The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday declared an indefinite and total nationwide strike to protest the poor funding of Nigerian universities.
The union accused the government of not implementing the Memorandum of Action signed with it.
Briefing newsmen after its National Executive Council meeting, National President of the ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said all appeal made to the Federal Government to honor the agreement with the union was ignored.
Why $2.7bn Railway Concession Talks with GE Stalled
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has clarified that the federal government did not sign any agreement with General Electric (GE) on the planned $2.7 billion deal to concession and rehabilitate Nigeria’s narrow gauge railway, stressing that the American company was still negotiating with the federal government when it backed out of the deal.
According to him, GE was no longer in the business of transportation and had to hand over its interest in the deal to another firm.
Amaechi said prior to GE backing out of the deal, it had not signed any concession agreement with it or any of the firms involved but was still negotiating with them.
“General Electric did not pull out. One thing that thrives heavily in Nigeria is rumour, I don’t know where you got that information, no concession agreement has been signed, none. We have been negotiating, there is no way you will get a concession agreement in one year,” Amaechi said.
He explained, “What happened is that most of their business activities, they have dropped a lot of (them), I don’t know if it includes energy, transportation and all that. When they found out that they couldn’t continue in that line of business…because they were no longer in transportation business, the next company took over the lease, they didn’t pull out, it has nothing to do with our economy, they were excited about this thing.”
Amaechi revealed that GE had told him that they had for 11 years approached successive administrations in Nigeria to do the railway concession but the company was not successful because previous administrations wanted to award contracts for the railway while that of Muhammadu Buhari, preferred the concession model.
He stated that South African firm, Transnet SOC Limited, which deals in pipeline, port, and rail construction would now take over from GE, adding that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up with Transnet and other firms to do the job.
Amaechi explained further, “I said I wasn’t going to award any contract because railway is too expensive. The total investment is supposed to be $2.7 billion, which is N1 trillion. No government can pull out N1 trillion to rehabilitate the entire narrow gauge.
“Now, the South African company has continued, they want to do the rehabilitation, we are at the point of setting up the SPV before we can sign the concession agreement.
“Have we finished negotiations? The answer is yes; the problem we have is that they want another six months to get their ministers in South Africa to give them approval to set up an SPV and we can’t sign without that because there are four companies involved.
“The four companies will form an SPV with which they will come to the table to sign. Each company, especially the one in China, say they will need six months to be able to convince their government to go into the concession. We are good to go, we are waiting for our partners,” he added.
The minister also talked about the status of work on the Lagos-to-Kano rail line, stating that bad weather and not lack of funds had contributed to the slow pace of work on the line.
According to him, “The weather is the problem, unlike the past government that could not pay counterpart fund, this time we paid 100 per cent counterpart funding. The president insisted that we must pay 100 per cent and get going.
“The problem at this time wasn’t funding, it was the weather – the rain was heavy and the construction of railway is like construction of roads. We are already laying tracks; our target is to get to Ebute Metta by February.”
He noted that the line had not experienced any Right of Way (RoW) challenges in Oyo; Ogun; and Lagos States.
Amaechi added that contractors were working out how to deal with RoW in Lagos, which he said was built up with gas and water pipelines to deal with.
NLC reads riot act to governors
NLC yesterday rejected the governors’ claim that states cannot pay N30,000 minimum wage if it is eventually approved. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) condemned the threat by the govermors to sack workers should the new wage come into effect.
To NLC President Ayuba Wabba, the threat is not new in the struggle for review of the national minimum wage.
He said workers might be prevailed upon not to vote for governors who fail to pay the new wage.
“Therefore, the current one by the governor of Zamfara (Abdulaziz Yari) cannot be used to intimidate labour,” Wabba said in a statement, reiterating the directive that workers should vote out anti-labour governors and politicians.
“The consequences of workers’ retrenchment are too grievous for any political office holder truly elected by the people to contemplate.
“Few political office holders are bent on enslaving Nigerian workers with peanuts mislabelled as salaries.
“We urge such elected public officials to subject their humongous salaries and allowances, reputed to be among the highest in the world to public perusal. Pro rata with the minimum wage, they want to force down the throats of Nigerian workers,” he said.
Wabba urged each of the governors to go to their state and inform workers on their individual position on the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.
”To the oppressors, we have only one answer for you, we will never sleep on our rights.
“We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30, 000.
“We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labor governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election, ‘’Wabba said.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to speedily present to the National Assembly the bill on the National Minimum Wage for appropriate amendment and implementation.
“It would interest Nigerians to know that the new national minimum wage of N30,000 was a product of intense and robust negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee that lasted for one year.
