LECTURERS in our public universities are so absorbed in their national strike which is in the sixth month that they have not observed the unique contributions of President Muhammadu Buhari to industrial relations practice. Ironically, it has been serving or retired generals that have made the most fundamental contributions to the practice of relations between employees and employers.
As a child while learning how to read, I stared at a photograph on the front page of a newspaper. It was some people with property and children. Help came from one of the elders around who helped me to decipher the caption. They were university lecturers and their families packing out of their official quarters. The General Yakubu Gowon regime had sought to break their industrial action by asking the lecturers either to return to work or pack out of the campuses.
General Ibrahim Babangida thought a unique way to resolve the industrial disputes with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, was simply to proscribe the union. He did so on August 7, 1988 and August 23, 1992, but the challenges of the universities and lecturers did not, as expected, disappear.
General Sani Abacha built on these by not only proscribing unions, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, but also financially crippling others by stopping their check-off dues.
President Muhammadu Buhari had made his own unique contribution to industrial relations praxis in using hunger as a weapon by not paying the lecturers. The hope that with hunger, they would scamper back to classes has not materialised. By the way, this approach to resolving industrial disputes is not uniquely Buharian; what is new is the appeal by his government to parents of university students to en-mass beg the striking lecturers as the solution to the current crises.
The primary reason government gave for this is that it would not borrow money to meet the demands of the lecturers. Wow! Really? First is that the Buhari administration is the most indebted in contemporary times. While the country’s debt under President Olusegun Obasanjo was $2.11 billion in 2007, with President Yar’Adua adding $1.39 billion and President Goodluck Jonathan adding $3.8 billion, President Buhari took our debts from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $28.57 within five years. As at 2021, he had borrowed N17.06 trillion Naira.
A lot of this money was borrowed to fund budget deficit which arises primarily from profligacy, including the annual padding of budget by both the executive and the legislature. So government can borrow to fund budget racketeering but not to fund education which is the foundation of development.
But how much really is ASUU demanding? The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, on behalf of the government, told the nation: “The proposal ASUU is talking about is N1.2 trillion…The nation cannot grind to a halt because we want to take care of the demands of ASUU…You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold your jugular and blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads, when our total income is about N6.1 trillion, and you have roads, health centres to build, and other sectors to take care of.”
These claims by government do not relate to the truth and the Minister appears misinformed. First, there is no N1.2 trillion demand anywhere. What is on record is N1.3 trillion and this came, not from ASUU but the Federal Government itself which in 2012 under President Jonathan made its own investigation of the NEEDS Assessment of the universities.
It came to the conclusion that N1.3 trillion would need to be injected to make our universities globally competitive. But government complained of funds shortage and ASUU suggested that N200 billion be injected annually over the next six years and N100 billion in the seventh year. In accepting the ASUU suggestion, the Jonathan government in 2013 released N200 billion to the universities as the first tranche. In contrast, in over seven years, the Buhari government released only N55 billion. These are not monies for ASUU, they were funds released to the universities for their use. So, it is incorrect to claim that ASUU is demanding a payment of N1.2 trillion.
Let us examine the issues in contention and see whether begging, as proposed by government can resolve them. The first is the renegotiation of the 2009 Federal Government-ASUU Agreement. Two quick points to make about this. One: if signed employee-employer agreements are not implemented, then the industrial relations system is endangered. Two: the Buhari government within the last one year, has twice renegotiated this agreement with ASUU and has twice rejected the outcome of the negotiations.
Essentially, the 2009 Agreement affects the lecturers condition of service which despite hyperinflation at an average 16 per cent per annum, has remained unchanged for over a dozen years. The second demand is the implementation of the Agreement the Buhari government signed with the lecturers on December 23, 2020. The third is the demand for funding to revitalise the public universities. The fourth is on the issue of university autonomy, including a payment system that would take the universal uniqueness of the academic profession into consideration. For this, ASUU had helped to designed the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions, UTAS.
The fifth demand is the mainstreaming of the Earned Academic Allowances, EAA, and the payment of same to lecturers of the Obafemi Awolowo University. The sixth is a stop to the proliferation of state universities. The seventh is the release of the White Paper on the Visitation Panel Reports. The eighth is about the victimisation of lecturers in five universities. Some of the ASUU demands have no monetary implications.
