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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

What Has Niger Delta Done to Buhari’s Administration?

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What Has Niger Delta Done to Buhari’s Administration?


The Niger Delta Coalition of Justice and Equity (NDCJE), a pro-democracy, pressure group and civil society organization, made up of professionals from different endeavours basically set up for the emancipation of the Niger Delta/South-South people and to accelerate the fight for equity and justice for the region in particular; especially as it concerns government appointments into positions, remunerations and justice for the Niger Delta people as a region that has singularly been responsible for the rich oil and gas deposit, on which Nigeria as a nation, sits on today and parades itself as the giant of Africa.

The NDCJE has, for long, kept aloof, because of the precarious security situation of the country and the divisive tendencies thrown overboard by people in authority, who, look the other way, for their selfish interest, not minding where their actions take the nation to, even if it is in a retrogressive motion.

As partners that believe in the course of Nigeria as a dear nation; as well as believe in putting square pegs in square holes, and uplifting merit than mediocrity in all ramifications, we are hereby compelled to critically and objectively analyze the current letter from the President to the National Assembly, presenting someone for confirmation as Acting Director-General; someone that has not even acted for a day, not to talk about acting in any capacity whatsoever, but has consistently let Nigerians know that he will surely (come rain or shine) ascend the mantle of leadership of NASRDA. Our investigation has revealed that his confidence is based on the presumption that having been connected to the present Chief of Staff to the President as a cousin, he will have a smooth sail, based on these antecedents:

• That Dr Halidu Shaba Ahmad has never ever acted in any capacity before now, not to talk about that of Director-General/Chief Executive of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA); and that he is even number eight in the hierarchy of the nominal roll of the agency since Mr Jonathan Angulu left as the Acting Director-General of the agency. We wish to recall that Mr Angulu handed over the mantle of leadership to the most senior management staff in person of Dr Francis Chizea Dubem, a renowned research fellow with 21 years of service at NASRDA, who has been in charge of the organization till date, and the first Vice Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, a position bestowed on him based on the recommendation of the African Group Task Force on Space Science and Technology, based in Vienna, Austria.

• That precisely, nine months ago, the South-South Renaissance Group (SSRG) called on the Chief of Staff of the President, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to prevail on Dr Halidu Shaba to stop parading himself as the Acting Director-General of the agency; the call which was captured under the headline, “Curtail Dr Halidu Shaba’s Inconsistencies, Bragging Rights at Nigerian Space Agency.” This was informed by the fact that Halidu was unduly parading himself (which action made him to be safely referred to as an imposter) as Acting Director-General, which he is not in any capacity and has never acted as such till date, until his recommendation few hours ago to the National Assembly by the President/Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic.

• That Mr Halidu brags in the corridors of power that he and his cabal/cohorts own the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari; that they decide whatever happens to any position; as well as decide who occupies which position as far as Muhammadu Buhari remains the president. Going by this impunity, our organization vehemently resists this injustice meted out to Dr Chizea Dubem, and any other qualified and legitimate candidate for that matter. This is based on the fact that all qualified Nigerians have alienable right to aspire to any position of authority as long as they remain Nigerians. In view of the above, therefore, we are asking these vital questions: What has the Niger Delta done to the Nigerian nation to deserve this barbaric treatment? Where did the Niger Delta go wrong, in such a way that it will warrant the dropping of the most senior and adequately qualified Acting Director General from the region, who has all the prerequisite qualifications; and the sending of the name of the number eight position in hierarchy on the nominal roll? How long will it take for Dr Francis Chizea Dubem to be confirmed as the Director-General of the agency?

• It will also be recalled that there was a candid instruction from the President that the National Council in charge of the board of NARSDA must meet to ratify Dr Chizea’s ascension, but that meeting did not hold. Today, the name of one who does not deserve to be recommended, Mr Halildu, has been smuggled through the window/back door and sent to the National Assembly for confirmation. If this is confirmed, it will affirm his bragging rights for the past two years that he would be made Director-General of the agency.

• Luckily, at the agency, since inception, this is the turn of the Niger-Delta/South South to assume the position of authority as the Director-General, having acted for over one year, within which period the agency has grown in leaps and bound, conforming to international best practice and good governance, entrenched in all ramifications. The Acting Director-General still remains Dr Francis Chizea Dubem, who has been acting since Mr Jonathan Angulu left the agency. We pray that due diligence be carried out to ascertain the veracity of this statement to know the fact of the matter. But one would ponder, where has Mr Halidu been all this while, that Dr Chizea Dubem has been sacrificing tooth and nail to keep the agency afloat, especially during this Covid-19 Pandemic? Who is misleading the President to act contrary on the issue he had already directed the National Council to meet to rectify Dr Francis Chizea Dubem? The Acting Director-General is Dr Francis Chizea Dubem and not Halidu. It is a concoction from the pit of hell, which, we suggest, must be verified by the security agencies and right thinking Nigerians. Would somebody tell us what is happening in this country? Again, at what stage, did Halidu rise to become the authentic Acting Director-General, when, indeed, there is a substantive Acting Director-General in person of Dr Francis Chizea Dubem?

