Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Headliners

Headliners (1800)

Cristiano Ronaldo was named UEFA Player of the Season for 2016-2017 on Thursday after a campaign which saw the Portuguese superstar help Real Madrid to the La Liga and Champions League double.

It was the third time that Ronaldo had won the award which was presented on the sidelines of the Champions League group stage draw.

His great rival Lionel Messi has won the prize on two occasions and could pave the way for him to capture a fifth Ballon d’Or title.

“There are the same goals every year, to meet the same challenges, win everything if possible, qualify for the World Cup with my national team,” said Ronaldo.

“This trophy will give me the motivation to keep working hard, never to give up. I am blessed and delighted to be with Real Madrid.”

Ronaldo won the UEFA award in 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 and in the Champions League last season, where Real defeated Juventus 4-1 in the final, he finished as top scorer with 12 goals.

Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon was second in the voting ahead of Messi.

Posted On Friday, 25 August 2017 01:16 Written by

THE ASSETS

• 29 terrace houses comprising eight four-bedroom penthouse apartments
•Six three-bedroom apartments
•Two three-bedroom maisonettes
•Two twin bedroom apartments
•One four-bedroom apartment.
•No. 7, Thurnbull Street and 5, Raymond Street, Yaba
•16 four-bedroom terrace houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, GRA Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt
•13 three-bedroom terrace houses
•Six flats of three bedrooms and one boys’ quarters each, a lawn tennis court, a gym and “matured garden”.

Court orders forfeiture of mansions valued at N3.3b

A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of 56 houses allegedly bought between 2011 and 2013 for $21,982,224 million (N3,320,000,000 billion) by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Justice Abdulaziz Anka, a vacation judge, made the order yesterday following an ex parte application filed on August 16 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Anka authorised the EFCC to appoint a firm to manage the property and gave the respondents 14 days to show cause why the property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge directed the agency to publish the order in any national newspaper and adjourned till September 8.

The application, brought pursuant to section 17 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Fraud related offences Act 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) sought a temporary transfer of the property to the Federal Government.

Listed as first to sixth respondents in the suit are Diezani, Donald Chidi Amamgbo and four firms— Chapel Properties Limited, Blue Nile Estate Limited, Azinga Meadows Limited and Vistapoint Property Development Limited.

EFCC counsel Mr. Anselem Ozioko told Justice Anka that Mrs Alison-Madueke paid $16,441,906 (N2.6billion) cash in several tranches and another $5,540318 (N840,000,000) cash for the properties through four “front” firms which held the titles in trust for her.

The firms are Chapel Properties, Blue Nile Estate, Azinga Meadows and Vistapoint Property Development.

Ozioko said the commission had discovered 14 other firms incorporated for the ex-minister for holding the titles to those property.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, he added, bought the properties from the proceeds of suspected unlawful activity during her tenure as minister.

The properties include 29 terraced houses comprising eight four-bedroom penthouse apartments, six three-bedroom apartments, two three-bedroom maisonettes, two twin bedroom apartments and one four-bedroom apartment.

The houses, located at No. 7, Thurnbull Street and 5, Raymond Street, Yaba, were allegedly bought by Mrs. Alison-Madueke for the US dollar equivalent of N937,000,000 through Chapel Properties Ltd.

Others are 16 four-bedroom terrace houses in Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu, Government Residential Area (GRA) Phase 1 extension, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, bought for N928,000,000 through Blue Nile Estate Ltd.

The former minister allegedly bought 13 three-bedroom terrace houses with one-room maid’s quarters ensuite for N650,000,000 through Azinga Meadows Ltd.

The commission also stated that Mrs. Alison-Madueke paid N805,000,000 through Vistapoint Property Development Ltd for six flats of three bedrooms and one boys’ quarters each, a lawn tennis court, a gym and “matured garden”.

According to an affidavit in support of the application by an EFCC investigative officer, Mr Sombori Mayana, the commission got wind of the properties in 2016 following its execution of a search warrant on the office and premises of the former minister’s acquaintance, Mr Donald Chidi Amamgbo.

Mayana said: “…among the documents recovered from the office of Mr Donald Chidi Amamgbo was an undated report titled ‘HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT – AUGUST REPORT’

“The report contained a list of 18 companies and several properties located in the United Kingdom, Nigeria and the United States of America.

“During the course of his interview, Mr Donald Amamgbo told us that he registered the 18 companies to assist Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke in holding titles of the properties.”

On August 7, Justice Chuka Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered the permanent forfeiture to the Federal Government of a $37.5million Banana Island property bought in 2013 by the former Petroleum Minister.

The property designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, consists of 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses.

The judge also ordered that $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70 realised as rent on the property be permanently forfeited to the government.

On August 8, Justice Obiozor ordered Sterling Bank Plc to temporarily forfeit to the Federal Government a sum of N7,646,700,000 said to have been illegally kept in the bank’s custody by Mrs. Alison-Madueke.

He adjourned till August 28, for the bank and any other interested party to appear before him to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

Also on August 8, The Nation revealed that the EFCC had traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.

The agency also claimed that Mrs. Alison-Madueke has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) cash in various banks which are yet to be forfeited.

The commission is also investigating properties in Britain and the United States allegedly purchased with stolen government funds.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke has consistently denied the allegations.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 August 2017 00:18 Written by
My dear citizens,

I am very grateful to God and to all Nigerians for their prayers. I am pleased to be back on home soil among my brothers and sisters.

In the course of my stay in the United Kingdom, I have been kept in daily touch with events at home. Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially in the social media have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.

In 2003 after I joined partisan politics, the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu came and stayed as my guest in my hometown Daura. Over two days we discussed in great depth till late into the night and analyzed the problems of Nigeria. We both came to the conclusion that the country must remain one and united.

Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood.

Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance.

I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.

This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.

The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.

The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart.

Furthermore, I am charging the Security Agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax.

Terrorists and criminals must be fought and destroyed relentlessly so that the majority of us can live in peace and safety.

Therefore we are going to reinforce and reinvigorate the fight not only against; elements of Boko Haram which are attempting a new series of attacks on soft targets, kidnappings, farmers versus herdsmen clashes, in addition to ethnic violence fuelled by political mischief makers. We shall tackle them all.

