council and they (school authorities) do not want to be responsible for any kidnapped student, hence the closure of the school.
”As we speak, the school has been shut down indefinitely,” he said.
Some of the schools in Bwari area council that sent their students home yesterday for fear of possible attacks by kidnappers include De-Goopherwood Montessori School (close to Nigerian Law School), Glorious Bright School, Tundun Fulani and Asusi International School.
A parent, who has children at Glorious Bright School said she got a call from the school management to come and pick their children before the normal closing hour for fear of attacks by kidnappers. Another parent who has children at De-Goopherwood Montessori School also confirmed that his children closed before the normal closing hour.
According to her, the students were asked to go home after information got to them that there is a likelihood of a breach of security in Bwari.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Veritas University, in Bwari, has been closed down and students sent home.
According to a senior lecturer of the school, who said she was not authorised to speak with journalist, ”The school was shut this morning by the vice chancellor. ‘We received a circular that everyone should vacate the school by 11am today (yesterday). ”
She said the students had been on holiday since last week but the academic staff and other staff were still going to school before the circular was sent out.
”Though the students were on holiday, we were still going to school until we got a circular today (yesterday) from the office of the Vice Chancellor that everyone should leave the campus”, the source said.
Another polytechnic in the area also sent its student out of the hostel.
A 200-level student of Dorben Polytechnic, Bwari, told LEADERSHIP that the school authorities issued a circular asking the students to vacate the hostels and that henceforth they will holding lectures online.
The student who studies public administration at the polytechnic said all the student promptly complied with the directive and quit the hostels.
About three days ago, the FCT Police Command faulted information that the territory was under possible the attack of Boko Haram terrorists. The command had, in a press statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Yusuf Mariam, said, “The attention of the FCT Joint Security Team has been drawn to a viral publication in the social media purporting that the ‘Federal Capital Territory is under the attack of Boko Haram Terrorists’.
”The Joint Security Team of the FCT wishes to refute the mischievous publication targeted at creating palpable tension amongst the well-spirited residents of the FCT.”
We’re Monitoring Situation – Police
Meanwhile, following the social media report of invasion of Bwari axis of the FCT by suspected Boko Haram terrorist, bandits or kidnappers, the Nigeria Police have said they monitoring the situation.
Though the spokesperson of the police and the FCT PRO did not comment on the issue, a reliable senior police officer, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP that the police management had deployed tactical teams which are monitoring the situation, but that there is no cause for alarm.
According to the source, the situation is very critical and the police are not taking it lightly.
There were reports on social media of invasion of Bwari by a group numbering about 800.
This led to report of closure of schools around the area fearing abduction as has been the case in recent times.
27 Abducted Kaduna Students Regain Freedom
Parents and family members of the kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State can now heave a sigh of relief after they were released by their abductors yesterday.
According to the chairman of the parents committee, Malam Abdullahi Usman, 27 of the students who were in the captivity of the abductors were released unharmed.
He said two of the students had escaped on the day they were abducted but that the parents chose to keep mute in other not to jeopardize the chances of securing the release of the remaining students.
Earlier, 10 of the students were released in two batches of five each after it was reported that ransom was paid.
When asked whether ransom was paid for the release of the 27 students, Usman declined to speak on it, stressing that the parents worked tirelessly, including reaching out to prominent persons to assist towards their release.
“We are indeed thankful to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Kaduna-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Gumi among others for their roles towards the eventual release of the students.
“We also thank the journalists who helped to publicise our cries and worries, and Nigerians who encouraged and prayed with us for the safe release of our children. We are indeed grateful and pray that God will bless them all,” he said.
The parents of the students had on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly in Abuja to protest the continued holding of their children in captivity and government’s apparent indifference over their abduction.
The students, 39 in all, comprising of 23 females and 16 males, were abducted on March 11, 2021 from their school premises. Two of the students were said to have escaped from their abductors leaving 37 of the students, out of which ten of them were released before the final release of the balance of 27.
Meanwhile, the students were taken straight to the Kaduna Police command headquarters in two 18-seater buses, accompanied by an ambulance and nurses.
They looked emancipated and one of them could hardly work and had to be helped and later rushed to the hospital.
In a short address, the Commissioner Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan, who spoke to newsmen at the police headquarters in company of the police commissioner, said details will be given about the students today.
“Yes we can confirm that the students have been released as you can see, but details will be made available on Thursday. They will be taken for proper medical checkup now,” he said.
Meanwhile the state government has confirmed that the Police Command had reported the release of the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in Kaduna State.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the release of the 27 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, near Kaduna and congratulates their friends, families and the government and people of Kaduna State following the happy end to the saga.
“We are happy they have been released,” says the President.
“We express our deep appreciation to all the actors who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome,” President Buhari said in a statement by his media aide,Garba Shehu, yesterday.
Credit Leadership Newspaper
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