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ASUU and the battle for the soul of Kogi Varsity

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ASUU and the battle for the soul of Kogi Varsity

By John Akubo,

When late Prince Abubakar Audu, the first executive Governor of Kogi State established the Kogi State University Anyigba, he was aware that Universities are ivory towers, where instruction is given and received without harassment and undue influence from the outside world. Thus, the universal idea of the university as a community of scholars, free to pursue knowledge.
He knew also that there was the need to fund the system effectively, so that the goals of university education could be realized hence the resources he deployed for its take off on November 18, 1999.
No wonder the presidential media tour put together by the then minister of information Professor Jerry Gana named Kogi the best performing State on account of the University which was established within six months of Audu’s inauguration as Governor.
18 years down the line the story has changed from the vision for its establishment to that of neglect as there is an alleged mass exodus of many of its choicest lecturers.
To this end the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the institution have been raising alarm over the danger the lack of a Governing council for over a year poses to the survival of the institution.
They claimed that the absence of the Governing council has affected the statutory functioning of the institution.
Another major issue of concern they raised is the non payment of salaries of lecturers for upward of eight months.
This the Union observed has been taking its toll negatively on the system as many academics dissatisfied with the terms of service have migrated making it difficult for necessary accreditation to be achieved.
The chairman of the union Dr. Daniel Aina, lamented that no fewer than 60 lecturers had left the institution due to the prolonged delay in salary payment and other problems affecting the staffers of the institution.
He warned that if nothing was done urgently, more qualified staff would join the exodus.
Aina said the sad situation prompted the union’s industrial action in May 2016.
He indicated the Government cannot achieve accreditation through the backdoor because ASUU will resist it.
He explained further that it is the reason why they have been mounting pressure on the government to live up to its responsibility in prompt payment of salaries.
“For example, it is a fact that no University has exhaustive number of staff in all fields. For the accreditation exercises, academic staff may be appointed on Sabbatical.
“Who will want to go to a University where the staff may be owed salaries and when part payment is made, they will be expected to be celebrating?”
Aina said prompt payment of salary is a sine qua non for the sustenance and growth of the Ivory Tower.
According to him, the ivory tower cannot be bogged down with the civil service rules as lecturers when dissatisfied can easily move to another university.
“How many Permanent Secretaries or any other civil servant can freely migrate from state to state at will? Academic staff can and they do.
“Non payment of salaries as at when due is one of the reasons why they do. Universities that pay salaries promptly will sustain, retain and even attract staff, while those that celebrate backlog of salaries lose staff.”
He explained that the operation of the University system is by strict adherence to academic calendar universally hence reason it cannot be subjected to the civil service whims without something going berserk.
“The clear line of communication and operation is anchored on the tripod of Management-Council-Visitor. The government must see the University as it is in practice and not by convenience, to eliminate rifts and bumps in its operations.
“ASUU has the responsibility to ensure congenial working environment and efficient operation of the system. The Management and Council are the operators of the system, who report directly to the Visitor.”
The chairman pointed out that the issue of salary is only but a fraction of the issues at stake saying that if the issue of salary becomes insurmountable to government and is being subjected to politicking, what will happen to other grave matters that are pending before the Union’s NEC for approval?”
He explained that Over the past one year they have been on a long drawn struggle of one type or the other, with the government of Kogi State on a number of issues as they relate to the smooth running of the University.
The chairman however, acknowledged Government’s response in the instalmental payment of the arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) saying it is an indication that the government has the ability and capacity to meet its obligations to the University.
“ASUU-KSU has sought to have audience with the Visitor to educate the administration on the modus operandi of the University system but we have been denied such opportunity. Our demands have been forwarded to government but there has been no formal response.
“We have cried out to the world about the deteriorating situation in Kogi State University, the climax of which is the mass exodus of choice lecturers with its attendant debilitating effects on the psyche and academic standard of the University.”
Dr. Aina said they loudly and clearly applauded the staff screening exercise embarked upon by the government with thebelieve it has the capacity to reposition the financial status of the state when leakages through which ‘ghost’ workers and other untoward methods are blocked.
However he said, “Worrisome, embarrassing and laughable however, is the final outcome of the exercise. May be due to the size of the net, a rabbit will easily walk through a net meant to catch an elephant.