“At the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee, state governments were represented by six states, one state from each of the six geo-political zones.
The statement added: “The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) recognizes individual states in the Collective Bargaining Process not Nigeria Governors Forum. The states, like the other social partners, have already defended their positions during negotiations at the National Minimum Wage Tripartite Negotiation Committee vis-à-vis counter proposals.
“Alhaji Yari should desist from using the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum to seek political relevance. His tactics of blackmail against workers is already time worn and the stench is already offensive.
“We hereby reiterate our directive to Nigerian workers to vote out any politician or political party that refuses to pay the new national minimum wage of N30,000. We shall continue to consolidate our efforts to strengthen already existing platforms and structures to give teeth to our resolve to vote out anti-labour governors and politicians in the forthcoming 2019 general election.
OPC leader, speaks on the current state of the country
The grand leader of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), a Yoruba nationalist organisation, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, has decried the current state of the country, saying the whole world is disappointed in Nigeria.
Fasehun stated this Thursday in Lagos in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the youth conference organised by the Frederick Isiotan Fasehun Foundation (FIFF) which was held to sensitise the youths on the 2019 elections.
According to ThisDay, the elder statesman painted a gloomy picture of the steady fall in all indices of the country’s development. He also pointed out that the situation had led to Nigerians fleeing the country in search of better life.
Fasehun also added his voice in the call for restructuring of the country, warning that failure to do so, the country would not get out of its current socio-economic quagmire.
According to him, “So far, the whole world is disappointed in Nigeria. They are embarrassed by the situation of this country. Nigeria which used to be a great country has now failed in all ramifications.
“There is no electricity; there is no water, and the roads are not good. There is nothing we can be proud of in this country. When you invite them to come here, they will say they will not come to this world-damned country.”
The OPC leader, who earlier addressed the youths numbering over 1,000, charged them to try and get their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and be ready to take power from the present “incompetent government” in the 2019 general election.
He said Nigerians residing in the country are suffering and dying because of poor leadership, adding that those who could not withstand the harsh situation are migrating to America, Canada and Israel. He argued that this was because those countries had gone through changes effected by their leaders.
Fasehun said: “Now, who can you call a leader in this country? Where is the leader in this country? You get into a situation where you ask who is in charge? People are dying, and there is insecurity galore. Our children go through our difficult educational system and they pass out without jobs for them.”
However, the retired medical doctor joined Nigerians in the call for restructuring of the country. This, he explained, holds the key to the progress and development of the country.
The Yoruba leader explained: “That’s one of our problems. If Nigeria does not restructure, we will not get out of this mess. Why can’t I see what is available in my backyard; explore what is available, sell, export and pay tax to the government. But the constitution must give me an opportunity to explore what I have in my backyard.
“And why should I sell what is in my backyard and share the profit with you? That’s why restructuring is necessary. If there is no restructuring, forget the progress of Nigeria.
“We had a restructured Nigeria before. That was when Nigeria was progressive. The moment we destroyed the structure, we started having problems in this country. Didn’t we have restructuring when we had the Eastern region, the Western region, the Northern region, and the Middle Belt, and they did very well in then.”
Atiku reveals how Boko-Haram was formed
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has said Boko Haram was formed by youths abandoned by politicians.
The PDP presidential candidate stated this in a chat with The Africa Report while speaking on how he’ll counter the sect.
“I happen to know how Boko Haram came into being. They were offshoots of political thuggery. Politicians used those boys in Boko Haram to win elections and then abandoned them and then there were no jobs for them.
“It was the same thing with the Niger Delta. In 1998, I saw it myself and I warned people.
“It’s going to be a multifaceted approach. It will involve negotiations. It will involve military action”, he said.
On the incessant herders/farmers clashes and cattle-rustling, Atiku declared that grazing reserves was the solution.
“In each province in the north, we used to have a grazing reserve. During the season, the cattle are in the reserves.
“When it is off-season when farmers would have cultivated all their crops, then the cattle move out to the areas where the farmers have cultivated, allowing the grass in the grazing reserves to grow. These grazing reserves have been abandoned over the years.
On the fate of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu and former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, Atiku noted that the rule of law must be respected.
His words: “I don’t want to be individualistic on this issue. I reject any illegal detention, any detention that is not based on rule of law and order.
“Dasuki is being detained illegally. It is only a court that will say whether he is guilty or not.”
On calls for secession by some South-East, Atiku hinted on “a conference to discuss reconstruction”
“I don’t think there is any part of this country that wants to leave this country. All they want is fairness, equity and justice”, he added.
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