The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said that he will do everything to ensure that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) does not go on another industrial action.
He explained that three of his biological children have also been victims of a failed system, so he is personally committed to resolving the issues.
“I will not give ASUU the opportunity to go on strike. Because I have three biological children that suffered from this imbroglio that we found ourselves in and about 15 people on my scholarship in Nigerian Universities,” the Minister said on Wednesday.
“My three biological children are here in Nigerian Universities. They even went to secondary school here. Two of them are American citizens and I had the option of leaving them to go study in America and enjoy the free education or whatever, but I didn’t. So, I am a committed parent. I am involved, even more than some ASUU members because some of them have their children in private schools.”
Marketers of cooking gas on Wednesday blamed its increasing prices on massive importation, causing anguish to end users.In the past few weeks, it costs between N4,200 and N4,500 to refill a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas, up from between N3,600 and N3,800.Mr Bassey Essien, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, said in a statement is Lagos that “Nigeria consumes about one million metric tonnes of cooking gas annually, but 65 per cent of it is imported.
“The CBN has no dedicated window for foreign exchange for cooking gas importers, hence the sourcing of foreign exchange at a high price which ultimately dictates the price the product gets to consumers.“This brings to the fore, our persistent request for the full domestication of cooking gas supply to guide against price manipulations by international market and foreign exchange forces.
“The price of 20 metric tonnes of cooking gas initially rose from N4 million to N5 million then to N5.3 million, all within one month.“The current high price of cooking gas is not traceable to marketers (plant owners), but to the vagaries of international prices and foreign exchange restrictions.’’He stressed that cooking gas marketers had consistently championed the call for local production of cooking gas from its raw form to cleaning, distribution and marketing so as to stave increases in prices as dictated by the importation regime.
“We as marketers are also saying that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) and other gas producers should domesticate the production chain for cooking gas by dedicating sufficient quantity for domestic consumption,’’ he said.Essien also said it was disheartening that cooking gas prices went up at a time when Nigerians were yet to recover from the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the #EndSARS protests and the current economic recession.
He noted that the NLNG allocated only 350,000 MT of gas to domestic consumption out of its four million metric tonnes annual production.The NLNG said recently, however, that it would increase its annual domestic allocation of cooking gas to 450,000MT by 2021.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) Wednesday dismissed the purported takeover of Kidney Island asset of the SPDC Joint Venture in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Government in the exercise of rights purportedly acquired through a court auction process that is still the subject of ongoing appeals at the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt.
According to SPDC, any purported exercise of rights allegedly acquired through that process including any attempt to take over or seal up the Kidney Island asset or other assets of the SPDC JV to satisfy claims in pending suits is premature and prejudicial to the ongoing court proceedings, and therefore not recognised.
The company said under the Nigerian Petroleum Act, any acquisition or assignment of interests in a licence or lease would require the consent of the Minister of Petroleum, adding that no such consent has been given in the case of the purported acquisition by the Rivers State Government.
Besides, the multinational oil company said the ruling of the Supreme Court on 27 November 2020 did not decide liability or the size of the award in the underlying suit ofChief Ogbara & Others Vs SPDC neither did the ruling affirm the purported sale of SPDC JV’s assets to the River State Government as being claimed by the state.
The company disclosed that there is a pending litigation by SPDC in which the Federal High Court has issued an interim order restraining further enforcement of the underlying Agbara judgment pending the hearing of the motion on notice fixed for hearing on 14 January 2021.
It implored Rivers state government and those claiming interest in the SPDC Kidney Island asset to stay further action to allow the due process of the law as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“We remain of the view that until the pending appeals are heard and determined, any exercise of rights including any attempt to take over or seal up SPDC JV’s assets by the Rivers state government is premature and unlawful,” it added.
Former PDP Governorship Candidate in Anambra State in the 2017 governorship election, Mr Oseloka Obaze has tested positive for COVID-19.
The former diplomat and former secretary to Anambra State government (SGG) under ex-governor, Mr Peter Obi and incumbent governor, Chief Willie Obiano tested positive for the virus after undergoing a pre-travel test.
