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University lecturers, ASUU laments 15 years stagnated salaries, demands Tinubu’s urgent intervention

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Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri Zone, have lamented that university staff salaries have remained stagnant for 15 years, while calling on President Bola Tinubu to urgently intervene on the welfare of their members amidst the current hardship and high cost of living in the country.

The union who said this on Monday in a communiqué signed by their Owerri Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Dennis Aribodor, and made available to journalists during a press conference held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik-ASUU) complex in Awka, Anambra State capital, noted that their members had been earning the same salary since 2009.

The university staff pleaded with the President not to allow politicians to commercialise the university system in Nigeria.

“The focus of this press conference is the state of our union’s engagements with the federal and various state governments on how to reposition our public universities for national development as a sequel to the FGN-ASUU Agreement of 2009.

“The Union is worried that both the Buhari and the Tinubu-led administrations have jettisoned the main elements of the 2009 agreement and other lingering issues that led to the nationwide strike action of February–October 2022.

“This conference is intended to update Nigerians on developments since the suspension of our last national strike action on Friday, October 14, 2022, and our engagements with the current administration since its inception.

“ASUU is a patriotic organisation committed to national development and should be taken very seriously when she talks,” the union said.

On renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU 2009 Agreement, the union said that “The renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU Agreement of 2009 has dragged on for seven years since 2017.

“The reluctance of the Federal Government to conclude the renegotiation is the reason why the government committee has had three chairmen, from Wale Babalakin through Munzali Jibril to Nimi Briggs. This means that academic staff in our universities have been on the same salary structure for 15 years.”

According to the ASUU, “We urge the Bola Tinubu administration to speedily put a final closure to the renegotiation by directing the upward review in view of current economic realities and signing the draft agreement reached with the Nimi Briggs committee.

“The most obvious implication of the truncation of the renegotiation of the agreement is that university teachers in Nigeria have been on the same salary regime since 2009 when the value of the naira to the dollar was N120 as against N1800 today.

“The signing of the Nimi Briggs draft agreement will be a concrete step towards restoring the dignity of academia and ensuring industrial harmony and peace on our campuses.”

On withholding member salaries, ASUU argued, “The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions guarantee the right of trade unions to use strike action as a means of pressing for their demands as a last resort.

“The immediate past Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in pursuance of his personal animus towards ASUU, engaged in the weaponization of hunger and poverty by withholding the “seven and a half months” salaries of academic staff in federal universities.

“Some visitors to state universities were disappointed, leading to the withholding of varying months of salaries for academic staff at state universities.

“The most ignoble act of the then Minister of Labour was the pro rata salaries paid to academic staff in October 2022, subsequent to the suspension of the strike. The step taken by the Tinubu administration to pay four months of the withheld salaries is a step in the right direction.

“Consequently, we urge the Tinubu administration to put an end to the agitations surrounding the withheld salaries by clearing the remaining three and a half months. That struggle by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, instigated by the failure of the government to honour agreements, was, after all, in the national interest.

“Meeting ASUU’s demand in this regard is a panacea for industrial peace in our universities.

“Compatriots of the press, the Union also draws your attention to the fact that the Federal Government has lately been evasive on its commitment to the payment of the backlog of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), part of which was captured in the 2023 National Budget for Federal Universities.”

The union further stated that “The Memorandum of Action (MoA) of December 2020 between FGN and ASUU captured the mainstreaming of the earned academic allowances into the salaries of lecturers with effect from 2022, while the arrears were to be cleared prior to the mainstreaming.

“The scheduled payment of the arrears was aborted, while the mainstreaming of the earned academic allowances, which was supposed to commence in 2022, has remained a mirage in both federal and most state universities. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.

“On the illegal dissolution of governing councils, the union said the governing council is the highest decision-making body of the university, charged with the general control of the institution, its affairs, and its functions, including finances and property.

“The illegal dissolution of the governing councils of federal universities and some state universities since June 2023 (over 8 months).