“A little inkling from the right quarters may have plugged several loopholes and the fears now is that if care is not taken, ghosts may develop flesh and blood after all, and all the tax payers’ money would have been spent in futility. This we pray not”
He condemned the hardship meted out to the perceived “ghosts” or “improper” workers saying they were needless because even the law of the land deems everyone innocent until proven guilty.
“As it affects the University, the kind of screening exercise we were subjected to is an aberration.”
The chairman observed that, Statutorily, the visitor to the University has the prerogative to send visitation Panel to the University which should perform such task within the Ivory Tower.
“Alternatively, the Visitor may direct the Governing Council to perform the task.”
He said they did not resist the screening exercise because there was no Governing Council in place and the Visitor was then first settling down.
“The conduct of the screening exercise is alien to the University System and ASUU-KSU has resolved never to be subjected to such unethical practice within the system again.
The chairman therefore declared a total and indefinite strike action starting from Friday February, 3rd, 2017.
He demanded the immediate reconstitution of the university’s governing council and the payment of all arrears of salaries to all categories of academic staff who have outstanding of upwards of 8months.
Aina explained that the absence of governing council for more than one year had affected the institution negatively that it could no longer function statutorily.
In his words, “In view of that we demand for the immediate reconstitution of the university’s Governing Council, as the lack of the council appear to be a ploy to erode the university autonomy which stands it out from all other institutions
“ASUU-KSU will resist this. The autonomy of the university is sacrosanct and cannot be compromised any further.”
He said not less than 200 of his members have not been receiving salary for the past eight months and they have been working. ‘It is the height of injustice, it is persecution. Enough is enough.”
He indicated that they had made several appeals to Government with no useful outcome.
Aina pointed out that they were to adopt the ‘No pay No work’ action to put paid to the issues of incessant strikes in KSU, but the Government used the opportunity to cajole the union but he said it shall never happen again.
According to him because it seemed the Governor does not seem to understand the workings of a university system they wanted to meet with him to educate him of the situation however he said they were shielded from seeing him.
The chairman explained further that the amount of money committed to the university by the State Government for infrastructural development is not up to the quarter of what came from the TETFund intervention which itself is a product of ASUU struggle.
“We are tired of working without dalary . We are tired of seeing our legacy progressively destroyed through the systematic erosion of the University autonomy.
“we are standing up to oppose oppression and impunity. We are not politicians but the vanguard of academic integrity
The state commissioner for education, Dr Sunday Tolorunleke, expressed regtret over the closure of the university because of the strike embarked upon by the lecturers, particularly as some of the students were about to write their semester examinations. He said ASUU should be patient with government as steps were being taken to address the isseues raised by the lecturers.
He said, “On the part of government, it is not very happy with ASUU going on strike at this crucial period when some students are writing exam. What this government is out to do is to forestall anything that can truncate the academic calendar of our schools.
For the current ASUU strike, government has taken proactive step to make sure the outstanding is cleared and the money is in the institution’s account..
On the allegation that the ASUU members were not suppose to face the screening without governing council in place, the commissioner said, “The constitution of visitation panels for the higher institutions is in progress, they just have to be patient. Governing council will come in place immediately after the staff verification exercise.
“There are problems in some of our higher institutions, forged results and certificates, we cannot be keeping lecturers or workers with forged certificates.”
In what seemed like a swift response the Governor appointed members of a visitation panel for the State University the Panel four weeks to complete its assignment and submit its report to the state government.
The 8-man panel, which is headed by the Former Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University and present Provost of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission Academy, Prof. Olusola Akinrinde.
The panel was innaugurated at the Government House, Lokoja, on Tuesday 14 February, 2017.
He asked the committee members to be faithful and carry out their work with the highest level of integrity. He said he expected the best quality of work given the professionalism exhibited by the members in their various fields.
“Of the eight people in this panel, the only person I have ever met is our State Legal Adviser, Barrister Femi Adegboyega, who is from Lagos but now serves in Kogi State,”
Bello said. “I am a kind of person who gives people assignments if I am convinced they have the character and competence to do the work. Please, carry out your assignment with out fear or favour.”
The Governor also constituted the governing councils for all tertiary institutions in the state.
Professor Adams Ahmed is the new Chairman, governing council for Kogi State University (KSU), Anyigba.
Other members of the KSU governing council are; Professor Mrs. Emily Alemika, Professor Sunday Atawodi, Momoh Jimoh Ahmad, and the Vice Chancellor, Professor M. S. Abdulkadir.