So, can these demands be met or resolved simply by parents begging the lecturers? Within the rational human thought process, the answer is no. This being the case, why did government decide on this unique approach to resolving an industrial relations challenge?
This may be traceable to the culture of begging among some people who hope to get the impossible by simply begging. There is a part of the country that advises that what you do with a wicked person is to beg him. So government may be pointing parents to the lecturers as the wicked people who have kept students in public universities at home for about six months. It is also possible that the Buhari government sees lecturers as overgrown babies that parents need to pet by begging them.
On the other hand, all these may be far-fetched as all government wants to do is wash its hands off the strike by blackmailing the lecturers. Whatever be the case, it is important to credit the Buhari government with the introduction of begging as part of industrial relations practice.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has backed the N1billion St. John Mary Vianney Priests Home (SJMVPH) project for retired priests in Maryland.
SJMVPH project director, Biodun Olumide, an engineer, said Sanwo-Olu supported the Catholic Church’s Lagos archdiocese project with an undisclosed amount even as a non-Catholic.
Olumide spoke while updating parishioners on the project during the St John Mary Vianney feast day ceremony held at St Agnes Catholic Church in Maryland, Lagos.
He said the project is a six-floor building.
He said: “Technically we started in April this year and we have brought the first structure fully completed and heading to the superstructure which is the upper structures.
“The project is a six-floor one and in total it has 30 rooms for elderly priests.
“In terms of funds raised so far, we have realised the sum of N321,995,000 and N82, 071,000.00 in pledges.
“The projected cost of this project N99,000,000. We have come a long way already, we still need over N500,000,000 to hit our mark.
“We are immensely grateful for this level of support and will continue to commit to being transparent, by sharing progress updates.”
Chairman of the the SJMVPH committee and Parish Priest, Rev. Fr Anthony Fadairo, said it was the archbishop’s idea for the committee to celebrate the feast day as well as appreciate donors who have contributed to the N1billion project target.
He said: “The Archbishop has called us to gather and celebrate and thank the various groups that are supporting this project.
“St John Mary Vianney is the patron for priests, so, because of his position we named the home after him.”
Fadairo called on all Christians, most especially Catholics, to support the project.
According to him, the priests spend most of the time in the service of man and God with no time for self.
A retired priest, Rev. Christopher Boyo, said a retired old priests’ home is necessary because many of them have nowhere to go after retirement.
He said: “We need it because a lot of priests who are old don’t have anywhere to stay. Some of them have died; some are 90 and so on. I’m 82 years old others are older.
“We need this project, it is about time we had it. In other places outside Nigeria, they have homes for old retired priests so it is about time we had our own.”
He thanked the archbishop and many others who had contributed to the project.
Most of those who attended the event believe that the time has come for the church to take better care of it priests.
They expressed hope that the project will not suffer any setback and will be completed on time.
St John Mary Vianney, a French Catholic priest, is venerated in the Catholic Church as a saint and is the patron saint of the parish.
The Saint’s feast day is celebrated every August 4 and 8. He was canonised on 31 May 1925 in the Vatican City by Pope Pius X1.
The Lagos State Police Command says it has arrested a suspected terrorist, Sanni Gafar, in the Ijora Badia area of the State.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the State, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, who confirmed the arrest via a tweet on his verified Twitter handle, said the suspect was arrested after an angry mob attacked him on the suspicion that he was a terrorist.
He explained that according to the mob, the alleged terrorist was dressed as a woman, causing suspension in the area.
He wrote, “He was found with a bag containing three hammers, six screwdrivers, one pair of pliers, one chisel, five spanners, three rolls of black cellophane, cable wires, 20mm bending spring, a pair of black trousers, and a plastic box of clips.
“Investigation is ongoing to ascertain his claim that he is an electrician”.
According to the PPRO, the Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, who commended residents of Lagos for their vigilance, warned against any form of jungle justice.
The police boss in Lagos stated that all suspicious persons or movements are to be reported to security agencies.
