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ASUU Strike: Reps Wade Into Lingering Strike

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….. As Speaker Gbajabiamila Appeals To Both Parties To Shift Grounds

By Gloria Ikibah

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The Speaker of the Nigeria House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to shift grounds in its ongoing strike in the interest of Nigerian children.

Speaker Gbajabiamila made the appeal on Tuesday at a tripartite meeting with the leadership of ASUU, the Minister of Education and the leadership of the House of Representatives in Abuja.

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According to him, the meeting was not to pass blame or find out who was right or wrong but to find short term and long term solutions to the ongoing industrial action.

“We are not here to re-hatch the issues. I believe everyone in Nigeria knows the issues. Most people are with ASUU, everyone is sympathetic to you. It’s not about emotions today. It’s about a solution. We are here to shift ground both ASUU and the government.

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“The only issue on ground is to make sure that students return back to school. And the National Assembly as an independent arm of government is in a position to come to a resolution and take significant steps to end the crisis”, he said.

Speaker Gbajabiamila reiterated that the intentions of ASUU leadership was noble but should not be over flogged and said that the National embarrassment must stop.

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He called on both the university lecturers and the Federal Government delegation to endeavour to close permanently this lingering strike by the University teachers describing it as the dark chapter in our nation’s history

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, said that the strike that started since February 2022 has affected all the stakeholders in the sector.

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“Indeed, the strike has been of concern to all stakeholders in the education sector especially with the ministry of education. The minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu who is unavoidably absent, Mr. Speaker like you said, he is before the UN Education Summit in New York. We have all been very worried to tackle this matter, met with ASUU, did all manner of thinking and consultations that we thought would have been able to resolve this matter by now. But there is no solution so far.

“So, we appreciate this invitation and your intervention. Mr. Speaker, I think by way of information, I wish to let Mr. Speaker and the House know that about a week today ago, Mr. President granted audience to a committee of pro-chancellors of Nigerian universities who also took similar steps and Mr. President listened to both sides and resolved to make further consultation after which he will also come up with a final government stand on the issue.

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“So, Mr. Speaker, this step is not out of place at all. It will rather add to the steps already being taken with the intention of finding quicker solution to the issue”, Opiah said.

The President of ASUU, Prof. Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, said that in the seven months of the strike action, the ministry of education has never called ASUU for any formal meeting.

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“One of the problems in this country is that we look at symptoms as problems. In other climes when people go on strike, you don’t punish the people”, he said.

“I want to start by saying that how to resolve all the problems we have in this country is not to look at the symptoms of the problem but the real issues. We look at strike as the problem. But it’s just a symptom of the problem in the system. Nobody will go round our universities today and say that our universities are good whether It’s federal or state.

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He accused the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu and other top officials of the Federal Ministry of Education of playing non-challant attitude to the lecturers in the ongoing crisis

“This is the 7th month this strike is on. We have never been called to a formal meeting by the minister of education. No formal meeting. No one. We were only called to a meeting twice by the minister of labour on 27th of February and March 1.

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“Between then and now, we have not been called to a formal meeting. I used the word “formal”. I challenge the Minister of Education to show that he had called for any formal meeting. I can assure you that in the next 10 years, our public universities will be like public primary and secondary schools. We are meeting with the Ministry of Education and the committee of Pro Chancellors and Vice Chancellors and others. As we are doing this, the same ministry of labour ran to court.

“If the courts force the lecturers to go work tomorrow, which type of teaching will they do? If the courts force the Nigerian academics to go and teach against their will, just a like a court forcing a doctor to treat a patient against his will, how many of us will go to that doctor?”, Prof. Osodeke stated.

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The ASUU President who was flanked by other top officials of the university based union therefore urged the House to prevail on the Federal Government to rescind its decision to use the courts to compel the lecturers to go to work.

As at the time of filing this report, the meeting was still ongoing as both parties went in to closed door session.

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Education

BREAKING: Court Dismisses NANS’ Suit Against ASUU, FG

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The National Industrial Court, NIC, sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, struck out a suit the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, filed to compel the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government to call off the ongoing strike action.

Justice Polycarp Hamman terminated further proceedings in the matter, after it was withdrawn by factional President of NANS, Umar Faruk Lawal.

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Lawal had told the court that he filed the suit marked NICN/ABJ/273/2022, for himself and on behalf of NANS.

A side from ASUU which was cited as the 1st Respondent, the Minister of Education and the Attorney-General of the Federation were listed as 2nd and 3rd Respondents, respectively.

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When the matter came up on Tuesday, Lawal, notified the court that he filed a motion for discontinuance.

He premised his decision to withdraw the suit on account of the challenge by the student body which contested his standing and denied that he is the President of NANS as he had deposed to.

