The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government will on Thursday hold a meeting to resolve the lingering strike in the nation’s universities.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, confirmed on Tuesday that he had received an invitation to a meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja.
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve the ASUU strike.
The group, on Tuesday, threatened violence if the government failed to prevail on the union to call off the strike.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone, Ogunyemi said the ASUU negotiating team would be at the meeting to hear what the government had done so far in respect of the seven demands tabled for implementation.
He stated, “We have a scheduled meeting on Thursday; we received the invitation today (Tuesday). We would be at the meeting. We go to every meeting with open mind and also believe the government will come with open mind and if they (government officials) mean well, we will resolve the issue.”
The don said he did not envisage any problem, adding that the government would be expected to highlight the demands it had implemented and to give a time frame on the ones that would be implemented subsequently.
“Our demands are clear, seven issues with timelines. They are expected to have started implementing them; we don’t see much problem here.
“They will just tell us how far they have implemented them and tell us which ones they cannot implement for now, and give us the time frame (for implementation),” Ogunyemi stated.
Asked if the government had released the N23bn it promised last month to the universities, the union leader said he did not know if this had been done.
But NANS factional president, Haruna Kadiri, who led his group on protest to the Ministry of Education, Abuja on Tuesday, over the strike, stated that students bore the brunt of labour dispute between university lecturers and government.
This, he noted, made them unattractive to the labour market which he said often preferred graduates from private universities who concluded their academic programmes within stipulated time.
Kadiri said, “We are here to demand to know when the strike would be called off. The government has not been tackling the issues that led to the strike, but politicising them and dividing the ranks of the lecturers.
“As researchers, ASUU should carry out research and find solutions to the issues instead of going on strike.
“We are issuing a two-week ultimatum for the strike to be resolved. If after the ultimatum, the FG and ASUU didn’t resolve the strike, the next protest will not be peaceful. We would carry out civil unrest and we are ready to be detained in the guardroom.”
The student leader also condemned the new cut-off marks for university and polytechnic admissions as announced by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, describing the cut-off marks as retrogressive and ‘anti-education.’
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, who addressed the students, assured them that the government was working to resolve the crisis.
Lai Mohammed Denies Announcing N5m Hate Speech Fine
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has denied that he announced the increment of the speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million.
He made this known in a counter-affidavit in response to a suit filed against him at a federal high court in Lagos.
Recall that some months ago, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) announced an amendment to the broadcasting code, where the increment of the new fine was announced.
Recall that weeks after the announcement, NBC fined Nigeria Info FM for alleged hate speech after interviewing Obadiah Mailafia, former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who alleged that a northern governor is one of the leaders of Boko Haram.
However, Human Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong proceeded to the court to challenge the fine.
However, in the affidavit deposed by Sunday Ojobo, an official of the Information ministry, the minister said he never announced the increase of the hate speech fine.
“Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code,” an affidavit deposed to by a Litigation Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Sunday Ojobo, reads.
The minister further stated that the constitution allows for human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest.
He wrote, “The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for derogation from fundamental rights in the interest of public safety, public order and for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.”
‘Nothing To Forgive:’ Soyinka Speaks About Relationship With Gowon
Soyinka was in August 1967 arrested and placed in solitary confinement just as the Civil War started under Gowon’s regime.
Speaking about their relationship, Soyinka explained that there is no bad blood between him and Gowon and he does not think there is anything to forgive him (Gowon) about.
“We communicate whenever possible, he came for my birthday in Abeokuta here. And when he started to apologise – he made a public apology – I said, ‘There is no need for it,’” the playwright who was detained by the Gowon government for two years, in the wake of the Nigerian Civil War, told Channels Television.
Soyinka also revealed that General Gowon had on various occasions made efforts to meet him so they could talk.
He added; “He even asked the former ambassador to locate me so that anytime he was passing – I was in Europe and America then – so we could meet and talk. And I said, ‘any time’ but there is really nothing much to talk about.”
The playwright further disclosed that they later met at a conference and they talked about the Nigerian Civil War.
He said; “We hit it on very well and we joked. The ice was broken and since then, we have been friends.”
“The war, for me, is over.’ The ones I find difficult to forgive are those who lied against me. I don’t like liars; I just cannot stand liars.”
The former Head of State has been in the news in recent days over allegations that he embezzled half of the money in the Central Bank of Nigeria during his regime.
Fake News Triggered #EndSARS Carnage – IGP
The IGP spoke on Thursday in Akure while addressing officers of the Ondo State Police Command as part of his tours of states affected by the #ENDSARS protest.
He maintained that those behind the protest were armed with the sinister motive to destabilize the government.
While urging the officers to return to work, Adamu pointed out that no nation could survive without policing even as he informed them that the Buhari administration has taken various steps to reform the Nigerian Police.
According to him, “The government has approved an extension of health scheme to retired police personnel. The police salary structure has been reviewed affecting all ranks.
“Your job is important. Without you coming out, there will be chaos and you are special.”
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