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[OPINION] ASUU Strike: A Pandemic To Ravage Anew – By Abdulsalam Abdullah

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Since 1960, Nigeria has had fifty-one (51) Ministers of Education and Ministers of State for Education, twenty-three (23) of whom were teachers at various levels prior to their appointment, fifteen (15) studied educational courses in universities and colleges of education, and eleven (11) have been seasoned educational administrators or university dons (Professors or senior lecturers).

Nigeria’s educational system has been on halt since February 14th, 2022, when the union president declared the start of a four-week warning strike in an attempt to send a final warning to the federal government, which has remained deaf to their demands.

But unfortunately,this will be the 16th ASUU strike since 1999 embarked upon by the union.

It’s scarcely 48 hours that the federal government persuaded the Airline Operators of Nigeria, a private company, not to carry out their threat to cease fly operations from Monday and to give them time to find a solution to their problem. They must settle the problem as soon as possible because they cannot afford to have flights suspended since, for the time being, they must fly from Abuja to Kano and then drive from Kano to Kaduna. They cannot go by road from Abuja to Kaduna due to insecurity, which is another  government failure.

The ASUU strike has become a habit and a corrosive display of shame. The strike has now become a means of group identification for ASUU. Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, no previous administration has exhibited sincerity, political will, or action to cease this pointless show of force between the government and ASUU.

Recently, there has been a growing contempt for the ASUU strike. ASUU has lost public support each time they have chosen to go on strike, only to call it off once a few billion naira have been given for their earned academic allowance (EAA), while others remain a promise for the future that the government never fulfills.

This is the Mr Integrity government that ordinary Nigerians campaigned hard to put to power in 2015. Nigerians gave their widow’s mite, campaigned relentlessly, and remained up all night to preserve their ballots. And even after being elected in 2015, he was still accusing Jonathan’s government for allowing the 2013 ASUU strike to extend 6 months without negotiating with ASUU and instead spent money on Confab. That interview reassured us that the messiah has indeed arrived to repair Nigeria.

Since 2007, the Former President and current Vice President of Nigeria have been either a university lecturer (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, 2007-2015) or a university professor (Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, 2015-date), indicating that they were former ASUU members and are well-versed in Nigeria’s educational challenges. Why they have failed to address the rot and retrogression in Nigeria’s education system remains a mystery.

This demonstrates that even ASUU members who have led Nigeria or the Ministry of Education are confused or lack new solutions to the current causes of Nigeria’s recurrent strike activities. Aside from inadequate remuneration and working conditions, as well as a lack of government funding for colleges, ASUU has done little or nothing to address other concerns that have plagued Nigerian universities.

There have been persistent cases of sex-for-grades, money in return for undeserving grades, witch-hunting of Nigerian students by certain instructors posing as ‘demi-gods,’ and corruption at all levels of university management and administration.

These factors have both contributed to the deterioration of Nigeria’s education sector. ASUU has failed to look within and combat these concerns among its members. While ASUU criticizes governments for being insensitive to the suffering of academics and being responsible for decades of degradation in Nigerian education, ASUU and its members have also been indifferent to the predicament of Nigerian students and have contributed significantly to the system’s failure.

We had no idea that we had just assisted in the installation of Nigeria’s worst administration. And here we are, with our messiah in command. I taught the government would learn from the COVID-19 experience and recognize the importance of investing in higher education. But it was in the past, and he set a new record by sustaining a 9-month ASUU strike in 2020. It was fantastic, and we missed an academic session as a result. I hope we are not on the verge of another 9-month ASUU strike in 2022, as we were in 2020. They cannot afford to suspend flights since the private sector serves them, but they can afford to close public universities because their children are not present.

Nigeria currently has the world’s second largest number of out-of-school children, primarily as a result of terrorism, and I’m confident that statistic will rise as several schools in Nigeria’s northern region remain closed owing to the actions of bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists.

The current ASUU strike has far-reaching consequences. The previous ASUU strike provided enough youths with the opportunity to participate in the End SARS rally in 2020. The government and ASUU cannot hold Nigeria’s education sector hostage because of inconclusive strike activities.

The government must implement the prior arrangement with ASUU and not back out. ASUU must remain steadfast in its demands, since the government and Nigerians would no longer tolerate frequent strikes.

ABDULSALAM, Abdullah Opeyemi
Twitter: @Budoz_PR
Phone: 09091604356 
abdulsalamabdullah1234@gmail.com

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2023 Presidential Poll: The Saraki Option By Wahab Oba

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No election in Nigeria’s history will eventually be as phenomenal as the forthcoming 2023 presidential election. It will be phenomenal with respect to the nature of those who will eventually run and with respect to the role of social media influenced renaissance that is emerging on political activism. It will be unprecedented with respect to the fact that never in our history as a nation have we experienced this kind of economic and security challenges. Convincingly, the next leader will determine whether we go further down, or pull back and face the right road.