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Opinion

Sule Lamido and the International Day for PLWD

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Sule Lamido and the International Day for PLWD

By: Adamu Muhd Usman

December 3rd, was set aside every year as International Day of People Living With Disabilities (PLWD). The annual observance of the International Day for PLWD was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

Wow!!! Sule Lamido is a blessed person, he is also an institution because of his wisdom, passion and uprightness to putting everything in place for the PLWDs in his state when he was the governor of Jigawa state. While this is a package for a country or nation to adopt, but a state governor implemented it and was successful because it yielded fruitful results. Sule Lamido a man of wisdom.

Lamido’s attitude of showing appreciation, concern, encouragement, emparthy and care for the physically challenged persons has been part and parcel of him because when he (Lamido) was the governor of Jigawa state he initiated a special package whereby 100 physically challenged persons were selected from each of the 27 Local government areas in the state and were given monthly security allowance (stipend) which improve their standards of living and also the scheme reduced unemployment and halted begging on the streets across the state.

Because of the importance of the PLWDs Lamido gave them the opportunity to aspire and contest for elective positions in the state. There was even a time when a state assembly seat (Dutse constituency) was won by a cripple during his administration.

During his tenure, Lamido appointed as Special Assistants (S.A) Physically challenged persons to give them sense of belonging in the state .

There were also laws enacted during his administration that mandated free medical care and free education from primary school to all levels of education (university) for the People Living With Disability in the state.
The PLWD were entitled to all opportunities given to any state indigene. They were even given priority or special attention in so many respects than the normal persons.

Thank you Lamido. May God Almighty reward you abundantly. I wish you well, I wish you all the best. A true democrat, a reliable politician, nation-political-bridge-bulider and a liberal, dedicated and committed leader per excellence.

Adamu writes from Kafin-Hausa Jigawa state.

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RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

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RAMP and Nigeria rural roads

By Ahmed Mohammed

The Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP 2) is a six-year World Bank project focused on the rehabilitation of rural roads and associated capacity building of institutions mandated to provide and maintain rural transport infrastructure. The project commenced in February 2014 and operates in six states: Adamawa, Enugu, Niger, Osun, Imo and Cross-River.

The objectives of the project include increasing the share of the population with access to an all-season road, increasing the share of the total classified roads in good and fair condition and increasing the number of roads receiving adequate levels of maintenance. There is no doubt that the programme has greatly assisted in transforming the rural settings, creating access and expanding frontiers in areas hitherto inaccessible.

In Niger State which has the highest landmass in Nigeria and equally higher number of hard to reach communities, the programme has become the fulkrum that drives the state government’s rural transformation policies aimed at creating economic and social equality among the urban, semi-urban and their most rural counterparts.

The past two phases of the tripartite programme focused on rehabilitation of rural roads , community based road maintenance and annual mechanized maintenance and project management and strengthening of state and federal road sector institutional , policy, and regulatory framework.

Through the RAMP activities coordinated by Hassan Etsu 391 communities across the state have benefited. The efforts show that 519kilometers of roads have been constructed with about 230 km targeted for surface dressing on going.

The breakdown shows that 117 kilometers were constructed in the first phase, while 402 kilometers including 30 river crossing bridges were put in place in the ongoing effort to improve movement of people and goods within and outside the rural communities especially in the hard to reach areas.

Some of the roads to include Wuya Suma – Lemu , Mokwa – Jaagi, -Kudu, Sabon Wuse-Ijah Gbagyi, Sullu –Tafa, Suleja-Abuchi-IzomAuna –Tungajika-Shafini, Wawa-Malali, in the first phase with the projects were completed and handed over to the state project implementation unit.