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Bandits Abduct Fouani MD, 3 Others ….Demand $1.5m Ransom

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Armed men, on Friday, abducted the Managing Director of Fouani Company, which represents LG and Hisense, along with three Lebanese while travelling by boat in Lagos, PUNCH Online reports.

Although the names of the victims have not been ascertained, it was learnt that they were abducted around Falomo Bridge while traveling from Apapa to Victoria Island.

A source familiar with the incident, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of its sensitive nature, told PUNCH Online that the kidnappers had reached out, demanding ransom.

“Yesterday (Friday) evening, the Managing Director of Fouani company (LG and Hisense) and three Lebanese were kidnapped around Falomo Bridge while traveling from Apapa to Victoria Island by boat.

“The kidnappers have asked for $1.5m,” the source said.

When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the development.

“Yes, it is true. We got the report and we are looking into it. Please, I’m not obliged to state more than that,” he simply said.

When our correspondent asked about the details of the names of the abducted persons, Hundeyin insisted, “I’m not obliged to state the names, when, where and how it happened for now but we are looking into it.”

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SEE Pictures from the National prayers session organised by the national Hajj commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

SEE Pictures from the National prayers session organised by the national Hajj commission of Nigeria (NAHCON)

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Group raises alarm over looming food shortage in Southwest

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..… calls on govt to provide security, incentives to farmers

By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

A Yoruba socio-political group, Yoruba Commitment Forum (YCF) has raised an alarm about the looming food shortage in the South West region of the country.

The group said, though, the impending food insecurity is a national crisis, stressing that its impact on Yorubaland is going to be calamitous.

This was contained in a statement jointly signed by Otunba Hon Tayo Onayemi, Barr. Akeem Aponmade,

Barr. Femi Mokikan, Otunba Niyi Sodiya, Mrs. Buky Tunde Oshunrinde and Mrs. Sola Maja, and made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.

The YCF attributed the looming food shortage to the invasion and destruction of farmlands by rampaging Fulani herders.

The group, while calling for adequate security of farmers and their farmlands, equally appealed to the federal government to adequately compensate whose farmlands were destroyed and as well give them financial incentives, to encourage them to go back to farm.

The statement titled, “Nigeria’s headaches, food insecurity in Yorubaland”, read, “we have observed that for about seven years now, Fulani herdsmen have been engaging in a relentless destruction of farmlands and settlements in Yorubaland. These criminal Fulani elements resorted to kidnapping, raping, maiming and killing of farmers and Yoruba sons and daughters.

“Neither the governments at any level, nor Fulani herdsmen’s apologists would claim ignorance of the atrocious activities of these ruthless people. Video recordings of their wicked actions suffuse the internet. The end result is that farmers began to be scared off their farms gradually until now when farms have been completely abandoned.

“When this started years ago, foresighted individuals raised concerns; they warned about the potential danger of food insecurity beginning with rising food prices and the need to ensure a stable food supply. It appears that Southwest was deliberately targeted and the invasion of our farmlands was the execution of a conscious plan to starve our people to death.

“We, the Yoruba Nation agitators, cried out for help against the brazen onslaught, but none came from the federal government led by a Fulani man.

“Unfortunately, the hens have now come home to roost as the consequences of our action, and inaction, are now here for real with food shortages and very high prices making it increasingly difficult for our people to access the basic necessity of food.

“Before the current situation spirals out of control, we hasten to inform the government that there is no alternative to large scale farming which Fulani herdsmen have destroyed by waging a war against farmers. Subsistence farming through the backyards, as good as it is, cannot serve the purpose of assuring any people of food security. Farmlands in the South West must be made very safe.

“We state emphatically that the situation whereby a basket of tomatoes is sold for #4000 in the North while the same is sold in Yorubaland for #150,000 is callous, ruthless and unacceptable to us.

We also call for assistance to use cheaper rail transport among others to assist our market men and women. Other regions do this, why not here in Yorubaland?

“Secondly, governments must incentivise farmers whose investments have been destroyed during the war of attrition waged against them by Fulani terrorists. Without government’s financial assistance, there is no way most farmers will be able to go back to farming, even if security of their lives and new investments are assured”, the statement concluded.

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