Finally, dear Nigerians, our collective interest now is to eschew petty differences and come together to face common challenges of; economic security, political evolution and integration, as well as lasting peace among all Nigerians.

I remain resolutely committed to ensuring that these goals are achieved and maintained. I am so glad to be home.

Thank you and may God bless our dear Nation.

Posted On Monday, 21 August 2017 09:53 Written by

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has returned to the country after more than 100 days in the United Kingdom, where he received treatment for an undisclosed ailment.

The presidential jet that brought him touched down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, where he was received by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, some state governors, police boss Ibrahim Idris and his chief of staff Abba Kyari.

The governors at the airport included Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, Muhammed Abubakar of Bauchi, Abubakar Bello of Niger, Neysom Wike of Rivers, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State

The president is expected to speak to “Nigerians in a broadcast by 7 am on Monday, August 21, 2017,” his media adviser Femi Adesina said in a statement on Saturday.

The president left Nigeria on May 7 for London for a second of treatment for an undisclosed ailment, transferring power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the most populous African country.

He had earlier left Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment.

He tacitly acknowledged that he was very ill, telling his cabinet members that “I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man.” He also said he had “blood transfusions, going to the laboratories and so on and so forth”.

His absence in Nigeria since May 7 has birthed rounds of protests and calls for him to resign. But much like his aides, Buhari has consistently said he would only return to Nigeria on the instruction of his doctors.

Posted On Saturday, 19 August 2017 20:30 Written by
The President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, in this interview with ADELANI ADEPEGBA, explains reasons for the ongoing strike by members of the union

Strike has been a recurring problem with successive governments in Nigeria. Do you think the government has been deliberate or helpless in the way it has handled the education sector?

The issue of strike actions being incessant is a reflection of the insensitivity of the political class. You don’t see reasonable unions like the Academic Staff Union of Universities just going on strike without making its case very clear. At every point that we have had to go on strike, we would have written several letters. We would have made consultations, held meetings and sometimes, we would have published paid adverts to put our matter in the court of public opinion. But because the political class does not see education as a priority, they would always ignore us. It doesn’t matter which group among the political class is in power, it has been a consistent thing, especially because they have lost interest in education. Look at the history of Nigeria, there was a time when public primary and secondary schools were the toast of everybody. Consider the 1960s, 1970s, private schools were few and far between. Most of us you see today attended public schools, but it became expedient for us, almost everybody in my generation, to start patronising private schools when it became evident that the political leaders over the time have neglected public primary and secondary schools. What we see from the way Nigeria is going is that the political class in government is determined to destroy public universities and that is why ASUU is insisting that appropriate attention must be given to the public universities. Each time we say that, it doesn’t mean we are not sensitive, it only means government should address the drift that may take public universities to the same level public primary and secondary schools have got to. I don’t believe the government is helpless. Some people would ask: is this the appropriate time to go on strike? There would never be an appropriate time. When the economy was doing well in 2013, 2014 and even up to 2015, government didn’t implement the memorandum of understanding it reached with us. It was only when we insisted that enough was enough that they attempted to do what was proper.

In plain terms, what is the strike all about? 

The strike is about seven issues: We demanded funds for revitalisation of our universities and it was agreed in 2013 when we went on the strike that culminated in about 13-hour meeting with the Presidency. We signed the MoU on December 11, 2013. That was when we agreed that government would inject the total sum of N1.3tn into the university education system and that it would be released over a period of six years. The first year, government was to release N200bn, which it did, but it took a long time for us to access it. But since that release in 2013, no single kobo has been released thereafter. For 2014, N220bn was not released. Again 2015 and 2016, nothing was released up to the third quarter of 2017. In all, we can estimate the outstanding amount to be about N825bn for revitalisation of our universities. When government doubted that our universities were rotting away, it set up a national committee in 2012, which went to all public universities and came back with the NEEDS Assessment Report, which showed that we didn’t have anything close to a university in terms of quality facilities. The importance of that is that as lecturers, our conscience is pricked when we work in an environment that cannot compare to other universities elsewhere, particularly in Africa. That was the essence of the revitalisation fund and we are still insisting that it is a major demand of the union. On the issue of earned allowances: the government released N30bn and promised to pay the balance after completing the forensic audit, but nine months after, it is not looking in our direction, so our members are unhappy. The government has refused to take the necessary steps on registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company as we agreed during a meeting at the National Assembly. The government has also failed to provide support for universities’ staff schools in violation of our agreement and a judgment of the National Industrial Court on the matter. The fifth issue is the payment of fractional salaries to lecturers in federal universities since December 2015. See how long it had taken us to take up these issues.

 

What are the other demands?

In many state universities, their governors have stopped subventions and so they are finding it difficult to pay salaries. The case of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, eloquently attests to this. We also have governors establishing new universities when they could not adequately fund the old ones. Ondo State is perhaps leading the pack: the state has three universities, and the one in Okitipupa is moribund. We have just 55 lecturers there, and the government is not paying any attention to it. For months, workers are not paid. Even the first university in the state, Adekunke Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, has met the same fate, but the government went ahead to establish a third university. You would be surprised that this same government is thinking of establishing the fourth university. Is that what we need? Instead of proliferating universities, why can’t they consolidate? We see the same problem in Edo, Bayelsa, and Ogun, where the governor is going ahead to establish the third university without funding the older ones. Then the issue of our retiring professors; the Pension Reform Act stipulates that once you serve in the university for at least 20 years and you rise to the position of a professor, you should retire with your salaries, but the government is not implementing that. The (National) Pension Commission is supposed to issue the originating circular that would give strength to the legal provision.

But people feel that the step taken by ASUU is insensitive, that strike should be the last resort.

Well, people have been saying that over and over that strike should not be a weapon for insisting on what we think is proper; but honestly speaking, we have not seen those criticising us for going on strike suggesting alternatives. Before we got to this stage, we must have explored all the options they talked about. They talked about dialogue, writing letters, running paid adverts, consultations, meeting opinion leaders and those we think can talk to people in power, but at the end of the day, we would have met a brick wall. We see those saying that as blackmailing us, it appears they deliberately want to close their eyes to the efforts we have made.

 In this case, how many opinion leaders did you approach and what efforts did they make to avert the strike?

