As a result of ASUU’s alleged failure to submit its audited reports as required by law over the past five years, there are indications that the Federal Government may revoke its registration as a trade union. This information came to light on Wednesday.
According to reports, the Registrar of Trade Unions has already questioned the union about why its registration certificate should not be revoked because it violates the law.
This is due to the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academies’ (NAMDA) request for registration as a separate labor union from university teachers in the medical industry.
The group has also said that it did not join the ongoing strike embarked upon by its parent body ASUU, rather, its members were locked out due to the industrial dispute declared by the union.
It said that it would soon start examination for the 500 and 400 levels of medical students, noting that the country has shortage of medical doctors and that it would not be in her interest to lose a year because of any strike.
Speaking while receiving members of NAMDA, who had visited him to express their solidarity with the Federal Government on the ASUU imbloglio, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige acknowledged receiving the group’s request for registration.
The Minister lamented that the university based unions have been in the habit of not obeying the law that sets) them up with regard to the submission of their yearly audited account.
He said that he was constrained to allow the hammer of the law to descend on ASUU because of the prolonged strike as any action taken by the government would be wrongly interpreted.
He maintained that going by the provisions of the law, the leadership of the university based unions that collect check-off dues from their members are mandated to render account on how the money is spent.
Responding to the group’s request to be registered as a trade union, Ngige said, “I am happy today that you people have noticed what is wrong with medical education and decided now to form a single trade union.
“Yes, we have received your application about two or three months ago. Even when NMA had come to make an oral application for you people, I told them that it is not done that way. If you understand what you need, you come to be registered as a trade union. Registration as a trade union has its own rights and privileges.
“The privileges are as follows. As a union, you are enjoying freedom of association as people of like minds. People who have the same profession. People who have the same ideas. People who believe in the furtherance of the production of medical doctors in their country.
“You also have the advantage that as a union, you get check off dues from your members, automatically done at source by the employers in which case now, universities. These are the advantages.
“What are the disadvantages? The disadvantages is that you have to obey our laws. The laws of the land. That is where you elite fail, especially SSANU, NASU, ASUU, NAAT. All of you in the university system. They have not been obeying trade union laws.”
He further said, “ASUU has not responded to the relevant section of Trade Union Creation for submission of audited accounts. How do they utilise their money? The money they collect as check off dues, should be accounted for. So, the Trade Union Act says that in June of any given year, unions should produce audited account at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“The Registrar of Trade Unions has written them to show cause why we should not withdraw their certificate of registration. They have not responded to the letter. Rather, I learned that they came last Friday with bundles of papers and said they are their audited account.
“Of course, he rightly told them that ‘I didn’t ask you for your audited accounts anymore. I need you to respond to my query on why disciplinary action should not be taken against you. If disciplinary action is taken against ASUU now, although I am restraining him, they will say that it is because we are in court. They will say that we are being victimised because we are on strike. We are being punished. Whereas, they have been running foul of the law.
“Five good years, they have not tendered an audited account of their activities, at least, for the benefit of their members. For now, you are their members. They should give you account of how they spent your money. They have not done so.”
Speaking on ASUU strike, he said, “You went on strike. The Minister of Labour brought you here one week after and we discussed seven items one after the other and agreed on five of the items.
“The two items we couldn’t reach agreement are the usage of UTAS; we asked NITDA to go back and test. We met with the traditional rulers, Sultan and NIREC and asked NITDA to give us a report in six weeks.
“We asked them to go to education to negotiate their conditions of service, which is the only thing outstanding in the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
“When you say government is not implementing 2009 agreement, it is not true. It was in the renegotiation of 2009 in 2013 that President Jonathan and his team agreed to pay you N1.3 trillion-N220 every year for six years. Maybe because they knew they were going away. But that was what they agreed on.
“By 2019, we had conciliated here again. But, we said this government is unable to meet your demand. What do we do? We structured a payment plan for one single tranche of N220 billion.
