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Strike: Reps, ASUU to meet on Tuesday over face-off with FG

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Abuja—The House of Representatives and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have scheduled a meeting on Tuesday to dialogue on the seven-month-old strike.

It is reported that ASUU is expected to submit a written presentation of its perspective on the matter to the House ahead of the meeting which is at the instance of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

The Nation Newspaper reports that Gbajabiamila, in an invitation letter to ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, said the House was worried by the failed negotiations between the Federal Government and the union.

The Federal Government had dragged the union before the National Industrial Court last week.

But, despite the litigation, the government and ASUU said they would not foreclose dialogue aimed at resolving the industrial crisis.

Also, counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana (SAN), explained that out-of-court negotiations can still facilitate the resolution.

He said: “The pendency of the referral submitted to the National Industrial Court has not foreclosed negotiations with respect to the ASUU strike.

“Hence, President Buhari met the committee of pro-chancellors of public universities last Friday and said that he would consult with other stakeholders with a view to resolving the ASUU strike.

“The House of Representatives has invited ASUU leaders and other stakeholders to a crucial meeting on Tuesday, September 20 with a view to resolving the crisis in the universities.

“I expect that both parties will shift positions and resolve the crisis as soon as possible.”

Gbajabiamila also explained in the letter signed by the Clerk of the House, Yahaya Danzaria, that the lawmakers were “more worried by the negative consequences of the strike on the future and quality of education of our teeming youths.”

The letter marked ‘NASS/HR/LEG/03/11/065,’ reads: “The Hon. Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, hereby invites you to a stakeholders meeting towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering strike embarked upon by ASUU since February 2022.

“The House of Representatives is deeply concerned about the renewed strike which seems to have defied all efforts made to find a solution or reach an agreement between the Federal Government and the striking university teachers.

“The House is more worried by the negative consequences of the strike on the future and quality of education of our teeming youths who have been kept at home for over seven months despite the intervention of the House and several well-meaning Nigerians over time to see that the matter was resolved.

“In the light of the foregoing, the House hereby requests for another opportunity to come together with stakeholders and leadership of ASUU to seek an amicable resolution without prejudice to the fact that the matter is already in the (National)Industrial Court.”

Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Agenda, Henry Nwawuba, said members would not sit back and watch the strike linger.

He said: “If anybody told me we would be in the situation we are today with ASUU strike, just the same way we didn’t see COVID-19 coming and even the insecurity that we have in Nigeria today, it’s difficult to believe it.”

Osodeke, who confirmed the invitation to The Nation yesterday, said: “Our policy is that anybody that invites us, we go. We will attend the meeting on Tuesday.”

He, however, insisted that university teachers would not return to the classrooms till their demands were met.

His words: “Returning to work before the government addresses the issues is not an option.

“In seven months, they (the Federal Government) didn’t address the issues. Now they are saying we should go back and that they will address the issues. Does it not sound somehow?

“If when we are on strike the government refused to address the issues, is it when students have resumed that we will have the time to do anything? It is so sad.”

Some of the contentious issues that led to the strike include the non-release of funds for the revitalisation of federal universities, non-payment of earned allowance (or earned academic allowance) of lecturers, renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement between the government and ASUU, and the non-release of White Paper for visitation panel.

Others are the non-payment of minimum wage arrears and the inconsistency occasioned by the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as well as the government’s insistence on the no-work, no-pay rule.

The government had a week ago sued ASUU, seeking an order compelling its members to resume work.

Last Friday, the court adjourned the hearing till today.

OPINIONS/OTHER NEWS ARTICLES

NSA Inaugurates Ndiomu as Chairman of panel to probe oil theft

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Abuja—The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), on Tuesday, inaugurated an 11-man special investigative panel to probe oil theft in the Niger Delta region of the country, Daily Trust reports.

The panel, comprised of retired top military brass and police officers as well as some administrators, has the Interim Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Major General Barry Ndiomu, as its chairman and Mr. David Attah as Secretary.

Inaugurating the panel in Abuja, Monguno said that Nigeria was facing a monumental loss of revenue that ought to have accrued from the sale of crude oil.