Obaze who confirmed his status in a message to Newsmen said he has isolated himself and also called on all those who had contact with him in recent times to do so too.
“I’m quarantining and following the recommended treatment regimen. I’ve reached out to those I might have been in contact with recently to inform them to self-isolate. COVID is real. I urge everyone to take it seriously.”
Israel has launched a national programme to promote artificial intelligence and data science at a total cost of 5.26 billion new shekels (1.63 billion dollars), the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) said on Wednesday.
The programme was prepared by the IIA, Israel’s Council for Higher Education, and the defence, science and technology, and finance ministries.
The goals of the programme are to promote high-level research in these fields and to create an ecosystem that will enable the continued development and competitiveness of industry, academia and the public sector in these fields.
It also aims to develop critical applications for Israel’s security system, and to assimilate the use of Artificial Intelligence in industry, services, and government ministries.
Of the total cost, 1.15 billion shekels will be directed to the Israeli academy, 1.09 billion shekels to industrial activity, 1.08 billion shekels to the security system, 1.08 billion shekels to the set-up of a supercomputer, and 860 million shekels to cloud services.
The non-academic staff of universities, NASU, have vowed not to resume administrative functions until the imbalance in the sharing formulae of the N40 billion earned allowance approved by the government for four university-based unions is addressed.
The NASU made their position known shortly after, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU suspended it’s over nine months old strike.
The ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, had announced the suspension at a press conference on Wednesday morning in Abuja.
The suspension followed the decision by the Federal Government to pay two – months’ salary arrears of ASUU members.
The ASUU, before now demanded 110 billion naira revitalization funds each year for three years to universities while on one of the longest ever strike by the academic staff union of Nigerian universities that started on the 23rd of March 2020.
For nine months, despite the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and in spite of pressure from the government, the university lecturers held tight on their demands, remaining on strike.
The lecturers also demanded payment of owed earned academic allowance, which is in billions, but top on the list of ASUU’s demands was a rejection of the Integrated payroll and personal information system. IPPIS.
The ASUU had argued that the system is fraudulent and went ahead to present its own alternative, The university Transparency and accountability solution, UTAS.
However, the government remained adamant about ASUU’s alternative insisting on the use of IPPIS to pay salaries of all federal government workers
In one of the FG/ASUU meetings, the government stepped down the use of IPPIS for lecturers’ salaries and also offered ASUU 70 billion naira.
The amount includes Earned Academic Allowance and university revitalization fund.
On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, a six-hour meeting between the government and ASUU led to a briefing on Wednesday, December 23, 2020, where the lecturers agreed to return to the classrooms.
But the scary second wave of COVID-19 pandemic may pose a bigger threat to the reopening of universities as the federal government has already fixed January 18 for schools reopening and has directed public servants on grade level 12 and below to stay at home for five weeks.
The National Stadium pitch in Surulere, Lagos could host Super Eagles and other international matches by May 2021.
The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, disclosed this during an inspection tour of the Surulere National Stadium, Lagos which is undergoing rehabilitation.
Dare said, “It’s high time we had a familiar ground for our national teams. The Moshood Abiola National stadium Abuja and the Surulere National Stadium, Lagos will be ready to host matches next year and it will be a major plus to our teams when they have a familiar ground.
“This arrangement is under the adopt initiative which is a public-private model that we developed. We were able to pitch that to the private sector. We discussed with a philanthropist and lover of sports Sir Adebutu Keshington, who was convinced about the proposal. He is somebody that has the youth of this country at heart and has done so much to support youth and sports development.
“As a form of CSR he is committed to providing funds at 100 per cent and we have no doubt that it will be completed in May.
“The Stadium has a rich history with the likes of Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, and host of ex-internationals who played in the memorable edifice that hosted so many international competitions. The engineer working on the site has assured that the stadium will be ready for use by May next year.”
Dare also assured Nigerians that the stadium would be properly maintained.
The National Coordinator of Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 Sani Aliyu says the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to Nigerians free when vaccination begins.
Sani Aliyu made this known on Wednesday during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
He also revealed plans by the Nigerian government on delivering and administering the vaccine and gave the assurance that Nigerians will be freely vaccinated.
