Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ASUU Strike Latest: Government, Lawmakers Set For Crucial Meeting

A week after university lecturers across Nigeria commenced an indefinite strike, the Federal Government said it is taking all necessary steps to resolve the contending issues.

 The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, on yesterday also appealed to the lecturers, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to suspend the strike and resume duties.

 Ms. Rufa’I, who made the appeal at a meeting with vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities in Abuja, said: “we plead with them to go back to classes.

 “We are having a meeting tomorrow at the National Assembly with the Senate and House of Representatives to resolve all the issues.

 “Besides, the white paper on the 2010 Visitation Panel Reports on Federal Universities has since been released and forwarded to the universities for implementation.

 “Consequently, monitoring teams will soon visit the universities to ensure implementation of the recommendations.”

 The minister noted with dismay that many private and state universities were yet to establish effective governance structures and that the development had grave implications for the running and development of the universities.

 She noted that the issue of the award of honorary degrees to undeserving personalities remained an embarrassment to government. Ms. Rufa’I said the Federal Government was disturbed by the continuous establishment of universities and running of programmes without regard to due process.

 She advised those culpable to desist from such acts which were capable of inflicting injury on the university education system.

 She also pledged her support for the Standing Committee on the Closure of Illegal Universities.

 “My attention has also been drawn to the mobilisation of unqualified students for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC.) “In line with the extant rules, the NYSC is exclusively for graduates from recognised universities and accredited programmes,” she said.

 She directed universities to, as a matter of expediency, ensure that degree results were released early to aid quick mobilisation of qualified students for the NYSC programme.

 Ms. Rufa’I warned that institutions undertaking wrong mobilisation of students for the national service would henceforth be sanctioned.

 ASUU had last week, embarked on the indefinite strike to protest government’s failure to implement certain agreements reached with the union since 1999.

FG Urged To Retain NECO, UTME

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, NASU, has advised Federal Government to retain the central admission system for Nigerian universities and jettison the Oronsaye report that recommended the scrapping of National Examination Council, NECO.

 Rising from its meeting held in Lokoja, Kogi State, the union’s WAEC, libraries and other trade groups’ branch described the proposals contained in the Steve Oronsaye committee report.

 NASU described the report, which recommended the scrapping of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and the merging of NECO with West African Examination Council, WAEC, as “retrogressive, unproductive and one that will worsen the education sector in the country.”

 The union said: “It will increase the level of unemployment, the ills in the society and also defeat the essence of national cohesion.”

 NASU’s views were contained in a resolution signed by its Deputy President, Mr. Michael Adegoke and Secretary, Prince Damola Adelekun. It expressed concern about insecurity in the country and called on all tiers of government to “intensify action in protecting the lives and property of the citizenry.”

 However, labour relations appear strained between the union and WAEC as the union accused the management of WAEC of high-handedness.

 Making reference to the queries issued to three principal officer of the union in WAEC, the union said: “The cordial industrial relationship that has been in existence between the Union and WAEC is being threatened by this repressive, choice of monologue and oppressive posture of WAEC management.”

 It advised the management of WAEC to “as a matter of urgency, start dialogue with the union over the demands of its own members. “The union will not compromise the rights of its members at any time.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chinua Achebe: Nigeria Holds Funeral For Author

Mourners signing the book of condolence at Achebe's home

Thousands of mourners have paid their last respects to renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in his home town in Anambra state.
A host of dignitaries attended the funeral including President Goodluck Jonathan.
Crowds of mourners surrounded the church, some wearing traditional shirts emblazoned with Mr Achebe's image.
The author is widely regarded as the founding father of African literature in English.



The John Greatman's blog reporter. who was at the funeral, said that Mr Achebe was given a colourful, grand send off in his home town of Ogidi.

However, much of what he abhorred was on full display at the service - political patronage and the trappings of power, he says.

Local politicians were escorted into church by men from the State Security Service wielding sophisticated weapons while a large number of men and women came dressed head to toe in political party outfits, our correspondent adds.

President Jonathan and Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama flew in by helicopter to attend the service at the packed Anglican church.

Thousands of mourners followed proceedings from huge marquees outside.
President Jonathan said Mr Achebe's writings - which were often fiercely critical of Nigeria's leadership - remained an inspiration for political leaders to do better.

He said he had not known Mr Achebe personally, but had admired him.
In a reference to the author's last book, There Was a Country, Mr Jonathan said: "All of us must work together so that our children will know there is a country."


After the church service, Mr Achebe was buried in a mausoleum on the family compound in a private ceremony.

Mr Achebe's body had arrived back in Nigeria on Wednesday from the US, where he died in March at the age of 82.

His 1958 debut novel, Things Fall Apart, which dealt with the impact of colonialism in Africa, has sold more than 10 million copies.

The writer and academic went on to write more than 20 works - some fiercely critical of politicians and what he described as a failure of leadership in Nigeria.