In November last year, ASUU went on a warning strike. Before we got to that stage, we had written not less than five letters to the appropriate authorities. Now we observed they (government) were not observing the registration of appropriate pension contributions for universities, which we call Nigerian University Pension Management Committee. They were not talking about the earned allowances for our members, which they agreed to pay or support for staff primary schools; they were not talking about the fund for revitalisation of public universities, which are in decadence and despicable state. You are not talking about the Pension Act as it affects the salaries of retiring professors at state and federal levels, you are also not talking about the proliferation of universities and sudden resort to fractional salaries for our colleagues in federal universities and the non-payment of salaries in state universities. So we brought up these seven, eight issues and as of then, we had brought up the 2009 agreement, which was due for renegotiation in 2012. We brought up these issues in the memorandum of understanding we reached with the last administration in 2013. When we went on strike on that note, we wrote to the National Assembly, ministers, and appropriate agencies, and the Senate President subsequently summoned a meeting. He invited the relevant government agencies and we met twice on this matter. The first time, we tabled all the issues and the government gave its response. During the second meeting, government made some offers which we said were not acceptable and at the end of the day, we arrived at some positions. Those positions were communicated to the ministers, the National Assembly leadership, and other stakeholders just to ensure there would be follow-up.

What did you agree to at the second meeting?

We agreed that they should carry out a forensic audit because the government said it wanted a forensic audit on the funds it earlier gave to the governing councils in respect of the N30bn it gave for the earned allowances. It said this would be done within six months and we did not object. That was in November last year and it is well over eight months now. We didn’t hear from them, so it became a problem. When we raised the issue of staff schools, the government pulled out its support for staff schools. The National Assembly pleaded with us to await the judgment of the National Industrial Court on the matter, which was to come up on December 5, 2016. Though we didn’t take the government to court, another party did and they dragged us into it, and we agreed to wait for the outcome. However, whatever the outcome is, it would not be strong enough to repudiate our agreement and that was what happened. The court told the government that it didn’t have the right to stop supporting the staff schools; it was an agreement that was binding. From December 5 till date when the judgment was given, the government has not issued a circular that would restore its support to the staff schools. On the issue of NUPEMCO, government offered to ensure that it would be registered and given licence in the shortest possible time. We perceived some surreptitious moves to frustrate ASUU. We started our application for registration of NUPEMCO when the registration fee was N150m. They later increased it to N250m and again, N500m, but we still met the requirement, finally they made it N1bn. We met the N1bn requirement over a year before we went on the last warning strike, but it wasn’t registered.

What steps did you take before embarking on strike?

You can see the letters we wrote to the National Assembly, and the ministry and we conveyed the position of our union on the discussions at the National Assembly and also our position at the meeting we convened at Bayero University, Kano. We told them our NEC agreed to participate at the renegotiation, which is ongoing like I mentioned and then our members insisted on payment of all outstanding arrears of earned academic allowance at the end of the Ministry of Finance forensic audit, not later than July, 2017. That is the crux of the matter. This letter was conveyed to the government in January, we didn’t hear anything from its officials. We met with the education minister and he said they had written (to the Presidency) and were waiting for a response. We met with him again and he still promised. We wrote to the labour minister, no response. The letter we wrote was copied to the Acting President, Senate President, Speaker, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Minister of Labour and Employment and also to the chairman of the renegotiation team, just to put him on notice. If he had power to stop it, he should have done so. We also wrote to the Minister of Finance and the Nigeria Labour Congress President and that is why he said he was in support of the strike action. You can see the level of consultations and contacts we made before this action started.

 The media aide to the President, Garba Shehu, said it appeared ASUU wants everything at a time. Is that true?

Let them tell us what they have done at a time before you can say that ASUU wants everything at a time. They should tell us what they have given ASUU. You can’t say negotiations would address shortfall in salaries, or the issue of staff schools. You said we should wait for court judgment but you didn’t implement it. You can’t say we should also wait for arrears of allowances, which you said you needed six months to verify. After verification, what else is left? Implementation! So, let him tell us what they have given ASUU from the list of what we demanded last November apart from negotiation, and negotiation is not part of what we are asking for.

 So, you think government is not sincere about strengthening the education system?

I mentioned earlier that it is about the kind of ideology that drives a government; it appears as if our people in power don’t have a clear vision about the role of education in development. We in the university system are clear about what education can do; it should serve as catalyst for development. If you talk about transforming the economy, education can drive it. Talk about invention, creativity, education should drive these processes, including security and the health system from the simplest thing to the most complex, including nuclear science, which is about the most complex operation. We believe education should be at the forefront. Nigeria is aspiring to greatness, but she is not giving attention to education. In the last two years, what has been allocated to education in the budget is between six and seven per cent. Even in countries where they have experienced wars like Rwanda and Sudan, they are allocating well above 20 per cent to education. Our citizens are rushing to Ghana, most universities there are public universities. Consistently in the last 10 years, they (Ghana) have been giving not less than 20 per cent to education, whereas in the past, other African nationals flooded Nigerian universities. What we are asking for is reversal of that experience. We lose over N500m annually to education tourism within Africa. It has been estimated that over 30,000 Nigerians are undergoing one form of education or the other in Europe. So, we see these statistics, though most of those going abroad are mostly children of the ruling class. We need to use education to drive our development and that is why you can see ASUU being vociferous, we are so passionate about it. It’s as if our lives depend on it.

 Some people believe that officials of government and ASUU have both killed the university system by not sending their children to public universities anymore. Why is that?

Let me correct that impression: As I talk to you, two of my children are in public universities. So, when they say ASUU officials, my predecessor in office has two children in public universities. We have our children in public universities, but if you talk of the political class, they can afford to advertise their children who are graduating from foreign universities on Facebook and other social media platforms. Where would I get money to send my children to Cambridge or Oxford University? That is the question. Is it now that the government is paying fractions of salaries that lecturers would afford to send their children to foreign universities? The truth is that our focus should be on the ruling class, they are making everybody poor in order to continue to dominate us. The children of the rich get the best quality education to come back and dominate the children of the poor who are struggling to attend our underfunded, under-equipped, under-prepared educational institutions. So, we have to break that cycle.

 Do you honestly think the government can fund and implement the 2009 agreement considering that we are in recession?