Key bridges such as Maza Kuka, Adogon Mallam, Ibeto-Gyengi, Gganran sagi, Ragadawa-Baban dogo, Kutriko-Salawu Cikan, Mukugi- Ajitupa, Eyangi-Liman , Wuya- Kanti, Emi egimazi, Dabban, Sabon Daga, NAkpankuchi river, Maikera- Beji Labude among others were constructed.

According to the coordinating office a total of N9 billion have been spent cumulatively within the first and second phases of the programme. This is aside the N6 billion approved by the state government for surface dressing of 230 kilometres of the rural roads earlier constructed under RAMP .

At the flag off of the surface dressing of the Izom-Abuchi-Suleja road recently, he Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, who was represented by Commissioner of Agriculture Hon Zakeri Jikantoro at the event, spoke on the reasons why the state government has to go out of its way to release extra funds to aid the programme, saying the move was to ensure that the quality of the rural roads were upgraded to withstand the volume of traffic.

According to the governor, the traffic on the roads become unprecedented beyond what the earthen roads can withstand, necessitating urgent steps to upgrade the roads. ” This has prompted the state government to engage surface dressing of these roads to increase their durability in serving the people. We have to do this to ensure that the huge investment in constructing the earthen roads does not go down the drains,” he had opined.

This intervention was in addition to 169km of rural roads that were also rehabilitated under the Spot Improvement and Annual Mechanized Maintenance Intervention of the World Bank (WB) and French Development Agency (AFD) co-financed initiative to improve transportation in the Rural areas.

It must be noted that six roads earmarked for surface dressing have the potential for high volume of traffic and are spread across the three-geo-political zones of the state.

The affected roads were Suleja – Abuchi- Izom road , Wuya Suman – Lemu road, Old Gawu – Farindoki road, Kampanin Bobi- Bangi road, Kutigi- Tashan Hajiya road and Wuya Kanti – EtsuTasha road

These efforts are estimated to cost the state government the sum N6,067,554,358.34 and the cumulative result of the government’s back up initiative is that the implementation of Rural Access Mobility Projects II (RAMP2) programmes has reduced rural mortality by 60 percent.

Jikantoro himself confirmed the feat at forum, stating that the mortality rate has been reduced by 60 percent in intervention areas because many communities can now access secondary and tertiary health facilities due to availability of roads constructed by RAMP 2.

According to him , the benefits of the programme included the construction and rehabilitation of 176km roads in the first phase and 403 km roads in the second phase of the project, adding that the programme has greatly assisted in the economic empowerment of the rural dwellers by enhancing movement of farm produce to markets.

It is really gratifying that governor Bello has continued to meet the state’s counterpart obligations through realy releases of funds for the project and also assured of the state government’s commitment towards punctual release of the same as the project enters the third phase.

The National Coordinator of RAMP, Engineer Ubandoma Ularamu had always commended the state for taking the best position in the successful implementation of RAMP projects in the country, acknowledging that there has been unprecedented growth in agriculture in the state. I therefore urge the state government to continue to support the programme to enable more communities to benefit from it.

It is because of this feat that he assures that the state will be enlisted to again participate in the New RAMP that will commence soon.

Overall, the project has so far constructed over 600km rural roads and has empowered the local capacities through the community based rural roads maintenance model which entails the engagement of the rural people along the corridors of rural roads rehabilitated by the project thereby creating employment opportunities in the state.

The project also intends to institutionalize rural roads maintenance activities, management and funding as part of its deliverables and making it last beyond the implementation period of 2020 .

With Participating States of Niger, Osun, Enugu, Adamawa and Imo states and Donor fund: USD60million(IDA:45M, AFD:15M Niger state has indeed trail the blaze to open the rural areas.

The Special Adviser political and strategy Alhaji Mohammed Nma Kolo whose office has been monitoring the progress in the implementation of the project noted that the success story has indeed changed the political dynamics in the Rural areas.

To him, the success has further increased the confidence of the people in the government and the desire of the government to change their lives for better.

Mohammed is of the office of Special Adviser Political to Niger State Governor.

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Opinion

TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL

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TRUMP WASN’T BAD AFTER ALL
By Frank Tietie
Preceding the American Presidential elections, in October, 2020, I was invited to join a Zoom Meeting hosted by Nigerian-Americans who had the right to vote in the US elections.