He had been living in the US since 1990 after a car crash left him partially paralysed and in a wheelchair, returning to Nigeria infrequently.

Although people have been mourning, the life of the influential Nigerian writer was also being celebrated, our reporter says.

"I left my house in Asaba (a nearby city) at 05:00 this morning (04:00 GMT) in order to pay my last respects for this illustrious son of Nigeria who has done his people proud," said Sylvanus John, a 31-year-old engineer, AFP news agency reports

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

''Buhari Is Boko Haram's Major Sponsor''


The Presidency has described former Head of State and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), as the major sponsor of the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram and a leading protagonist of violence.

It said that apart from his ambition to rule the country again, Buhari had refused to contribute meaningfully to actions capable of ending insecurity in the country. Buhari, a National Leader of the CPC, had, on the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation on Monday, said that the Federal Government should be blamed for the lingering security challenges in the country.

According to Punch Newspaper, Buhari also flayed the Goodluck Jonathan administration for what he called “poor handling of insurgency” that had led to the death of many Nigerians and destruction of properties. While reacting to this, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said it was unfortunate that such a statement could emanate from Buhari. 

Describing Buhari as a man he respects so much, Okupe added that he had no option but to reply to his accusations against the Federal Government and the President.

He reminded Nigerians that Buhari had previously been credited with a statement that he would make the country ungovernable if the last presidential election did not favour him. Okupe said, “Everybody in this country knows that it was Buhari who vowed that if he did not win the election, he would make the country ungovernable for this President Goodluck Jonathan.

 It was this same Buhari who said during the electioneering period that if the votes were counted and he lost, people should go for blood.

He is not in any position to apportion blame on the issue of violence in the North or in Nigeria in general. He is a protagonist of violence. The only solution he sees to his not being President is to call for violence. This government has tried to contain some of the repercussions of the unguarded statements made by Buhari and I don’t think anybody in Nigeria will take him seriously on this allegation.”

The presidential aide added that if there were those to be blamed for the insecurity in the country, the name of Buhari should top the list. Okupe wondered why the Katsina State-born general had refused to visit states like Borno and Yobe despite the fact that he hails from the northern part of the country.
He said, “As a former Head of State, have you ever seen him (Buhari) visiting Borno or Yobe States?

 Have you ever seen him show sympathy to people, either Christians or Muslims that have been killed during these attacks by Boko Haram? Have you see him as a leader, a man who traversed the entire length and breadth of the North especially to canvass for votes seeking an end to the violence? Why is it that he cannot use that same clout that he has to get leaders together and say we must put an end to this carnage? He finds it comfortable to shift the blame to other people.

What has he done as a leader, who is from that region to help Nigeria and the North out of this unfortunate development? Nigerians should ask him, as a former Head of State and stakeholder in the Nigeria project and a man who wants to be President again, if he would want Nigeria to be destroyed up to a point before he can try to wade in? It does not work that way.”

Okupe said that as a leader, Buhari should stop apportioning blame, but should do something crucial to bring the carnage in the country under control.

He reminded the former military ruler that during the crisis in Niger Delta, leaders from the region went into the creeks and discussed with the militants to lay down their arms. “Has Buhari done that? When Christians were killed, he kept quiet, when mosques were bombed, he did not say anything. He doesn’t have any other interest in Nigeria but his inordinate ambition to rule,” he added.

In his reaction, Buhari said there was no way he could be involved in the discussion on how to end the carnage since he was not part of the problem. Buhari, who spoke through the National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, also said it was apparent that those responsible for the crisis in the Niger Delta were the ones that volunteered to end it.

He said, “When the Niger Delta militancy reached a crescendo, some notable people from that region went into the creeks as he (Okupe) alleged. The question is: ‘Who were the people who started the Niger Delta imbroglio ab initio?’ If the people that initiated and executed a problem decided to resolve it, what can anyone do about it? This is totally different from the Boko Haram palaver.”

I gave kidnappers information on Okonjo-Iweala's mother- Palace servant


A former servant at the palace of the traditional ruler of Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State, where the mother of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was kidnapped has told PUNCH Metro that he gave the kidnappers the necessary information for the job.
 
The suspect, Chiejine Onochie, said although the kidnappers collected N13m as ransom before the 83-year-old Prof. Kamene Okonjo was released last December, he was not given any money and therefore, was not culpable.
He said, “I’m 32 years old and I worked in the palace from 2007 to 2012 after which I left because the pay was too little. A friend of mine approached me and told me that I could make a lot of money if I gave kidnappers information on how to get into the palace.
 
“However, after the operation, I did not get a dime. It was later that I learnt that they had collected N13m as ransom. I felt cheated and I left everything to God. I cannot be held for the crime because when police started arresting people, I went to report at the station voluntarily, I was not dragged to the station.”
 