The tango between the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the party’s erstwhile henchman, Governor Nyesom Wike, is proving a rumble in the Creeks, and many are hoping to gain a ringside seat. Considering that Atiku is a tested political war general, and that Wike in the past few years has shown great braggadocio, are we going to see a replication of the ongoing contest between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine?
We recall that Putin at the invasion of Ukraine boasted that Russia, a major world power, was going into a three-day special operation in Ukraine. Accordingly, Russia’s intention was to flush out Zelenskyy from office, “demilitarise and de- Nazify Ukraine” and ensure that Ukraine does not join the Western defensive alliance, NATO. The western media are now mocking Putin that after nearly six months, Zelenskyy is entrenched in office, and Ukraine is now heavily armed and closer to joining NATO than it was at the onset of Russian invasion.
There is no doubt that the scheming Atiku is gathering the arsenal to assault Wike’s political stronghold on PDP in Rivers State and his overall influence in the southern part of the country. But are there chances that like Zelenskyy, Wike has enduring sympathy amongst the PDP leaders across the country, especially in the south, to counter Atiku’s game plan? In the run up to the PDP presidential primary, and even after, there is no doubt that the majority of the decent members of the party in the southern and middle part of the country craved for Wike as their preferred candidate.
And their reason is substantially because when Atiku and his company betrayed the PDP, and ran to the opposition to feather their nest, Wike stayed back and nurtured PDP back to life. Using the enormous resources at his disposal, as governor of oil-bearing Rivers state, Wike became the rallying point for the starved PDP national secretariat. The governor even went ahead to financially bail struggling states like Benue, and claimed Edo for the party, when Governor Godwin Obaseki lost out in the power struggle for re-election on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Again, like Zelenskyy who has successfully resisted the bullying by Putin, and is presently luxuriating in the protection of western powers, will Wike cross over, to embrace the APC to provide him a shield from the bullying tactics of Atiku? The chances are high that he will, considering the flurry of activities involving him and major APC stalwarts in the past week. Should that embrace happen, the APC’s chances of winning the presidential election becomes even more likely, while Atiku’s presidential plan crumbles further just like Putin’s war plans.
While politics is a game of interest, it does not diminish the need to wear the armour of honour in the sweepstakes. This column does not perceive Atiku Abubakar as ever being interested in wearing the badge of honour in the game of politics. As the vice president to Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku obtrusively tried to torpedo his principal’s second term ambition, and it took extra-ordinary craftiness on the part of Obasanjo to outwit him. To gain Atiku’s support President Obasanjo reportedly prostrated before him, and Atiku has been paying a heavy price for that indiscretion.
When PDP became too hot for Atiku, he sought refuge in Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Interestingly, in Atiku’s recent confession, after gaining the presidential ticket of the party, he betrayed his benefactor Tinubu, by denying him the vice-presidential ticket, in purported deference to religious balancing. Again, when he thought that the PDP might provide him another chance to realise his presidential ambition, he returned to contest the presidential election in 2011, which he lost.
When he saw that President Goodluck Jonathan, as an incumbent, was determined to contest again in 2015, Atiku turned a renegade and joined forces with other disgruntled party men to kick his party to the dust, as he worked with the emerging behemoth, the APC. Joining the new party with only a limp of PDP, and without gaining the trust of the main components of the new party, he lost out in the presidential primary to President Muhammadu Buhari, who went ahead to win the election.
Without any worry about the badge of honour, Atiku again returned to the PDP, claiming that it was his natural habitat. In fairness to him, he seems to be right. Otherwise, if the party leaders like Governor Aminu Tambuwal were honest, how could they agree to jettison the earlier consensus to allow the presidency go to the southern part of the country, and rather support Atiku to emerge the presidential candidate of the party. The gentlemen within the PDP, who supported Wike at the primary, turned out as minorities, as some southern governors were also moles.
As if to say that was not enough abuse, Atiku further dishonoured Wike, by rejecting his selection as his vice-presidential candidate, by a selecting committee set up by the party with the alleged concurrence of Atiku. To sprinkle salt on the festering injury, Atiku said he chose Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, of Delta State over Wike, because he is stable and someone he can leave the affairs of governance for at a short notice. Since the multiple assaults, Wike has been plotting how to pay Atiku back in his own coins.