He noted that pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil had led to a significant decline in production.
Read also: Cash withdrawals limits: PoS operators get waiver
The Terms of Reference (ToRs), according to NSA, are to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the illegal insertion into the Trans-Escravos Pipeline (TEP) around Yokri area in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Aliyu Yerro, said the menace of crude oil theft had greatly impacted the nation’s revenue growth.

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Senate seeks clarifications on new cash withdrawal policy, set to grill CBN chiefs

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Abuja—The Senate will on Friday grill two deputy governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the cash withdrawal limit policy unveiled by the apex bank on Tuesday, according to the Punch newspaper.

The red chamber planned to seek clarifications on the new directive which restricts over-the-counter cash withdrawal by individuals and organisations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.

It also limits cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines and automated teller machines to N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.

According to a memo signed Tuesday by the CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, withdrawals above the thresholds would attract processing fees of five per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, for individuals and corporate entities going forward.

In addition, third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for OTC payment while extant limits of N10m on clearing cheques still remain.

The circular also directed banks to load only N200 and lower denominations into their ATMs and restricted withdrawal to N20, 000 per day from ATMs.

The policy which will become effective on January 9, 2023, had generated criticisms but the CBN clarified on Wednesday that PoS operators could apply for waivers.

Deliberating on the policy on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, senators said there was a need to debate the policy on the floor of the red chamber.

However, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, directed the Senate Committee on Banking to grill the two re-appointed deputy governors of the CBN, Aisha Ahmad, and Edward Adamu, who will be screened on Friday, on the new cash withdrawal policy.

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2022 Flooding: Bayelsa govt directs fresh distribution of items to communities, acknowledges donors

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Yenagoa—Bayelsa State government has acknowledged donations from international agencies, state governments, political parties and their presidential candidates, individuals and corporate organisations in the wake of the 2022 flooding that ravaged the state.

Governor Douye Diri in his opening remarks at the weekly state executive council meeting in Government House, Yenagoa, on Wednesday disclosed that the government received donations in form of cash, foodstuff and other materials from well-meaningful individuals and corporate organisations during and after the floods.

According to a statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, Diri restated his administration’s commitment to transparency and assured the people that they would not be left in the dark as regards the flood donations.

He listed the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, the Akwa Ibom and Lagos state governments, which donated N100m and N50m respectively, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar (N55m), and his counterpart in the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo (N10m) as some of the donors.

Other donors are Dr. Azibapu Eruani of the Azikel Group, who he said has started redeeming his pledge of N350million worth of items, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Century Energy Group, Chief Ken Etete (N50m).

The governor also disclosed that the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria donated $100,000, Access Bank N100m, Zenith Bank N20m, Linkage Assurance N20m, Sterling Oil N15m, Paache Construction N10m and AITEO N50m.

According to Diri, organisations that donated items include the Tompolo Foundation 440 cartons of noodles, 595 bags of 50kg rice, 35 jerrycans of 25kg palm oil, groundnut oil 180 cartons, garri 40 50kg bags, beans 20 100kg bags as well as 500 tubers of yam.

Others are Globus Bank 70 bags of 50kg rice and 100 cartons of noodles, Stanbic Bank 146 4×6’ mattresses, 148 pillows and 150 plastic buckets.

The rest are Julius Berger 100 bags of 50kg rice, Redeemed Christian Church of God 100 bags of 50kg rice, Brass Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company 100 bags of 50kg rice, 100 bags of 50kg garri and 100 bags of 100kg beans.

Diri directed the task force on flood mitigation and management and the Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA) to immediately resume distribution of items in the warehouse to all affected communities in the state.

He also assured that the donations will be prudently used and urged people of the state to exercise patience with the process of distributing the relief materials to victims.

He further stated that the process will be devoid of political colouration.

His words: “We never played politics with the flood and the relief items for victims. The whole world saw it. Those who came to play politics, the whole world equally saw them.

“In all that we did, we never discriminated against any political party. And we commend particularly our people that bore the brunt of the flood.

“As a government, we will take decisions in the best interest of our people. Everything should not be politicised.“

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