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ASUU drops strike as NITDA approves UTAS for members salaries

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday resolved to put on hold its decision on strike. The varsity teachers’ union took stand to give room for further consultations and after receiving reports from its branches.

According to the union, the decision was taken after a December 18 meeting to review the level of government’s implementation of the FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) of December 23, last year and other related matters.

In a statement issued after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Sunday, ASUU welcomed the recommendation of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) that the payment platform – University Transparency and Accountability Solution  (UTAS) developed by the university lecturers be deployed in government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

ASUU National President Prof Emmanuel Osodeke said areas highlighted by NITDA in its report would be addressed.

Prof. Osodeke referred to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS), engineered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as evil, stressing that the continuous use of the IPPIS had created distortions in the payment lecturers’ salaries.

He wondered  why it took more than one year to get  the  needed feedback on the home-grown solution – UTAS – at  a  time  Nigeria  is yearning for  “local content”.

He said: “NEC  is pleased that the end-user evaluation report overwhelmingly endorses  UTAS  for immediate deployment by  government for Nigerian universities.  On our part,  ASUU  is fully prepared to address all the technical observations made by  NITDA  in order to make this happen.

“Our  hope is  that  the  National  Universities  Commission  (NUC)  and  other  agencies  of government  would  promptly  respond  to  issues  that  concern  them  in  the NITDA’s  report  to  pave  way  for  speedy  migration  to  UTAS  and  spare  Nigerian universities  of  the evil  effects  of  the  IMF/World  Bank-engineered  IPPIS.”

The varsity teachers regretted that the Federal Government had turned its back on the plan to set up an inter-ministerial committee to review the draft Renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement.

The ASUU boss described as worrisome the efforts made government agents to reduce ASUU’s demands to a  regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly  devalued Earned Academic  Allowances  (EAA).

The union specifically accused the Minister of  State  for  Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, of failing to follow through with the promise made during a  meeting  with  the House  of Representatives  Speaker  on  November 19.

Part of the ASSU statement reads: “NEC was worried by the spirited efforts of government agents to reduce the demands of ASUU to a regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly devalued Earned Academic Allowances.

“ASUU shall not relent in demanding improvement in the welfare and conditions of service of our members. However, we shall resist any attempt to blackmail the union and derail our patriotic struggle for a productive university system by official propaganda founded on tokenism and crumb-sharing.

“NEC concluded that government has failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement and subsequent MoUs and MoAs.

“However, considering the ongoing intervention and consultation efforts, NEC resolved to review the situation at a later date with a view to deciding on the next line of action.

“The  minister  assured  us  that  the process  of  reviewing  the document  would  be  set  in  motion within one week  from that  date.  Nwajiuba’s  failure  to  fulfill  a  promise  made  in  the  hallowed chambers  of  the  National  Assembly  is  not  only  provocative  but  reminiscent  of trust-deficit  that  has  bedevilled  all  agreements  and  understandings  reached  with this  government  and  those before it  since 2009.”

ASUU had announced plans to embark on a strike over the federal government’s failure to meet its demands.

Apart from the EAA, ASUU list its demands to include: the review of the NUC Act to curb the proliferation of universities by state governments who are not funding the existing ones; adoption of UTAS with concurrent discontinuance of the IPPIS and distortion in salary payment.

Others are the release of accumulated promotion arrears; and the review and signing of the draft document on the Renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement.

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president

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Ferdinand Marcos Jr sworn in as Philippines president

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the Philippines’ late dictator, has been sworn in as the country’s new president.

Marcos Jr’s inauguration on Thursday marks a stunning political comeback for one of Asia’s most famous political dynasties, 36 years after the elder Marcos was toppled and forced into exile in a popular uprising.

Known as “Bongbong”, the 64-year-old Marcos Jr won a rare landslide victory in last month’s presidential election, helped by what critics have said was a years-long campaign to whitewash his family’s image.

He succeeds Rodrigo Duterte, who gained international notoriety for his deadly drug war and has threatened to kill suspected dealers after he leaves office.

The new president, in a speech that echoed his campaign slogans of unity, promised to take the country far on his watch with policies benefiting everyone, and thanked the public for delivering what he called “the biggest electoral mandate in the history of Philippine democracy”.

“You will not be disappointed, so do not be afraid,” he said at the inauguration ceremony, surrounded by his immediate family and with his sister Imee, a senator, and 92-year-old mother Imelda, a former four-time congresswoman, seated close by.

Marcos Jr also praised his late father’s rule, but said his presidency was not about the past, but a better future.

“I once knew a man who saw what little had been achieved since independence …. but he got it done sometimes with the needed support, sometimes without,” he said. “So will it be with his son. You will get no excuses from me.”

The late Marcos ruled the Philippines for two decades from 1965, almost half of it under martial law, helping him to extend his grip on power until his overthrow and his family’s retreat into exile during the 1986 People Power Revolution. Thousands of Marcos opponents were jailed, killed or disappeared during his rule, and the family name became synonymous with cronyism, extravagance and the disappearance of billions of dollars from state coffers.

The Marcos family has rejected accusations of embezzlement.

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2023 Sallah: Sultan declares July 9 Eid al-Adha

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Sultan of Sokoto

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on Wednesday, declared July 9 as Eid al-Adha.

Also known as Sallah, Eid al-Adha will feature the slaughtering of ram during the period known as the “festival of sacrifice”.

This is the second significant celebration in Islam.

The first is Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

In a statement issued by the National Moonsighting Committee, the Sultan urged Muslims to intensify prayers during the period.

It also declared Thursday, June 30, as the first day of Dhul Hijjah.

“Eidul Adha will be on Saturday, 10th Zul-Hijjah 1443H (9th July 2022) In Sha Allah,” the statement read in part.

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Abducted wife of Zamfara NULGE chairman gives birth in captivity

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A woman identified as Ramatu Yunusa with nine months of pregnancy, abducted at Damba area of Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, has reportedly given birth at the bandits’ camp.

According to the husband, Mr. Yunusa, Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Zamfara State chapter, the woman delivered at about 3 am on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at the bandits’ camp.

He said he was not even allowed to see his wife and the baby.

“As I am talking to you now, I don’t know whether the new born baby is a boy or a girl but all I know is that my wife has given birth to the baby,” he lamented.

According to him, the bandits demanded any amount as ransom, stressing that the situation was very worrisome to him and the family.

It was gathered that the woman, Ramatu Yunusa, is a nurse with the Federal Medical Center in Gusau, the State capital.

She was kidnapped in the early hours of Tuesday, 28 day of June, 2022, at her Damba residence in Gusau, the State capital.

All efforts by journalists to get reaction from the State Police command proved abortive as the State police spokesman, SP Mohammed Shehu did not respond to calls.

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