There are many other reasons why the 2023 election will be a great issue in the evolution of our nation and none of those reasons are clearly positive. The only positive thing perhaps about the election will be the fact that there are arrays of competent aspirants to signify the tran. Yes, there may be some presumably pretenders among the dramatic personnel, obviously, there are men of honour and integrity in the race to Aso Rock.

Hence, it is time that Nigerians pay more than the usual cosmetic attention to the kind of person who eventually leads us, going forward. We must allow ourselves to learn some bitter lessons from our decisions and how they have shaped the past eight years especially; a time when we literally allowed emotion to be the driver of our decision in choosing our president. Yes, our president because whether we like it or not, a people cannot progress beyond the vision of its leadership. While it is good to blame average Nigerians for all sort of wrong things, the reality is that once we get the leadership question wrong, we cannot get many other critical issues of nationhood right. That explains the experience of drifting that we are currently going through as a nation. We need a leader that can match the brake pedal and turn over journey on the right path.

Among those on track to get the job is Dr Bukola Saraki. It is not yet time to start comparing them, but no sincere Nigerian, desirous of a positive change for this nation, would look down on a probable Saraki presidency.

The kind of leader we need in 2023 is one who can take us through the furnace unscathed. Of course, that is no reference to a wild fire, but rather a way of looking at what it will take to make Nigeria great again. We need a leader who will not flinch as we go through a rebirth process; a leader who is not fazed by trials just as we saw in Saraki during his ordeals in the hands of political traducers in the 2015 -2019 election cycle. More than ever before, Nigeria needs a courageous leader who will not be derailed by challenges. As the President, 8th National Assembly, Saraki confronted exceeding political persecution by his party, yet unscathed, and yet remained the most successful Senate President we ever had.

Underneath his innocent mien is a man of steel. He is perhaps one of the most qualified among his peers with a natural ability to inspire and engender unity. Let us look at his natural biological evolution. He was sired by a northern father and a mother from western side of the country in a marriage that celebrates not only unity of the race, but of the faith in perfect harmony with the national etho. He was brought up seeing this mutual respect of the two factors that have divided Nigeria and saw how, when well managed as his father did at home, and in his politics, such factors would become pillars of strength instead of causes of distress. And we know this attitude to him is not a sermon to be accepted but a life to live as he has demonstrated it in the make up of his own immediate family as well as his inherited political dynasty. He is neither a bigot nor a passivist.

What of his age? It is a great factor in his favour; nay in favour of the Nigerian project. At 59 years of age, Saraki is at a vantage intersection between the young and the old generation. He actually has had huge youth followership over the years in his official engagement as he has demonstrated a commitment to working with the youth. He is lucky to belong to a generation that actively engages with technology for the 21st century and so can sit down and discuss metaverse with Generation Z but who can still dine with the older generation and share stories that were not written on slack boards.

His being from the Middle Belt is of great significance. That is a region of Nigeria that represents Nigeria’s unity and eliminates mutual suspicion among the various regions. The middle belt comprises the various regions, religions and ethnic identities but above all, it represents a melting point of all that is Nigeria. Giving the presidency to someone from the middle belt will play a pacifying role in the many years of deprivation and political neglect the region has borne as its sacrifice to the continued existence of Nigeria.

May Nigeria be great again

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Soyonga, Societe Bank and the things around Bukola Saraki’s neck

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The evil man does live with them and even after them. The hands can still burn from the heat of (evil) pounded yam served 20 years ago.

 

These were the thoughts on my mind as I read through the article written by one Soyonga Umar on how his father and some of his friends lost their hard-earned savings to Societe Generale Bank’s bankruptcy in 1989. He made many damning allegations with certainty and poise only an insider could do. And just as I thought it would be fine to hear from the Saraki family on this perennial issue, I just saw a rather drab and empty article, apparently a rejoinder to his claims, being shared by Sarakites in Bukola Saraki’s defence. That cannot stand.

 

For the Sarakis it has been 33 long years, but Shoyonga remembered it like it happened yesterday. Like many who were direct and indirect victims of the incident, it has remained anguish that has failed to vanish. So, if he is to be engaged on these issues, only factual and logical explanations about the legendary scandal is appreciable. I feel this provides an opportunity for them and the people to know the truth of this story of pain, blood, and tears.

 

Olusola Saraki had set up a branch of the Societe Generale Bank in Nigeria sometime in the early 80s alongside his friend Chief Kutoye. He reportedly sourced funds from his friends in the National Party of Nigeria (UPN) who deposited their monies in his bank out of loyalty to their friendship and in support of his dream.

 

Soyonga Snr who was a retiree of NTA had also put his retirement savings in the bank. Other eminent fellows like Dantata and Sons also reportedly put in pension funds. Many of these people especially the poor, powerless people could not receive their money after the bank went under for strange reasons.

 

The issue here is that Bukola was the (de facto MD) detained in Alagbon he was the ED Managing Director of the bank. Soyonga holds strongly that the intention of the father and son was suspect and alleged that, with the manners of its investigation, Bukola and father had set up the unsuspecting friends and family to dupe them. I think these are really outrageous claims but they are not impossible.