Again, it is about priority. I told you about countries that experienced wars and that are still paying attention to education. The Nigerian ruling class have not really sat down to look at what roles education could play in the development of the country and they won’t do that because they have the World Bank and International Monetary Fund advising them that Nigeria, like other African countries, does not need university education. They said what we need is basic technical education and with that the children of the poor will remain peasants and hewers of wood for the children of the rich. They would even complain that artisans are no longer available, but who are the artisans, the children of the poor. How best do we equip our universities to make them competitive, to stop the drift? Those children they take abroad at young ages do not think Nigeria when they return to the country, if they come back at all. They have dual citizenship with dual personalities. We need to sit back and define the kind of society we want and the roles of education in it.  Julius Nyerere did it in Tanzania and today, it is one of the most organised societies in Africa. You will see the passion with which the leadership is driving education in that country and they are getting results. It is because they took time to define the country they wanted and design education that would address the issues. That was what Nyerere preached in the early 60s. Nigeria needs to emulate that.

 Some people believe that most ASUU stikes are about better pay, that ASUU is only interested in negotiating better salaries, allowances and so on for its members and only use better infrastructure in schools to cover up. How would you respond to this?

It doesn’t work that way, there is no time we go on strike that we don’t justify our action based on the environment in which we are working. Even if you talk of better pay, is it that we don’t have alternatives? It is for the love we have for this country. The love we have for this country has made many of our members to remain here, so don’t think they don’t have alternatives because they insisted that the government must make the environment conducive. If you see a medical doctor that is committed to his job, pay him the highest salaries in the world, he wouldn’t want to work in a clinic without the basic facilities to perform his operations. That means it is the love for the job that is driving the doctor as against his income. If not for the love, we would have gone on strike since our members were being paid 60-70 per cent of their salaries for the last two years. But each time, we say you need to attract and retain the best brains. But beyond that, you need to provide the enabling environment, so they go together. You need the enabling environment and the correct mental frame of mind to drive the process of giving quality education.  

What is the least the government can do to end this strike?

The least has been defined. In November last year, when we went to the National Assembly, the issues were itemised, seven, eight of them. Government was expected to have followed that pathway, to follow what I would call the action plan for resolving the matter, but for deviating from the action plan, government exposed itself to suspicion that it didn’t mean well. If it means well, it must go back to that plan and from there, we address the issues. Government has defined the process for addressing the problem; it just needs to go back to it. It is because it didn’t act on the understanding, that is why we are back to where we are. This action was needless; it is like we were forced into it. Implementation must commence and the implementation we are talking about is not the issue of renegotiation, this is a separate thing and that is why we didn’t have problems with Dr. Wale Babalakin.

 What roles has the Ministry of Education played so far?

Let’s give it to the ministry, it has attempted on a number of occasions to assure us that it has taken some steps. It has written to the Minister of Finance and met with the Accountant-General of the Federation. The ministry has taken concrete steps that we believe should yield the expected results, but where decisions about finance were to be taken, maybe it met a brick wall. We don’t isolate government agencies, it is government that has still not delivered.

 Do you think the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari may have contributed to the delay in implementing the agreement?

No, we don’t want to go to that area because government is a continuum, there is no vacuum in the Presidency. I showed you the letter drawing the attention of the Acting President to the issues. It’s not as if we didn’t bring him into the picture and when they are holding Federal Executive Council meetings, you would see them allocating money to projects. If they believe university education is important, they would have deployed the means to address these issues.

Are you disappointed in the Acting President?

We don’t reduce matters to personalities, that is why I said I won’t talk about President Buhari. The issue is not about him, we don’t engage in personality attack. The issue we have on the table is yet to be addressed. Who do we expect to address the issues? It is the government, whether at the centre or state.

Do you think education should be under the Federal government or is it better under states?

That is a constitutional matter.

But we are talking of restructuring now and ASUU can also contribute to it.

We don’t want to be dragged into the restructuring debate, we need the people’s constitution, what they are doing now is patching up. What we need is to break down the whole process; that is ASUU’s position. So we will not contribute to this issue of add-on. They are cosmetic, we want fundamental restructuring. We are yet to define the kind of society we want, the last time we tried it was under Ibrahim Babangida (a former military head of state) and the people said they wanted socialism but the political class did not want that, they truncated it. If you look at Chapter 2 of the constitution, you would see elements that show that Nigeria should be moving towards a socialist, welfarist state, but the ruling class said the provisions there are not justifiable. Talk of free education at all levels, is any governor talking about it? This means that they have repudiated that aspect of the constitution. Look at Section 18 of the constitution; you would see our educational objectives clearly laid out. Look at the economic objectives which state clearly that the commanding height of the economy must not be in private hands. What is happening, they are privatising, commercialising (everything), including education. If you ask people in government their ideas of how to generate funds, they will say, charging school fees. ASUU will fight that; maybe that is the next level of our engagement. You want to introduce school fees in a country where over 70 per cent cannot earn two dollars per day, where poverty is widespread, and where illiteracy level is about 60 per cent. What is the maternal and child mortality rate? When you look at all of these indices of human development, they are negative in Nigeria. The catalyst is education and government must fund it.

There have been views that universities should be able to generate funds internally, but our universities are not doing that. Does that not amount to laziness?

You have raised a very important question but let me draw your attention to the 2009 agreement again. In that agreement, it was spelt out that ministries, departments and agencies should give consultancy in areas of competence to universities. I have not seen that happening except for the recent oil exploration by University of Maiduguri lecturers in Borno State, which was truncated by Boko Haram. We have not seen that happening in many cases. That should have been one primary source of fund generation for universities, but government, whether at the state or the federal, has not been doing that. The other revenue source they talked about is research and we cannot do that without requisite facilities and you can see the connection. You can’t be a good researcher when you don’t have facilities and you cannot be a good teacher without being a good researcher. Even the quality of instruction would be hampered without effectively equipping the laboratories and library. These things are inter-connected and you can’t separate them. For a lecturer to effectively carry out a research, he must have the correct state of mind and that is why we have been having problems getting quality research from our universities. So it is not about laziness, it is about an enabling environment and motivation and support from government.

 When will this strike end?

It will end when government is ready to do the right thing as we spelt out during our engagement with the government at the National Assembly in November last year.