“Yesterday, the President gave the PTF the mandate to proceed with preparations with regard to the vaccine.
“The President has also given us a marching order that the COVID-19 vaccine be made available in Nigeria.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Nigeria making use of the GAVI arrangement. We already have the assurance that we will have 20% of our population accommodated by GAVI, which is about 40 million Nigerians. They won’t need to pay for that (the vaccine),” the PTF coordinator said.
He added that although there are fears that Nigerians may be reluctant to receive shots of the vaccines, efforts are being made to sensitise many and deliver the vaccines across the country.
“We have continued to work with the Federal Ministry of Health and Primary Healthcare Development Agency. The NPHCDA has a lot of experience in delivering vaccines across the country. They were involved with the polio vaccination and even at the moment, they are responsible for the delivery of the growth in child vaccination across the country, so they have a lot of experience.
“A lot of work is going on behind the scene. The NPHCDA has a committee, the Minister has set up an advisory committee and the PTF is now coming in to make sure we coordinate effectively.
“The biggest challenge we will have with the vaccine is not going to be the logistics, the biggest challenge will be the public acceptance of the safety of the vaccines and allowing themselves to be vaccinated, the challenge will be very similar to the one we have with polio,” he added.
A truck laden with premium motor spirit (PMS) allegedly exploded and killed no fewer than six persons in the early hours of Wednesday in Jebba, Moro local government area of Kwara state.
The petrol tanker said to be travelling through the ancient town had lost control and spilled its contents as it rammed into residential buildings.
Eyewitness account said that the incident resulted in huge explosions that also burnt down over 30 houses and shops.
When contacted, Spokesperson of the state Fire Service Hassan Adekunle, confirmed the incident, promising to update our correspondent in the next one hour.
Meanwhile, state Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives and properties, describing the development as devastating and sad.
In a statement, Mallam AbdulRazaq’s media aide Rafiu Ajakaye said that “the governor is very sad at this development especially with the loss of lives and millions of naira worth of properties and farmlands.
“He sends his heartfelt condolences to the affected families. He urges them to take heart and remain calm as believers. He has also directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to quickly move in to determine the material loss.
“He also commends the Kwara state Fire Service and other responders for their efforts which helped to curtail the raging inferno and minimised the loss. Once again, he condoles with the victims and their families on this very sad incident, and prays to God Almighty to repose the souls of the deceased.”
…As south-East group begins intensive campaign, lobbying
A Pan-Ohanaeze Ndigbo socio-political organization, Conference of Igbo Professionals Worldwide, (COIPOW), said it has commenced an intensive campaign with series of meeting and lobbying, to enable the South-East region produce the next president in 2023.
This is even as the group lamented that the formation of a security outfit by the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, would thwart the plan as most leaders from other zones would perceive it in a bad light and withdraw their support.
COIPOW’s National President, Prof. Patrick Kalu and National Secretary, Dr Uche Mbaka, in a statement on Wednesday, described the Security Network as Illegal, and appealed to the people of the region not to take Kanu and his security structure seriously.
Prof Kalu said: “We wish to express our profound appreciation to the key Igbo leaders that attended our just concluded emergency meeting held in Akwa, Anambra State, where we deliberated and agreed on pushing for Igbo presidency come 2023.
“This is the sure way to go and not the way the acclaimed leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu wants through the barrel of the gun. The gunpoint approach by Mr Kanu is certainly not the way-out and he must be told so loud and clear.
“Igbo people deserve the Presidency this time around. They have all it takes to produce the next president of Nigeria and that is what we should be pushing for now with one strong voice in unity and sincerity of purpose.
“We cannot be demanding for president of Nigeria on one hand and on the other hand, supporting IPOB which is being fraudulently financed by Kanu and his agents to destabilize a united Nigeria through cessation and a parallel security organization.
“Nobody will take us serious if we do not take urgent steps to set the record straight by out rightly denouncing the inglorious activities of IPOB and its sponsors and founder, Nnamdi Kanu.
“It is on this premise that we strongly condemn the proscribed IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi for forming the so called Eastern Security Network in some parts of the East.”