• Our coalition has it on good authority that the only reason why Halidu is to be named as Acting Director-General, according to him, is because he is a relation to the Chief of Staff to the President. Due to the foregoing, he continuously brags that whether he merits it or not, he would be confirmed the Director-General of the agency. If this is confirmed, it will be viewed as man’s inhumanity to man; and very unpatriotic action to the collective growth of the Nigerian nation; as against natural justice, equity and good conscience. Consequently, justice must be seen to have been served on this vexed issue, if the present Acting Director-General, Dr Chizea Dubem is confirmed and left to continue, instead of bringing Mr Halidu Shaba from the back door to assume leadership, to reap where he did not sow. It is, indeed, an act of nepotism, inhumanity, and, indeed, a slap on our collective conscience and psyche as a people of the region in particular and Nigeria in general, for accepting mediocrity in place of merit.

• We have watched, with keen interest, the retirement of the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Muhammadu Gana Abdullahi, where a South-Easterner, Hilary Madu, was made an acting Commandant-General and immediately, a petition came that he was out for ethnic cleansing; and within three weeks, he was dropped and replaced with a North-easterner, while the Inspector-General of Police’s tenure ended but is still there serving, calling shots, because he is from a particular region and ethnic tribe. What a country, indeed!

• It is our candid advice that the President, should, as a matter of national interest, revert to status quo, and set aside the letter sent to the National Assembly and do the right thing, by confirming Dr Chizea, who is far more capable than Mr Halidu.

• The NDCJE appropriately urges Niger Deltans, South-South indigenes, and, indeed, Nigerians to rise up and condemn this injustice in all its form meted out to a fellow Nigerian. However, if there is any doubt about our status as Nigerians, we should be made to understand and President Buhari should do the rightful and make this very important decision by appointing Dr Chizea as the substantive DG of NARSDA. By the way, Dr Chizea is a foundation staff and it is even on record that the office property that NARSDA first used was his father’s personal property. And, apart from being a scientist and researcher of international repute, he is a patriot and when NARSDA was not recognized, he was able to convince his father to let his property to NARSDA for use. If we must ask: is this the price he has to pay for been patriotic? Where is the reward for excellence? Where is the reward for hard work?

• The entire Niger Delta/South-South geopolitical regions, and Nigerians at large, are eager to know the reasons behind this act. It is also our candid advice that constructive investigations should be carried out to ascertain who is the authentic Acting-Director General of NARSDA, before they bring in any one from the backdoor to a position he does not even merit in the first instance; for which he did not work for. Why must Nigeria take itself backwards by clamouring for mediocrity in place of meritocracy?

Signed:

Alaowe Preye Dokubo Comrade Olisa Ode Osundi
National Coordinator National Secretary

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That failed kidnap attempt on Sunday Igboho

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That failed kidnap attempt on Sunday Igboho

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph. D, LL.D

The act of a combined team of soldiers, DSS and Police, numbering about 40 attempted to arrest and detain Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo Igboho was too much in the form of a kidnap attempt. Igboho was said to have been waylaid along Ibadan/Lagos Expressway whilst on his way to see Pa Ayo Adebanjo in Lagos. It was totally and absolutely unnecessary. A government exists to protect its citizens, not to terrorise them. If the government believed that Sunday Igboho had committed an offence, the best route would have been to simply send him an invitation to report to a Police station for interrogation.
If the security agents felt there were any internal security issues or breach of the law, they should have invited him to the DSS or Police office. It became therefore totally absurd that a whole security armada like soldiers, the Police and the DSS will waylay an innocent Nigerian citizen in a commando-like manner and attempt to abduct him. At least, Nigerians have not been told he has committed an offence, or what offence, if any.
What if Sunday Igboho and his handlers had felt they were being kidnapped and responded with a shootout? There would have been unnecessary mayhem and loss of lives because of the indecent and incongruous manner and way the attempted arrest was carried out.
What the government does not still seem to understand is that because it has failed to give security and welfare to the Nigerian people as provided for in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution, ethnic nationalism is fast rising in a way that ethnic groups and the various nationalities in the Nigerian contraption have begun to feel that they need to go the extra mile to protect themselves from ravaging insecurity. That is why I always ask, who is advising this government?