LAUTECH, a member of ASUU has been closed for over a year, but the union seems to have been silent on it.

ASUU is not silent. In fact, two weeks ago, we wrote a letter to the National Universities Commission and we made our position clear; LAUTECH should be given to a state to manage, this issue of dual ownership is meaningless. Go and look at our adverts on June 9, it was placed in two newspapers. We specifically devoted a section to LAUTECH matters and brought it out clearly that a game of deception is going on in that university. The state governors are not committed to funding the university and they have gone ahead to establish their own, which means they want to abandon the school. We would resist that.

PUNCH

Posted On Saturday, 19 August 2017 12:47 Written by
The President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, in this interview with ADELANI ADEPEGBA, explains reasons for the ongoing strike by members of the union

Strike has been a recurring problem with successive governments in Nigeria. Do you think the government has been deliberate or helpless in the way it has handled the education sector?

The issue of strike actions being incessant is a reflection of the insensitivity of the political class. You don’t see reasonable unions like the Academic Staff Union of Universities just going on strike without making its case very clear. At every point that we have had to go on strike, we would have written several letters. We would have made consultations, held meetings and sometimes, we would have published paid adverts to put our matter in the court of public opinion. But because the political class does not see education as a priority, they would always ignore us. It doesn’t matter which group among the political class is in power, it has been a consistent thing, especially because they have lost interest in education. Look at the history of Nigeria, there was a time when public primary and secondary schools were the toast of everybody. Consider the 1960s, 1970s, private schools were few and far between. Most of us you see today attended public schools, but it became expedient for us, almost everybody in my generation, to start patronising private schools when it became evident that the political leaders over the time have neglected public primary and secondary schools. What we see from the way Nigeria is going is that the political class in government is determined to destroy public universities and that is why ASUU is insisting that appropriate attention must be given to the public universities. Each time we say that, it doesn’t mean we are not sensitive, it only means government should address the drift that may take public universities to the same level public primary and secondary schools have got to. I don’t believe the government is helpless. Some people would ask: is this the appropriate time to go on strike? There would never be an appropriate time. When the economy was doing well in 2013, 2014 and even up to 2015, government didn’t implement the memorandum of understanding it reached with us. It was only when we insisted that enough was enough that they attempted to do what was proper.

In plain terms, what is the strike all about? 

The strike is about seven issues: We demanded funds for revitalisation of our universities and it was agreed in 2013 when we went on the strike that culminated in about 13-hour meeting with the Presidency. We signed the MoU on December 11, 2013. That was when we agreed that government would inject the total sum of N1.3tn into the university education system and that it would be released over a period of six years. The first year, government was to release N200bn, which it did, but it took a long time for us to access it. But since that release in 2013, no single kobo has been released thereafter. For 2014, N220bn was not released. Again 2015 and 2016, nothing was released up to the third quarter of 2017. In all, we can estimate the outstanding amount to be about N825bn for revitalisation of our universities. When government doubted that our universities were rotting away, it set up a national committee in 2012, which went to all public universities and came back with the NEEDS Assessment Report, which showed that we didn’t have anything close to a university in terms of quality facilities. The importance of that is that as lecturers, our conscience is pricked when we work in an environment that cannot compare to other universities elsewhere, particularly in Africa. That was the essence of the revitalisation fund and we are still insisting that it is a major demand of the union. On the issue of earned allowances: the government released N30bn and promised to pay the balance after completing the forensic audit, but nine months after, it is not looking in our direction, so our members are unhappy. The government has refused to take the necessary steps on registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company as we agreed during a meeting at the National Assembly. The government has also failed to provide support for universities’ staff schools in violation of our agreement and a judgment of the National Industrial Court on the matter. The fifth issue is the payment of fractional salaries to lecturers in federal universities since December 2015. See how long it had taken us to take up these issues.

 

What are the other demands?

In many state universities, their governors have stopped subventions and so they are finding it difficult to pay salaries. The case of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, eloquently attests to this. We also have governors establishing new universities when they could not adequately fund the old ones. Ondo State is perhaps leading the pack: the state has three universities, and the one in Okitipupa is moribund. We have just 55 lecturers there, and the government is not paying any attention to it. For months, workers are not paid. Even the first university in the state, Adekunke Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, has met the same fate, but the government went ahead to establish a third university. You would be surprised that this same government is thinking of establishing the fourth university. Is that what we need? Instead of proliferating universities, why can’t they consolidate? We see the same problem in Edo, Bayelsa, and Ogun, where the governor is going ahead to establish the third university without funding the older ones. Then the issue of our retiring professors; the Pension Reform Act stipulates that once you serve in the university for at least 20 years and you rise to the position of a professor, you should retire with your salaries, but the government is not implementing that. The (National) Pension Commission is supposed to issue the originating circular that would give strength to the legal provision.

But people feel that the step taken by ASUU is insensitive, that strike should be the last resort.

Well, people have been saying that over and over that strike should not be a weapon for insisting on what we think is proper; but honestly speaking, we have not seen those criticising us for going on strike suggesting alternatives. Before we got to this stage, we must have explored all the options they talked about. They talked about dialogue, writing letters, running paid adverts, consultations, meeting opinion leaders and those we think can talk to people in power, but at the end of the day, we would have met a brick wall. We see those saying that as blackmailing us, it appears they deliberately want to close their eyes to the efforts we have made.

 In this case, how many opinion leaders did you approach and what efforts did they make to avert the strike?

In November last year, ASUU went on a warning strike. Before we got to that stage, we had written not less than five letters to the appropriate authorities. Now we observed they (government) were not observing the registration of appropriate pension contributions for universities, which we call Nigerian University Pension Management Committee. They were not talking about the earned allowances for our members, which they agreed to pay or support for staff primary schools; they were not talking about the fund for revitalisation of public universities, which are in decadence and despicable state. You are not talking about the Pension Act as it affects the salaries of retiring professors at state and federal levels, you are also not talking about the proliferation of universities and sudden resort to fractional salaries for our colleagues in federal universities and the non-payment of salaries in state universities. So we brought up these seven, eight issues and as of then, we had brought up the 2009 agreement, which was due for renegotiation in 2012. We brought up these issues in the memorandum of understanding we reached with the last administration in 2013. When we went on strike on that note, we wrote to the National Assembly, ministers, and appropriate agencies, and the Senate President subsequently summoned a meeting. He invited the relevant government agencies and we met twice on this matter. The first time, we tabled all the issues and the government gave its response. During the second meeting, government made some offers which we said were not acceptable and at the end of the day, we arrived at some positions. Those positions were communicated to the ministers, the National Assembly leadership, and other stakeholders just to ensure there would be follow-up.