Listening to both sides of the argument between the supporters of incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, I became persuaded that Trump would be better for the USA as a second term President. He probably earned it.

I got to know how much Trump revived the American economy and subsequently created an unprecedented number of jobs for people of African descent in pre-COVID times.

In that Zoom Meeting, Trump was said to have stood up against bare faced official hypocrisy and corruption in Washington. Also, he ensured funding for Black colleges and did many more revolutionary yet, positive things for the Black American community.

I was impressed with reasons given why Black celebrities like Ice Cube, Lil Wayne, 50 Cents, Kanye West and many others support Trump. They do acknowledge that he talks ‘trash’ but they claim that he is sincere, makes things happen and does exactly what he promises. Ice Cube said that Trump represents the American spirit of freedom and success.

Later that week, I was privileged to be interviewed by a correspondent of the Voice of America (VOA) on why Nigerians took interest in the US Presidential elections. I was not allowed to mention a preferred candidate. So I told the VOA that Nigerians somehow believe that the USA is a very powerful country and that whoever became its president would determine interests in such matters as Nigerian immigration to the USA and regional security in Africa.

Also, I got to know that Joe Biden, in his 47 year career in government has done more harm to the Black people in America by enacting a law that has put a large number of black men in prison compares to any other people of different racial backgrounds.

Many Nigerians hated the Trump presidency because of its tough stance on preventing immigration to the US, from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa. But you can’t take it from Trump that he minded American interests and didn’t care what the world thought about him. He said after all, that “America First!”. Who can really say: Nigeria First?

Really, how can a Nigerian hate Trump for building a wall to prevent illegal migration when South Africa whose liberation from Aparthied, that was literally paid for by Nigeria, yet it chose as a people to systematically chase away Nigerian immigrants from South Africa? That country has exhibited the worst yet, most undeserving form of xenophobia against Nigerians. We shall never forget so quickly.

How can Nigerians blame Trump for building a wall? Everyday, many Nigerians, especially from Southern Nigeria cry on both the social media and traditional media that the government of President Buhari is allowing Fulanis from all over Africa to easily move into Nigeria in order to cause mayhem, carry out land grabs and change the demographics of native Nigerian communities with the plan to dominate and take over Nigeria. What then do you have against a president who wants to define the citizenship of his country by preventing illegal migration?

On LGBT. I don’t have anything against gay, lesbians, bi-sexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons. So I don’t have any apologies for defending their rights whether in court or in public because they are human. But I sincerely believe that there is something is wrong with them!

Firstly, humbly, as a liberal-conservative, with values that are shaped by African trado-cultural beliefs and Judeo-Christian indoctrination, I will never promote LGBT lifestyles. Also, I do not support abortion and same sex marriage. Very many Nigerians share this same position with me yet they support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are staunch promoters of LGBT culture.

Both Biden and Harris have officially conducted same sex marriages in America. The Catholic church once rebuked Biden for his support for same sex marriages. How would Nigerians want those kind of leaders over themselves?

The Democrat led US government of Barrack Obama and Joe Biden scolded Nigeria for enacting the Same Sex Prohibition Act. They so hated former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan and refused to sell arms to him, to fight boko haram. They mobilized resources against Jonathan’s re-election and sent John Kerry to execute their plan. It is not that they love Buhari, they just hated Jonathan. They didn’t know that their hate for Jonathan was akin to hate for Nigeria. These were the same people who had always wished that Nigeria gets into a political conflict. They even went ahead to predict that Nigeria would break up in 2015. Frankly, I don’t like US democrats!

Alas! Trump became US president and invited Buhari to the United States and unconditionally agreed to sell arms to Nigeria, to fight boko haram. Against political correctness, he inquired of the Nigerian President why he was allowing the killing and persecution of Christians in his country. Yet someone wonders why some Nigerian Christians hold street processions for Trump in Nigeria?

Many Nigerians do not understand the issues in US politics and like I told the VOA correspondent, many Nigerians take interest in American politics, particularly with regards to who becomes the US president, wishing their own country could have such powerful and influential persons running things in Nigeria at the highest level of governance.

Really, who would Nigerians prefer to be President of Nigeria? A Trump or a Biden?

Frank Tietie,
Human Rights Lawyer
writes from Abuja

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