“This government started paying. They have paid N50 billion or so. I am not sure but we asked them to go and reconcile the figures from Budget Office and ASUU. When they say 2009 agreement, the public is deceived. It is the 2009 revitalisation of the government of Goodluck Jonathan we couldn’t pay. It is not a wrong thing for government to say it is unable to pay. Let us restructure our debt or our promise to you. It was an agreement. A Collective Bargaining Agreement can be renegotiated anytime. That is where we are.
“Another thing to be renegotiated was their conditions of service, to include salaries of their scale, which is the CONUASS. We remitted that one back to education, their primary employer. Education invited Chairmen of councils, with Prof. Mini Briggs to chair the renegotiation committee.What also will guide that negotiation. It is the availability of the fund and by extension, the ability to pay, which is the ILO principle in wage fixing mechanism.
“It is not enough to say I will give you N1.3 trillion and not pay it. That is why the negotiation went on there and different proposals were made. Those proposals are now the subject of contention. When the committee in education gave them a proposal on what they can pay, they did not do enough consultation with government. They did not consult Minister of Finance. They did not consult Budget Office of the Federation. They did not consult the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.
“Rather, the officials we sent there were told to leave. And they gave themselves award. They awarded money to themselves. Our Director Trade Union Services was there. She was told to leave. Our labour attache in Education was told to leave. The person in NSIWC was also told to leave. He didn’t even participate. The person from Finance was told to leave and they decided and awarded themselves money. It is not done that way. That is no longer a CBA. Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“Even at that, government said, ‘we need our children to go back to School, let us do a counter offer. They gave them counter offer. It is that counter offer that they called an award and that it is pittance and miserly. The award was for an increase of 23.5 percent across board for everybody in the university system, including SSANU, NASU and NAAT and 35 percent for professors. This is in spite of the fact that in May, consequential adjustment of National Minimum Wage was put in their salaries.
“You had 10 percent rise in salaries and government paid you arrears from May 2019 when the Act was signed by Mr. President. A lot of people got the money even though they were on strike.
“Some others wrote and said it is ammunition to continue strike that they will use it as ammunition to fight government. You are not fighting any government. I am in government but tomorrow, I will leave. I have brothers and sisters who are ASUU members. I have friends.
“My classmates are professors who are teaching. They are ASUU members. So, naturally I want something good for them but they are going about it the wrong way. They want to use intimidation and blackmail but I am telling them no.
“Don’t intimidate your employers. It is not allowed in labour negotiation. Even a strike during negotiation is now an instrument of blackmail and intimidation during negotiation and it is not allowed in wage fixing mechanism. It is in ILO principles at work.
“That is why Section 18 of TDA says if you are on strike or if you have locked out your employers for any reason, once the Minister puts in place, an apprehension mechanism on the dispute, you call it off.”
BREAKING: JAMB releases timetable for 2024 UTME
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has announced dates for the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
It said the sale of forms for the examination will start on January 15 and end on February 26.
In a statement by its Public Communication Advisor (PAC), Fabian Benjamin, JAMB said the main UTME will hold from April 19 to 29, 2024.
The statement reads: “Based on the series of recommendations emanating from a two-day Information Technology (IT) and management retreat held between November 26 and 28, 2023, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has fixed January 15 to February 26, 2024, for the sale of its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) application document.
“Meanwhile, March 7, 2024, has been slated for the 2024 MOCK-UTME, while the main UTME will hold from April 19 to 29, 2024.
“Candidates are expected to print their examination slips as from April 10, 2024.
“Candidates are enjoined to take note of these dates and other advisories issued by the board in relation to the administration of the examination. They are also to visit the board’s website @www.jamb gov.ng for any other information.”
Fed Govt gets additional $700m as 11 states join World Bank project on girls education
The World Bank has approved an additional $700 million for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project to improve learning outcomes of the girl – child.
In the new funding arrangement, 11 additional financing states joined the initial seven pilot states.
The states are: Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara.