What did you agree to at the second meeting?

We agreed that they should carry out a forensic audit because the government said it wanted a forensic audit on the funds it earlier gave to the governing councils in respect of the N30bn it gave for the earned allowances. It said this would be done within six months and we did not object. That was in November last year and it is well over eight months now. We didn’t hear from them, so it became a problem. When we raised the issue of staff schools, the government pulled out its support for staff schools. The National Assembly pleaded with us to await the judgment of the National Industrial Court on the matter, which was to come up on December 5, 2016. Though we didn’t take the government to court, another party did and they dragged us into it, and we agreed to wait for the outcome. However, whatever the outcome is, it would not be strong enough to repudiate our agreement and that was what happened. The court told the government that it didn’t have the right to stop supporting the staff schools; it was an agreement that was binding. From December 5 till date when the judgment was given, the government has not issued a circular that would restore its support to the staff schools. On the issue of NUPEMCO, government offered to ensure that it would be registered and given licence in the shortest possible time. We perceived some surreptitious moves to frustrate ASUU. We started our application for registration of NUPEMCO when the registration fee was N150m. They later increased it to N250m and again, N500m, but we still met the requirement, finally they made it N1bn. We met the N1bn requirement over a year before we went on the last warning strike, but it wasn’t registered.

What steps did you take before embarking on strike?

You can see the letters we wrote to the National Assembly, and the ministry and we conveyed the position of our union on the discussions at the National Assembly and also our position at the meeting we convened at Bayero University, Kano. We told them our NEC agreed to participate at the renegotiation, which is ongoing like I mentioned and then our members insisted on payment of all outstanding arrears of earned academic allowance at the end of the Ministry of Finance forensic audit, not later than July, 2017. That is the crux of the matter. This letter was conveyed to the government in January, we didn’t hear anything from its officials. We met with the education minister and he said they had written (to the Presidency) and were waiting for a response. We met with him again and he still promised. We wrote to the labour minister, no response. The letter we wrote was copied to the Acting President, Senate President, Speaker, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Minister of Labour and Employment and also to the chairman of the renegotiation team, just to put him on notice. If he had power to stop it, he should have done so. We also wrote to the Minister of Finance and the Nigeria Labour Congress President and that is why he said he was in support of the strike action. You can see the level of consultations and contacts we made before this action started.

 The media aide to the President, Garba Shehu, said it appeared ASUU wants everything at a time. Is that true?

Let them tell us what they have done at a time before you can say that ASUU wants everything at a time. They should tell us what they have given ASUU. You can’t say negotiations would address shortfall in salaries, or the issue of staff schools. You said we should wait for court judgment but you didn’t implement it. You can’t say we should also wait for arrears of allowances, which you said you needed six months to verify. After verification, what else is left? Implementation! So, let him tell us what they have given ASUU from the list of what we demanded last November apart from negotiation, and negotiation is not part of what we are asking for.

 So, you think government is not sincere about strengthening the education system?

I mentioned earlier that it is about the kind of ideology that drives a government; it appears as if our people in power don’t have a clear vision about the role of education in development. We in the university system are clear about what education can do; it should serve as catalyst for development. If you talk about transforming the economy, education can drive it. Talk about invention, creativity, education should drive these processes, including security and the health system from the simplest thing to the most complex, including nuclear science, which is about the most complex operation. We believe education should be at the forefront. Nigeria is aspiring to greatness, but she is not giving attention to education. In the last two years, what has been allocated to education in the budget is between six and seven per cent. Even in countries where they have experienced wars like Rwanda and Sudan, they are allocating well above 20 per cent to education. Our citizens are rushing to Ghana, most universities there are public universities. Consistently in the last 10 years, they (Ghana) have been giving not less than 20 per cent to education, whereas in the past, other African nationals flooded Nigerian universities. What we are asking for is reversal of that experience. We lose over N500m annually to education tourism within Africa. It has been estimated that over 30,000 Nigerians are undergoing one form of education or the other in Europe. So, we see these statistics, though most of those going abroad are mostly children of the ruling class. We need to use education to drive our development and that is why you can see ASUU being vociferous, we are so passionate about it. It’s as if our lives depend on it.

 Some people believe that officials of government and ASUU have both killed the university system by not sending their children to public universities anymore. Why is that?

Let me correct that impression: As I talk to you, two of my children are in public universities. So, when they say ASUU officials, my predecessor in office has two children in public universities. We have our children in public universities, but if you talk of the political class, they can afford to advertise their children who are graduating from foreign universities on Facebook and other social media platforms. Where would I get money to send my children to Cambridge or Oxford University? That is the question. Is it now that the government is paying fractions of salaries that lecturers would afford to send their children to foreign universities? The truth is that our focus should be on the ruling class, they are making everybody poor in order to continue to dominate us. The children of the rich get the best quality education to come back and dominate the children of the poor who are struggling to attend our underfunded, under-equipped, under-prepared educational institutions. So, we have to break that cycle.

 Do you honestly think the government can fund and implement the 2009 agreement considering that we are in recession?

Again, it is about priority. I told you about countries that experienced wars and that are still paying attention to education. The Nigerian ruling class have not really sat down to look at what roles education could play in the development of the country and they won’t do that because they have the World Bank and International Monetary Fund advising them that Nigeria, like other African countries, does not need university education. They said what we need is basic technical education and with that the children of the poor will remain peasants and hewers of wood for the children of the rich. They would even complain that artisans are no longer available, but who are the artisans, the children of the poor. How best do we equip our universities to make them competitive, to stop the drift? Those children they take abroad at young ages do not think Nigeria when they return to the country, if they come back at all. They have dual citizenship with dual personalities. We need to sit back and define the kind of society we want and the roles of education in it.  Julius Nyerere did it in Tanzania and today, it is one of the most organised societies in Africa. You will see the passion with which the leadership is driving education in that country and they are getting results. It is because they took time to define the country they wanted and design education that would address the issues. That was what Nyerere preached in the early 60s. Nigeria needs to emulate that.