Last week, at the flurry of the commission of projects executed by Governor Wike, by APC stalwarts and the political enemies of Wike’s political enemies, led by APC leader in Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, Wike engaged in a sort of peremptorily macabre dance at the graveside of his political enemies. Like President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, who gains confidence after each visit by the leaders of the western powers, Wike after each interaction with the APC chieftains, gains more bounce to confront Atiku.
Will the contest between Wike and Atiku bear uncanny resemblance to that between Zelenskyy and Putin, where a battle many thought would be a short one has turned into a long-drawn battle, with several surrogates throwing in homemade ogbunigwe to help the weaker party? One thing is clear, Atiku has the pride of Putin, and the arrogance of a veteran, while Wike is succinctly acting the victim, and gaining a lot of sympathy.
How PDP’s internal wrangling will shape the 2023 presidential election will be seen in the days ahead. Will Atiku show cluelessness like Putin, after his initial bluster that Wike has only one vote, and allow the crisis degenerate into a debacle for his presidential ambition, which has become a permanent feature of every election cycle?
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 19.64 percent in July, the highest since September 2005, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.
The consumer price index (CPI), which measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services, surged 17-year high from 18.60 percent in the previous month.
The increase was recorded against the backdrop of food inflation, which rose to 22.02 percent in July from 20.60 percent in June. The rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, food products, potatoes, yam and other tubers, meat, fish, oil, and fat.
The NBS in its Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for July 2022 said that on a month-on-month basis, the Headline inflation rate in July 2022 was 1.817 %, which was 0.001% higher than the rate recorded in June 2022 (1.816 %).
“The percentage change in the average CPI for the twelve months period ending July 2022 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 16.75%, showing a 0.46% increase compared to 16.30% recorded in July 2021,” the report said.
On a month-on-month basis, the report said food inflation rate in July was 2.04%, 0.01% insignificant decline compared to the rate recorded in June 2022 (2.05%).
“This decline is attributed to a reduction in the prices of some food items like tubers, maize, garri, and vegetables,” the report said.
On a state-by-state basis, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Kogi states witnessed the highest prices while Jigawa, Kano and Borno recorded the slowest rise in inflation.
“In July 2022, all items’ inflation rate on a year-on-year basis was highest in Akwa Ibom (22.88%), Ebonyi (22.51%), Kogi (22.08%), while Jigawa (16.62%), Kaduna (17.04%) and Borno (18.04%) recorded the slowest rise in headline Year-on-Year inflation,” the report said.
“However, on a month-on-month basis, July 2022 recorded the highest increases in Adamawa (2.87%), Abuja (2.84%), Oyo (2.77%), while Bauchi (0.82%), Kano (0.83%) and Niger (1.03%) recorded the slowest rise on month-on-month inflation.”
Meanwhile, the ‘’All items less farm produce’’ or Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce, stood at 16.26% in July 2022, compared to 15.75% recorded in the previous month. On a month-on-month basis, the core inflation rate was 1.75% in July 2022, up by 0.20% when compared to 1.56% recorded in June 2022.
The report said the highest increases were recorded in prices of gas, liquid fuel, solid fuel, passenger transport by road and air, garments, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company has discharged five barrels of crude oil from its Trans Niger Pipeline into Bodo community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, following an operational failure.
This was contained in a report of a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) signed by the host community, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, SPDC, and the Rivers State Ministry of Environment.
According to the JIV report, the TNP operated by Shell discharged 98 per cent water and 2 per cent crude into Bodo, due to the ongoing flushing of the pipeline with residual crude oil of about five barrels.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, a spokesperson of the SPDC Nigeria Limited, Mr Michael Adande, said the impact of the spill, both within and outside the shell’s JV right of way, was minimal since the TNP had not transported crude oil since mid-June 2022.
Adande firther said the report of the JIV would soon be available on the SPDC oil spills site.
The statement read, “The spill from the Bomu-Bonny section of the SPDC JV’s Trans Niger Pipeline in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State on August 3, 2022 was largely water (98%) from the ongoing flushing of the TNP, with residual crude oil of about five barrels as established by the signed report of the Joint Investigation Visit led by regulators, and involving representatives of the Rivers State Ministry of Environment and the community.
