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Tension as ASUU may embark on fresh strike

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University lecturers may embark on another strike  after the Academic Staff Union Of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) lamented on Saturday over alleged refusal of the Accountant General of the Federation to pay the salaries and remit the check-off dues of over 1000 staff for 13 months.

The Chairman of the University of Jos branch of ASUU, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, in a statement accused the AGF of instigating  discord between the federal government and ASUU.

Members of ASUU recently resumed work after a prolonged strike caused by a dispute with the federal government.

The ‘indefinite strike’, which commenced in March last year, arose from the union’s rejection of what it called the use of force on its members to enroll on Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), a payroll software mandated for all public officials.

Labour Minister Chris Ngige expressed shock yesterday over the fresh threat of strike by ASUU.

He said he would find out the true position of things with a view to resolving the matter.

According to Maigoro, the AGF is insisting that lecturers must go to Abuja and register for the IPPIS despite the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that “despite the directive given by Mr. President to pay the salaries of all lecturers, the AGF has refused to pay their salaries ranging from four to thirteen months respectively.

“Many of our members in University of Jos and across the country have not been paid salaries from February 2020 to date.”

He said by this single act, the AGF has completely violated the terms of agreement signed between ASUU and the FGN.

The AGF, Maigoro said, “is bent on withholding the salaries of over 1,000 members of ASUU spread across the country with more than 100 of such lecturers being members of our Branch in University of Jos.

“More worrisome is the fact that while the AGF is refusing to pay these salaries, his staff in the OAGF are busy calling the affected lecturers and insisting they have to register with IPPIS before they are paid.

“Some are even asked to forfeit a part of their salaries in order to be paid. So it is very clear that this is a deliberate act on the part of the AGF and his staff.”

He added: “In view of this evil ‘war’ orchestrated by the AGF, some departments are closing down and some new departments in some new federal universities cannot take off because of lack of manpower.

“The union  views this refusal to remit deducted check-off dues by the AGF as a deliberate attempt at preventing the union from  being able to assist those of its members whose salaries have been unduly and illegally withheld thereby forcing them to  submit to the underhand tactics of the OAGF and IPPIS.

“This we believe is also aimed at deliberately frustrating the implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), the sophisticated payment platform developed by ASUU and accepted by FGN for implementation.

“The AGF is not just victimising some of our members but also waging a war of attrition against the Nigerian university system and by extension the educational sector.

“These actions are capable of creating disenchantment and possibly brain drain in the already weakened university system. We see this as a deliberate and systematic affront on the future of education similar to the war terrorists are waging against the nation.

“The Union has gotten to a stage where it may be forced to take drastic measures to save the lives and families of its members because their despair is also our collective despair.

“Whatever decision the UNION takes, we hope it will not be misconstrued by the Nigerian public, especially seeing the seeming silence of the public and the government over the complete violation of our 2020 MoA.

“While our leaders have prevailed on us to await the outcome of their engagement with the Chief of Staff (COS), Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, we are sorry to report that at our branch, we cannot wait any further as our members are going through very harsh conditions.

“We call on the Chief of Staff to act quickly to save his name by calling to order those breaching the MoA.

“It is also clear to us that Dr. Chris Ngige, the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, has only one interest: an opportunity for photo-op and pretends he has ‘apprehended’ industrial disputes.

“He has demonstrably failed to follow up on these issues and ensure the survival of our MoA. Currently, an ominous cloud is gathering over the Nigerian university system due to the lack of implementation of the 2020 MoA.

“We call on all well- meaning Nigerians to advise those responsible that this path will force us to take very drastic measures.

“In the end, it is the children of

all Nigerians in these universities that are suffering and not just ASUU members. In addition, third party deductions like union dues have not been appropriately remitted over the past 13 months.

“The Union views this refusal to remit deducted check-off dues by the AGF as a deliberate attempt at preventing the union from being able to assist those of its members whose salaries have been unduly and illegally withheld, thereby forcing them to  submit to the underhand tactics of the OAGF and IPPIS.

“This we believe is also aimed at deliberately frustrating the implementation of the university Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), the sophisticated payment platform developed by ASUU and accepted by FGN for implementation.

“The AGF is not just victimising some of our members but also waging a war of attrition against the Nigerian university system and by extension the educational sector.

“These actions are capable of creating disenchantment and possibly brain drain in the already weakened university system.”