The present ravaging insecurity is what led to the emergence of Amotekun, in the South West and the Eastern Security Network in the South East. There have also mushroomed various local policing militias across the country. It is the failure of the government to provide security that is at the root cause of these defensive measures.
Someone needs to drum it to the ears of this government that the young man with a tattooed face that proudly displays his tribal marks is no longer an ordinary “small boy” representing himself alone. He has become a metaphor for the Yoruba struggle for self-determination. At least, if you are not giving us self-determination, do not kill us in our homes and farms, the young man seems to be yearning on behalf of the Yoruba race.
Sunday Igboho is no longer ordinary. He is the equivalent of IPOB’s Nnamdi Kanu for the Igbos. He came out from nowhere to become the voice of the voiceless. He wears the new face of the Yoruba struggle for emancipation. The earlier this government understands this, the better for everybody.
Sunday Igboho from Igboho town recently came to national limelight when he stormed Igangan on January 15, 2021, and gave a quit notice to Fulani herders terrorizing his people in the Southwest through kidnappings and killings. Igboho was said to have earlier risen to fame during the Ife-Modakeke fratricidal war in which he played a major role between 1997 and 1998. Born in Igboho of Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state on October 10, 1972, he had relocated to Modakeke in Osun state. He started life as a roadside motorcycle mechanic and later ventured into car sales. Upon return to Ibadan, he met former Oyo state Governor, Lam Adesina, and also worked with Rashidi Adedoja. The Akoni Oodua of Yoruba land is the new face of the Yoruba struggle for emancipation, self-determination and racial respect. Does the federal government realize this? Igboho is believed by his teeming admires to possess magical powers that lift him beyond mere mortals like you and I. So famed was he that, a 2017 Yoruba Movie (Parts 1-4) by the same name “Sunday Igboho” was cast after his personality. Does this government appreciate these peoples’ sentiments?

WAY FORWARD
Sunday Igboho can approach a court of law under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement (Procedure) Rules and seek protection from being killed, arrested, being waylaid, being detained and having his humanity degraded. He can go to court to seek his fundamental rights that he is entitled to freedom of movement, freedom of association and the right to move about and across Nigeria to any part that he wishes, without let or hindrance. See sections 32, 33, 35, 40 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
A court of law will readily grant him that protection because it has not been shown that he has committed any offence; and none is alleged against him. If any has been alleged against him, then they could invite him over to make a statement. We are operating a constitutional democracy where things are done by the rule of law; not rule of the thumb.
This government is too jerky. It embraces too much fire brigade approach to issues. That is the danger in it. The government must know that if they had killed Sunday Igboho yesterday, may be with a stray bullet, or by mistake, or deliberately, I don’t think Nigeria would have been having a nice weekend today.
The government should understand this. Let them understand that there is anger, despondency. There is fear across the country; fear of death, fear of fear. So, they (the DSS and the Police) should never attempt to do what they did yesterday (Friday) so as not to trigger unnecessary national hoopla, national insurrection, national commotion, national brouhaha. I have said my own.

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When will Nigeria be finally abducted?

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When will Nigeria be finally abducted?

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph. D, LL.D

INTRODUCTION
Is Nigeria not being abducted by Boko haram bandits, herders, kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists? The scenario is frightening and heart-rending. Let us see.
CHIBOK, BORNO STATE, 14TH – 15TH APRIL, 2014.
276 school girls abducted by dreaded Boko Haram insurgents. Former president Goodluck Jonathan was almost roasted alive. The present government’s leading lights harped on it. The then candidate Buhari of APC and other APC stalwarts salivated over the fatal blow to GEJ’s presidency by this singular unfortunate incident. 112 so far released on payment of undisclosed huge ransom. Fast forward. Buhari clinched power and was sworn in on May 29, 2015, with the most outstanding campaign promise (aside revamping the economy and killing corruption), being to lead from the front (as a retired former military Head of State); and crush Boko Haram. Nigerians believed him. Afterall, he fought at the war front during the 3 year bloody Nigerian-Biafran civil war.
However, let us see Buhari’s ugly tale of the tape: Dapchi, Yobe state. 110 school girls abducted on February 19, 2018. 110 have been released on huge ransom (the exact amount of which the Buhari government has refused to tell us till date). 6 are still held, including beautiful Leah Sharibu, who refused to recant his Christian faith.
Kankara, Katsina state; 340 school children abducted in December, 2020, by about 100 Boko Haram bandits riding motocycles. They were all released after payment of huge sums (amount not disclosed till date by an ever opaque government). Big business. More lucrative than citing industries or setting up banks. Dangote that goes to bank to take huge loans to remain the forbes richest man in Africa will no doubt be envious and green with envy.
Kagara, Niger state. 42 people, which included 27 students, 3 staff of Government Science Secondary School and 12 of their family members abducted. Till now, they are held by the bandits. Then, only yesterday, Zamfara State Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, was their next port of call. About 315 of the 500 boarded students were abducted. Governor Bello Matawalle who has so far done excellently well on security matters, and in pushing back armed bandits, is optimistic they would be released without ransom.
A common thread and trend: Girls schools are targeted. Weaker vessels. Not boys schools! Huge sums demanded as ransom. Payment made. Girls (not all) suddenly released. Bandits and Boko Haram smile to their hides out. They purchase more weapons. They wait a while. Strike again. Circle repeats itself. No Federal Government in sight. Oh, it is in sight – but only in boasting that it will fish out the bandits and stop further re-ocurrence. That is the end. How many students so far abducted? 276 under Jonathan. 807 under Buhari. Over 1000. This country is in a complete mess. Worse than ever before. So, when will Nigeria be finally abducted?

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