Another suspect, Jideofor Ogbue, aka Marvelous, who claimed to be the leader of the gang, said after gaining entrance into the palace, he and his gang members did not force Okonjo out of the palace but she followed them willingly after they had told her that they were sent by President Goodluck Jonathan.
 
The 22-year-old said, “It was my friend, Ifeanyi, that informed me about the operation. On the day of the kidnap, we had no difficulty because Onochie had told us that the security around the palace was lax. Although 12 of us were involved in the operation, only eight actually went to the palace.
 
“We went with three AK47 rifles and a pump-action rifle. When the woman (Okonjo) saw us, she asked who we were and we told her that President Goodluck Jonathan sent us from Abuja to arrest her because her daughter (Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) had embezzled public funds.
 
“We took her to Kwale and her family paid us N13m as ransom. They packaged the money in polythene bags and dropped it around an expressway in Benin. My share was N2m.”
 
Chukwuma Okoh, a suspect who claimed to be a graduate of Accounting and Finance from Ambrose Alli University, said he joined the gang because of unemployment. He said he was not given any money after the operation.
 
He said, “I’m 31 years old and I graduated in 2007. Since then, it has been hard to get a decent job. It was Onochie that brought the idea of kidnapping Okonjo-Iweala’s mother.
 
“However, as God is my witness, I did not receive a dime from the gang after the operation.”
 
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Umar Manko, identified other members of the gang as Michael Ojeabulu, Endurance Oke, Ibrahim Abubakar, Buhari Hamadora and Hassan Oseni.
Manko, while parading the suspects, said the suspects were arrested in different states comprising Edo, Enugu, Delta and Anambra.
 
The police boss said contrary to reports, kidnapping was not on the rise in Lagos.
 
He said, “Marvelous was arrested in Port Harcourt after he had perfected plans to kidnap the Commissioner of Commerce in Anambra State.
 
“As you can see, these kidnappers do not operate in Lagos State, they just come and go. You therefore cannot say kidnapping is on the rise in Lagos.”
 
… gang kills 72-year-old woman after collecting ransom
 
Meanwhile, the same gang of kidnappers also confessed to killing a 72-year-old woman, Regina Obi, after collecting a ransom of N2m from her family.
 
The suspects told PUNCH Metro that Obi was killed because one of their gang members was killed during a gun duel with the police some days earlier.
 
Onochie said, “After the first operation in which I was not paid, they approached me again for another operation and told me that they would pay me this time around. They said they needed information about the family of Obi, who owns a big hotel in Delta State.
 
“I traced the residence of their mother and told them how they could kidnap her. She sells land so I told the gang to tell her that they had a good deal and when she follows them to conclude transactions, they should kidnap her.”
 
Marvelous said he was not around on the day Obi was killed. He however said it was another gang member, Peter, that pulled the trigger.
 
“We demanded N2m from the family and they paid immediately. However, because Peter’s brother had been killed during a police raid some days ago, he took the anger out on the old lady and killed her. I did not kill anybody; I’m a kidnapper, not a murderer,” he said.
 
(Punch)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Justus Esiri Laid To Rest---- Sad Mood



The body of the late veteran actor, Justus Esiri, was buried today in his hometown, Abraka, Delta State.
The late theatre icon began his final journey home with a Tribute Night organised by the Actors’ Guild of Nigerian in Lagos. It was followed by a service of songs and general mass on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively at St. Jude Catholic Church, Mafoluku, Lagos, before his body was taken to Delta State for burial.


Friday morning, a commendation mass/lying-in-state was held at the Polo Turf in Abraka, before the body of Esiri was moved to his residence in Abraka for interment and entertainment of guests.
Chief Esiri popularly known as the Village Headmaster, died on 19 February following complications from diabetes.
Born in 1942, Esiri had his primary and secondary school education in Abraka and Warri, respectively, before proceeding to the Maximillan University and Weners Institute of Engineering in Germany, between 1964 and 1968.
Having worked for some time as a newscaster with the Voice of Nigeria, German Service, he veered into movie, had a stint with the Schiller Theatre in Berlin before returning to Nigeria in 1976.
The late actor played a key role in the production of Dr. Ola Balogun’s movie, Dinner with the Devil, as well as during the Second World Black and African Festival of Art and Culture in Lagos, tagged FESTAC ’77 in 1977.

Princess Set To Wed


There are strong indications that popular comedienne, Damilola Adekoya, a.k.a Princess, will be walking down the aisle any moment from now.
A source close to the bulky humorist hinted that she will be saying ' I do' to her beau, Ade on the 8th of May, which interestingly, happens to be her birthday.
Our tweetbird also said, Princess and Ade had known each other since 2005.
Ade had been trying to get Princess' attention to no avail until a friend introduced them to each other, and they hit it off from there. Meanwhile, those in the know said, while Princess is loud and outgoing, 
Ade is on the quiet side and one who cherishes his privacy a lot. He's also a lover of entertainment.