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ASUU: Fresh Protests Rock Universities As FG Remains Adamant

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Fresh revelations have indicated that there is no end in sight to resolving the intractable dispute between members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government.

That the Federal Government’s hard stance on “no work, no pay policy” could fuel another round of crisis in the education sector.

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Recall that ASUU had called off its eight-month-old strike in October following an intervention by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Gbajabiamila had brokered peace between the Federal government and ASUU after all negotiations had failed.

Within a few days of his mediation, Gbajabiamila negotiated an acceptable agreement between the duo, with a promise that the government would pay the university workers their withheld salaries for the months they were on strike.

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However, early in November, the members of the Union were bewildered following the payment of half salaries for only 18 working days in the month of October to its members by the Federal Government.

READ ALSO: Students Loan Bank: Gbajabiamila Responds To Opposition By ASUU

Speaking on why ASUU members were paid half salaries for the month of October, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, in a statement issued by his ministry, said the lecturers were paid in pro-rata for the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action.

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Recall that the Federal government had insisted on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy for the period the university workers were away from their duty posts.

However, nearly two months after the academic staff members returned to work, they have continued to lament the unyielding response of the government to their withheld salaries.

Not relenting on their struggle, ASUU mandated its branches to hold a one-day nationwide protest over the payment of half salaries to lecturers by the Federal Government in October, with ASUU members at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), University of Ibadan (UI), amongst others, protesting.

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Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Ibadan Zone, which comprises the University of Ibadan (UI), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso and the University of Ilorin, protested on Monday against what they described as the victimisation of their members by the federal government and its agents.

Speaking with journalists during the protest, the Chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan, Professor Ayoola Akinwole, lamented that despite reaching an agreement with the Speaker, which led to the suspension of the strike, none of the items on the said agreement had been implemented.

He said, “The agreement with the Speaker included the following: The government is going to sign the new salary package, payment of the withheld salaries from March to October 2022

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“Payment of the withheld third-party deductions, including Check-off dues from March to October 2022, non-victimisation of ASUU members who took part in the strike.

“Today’s protest has become necessary due to our conviction that the federal government is on a mission to destroy the public universities through inadequate funding and through its war against ASUU.”

He maintained that ASUU has had a historical responsibility to protect the public universities from collapse and fight for its members and the interest of Nigerian students.

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Speaking to the DAILY POST on the same issue, the ASUU-UNN branch chairman, Comrade Christian Opata lamented that the government has not been serious about the issue of education.

He said, “The issue is that the government is not being serious about the issue of education in Nigeria, because, one, they pleaded with us to honour the court, knowing that ASUU is a very patriotic and legal organisation; we are law-abiding citizens.

“Yes, we know that there is a subsisting court order, but if we wanted to disobey that court order, we had every right to disobey it because it is a question of our rights.

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“The same government that is saying obey the court order, there are many court orders which they have not obeyed. And what is even the bone of contention is something that is legal- an agreement that was signed – and you reneged on it. You reneged on an agreement, and somebody you signed an agreement with is telling you to implement the agreement, and you turn around to punish the person saying the person is obdurate. Well, I don’t know where to situate that.

“So the disappointment even starts from the point of view that the government reneged on an agreement it signed willingly.”

On how the Union members have been coping given the government’s stance, Opata disclosed that many of his colleagues have not let the issue affect their productivity at workplace.

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“The issue is that many of them have been teaching, and I am even surprised that many of them are teaching happily. I thought that some of them would be grudging and even victimising students. But even to my knowledge, it has not happened within my university community. The students have been going to classes and having their exams. Some have even finished their exams.

“Tomorrow they shall continue because most of our members did not go for exams today because of this issue of our rally; we held a protest today. So that does not mean that we are on strike; they did it because it is part of the meeting being held.

READ ALSO: ASUU: Knocks Trail FG’s Varsities Resumption Order

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“The issue is that, for now, they are teaching, our members are teaching. They are attending to students and their projects, even the postgraduate students (Masters and Ph.d),” he said.

On whether the Union will embark on another strike if the government failed to pay them the withheld salaries, he said, “No individual chairperson can decide that because it is only when we meet and we have a decision on that; no branch chairperson can speak on behalf of NEC.”

As it stands, amidst starvation and hunger, members of the Union have vowed not to let down the gauntlet in their lingering fight with the Federal government until their demands are met.

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Education

Buhari Appoints Rector For Federal Polytechnic, Orogun In Delta

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday appointed Dr. Duke Okoro as the pioneer Rector, Federal Polytechnic, Orogun in Ughelli North LGA of Delta State.

The Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, was initiated by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and passed into law by the National Assembly.

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The law was subsequently assented to by President Buhari, commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The appointment of Okoro as the pioneer Rector of the institution was duly considered and approved by the President.

Okoro, was the Director of International Development at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun, Delta State.

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He bagged a PhD degree in Environmental Analytical Chemistry from the prestigious University of Benin in 2004. A Fellow of the Chemical Society of Nigeria (FCSN); Fellow Nigerian Environmental Society (FNES); Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (FICCON); Fellow Institute of Management Consultant (FIMC).

READ ALSO: Buhari Approves Three More Polytechnics

The newly appointed rector is also a Member, of the Institute of Public Analyst of Nigeria (MIPAN); a Member of the Chemical Profession of Alberta, Canada (PChem), and a Member of the Environmental Careers Organization, Canada (EP) amongst others.

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Meanwhile, Deltans have reacted to the kickoff of the Federal Polytechnic, Orogun and the appointment of Dr. Duke Okoro as Rector by President Buhari.

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JAMB Speaks On Extension Of 2023 UTME Registration Deadline

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) says it would not extend deadline for the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) registration.

According to NAN, Ishaq Oloyede, JAMB registrar, gave the warning after monitoring the registration exercise in Kano state on Wednesday.

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Registration for this year’s UTME started on January 14 and is scheduled to end on February 14.

The exam is billed to commence on April 29 and end on May 12.

Speaking on the registration exercise, Oloyede said JAMB’s target for the year is to register 1.8 million candidates.

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He also revealed that the board has so far registered a total of 500,000 candidates across the country.

The JAMB registrar called on applicants to register for UTME within the stipulated deadline as there will be no extension.

We do not expect any extension as about 500,000 candidates have registered out of the 1.8 million candidates that we are expecting,” he said.

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READ ALSO: JAMB To Prosecute 34 Students, Six Centres For Exam Registration Malpractice

The development comes as the board said it has apprehended six operators of computer based test (CBT) centres in Kano over alleged illicit registration of candidates for UTME.

Oloyede said the arrested operators allegedly compromised the registration process, adding that they would be handed over to security operatives for prosecution.

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JAMB To Prosecute 34 Students, Six Centres For Exam Registration Malpractice

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The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has uncovered 34 prospective candidates who connived with Computer Based Test Centres for the purpose of exam malpractice.

The candidates who were registering for the examination allegedly allowed the CBT centre staff to thumbprint forms for them.

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One of those apprehended includes a level 5 Law student of the Bayero University, BUK, Kano, who was said to have thumb printed for 14 prospective candidates who plan to sit for the examination.

READ ALSO: 2023 UTME: 445,081 Register As JAMB Targets 1.8m Candidates

Another candidate at the same centre was also caught thumbprinting for 14 students while a third suspect, who was arrested personally by the JAMB Register, Professor Ishaq Oloyede registered for six students.

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Professor Ishaq Oloyede who was in Kano to monitor the UTME Registration exercise and supervised about six JAMB centres said he would ensure that those arrested are prosecuted because malpractice begins at the point of registration.

The JAMB Registrar said the Law insists that every student must thumbprint by themselves, using their ten fingers when registering for the UTME and where a candidate has problems with some of the fingers, the official registering him will simply indicate the finger as “Bad”.

But instead of strictly flowing the rules, some Ad-hoc staff for the UTME who are employed by the Computer Based Test Centrs are now conniving with the candidates to thumbprint for them, this is indeed done to coerce female students to sleep with them or to get extra money from them”.

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He said the exam board had also uncovered a similar case in Abuja where somebody doing the UTME Registration Exercise wanted to sleep with a student but she refused and reported to them and quickly they discovered the place and dealt with the suspect.

“This is what they are doing to enjoy extra gains from the students that is why we commenced this supervision across Nigeria to arrest the ugly situation by punishing anybody found wanting.”

Professor Oloyede hinted that the board has no problems with its staff and CBT centres but that the problems are with the private CBT centres, who though have written an indemnity with the board to do the right thing are still found wanting.

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And if they refuse to produce anybody found wanting, they will now take the blames, for example, this person reading Law what sort of Lawyer are you producing for the country who has now engaged in fraud conniving with students to cheat the nation”.

READ ALSO: JAMB Announces 2023 Registration Date

Oloyede informed that the 34 students found conniving with the suspects would not be allowed to even sit for the examination this year and if they do by any means their papers would be cancelled.

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The Registrar appealed to students to be guided by the UTME registration guidelines and not allow anyone to Thumbprint forms for them because doing that would cost them their chances and they would also be prosecuted for fraud.

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