He added that, “Forming this militia group at this critical time when we should be seen as peaceful and law abiding people that we are, is indeed not the best.
“It must be known that IPOB and the so called Eastern Security Network do not have our blessings and will never do.
“We particularly call on the governors of the South East states and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide to rise up not only to condemn but also stop this brazing act of criminality which may have grave consequence on the entire Igbo nation if nothing is done urgently.
“These IPOB members carry out their nefarious activities because of their selfish gains and interests and not that of Ndigbo Nation as they want to make us believe.
They are being manipulated by Nnamdi Kanu who is being bankrolled by his local and international sponsors.
“We are aware that they carted away several weapons and ammunition from the police stations they looted during the #ENDSARS# protests; particularly in Obigbo in River State.
“They will further worsen the security situation in the South East with their so called outfit. They should not be tolerated by the state governments and people of the South East.
“We are also aware that some enemies of Nigeria and powerful politicians who are also interested in the politics of 2023 may be sponsoring Nnamdi Kanu to put the Igbo people in bad light just to achieve their agenda of making the Igbo people disunited before Nigerians,” it alleged.
The statement added: “This is why the entire Ndigbo worldwide must resist this nonsense called the Eastern Security Network and its sponsors, because it’s a clear ploy to rob Ndigbo of another opportunity of the Presidency using our criminal son, Kanu.
“Cessation will not solve the problem of marginalization but restructuring, where every Nigerian will have equal stake in the country.
“We must know that the so called Eastern Security Network financiers are not out for our interest but theirs. If we don’t stop them, very soon, they will start robbery, kidnapping, rape, assassinations and other heinous crimes in our region.
“Hence we must be smart not to be cajoled by Nnamdi Kanu who lives abroad but collecting money to destabilise our country.
“We have too many investments in Nigeria to leave for anybody. We must remain in here and fight legally to take our rightful place in Nigeria.”
The CBN‘s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Osita Nwanisobi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday, that ATMs were introduced so as to ease the sufferings of the people.
Nwanisobi spoke on the heels of customers complaining that the proliferation of Agent Banking is responsible for ATMs not having money to dispense any more.
It was reported that people have alleged this was due to banks conspiracy with CBN.
The director also described as “preposterous” insinuations that the apex bank conspired with commercial banks to ensure there was no money in the machines.
“It is highly preposterous for anyone to say that CBN connived with banks to deprive people of their money this season.
“The primary purpose, for which ATMs were introduced, is to ease the sufferings of Nigerians and to make banking easier and convenient.
“I assure the public that CBN will investigate the matter,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, a check by NAN reveals that some ATMs that are not dispensing cash are those that are either faulty or looted and vandalised during the #ENDSARS protests.
Those ATMs that are not faulty, but due to network issues are also not dispensing cash thus causing scarcity of funds, thereby, leaving customers to patronise Agent Banking.
According to CBN, agent banking is “the provision of financial services to customers by a third party (agent) on behalf of a licensed deposit-taking financial institution and/or mobile money operator.
A visit to the Firstbank ATMs at Iganmu, showed the machines in the bank premises were not dispensing, but the ones in the banking hall are working well.
Also at Firstbank ATM in Egbe, Isolo road, the four machines, all in good working conditions, had no cash to dispense.
Customers, who came into the premises, complained that scarcity of funds had always been the order of the day at that particular Firstbank quick service point.
Mrs Kudirat Abiodun, a trader, said “Madam, if you want to withdraw, just board a bike to Ikotun branch.
“I have never seen a branch that is unserious as this one.
“In a week, their machines can only dispense money twice.
“They never have money in their ATMs.
“I think that there is a conspiracy here so that all these POS operators around can make their money,’’ Abiodun told some people who wanted to make cash withdrawals. (NAN)
The National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, has opened up on reports of breach of the National Identity Database, saying it is simply a hoax.
NIMC, in a statement issued by Kayode Adegoke, Head, Corporate Communications, on Wednesday said there was no breach of its database.
It said the attention of of the commission had been drawn to a purported breach of its database on social media, saying such insinuation is hoax and mischievous.