 

For instance, why did the Sarakis allegedly remove $200m (Two Hundred Million Dollars) from the bank just before declaring bankruptcy?

 

Why did EFCC leave the MD and was chasing after the bank director for the fraud?

 

How did two European investigators of Societe Generale Bank die in their hotel rooms?.

 

Is it true that thousands of people have gone to early grave over this matter without their money being refunded?

 

From business to career and politics, Soyonga asked many questions. The disaster is that Sarakites have refused to answer them and instead went after Governor AbdulRazaq. I found that very funny. It is unwise to leave the issues raised by the author and resort to attacking the Governor on the account of his friendship with the author without restraint. That Soyonga had ever filed for bankruptcy is not a crime anywhere in the world. (even President trump filed for bankruptcy and went on to become American number 1 citizen) So, if the only reason they are calling the writer a convict is because he once filed for bankruptcy, then their education is open to question. I’d advise them to face the issues raised by the author and the author himself, rather than taking the Governor as their punching bag.

 

Now, I am getting curious, what is Saraki’s source of enormous wealth? What businesses or career is he into? Where are his companies located and how many people does he employ?

 

Bukola Saraki used 8 years in the senate 4 of those as Senate president, what legacy projects

 

If truly he did, why did Bukola sell the Kwara Public Park, a huge expanse of public recreation land to Shoprite, more so at a giveaway price?

 

The article ‘Olusola, Bukola, my father and me’ is timely. Soyonga said these issues are personal for him. He was wrong. These are state matters. It could not have been direr now that Saraki is gunning for the presidency. A serious explanation of his past stewardship in the public and private sectors is important to people in the interest of probity and justice. That’s the hallmark of democracy.

 

Now instead of the previous drab article released by the Sarakites, they are expected to come up with a detailed response to these allegations and questions if they truly want to help him. We can’t leave these issues for the tissues of the matter! They should kindly leave AbdulRazaq out of it and take this thorny thing off their master’s troubled neck first! If Saraki feels about this strongly … soyonga should be sued.. for defamation of character.

 

 

 

Imam Abdullahi, a public affairs analyst writes from Ilorin.

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Corruption Watchlist: Gov Obiano Perfects State Laws To Avoid Prosecution

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Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano whose tenure will end by March 17, 2022 is making a secret move to perfect state laws that will protect him from being prosecuted by the nation’s anti graft agencies. Recall that EFCC in a letter to the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service dated November 15, 2021, requested the Service to place the governor on watchlist and inform it anytime he is travelling out of the country from any of the International airports and other points of entry and exit.

 

This may have prompted the outgoing governor to approach the state assembly to secretly enact a bill that will protect him from prosecution. From some sources within the state assembly, journalist was informed that the executive sent in a bill to establish an anti graft agency in Anambra state.

 

However, the state anti graft agency will be responsible for the prosecution of public officers who misappropriate state resources. But from our findings, some provisions of the bill are provided to protect the state chief executive from indictment. For instance, journalist learnt that the bill provided for Accountant General of the state to be the Chief Revenue Officer.

 

The Accountant General will be in charge of all IGR in the state. It also made some appointees of the governor to be the in the board of the IGR.

 

Most importantly, the bill allegedly abrogated all corruption cases pending in any court against public servants in the state before its enactment. It voided all pending cases of corruption.

 

The implication is that corruption cases before this bill is passed and accented to, are invalided by the bill when passed.

 

However, this bill has heightened tensions among the state lawmakers. Journalist gathered that the bill has passed the first reading and awaiting the second and final reading which may come up this week. But curiously, many of the lawmakers said the bill was only read by the Speaker without making copies available to them.

 

The opposing lawmakers wonder why the Speaker can not make available copies of the bill to members for such an important bill. They are afraid that the bill may be passed without them seeing or studying it. They are also afraid that the bill will likely scale through second and third reading and be passed by voice vote next week.

 

The haste at which the executive sent the bill and the secrecy the Speaker accorded it suggests of unhealthy plot to evade EFCC and other anti graft agencies by the outgoing administration.

 

Investigation by the journalist reveals that some lawmakers are only concerned with how much they can make with the bill. Some of them were asking how much they will get if they agree to pass the bill for Agu Awka. Those ones are less concerned with the content of the bill and what it tends to achieve.

 

However, this bill is injurious to the state. Immunity has protected our governors from prosecution while in office. It will be forbidden to have another law that will prevent them from standing trial after their administration. The lawmakers should think of the state first before individual. It is not about the outgoing administration. This bill if passed will empower successive govts to appropriate and misappropriate the state resources and leave office without accounting for their steward.

 

However, one needs to question himself how an administration that has only about a month in office would be interested in having a law or establishing an anti graft agency for the state. It smells of suspicion and the members of this 7th Assembly should not allow themselves to be used in helping corrupt leaders to evade trial.

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