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Though the other two Respondents were not represented, however, counsel to ASUU, Marshal Abubakar, informed the court that he was not opposed to Lawal’s application to withdraw the suit.

Consequently, Justice Hamman struck out the matter.

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It will be recalled that two NANS presidential candidates had claimed victory at an election the students’ body conducted recently.

While Lawal who is of the Department of Library and Information Science of the Bayero University, Kano, insisted that he won the election, the NANS Convention Planning Committee declared Usman Barambu as the President-elect of the association.

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ASUU had since gone before the Court of Appeal in Abuja to set aside the NIC judgement that ordered it to call off its over seven-month old strike action.

The union, in a 14-ground of appeal, also applied for a stay of execution of the judgement.

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The NIC had in the judgement that was delivered on September 21, ordered the striking varsity lecturers to return to the classroom, pending the determination of a suit the Federal Government filed to query the legality of their strike action.

The interim injunction directing ASUU members to resume work followed an application FG filed through its lawyer, Mr. James Igwe.

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Justice Hamman held that the order was both in national interest and for the sake of undergraduates in the country that have been at home since February 14.

He held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.

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“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.

“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.

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However, ASUU, in its appeal, maintained that Justice Hamman “erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice when he decided to hear and determine the Respondents’ motion for interlocutory injunction when he knew or ought to have known that the substantive suit was not initiated by due process of law”.

It argued that the mandatory steps and procedure stipulated in Part 1 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, was not followed by FG.

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More so, ASUU averred that the trial judge acted utra vires and misdirected himself when he unlawfully assumed jurisdiction to entertain the matter, adding that what was granted as an interlocutory order was the same relief FG sought in its substantive suit.

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Education

BREAKING: Double Fingerprints, Five Other New JAMB Guidelines

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has provided new guidelines to ensure seamless conduct of future operational processes, including the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

The board made this known in its Weekly Bulletin of the Office of the Registrar on Monday in Abuja.

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In this piece, The PUNCH highlights six new guidelines, including the introduction of double fingerprints, exemption candidates, and others.

Double fingerprint

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As a requirement for printing registration slips, a candidate must use at least two fingers and any of the two fingers taken would be used for biometric verification before entering the examination hall on the day of the examination.

The two verifiable fingers of all candidates must be consecutively indicated on the candidates’ registration and examination slips.

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Centre prohibition

The JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has warned that some cybercafes and tutorial centres had been prohibited from participating in any of the board’s exercises.

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Oloyede said that no CBT centre would be allowed to collaborate with the prohibited group, adding that any violation of the directive, whether in part or whole, would lead to the revocation of the licence of the erring CBT centre.

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CBT centre accreditation
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No new Computer-Based Test centre would be accredited without meeting the new requirements.

 

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To this end, new CBT centres must use laptop computer systems as clients, zero thin-clients or Remote Desktop Protocol would no longer be accepted.

 

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No CBT centre must install any clients with less than 2 gigabyte RAM.

 

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It is now mandatory that the Autobot system should be used for the accreditation of CBT centres; there should be three Autobot tests: Pre-accreditation during Mock – UTME and the dummy examination.

 

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Biometrics accreditation

The registrar also said that biometrics of all accredited CBT centre registration officers would be captured ahead of the exercise.

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This, he explained, was because the board as a proactive agency must move with the tide to stay ahead of the machinations of cheats and safeguard the integrity of the system.

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Exemption Candidates

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At the registration point, candidates with bad fingerprints would be scheduled for the examination as ‘Exemption Candidates’.

 

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Their registration slips would be colour-coded and visually different from those for other candidates.

 

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Such candidates would sit their examination in Abuja on the last date of the national examination calendar and their results would not be released until after being subjected to proper scrutiny.

Separation of Direct Entry/UTME

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To further consolidate its data collection efforts, the board would consider separating UTME registration from that of Direct Entry beginning from 2023.

And to further condone illegal admissions and printing of indemnity forms, all candidates’ registrations, including UTME, DE and others, must be completed with fingerprint authentication.

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Education

ASUU Strike: Why FG Changed Decision To Reopen Universities

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More facts have emerged on why the Federal Government quickly reversed its order to the various university management to reopen public universities amid the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

Recall that the Federal Government had earlier ordered Vice-Chancellors to re-open schools.

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It had asked the Vice-Chancellors of universities “to ensure that the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) resume and commence lectures immediately.”

However, it later issued another directive withdrawing its earlier circular.

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An online medium stated that the opinion leaders and other stakeholders interested in resolving the face-off between the ASUU and the government mounted pressure on government requesting that the circular, earlier sent to mandate the reopening of the universities, be withdrawn.

A senior official in the Ministry of Education, who didn’t want his name mentioned, disclosed that “the circular was withdrawn to allow for more negotiation between government and the ASUU following the ongoing intervention by the Speaker of the House of Representatives”.

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