“Owing to the high level of theft, the SPDC has not processed crude oil through the TNP since mid-June 2022. Clean up of the impacted area and repair work on the pipeline are under way.”
A suspected kidnapper identified as Olarinde Adekunle has been arrested by the Oyo State Police Command.
The 37-year-old was apprehended after threatening to abduct three students of a private university in Oyo through a letter.
The spokesman of the command, Adewale Osifeso while parading Adekunle at the state police command, said the threat, as expected, disrupted academic activities.
He further stated that the letter stirred up panic and uncertainty among the university community.
He said, “A notorious kidnapping syndicate sent a ‘hand-written’ note to the management of a private university institution, in Oyo town wherein they threatened to abduct three of its students should the management fail to pay up (N10,000,000) ten million naira within a stipulated period.
“Consequent upon the above, discreet forensic based investigations were carried out and this led to the arrest of one Azeez Mufutau ‘M’ whose phone numbers were inscribed on the ‘hand-written notes’ sent to both the school management and the bank.
“Upon questioning, the suspect confirmed that the phone number on the note was his but denied being the author of the document.
“The investigation further led to the arrest of one Olarinde Adekunle ‘M’ age 37 who confessed to being the author of the hand-written notes under scrutiny and added that Azeez Mufutau was used as a decoy to conceal his direct involvement.”
The national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke on Monday stated that the union would meet with the Federal Government today (Tuesday).
According to Osodeke, the union and the Federal Government are meeting to address its demands which led to the ongoing strike.
The ASUU President speaking on when the union would end its strike said the decision of the Federal Government would determine the next step.
Osodeke while speaking during an interview on Channels TV said ASUU will call off the strike if the Federal Government agreed to its demands at the meeting.
He said, “If we go into that meeting tomorrow and the government says, what you have bargained for, we are willing to sign, the strike will be called off.”
This is coming after the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo blamed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ongoing industrial action of the ASUU.
According to Keyamo, ASUU is on strike because of the agreement the PDP-led government signed with the union in 2009.
Keyamo further stated that between 1999 and 2015, when the All Progressives Congress took over power, ASUU has gone on strike 12 times, amounting to 900 days.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, chieftains of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are gearing up to storm Ekiti State to receive about 10,000 defecting members of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
Those expected at the Tuesday event are the National Chairman of the PDP, Iyiorcha Ayu; vice presidential candidate of the PDP and Delta state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa; Senate Minority Leader, Philip Aduda; Atiku Campaign Spokesperson, Dino Melaye; Raymond Dokpesi and Henrich B. Akomolafe, a member of the House of Representatives.
Organisers of the event, the Ekiti Progressives, in a statement, said they would also unveil a platform to mobilise support for the Atiku-Okowa Presidency.
According to the statement, “members believe the choice of Atiku and Okowa for the 2023 presidency would help in repositioning the country to a better and more functional economy among the comity of nations.
“The PDP in Ekiti state has continued to canvass for support for all elective positions for the 2023 elections in Nigeria, and this would be an added achievement with the decamping of 10,000 strong SDP candidates to the party.”
Nigerian comedian, Basketmouth, has taken to social media to air his opinion, following the statement of the current NSITF Managimg Director, Michael Akabogu, that termites have consumed the documents used as evidence for the spending of 17.158 billion by the institution, few years ago.
Recall that the Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC) had few hours ago, announced that the current and past management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), are under scrutiny, following the inability of the management to produce the necessary documents used as evidence to back the expenditure of 17.158 billion naira by the management of such institution in 2013.
According to the current NSITF managing director, Dr Michael Akabogu, such documents were not in the organization’s custody, as the containers used in keeping them were not only beaten rain over the years, but have also been eaten by termites.
And so, following such statement, Nigerian comedian, Basketmouth, took to social media to react, as he recalled how some funds were reportedly taken by a monkey and snake few years ago, adding that nobody will faint this time around.
Basketmouth finally called on the APC government, as he stated that their time is up and such reports will no longer be heard after the 2023 general elections.
Watch the video below;