 Some people believe that most ASUU stikes are about better pay, that ASUU is only interested in negotiating better salaries, allowances and so on for its members and only use better infrastructure in schools to cover up. How would you respond to this?

It doesn’t work that way, there is no time we go on strike that we don’t justify our action based on the environment in which we are working. Even if you talk of better pay, is it that we don’t have alternatives? It is for the love we have for this country. The love we have for this country has made many of our members to remain here, so don’t think they don’t have alternatives because they insisted that the government must make the environment conducive. If you see a medical doctor that is committed to his job, pay him the highest salaries in the world, he wouldn’t want to work in a clinic without the basic facilities to perform his operations. That means it is the love for the job that is driving the doctor as against his income. If not for the love, we would have gone on strike since our members were being paid 60-70 per cent of their salaries for the last two years. But each time, we say you need to attract and retain the best brains. But beyond that, you need to provide the enabling environment, so they go together. You need the enabling environment and the correct mental frame of mind to drive the process of giving quality education.  

What is the least the government can do to end this strike?

The least has been defined. In November last year, when we went to the National Assembly, the issues were itemised, seven, eight of them. Government was expected to have followed that pathway, to follow what I would call the action plan for resolving the matter, but for deviating from the action plan, government exposed itself to suspicion that it didn’t mean well. If it means well, it must go back to that plan and from there, we address the issues. Government has defined the process for addressing the problem; it just needs to go back to it. It is because it didn’t act on the understanding, that is why we are back to where we are. This action was needless; it is like we were forced into it. Implementation must commence and the implementation we are talking about is not the issue of renegotiation, this is a separate thing and that is why we didn’t have problems with Dr. Wale Babalakin.

 What roles has the Ministry of Education played so far?

Let’s give it to the ministry, it has attempted on a number of occasions to assure us that it has taken some steps. It has written to the Minister of Finance and met with the Accountant-General of the Federation. The ministry has taken concrete steps that we believe should yield the expected results, but where decisions about finance were to be taken, maybe it met a brick wall. We don’t isolate government agencies, it is government that has still not delivered.

 Do you think the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari may have contributed to the delay in implementing the agreement?

No, we don’t want to go to that area because government is a continuum, there is no vacuum in the Presidency. I showed you the letter drawing the attention of the Acting President to the issues. It’s not as if we didn’t bring him into the picture and when they are holding Federal Executive Council meetings, you would see them allocating money to projects. If they believe university education is important, they would have deployed the means to address these issues.

Are you disappointed in the Acting President?

We don’t reduce matters to personalities, that is why I said I won’t talk about President Buhari. The issue is not about him, we don’t engage in personality attack. The issue we have on the table is yet to be addressed. Who do we expect to address the issues? It is the government, whether at the centre or state.

Do you think education should be under the Federal government or is it better under states?

That is a constitutional matter.

But we are talking of restructuring now and ASUU can also contribute to it.

We don’t want to be dragged into the restructuring debate, we need the people’s constitution, what they are doing now is patching up. What we need is to break down the whole process; that is ASUU’s position. So we will not contribute to this issue of add-on. They are cosmetic, we want fundamental restructuring. We are yet to define the kind of society we want, the last time we tried it was under Ibrahim Babangida (a former military head of state) and the people said they wanted socialism but the political class did not want that, they truncated it. If you look at Chapter 2 of the constitution, you would see elements that show that Nigeria should be moving towards a socialist, welfarist state, but the ruling class said the provisions there are not justifiable. Talk of free education at all levels, is any governor talking about it? This means that they have repudiated that aspect of the constitution. Look at Section 18 of the constitution; you would see our educational objectives clearly laid out. Look at the economic objectives which state clearly that the commanding height of the economy must not be in private hands. What is happening, they are privatising, commercialising (everything), including education. If you ask people in government their ideas of how to generate funds, they will say, charging school fees. ASUU will fight that; maybe that is the next level of our engagement. You want to introduce school fees in a country where over 70 per cent cannot earn two dollars per day, where poverty is widespread, and where illiteracy level is about 60 per cent. What is the maternal and child mortality rate? When you look at all of these indices of human development, they are negative in Nigeria. The catalyst is education and government must fund it.

There have been views that universities should be able to generate funds internally, but our universities are not doing that. Does that not amount to laziness?

You have raised a very important question but let me draw your attention to the 2009 agreement again. In that agreement, it was spelt out that ministries, departments and agencies should give consultancy in areas of competence to universities. I have not seen that happening except for the recent oil exploration by University of Maiduguri lecturers in Borno State, which was truncated by Boko Haram. We have not seen that happening in many cases. That should have been one primary source of fund generation for universities, but government, whether at the state or the federal, has not been doing that. The other revenue source they talked about is research and we cannot do that without requisite facilities and you can see the connection. You can’t be a good researcher when you don’t have facilities and you cannot be a good teacher without being a good researcher. Even the quality of instruction would be hampered without effectively equipping the laboratories and library. These things are inter-connected and you can’t separate them. For a lecturer to effectively carry out a research, he must have the correct state of mind and that is why we have been having problems getting quality research from our universities. So it is not about laziness, it is about an enabling environment and motivation and support from government.

 When will this strike end?

It will end when government is ready to do the right thing as we spelt out during our engagement with the government at the National Assembly in November last year.

LAUTECH, a member of ASUU has been closed for over a year, but the union seems to have been silent on it.

ASUU is not silent. In fact, two weeks ago, we wrote a letter to the National Universities Commission and we made our position clear; LAUTECH should be given to a state to manage, this issue of dual ownership is meaningless. Go and look at our adverts on June 9, it was placed in two newspapers. We specifically devoted a section to LAUTECH matters and brought it out clearly that a game of deception is going on in that university. The state governors are not committed to funding the university and they have gone ahead to establish their own, which means they want to abandon the school. We would resist that.

PUNCH

Posted On Saturday, 19 August 2017 12:31 Written by
Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial capital, has been ranked as second world’s least liveable city.

It ranked second behind Damascus in an annual report by The Economist, which placed Melbrourne, Australia, as the world’s most liveable city for the seventh year running.