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Education

1.3 million children affected by attacks on schools in Nigeria —UN

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The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has condemned the incessant attacks on schools and kidnappings that have affected thousands of children in the country.

In a statement commemorating the 2021 International Day to Protect Education from Attack on Thursday, Kallon said 1.3 million children had been affected by attacks or abductions in Nigerian schools in the last academic year.

Kallon urged the Federal Government to review the progress made in implementing safe schools under the UN declaration and fully put into practice commitments made in 2019 by taking decisive action to protect education from attack.

He stated, “I strongly condemn every form of attack that has kept many children away from schools. I call on the Federal and State Governments to do more to protect schools from attack and to ensure that teaching and learning is safe and conducive in all schools in Nigeria.”
The Resident Coordinator observed that “whenever teaching and learning is disrupted, the impact on human capital development is enormous as the recovery period is always tortuous and longer than the length of the initial disruption.

“Children are traumatized; parents are scared; teachers and school administrators are afraid; attacks on schools are gradually spreading to areas not known to insurgencies. With education under attack, the collective future of Nigeria is under threat. This must stop now!”

According to him, the right to education is always under attack, especially in conflict-affected areas.

He said, “With over 10 million children already out of school, the conflict has aggravated the situation and deeply affected education and the prospects of many young people, especially its most vulnerable ones. In the last academic year, it is estimated that 1.3 million children have been impacted by attacks or abductions at schools in Nigeria.

“Across the north-east region alone, over 600,000 children remain out of school and some 1.1 million need educational support to stay in school. This has all been compounded by the setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Education

OAU sacks lecturer over sexual harassment

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The management of Obafemi Awolowo University has dismissed another lecturer, Dr Adebayo Mosobalaje, over sexual harassment.

A statement issued by the institution’s Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, stated that the decision to relieve the lecturer of his duty was reached at the University Council sitting on Tuesday, September 7, 2021.

It reads “In its avowed determination to rid the University of any form of sexual intimidation, harassment and, or coercion, the Governing Council of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has dismissed another lecturer who was found guilty of sexual demeanor against a female student.

“The decision to dismiss Dr. Adebayo Mosobalaje of the Department of English Language in the Faculty of Arts, was taken by the University Council at its last sitting on Tuesday, 7th September, 2021.

“Having exhaustively deliberated on the report of the Joint Committee of Council and Senate, which investigated the case of sexual harassment against Dr Mosobalaje, the University Council, unambiguously declared its zero tolerance to sexual harassment in any form or guise and, accordingly, applied the appropriate University sanctions for such an offence as contained in the University regulation.

“The University Management had about two weeks ago formally inaugurated an Anti – Sexual Harassment Policy, where their excellencies, Erelu Bisi Fayemi (the wife of Ekiti State Governor) and Alhaja Kafayat Oyetola (the wife of Osun State Governor) presented papers while a former Vice Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Professor Yemisi Obilade was the main speaker.

“Also, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede had at several fora, reiterated the commitment of his administration to uphold the “Zero tolerance policy” for Sexual harassment and other social vices. The Council of University Chaired by Owelle Oscar Udoji has also pledged to support policies that promote mutual co-existence between all the members of the University Community.”

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Education

30 boarding schools shut down over insecurity

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30 boarding junior secondary schools in Adamawa State have been shut down over insecurity.

In a statement by the commissioner of education and human capital development, Mrs. Wilbina Jackson, the closure will take effect from September 6, 2021 till further notice.

The state government’s action came amidst escalating banditry in the country, resulting in the kidnap of hundreds of school children across many states.

“The Hon. Commissioner Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, wishes to announce that 30 boarding junior secondary schools out of the 34 schools in the state, have been de-boarded with effect from 6th September, 2021. From now henceforth, all the 30 government junior secondary schools are now day schools.

”The remaining four that are not affected are Government Girls Junior Secondary School Yola, General Murtala Mohammed College Yola, Special School Jada and Special School Mubi.

“This becomes necessary due to the present incessant security challenges faced by the country and owing to students’ tender age, hence the need for them to study under the care of their parents.

”All students from the affected schools are to be placed in the nearest public junior secondary schools within their catchment or domicile areas. Stakeholders, PTA, ANCOPS and others are to ensure compliance with this government policy,” the statement said.

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