“The National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, would like to bring to the attention of the members of the general public that the purported breach of the National Identity Database going round the social media is false, a hoax and mischievous intent.
“The MIMC would like to assure the public that there have been no such breaches or incidents. Investigations on the alleged data dump were found to be non-existent in the National Identity Database,” the statement said.
The statement added that the commission investigated the data breach claim and found out that the database schema presented by the adversary did not tally with the existing schema of NIMC records.
“The data being posted by criminals purporting to contain citizens’ information is fake.
“The NIMC guarantees the security of the National Identity Database through various layers of security and can assure that no data was breached.
“The members of the general public are, therefore, enjoined to refrain spreading false reports on the purported data breach,” the statement said.
The Buhari administration has assured of improved and sustained power supply in the country to boost the Nigerian economy.
Minister of Power Engineer Sale Mamman gave the assurance during his familiarisation tour of the National Control Centre (NCC) of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
Mamman said that to guarantee improved power stability, the government would connect about 330,132 substations that are currently not connected which had remained the only challenge facing the NCC due to the lack of SCADA/EMS facility.
‘I have seen things myself. The only problem confronting the National Control Centre is lack of SCADA/EMS facility because most of our substations 330,132 are not connected. By the time they are connected, we will together have less problem of understanding what is happening in the distribution company and the generation substations,’ he noted.
‘I am here to see things myself, meet with staff and listen to their challenges so as to take action on them immediately,’ the minister stated
He expressed delight that since he assumed duties, power supply had improved tremendously.
He stated that the Buhari administration had generated the highest power in the history of Nigeria to the tune of over 115,065.78 MW.
He added that the country had also attained over 5,520.40 MW at 21.15 hours.
The minister maintained that in the history of Nigeria 2020 was the year the nation’s power system had experienced the least system collapse which, he said, would soon undergo stability.
Earlier, in his welcome address the Acting General Manager of the National Control Centre (NCC), Osogbo, Engineer Abdullahi Balaraba, lauded the minister for his visitation.
Balaraba noted that the visit would gear up the Federal Government’s transformational initiatives of power sector aimed at consolidating the gains recorded so far.
Balarabe highlighted inadequate generation, false declaration of generation availability, load frequency control and inadequacy of gas supply as NCC challenges.
‘We sustained the grid operations for five months and 29 days without grid system collapse. This is first of its kind in the history of the power sector,’ he noted.
‘We only had four total and zero system collapse from January 2020 to date. This is first of its kind in the history of the power sector.
‘Grid generation installed capacity has increased to 13,014.40MW due to synchronization of Dadin-kowa Hydro power plant. This has led to an improvement in the voltage within the axis,’ he said.
The Federal Government has declared Friday 25, Monday 28 December 2020 and Friday, January 1, 2021 as public holidays to mark the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year Celebrations respectively.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government.
He felicitated with Christians and all Nigerians both at home and abroad on this year’s Christmas and New Year Celebrations.
Aregbesola urged Christians to adopt the creed of Christ on faith, hope and love.
A statement signed on behalf of the Minister by the Permanent secretary in the Ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore said “We must emulate the life of humility, service, compassion, patience, peace and righteousness that the birth and Ministry of Jesus Christ signified, that will be the best way to know Christ and celebrate his birth.”
The Minister noted that peace and security are critical factors needed to enable Government accomplish its mission of revitalizing the economy, improving Foreign Direct Investment as well as generating employment opportunities for over 100 million Nigerian youths in the next 10 years.
Aregbesola advised Nigerians and Christians in particular, to adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines, as stipulated by relevant authorities, during and after the yuletide, especially with the second wave of the outbreak of the disease.
The Minister reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to the fight against armed banditry, kidnappings and other crimes and criminalities in the country.
He called on Nigerians to support the efforts of the security agencies by providing them with information that will enhance intelligence gathering.
While admonishing all Nigerians to remain focused, determined, patient and patriotic, Aregbesola expressed confidence that the year 2021 would be a better year for all Nigerians and therefore urged Christians to use the period to pray for Nigeria.
He wished all Nigerians and Christians in particular, a happy Christmas and New Year Celebrations.