Project Coordinator, AGILE, Hajia Amina Haruna, said this during the inauguration of the national steering committee on AGILE in Abuja.
The committee inaugurated comprised executive secretaries from SUBEB, Commissioners of Education from 18 states and relevant Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
The AGILE project is a credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) to the Federal Government, and it is implemented in seven states.
The states are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi and Plateau, with an initial project cost of $500m.
Haruna said the project was put in place to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas in the seven participating states.
She called for the commitment of the state government to recruit qualified teachers for proper impact of the project.
Haruna said: “Over 2.4 million beneficiaries reached across the seven states reached. More than 1,341,821 adolescent girls have so far been reached.
“Over 7,967 non functional classrooms have been renovated and in use in the seven states. 84,567 teaching and learning materials to schools and in use.”
While inaugurating the committee, Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, charged the committee members and state chapter on the sustainability of the project.
According to Mamman, one of the major challenges we have is taking millions of out-of-school children off the street.
He said: “If we can register success in the 18 states, we will be half way through in reducing the number of out-of-school children in the country.
“We need to scale up what we have to reach other states. The project has assisted us in a template we can adopt to work out deliverables in reducing the number of out-of-school children.”
Minister of State for Education, Dr. Yusuf Sununu said the inauguration was aimed at creating system reforms for expansion of access and provision of financial incentives for the girl child.
While urging the commissioners of education to make use of the available resources judiciously, Sununu also explained that the federal ministry of education had done a lot towards improving learning outcomes.
The World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri, said the bank was passionate about the project as it would give the girl child the opportunities to contribute to their families, communities and the nation.
Chaudhuri said efficient deliverables of the project would yield increased investment in girl-child education by the world bank.
Edo 2024: UNIBEN students, Stakeholders drum support for Shaibu’s governorship ambition
The 2024 governorship aspiration of Edo state deputy governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, on Tuesday, November 28, received a boost from students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN).h
The students, who were led by past and serving leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), including executive members of many departments, converged on Shaibu’s campaign office in Benin to pledge their support for his governorship aspiration.
The speakers included Comrade Gilbert Success, aka UNIBEN Oracle; Comrade Gerald Nnamdi; and Comrade Happiness Ugheghele; and they pledged their unflinching support for the Edo deputy governor’s aspiration.
They described Shaibu, a former national president of NANS, as one of their own.
The students’ leaders noted that the Edo deputy governor was a worthy ambassador of young people in Nigeria while disclosing that they would have gone to court to compel Shaibu to join the governorship race if he had not declared on Monday in Benin.
They said: “We are here in our numbers as representatives of great Nigerian students from UNIBEN, to pledge our total support for your governorship ambition.
“We are convinced that you are one hundred percent homeboy the Edo people are looking forward to, and there is no doubt whatsoever that with your antecedents, you have the pedigree and capacity to deliver, and take Edo State to the next level.
“As one of our own and a vibrant and articulate youth for that matter, we will mobilise and support you to ensure that you become the next governor of our dear Edo State.”
Shaibu, a former majority leader of the Edo House of Assembly and ex-member of the House of Representatives, in his response, stated that by his exposure and experience as a youth, he was adequately prepared and equipped to be Edo governor from November 12, 2024.
He chronicled his struggles and sacrifices with other like-minded in fighting for the emancipation of Nigerian students and the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria.
Edo deputy governor said: “I am happy to be getting this kind of massive support from my fellow youths and students. We are told that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. But the journey to taking over positions of leadership in our country starts today. By the grace of God, and with your support, the Edo of our collective dream is possible.
“All l enjoin you to do is to go about spreading the gospel of a better Edo State with Philip Shaibu as Governor, and let me assure you that I will not disappoint you.”
Shaibu, at Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Airport Road, Benin on Monday, while declaring his intention to vie in the September 21 next year’s governorship election, insisted that nothing and no one could stop his aspiration on the platform of the governing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and succeed Governor Godwin Obaseki, also of PDP
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