The Lagos rating was a fall from the third position from the bottom as contained in the 2016 report. 

The 2017 ‘Global Liveability Report’, which was released on Wednesday by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, stated that terrorism and diplomatic tensions were eroding living conditions worldwide.

The report was premised on the criteria of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The “overall rating” of Lagos State stood at 36 per cent with stability, pegged at 10 per cent; healthcare, 37.5 per cent; culture and environment, 53.5 per cent; education, 33.3 per cent and infrastructure, 46.4 per cent.

Agence France Presse reports that conflict and terrorism were the major factors responsible for those cities finishing on the bottom of the survey.

“Violent acts of terrorism have been reported in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, France, Pakistan, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the US.

“While not a new phenomenon, the frequency and spread of terrorism have increased noticeably and become even more prominent,” the report added.

Melbrourne, the Australian city was ranked number one out of 140 cities, slightly ahead of the Austrian capital Vienna, with the Canadian trio of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary completing the top five.

The survey revealed that medium-sized cities in wealthy countries fared best.

“These can foster a range of recreational activities without leading to high crime levels or overburdened infrastructure,” the report said.

Major hubs like New York, London, Paris and Tokyo which were hives of activity reportedly lost points due to high levels of crime and overcrowded public transport.

Posted On Friday, 18 August 2017 12:19 Written by

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday visited ailing President Muhammadu Buhari at the Abuja House, London.

The visit came over 100 days after Buhari left Nigeria for the British capital for his second medical vacation since he assumed office in May 2015.

He had left the country on May 7, 2017, shortly after receiving the Chibok girls who were released by their abductors the previous day.

The Presidency on Thursday posted a picture from the visit of the National Assembly leaders to the President on its twitter handle, @NGRPresident.

A message, “President @MBuhari today received Senate President @bukolasaraki and Speaker, House of Representatives @YakubDogara in Abuja House, London,” accompanied the picture.

Saraki and Dogara, who wore suits, were seen in the picture discussing with Buhari.

Posted On Friday, 18 August 2017 00:23 Written by

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo Thursday in Ibadan described members of the National Assembly as a “bunch of unarmed robbers”, over their huge salaries and allowances.

Obasanjo, who hit hard at the National lawmakers, said the current legislators are one of the highest paid lawmakers in the world, despite the fact that  an estimated 75 percent of Nigerians populace live in poverty.

He added that the arm of government should be roundly condemned.

The former president spoke at the book presentation of Prof. Mark Nwagwu entitled: “I am Kagara, I Weave the Sands of Sahara”.

The event, which held at the University of Ibadan, had Obasanjo as the Chief Host while the former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili chaired the occasion.

Stressing that he is expecting another round of bashing from the federal lawmakers, the former President said he would continue to lambast them for constituting a huge percentage of the nation’s overhead cost.

He lamented that the nation would hardly develop when about 90 percent of revenue was spent on overhead costs, rather than on capital expenses.

Speaking on the ongoing impasse between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the 2009 agreement, Obasanjo, said government allowed itself to be stampeded into signing agreements without full consultation within government.

However, he added that regardless of that, the government was bound to implement whatever agreement reached with workers’ unions.

He said: “Government allows itself to be stampeded into signing agreement particularly when one group or the other withdraws their service and go on strike. After the agreement has been signed, without full consultation within government, and implementation becomes an issue.

“But an agreement is an agreement whoever the agent is that signed that agreement on your behalf, you are bound by it. You may now have to renegotiate to have a new agreement but the agreement earlier signed remains an agreement.

“The universities teachers go on strike, there is an agreement; doctors go on strike, there will be a special agreement. And when the universities teachers see that the agreement reached with the doctors is different from theirs, they again go on strike and this is bad for our economy.

“The way we are going about spending all our revenue to pay overhead, we will not develop. And we will have ourselves to blame. Ninety percent of revenue is used to pay overhead, allowances, salaries and not much is left for capital development.

“In a situation like that, we have to rethink.

“It is even worse for the National Assembly. They will abuse me again but I will never stop talking about them. They are a bunch of unarmed robbers.”

“They are one of the highest paid in the world where we have 75 percent of our people living in abject poverty. They will abuse me tomorrow and if they don’t, maybe they are sleeping. The behaviour and character of the National Assembly should be condemned and roundly condemned.”

In her remarks at the occasion, the Chairperson of the event, Dr. Ezekwesili, remarked that the 289-page book, was a tool for Nigeria to examine the extent to which she had lost her values and culture.

She decried the loss of community spirit, warning that Nigeria must never negotiate her values.

According to her, the world was currently such that humanity tried to figure out what happened to morality.

The book reviewer, Mr Nwachukwu Egbunike, in his remarks on the book noted the theme of feminism and how women navigate life intricacies towards achieving success in life.

Egbunike also lauded the author’s ability to weave around different concepts in both the spirit and natural world.

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, University of Ibadan, Professor Olanike Adeyemo remarked that Nwagwu’s book was a veritable instrument to help the younger generation keep touch with culture.

The event was attended by both academic and non-academic staff of the university who were on hand to celebrate the author and his wife, Helen.

Posted On Thursday, 17 August 2017 23:50 Written by
 
 

Libyan authorities on Thursday repatriated 135 Nigerian migrants, including women and children, who had made failed attempts to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, an official said.

“We are organising… the voluntary repatriation of 135 clandestine Nigerian migrants who were rescued offshore by the coastguard,” said Hosni Abu Ayanah of the Libyan government agency tackling illegal migration.

The first group of 75 men and 10 women gathered Thursday in downtown Tripoli to board buses with metal grills towards the capital’s Mitiga airport.

Others were set to depart from other migrant detention centres.

The Libyan authorities have coordinated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to run special flights to repatriate migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Ever since the rule of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, thousands of people have crossed Libya’s 5,000-kilometre (3,000-mile) southern border to make perilous bids to reach Europe in often unseaworthy boats.

Following the 2011 NATO-backed revolt that toppled and killed Kadhafi, people traffickers have exploited the chaos rocking Libya to transport ever more migrants towards Italy, 300 kilometres away.

Those who fail often end up stuck in Libya in dire conditions and opt to be repatriated.

Posted On Thursday, 17 August 2017 23:40 Written by
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