Minimum wage and ASUU wars lost once again

Minimum wage and ASUU wars lost once again

By Dele Sobowale

They came forth to war, but, they always fell —James Macpherson, 1736-1796.

JAMES Macpherson was the father of Sir John Macpherson, a former governor-general of Nigeria, who handed the baton of office to Sir James Robertson who was our last British ruler before independence. He noticed how many times his Scottish brethren went to war against the English and have ended up defeated.

His lamentation recorded above serves as a fitting summary of the “sound and fury signifying nothing” to which the nation was treated by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in the last three or four months.

We all will remember the empty threats by the two bodies that no election will take place this year unless a minimum wage is passed and the billions owed to the universities, since Yar’Ádua’s government are paid. After thirty years writing these columns, and with a very keen recollection of other skirmishes by the two organisations, it was clear to me that another defeat stared NLC and ASUU in the face.

Nigerians went to vote on Saturday and there is no Minimum Wage Bill passed. In fact, the House of Representative Committee, which first started “working” on the Bill, soon closed shop – for three predictable reasons from previous experience. One, it was impossible to form a quorum to take decisions. Two, it was impossible to form a quorum because virtually all the members were out campaigning either for re-election of for their parties. Three, the political class, APC, APGA and PDP had successfully swindled the NLC into accepting the presentation of the Bill to the National Assembly, NASS, was a demonstration of good faith on the part of the Executive and Legislative branches of government to get a Minimum wage bill passed.

It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are –O. Henry 1862-1910.

The NLC leadership fell into a trap and were willing accomplices in the swindle for obvious reasons – obvious to strategic thinkers, that is. The strike and election disruption threats constituted the only weapons available to NLC and ASUU. Once that power is removed the two organisations can talk, shout or go on strike until dooms day and the issues on which they went to battle will no longer be resolved as they want. Again, permit me to explain.

With the elections concluded, several governors on their way out – Amosun, Ajimobi, Ambode, Yari, etc., have no incentive to work on any minimum wage bill implementation in their states. Even a fool knows that you can’t remove a lame duck governor. He is already packing his bags.

The outgoing governors, now untouchables, who will still be in charge until May and whose consent is needed for the bill to pass through various State Houses of Assembly, will provide support to their colleagues who might continue in office as well as incoming governors. At the very least, they will delay passage and implementation. It is well known that majority of governors are not prepared to pay N30,000. Now they have the upper hand in the negotiations.

All the above assume that President Buhari is re-elected. Even if he is, passage of a bill, note the word “a” because it is deliberate and because the bill that might be passed by the lawmakers might not call for N30,000. The mood of the NASS after the elections will determine what gets passed. So, even a re-elected President might not be enough to get the bill passed – if the mood in the NASS is nasty after the elections.

There is no need to list seriatim all the obstacles standing in the way of the bill. It is merely important to point out that leaders of the NLC made a strategic blunder when they agreed to call of the national strike after a hastily and ill-digested bill was sent to the NASS. Certainly, that bill, if it ever receives serious consideration by the lawmakers will be sent back to the presidency to be re-presented. There are too many vague aspects to the bill as it is. It cannot be implemented as it is.

Failures are divided into two classes; those who thought and never did and those who did and never thought— John Charles Salak

While the NLC has sent the same “Generals” to engage the “adversaries”, the ASUU almost always sends a new set of “field commanders”. The current crop, clones of the former ones, exhibit two traits of their predecessors. First, they are intelligent but not wise. Two, they are the wrong “generals” for this war. They learnt nothing from the history of past encounters with the Federal Government.

When in 2017 ASUU once again threatened to go on strike, what followed was the first paragraph of the article written in August of that year.

“I must confess that the government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process…” said the Minister of Education, our own Adamu Adamu. It was very noble of him. I cannot remember another example of a Federal Minister offering apology and confessing to a mistake by the government in my almost thirty years of writing weekly columns.

It is really noble of him – especially when one realizes that the problem was inherited from the Yar’Adua/Jonathan administrations from 2009 to 2015. It is even nobler of the minister because the former leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities were the architects of everybody’s current misfortunes. The agreements they now want to enforce were reached during the halcyon days of crude oil when crude prices rested comfortably at over $100 per barrel.

Buhari’s government reminds me of the tenant moving into a room whose previous tenant accumulated “NEPA” bills of twenty thousand naira or more before absconding. “NEPA does not care about the former tenant, they grab the innocent new occupant. But, because there is no alternative to NEPA the innocent tenant is forced to pay. It happened to me before when renting an office at Ikeja. It is blackmail plain and simple and that is what ASUU is doing now to Buhari’s administration. As usual, the charge against the unethical ASUU can be proved by going back to the history of ASUU and the FG since 2010.

Nothing has changed since then – except that ASUU in 2019 is making claims based on promises made in 2009. They allowed Jonathan to wriggle out of the agreement twice – in 2011 and 2015 – when the price of crude was over $100 per barrel. Now, they want to collect when we now pray to get $60 for the stuff and the number of public universities has escalated – thanks to the irrationalities of GEJ and Buhari.

As ASUU embarked on its march to the war front, it was clear that they were doing something without a clear thought of what they sought to achieve. They dropped their arms when apparently handed a small sum. Was that the reason for mobilisation, for disrupting universities programmes and for asking lecturers not to participate in the elections? It is doubtful. In the end, ASUU turned a serious matter into a farce. They are not sure where the money promised is and how much each university received.

These are the people training our leaders of tomorrow. Right now, the bulk of the agreement reached in 2009 remains unpaid. In 2022, another ASUU leadership will call the universities out on strike. “Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over again and accepting a different result”?

Credit: Vanguard

Polytechnic lecturers suspend strike

Polytechnic lecturers suspend strike

Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Polytechnic lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic Staff (ASUP) have suspended their nationwide strike.

ASUP thus directed its members to resume work as soon as possible.

ASUP President, Usman Dutse, told journalists in Abuja, on Tuesday, that the decision to suspend the strike was taken by the National Executive Council (NEC) after exhaustive deliberation and due consultation with the respective congresses across Nigeria.

He said that government had committed to a reviewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of action to concretise the resolution and ensure its full implementation, and the union would resume the industrial action if the government failed to do that.

Recall that academic workers withdrew their services in December 2018, to register their discontent with the inability of the government to meet the agreements it reached with the union.

At last, ASUU suspends three-month-old strike

ASUU calls off three-month-old strike

Olufemi Atoyebi, Abuja

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Thursday called off the three-month-old strike it embarked upon over revitalisation of universities, academic earned allowances, issuance of Universities Pension Management Company and other issues.

The strike was called off after a two-hour meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige.

Ngige said after the meeting that eight areas of disagreement were discussed and agreed on by the two parties, while expressing gratitude to ASUU leadership for their understanding.

He said, “We have dealt with all the eight contending issues and some of them have been implemented. ASUU has a licence for the Universities Pension Management Company since January 28, 2019.

“On the issue of salary shortfall in the universities, the Federal Government has released N16bn, out of which N15.384bn is for universities, while the rest is for other tertiary institutions. The Vice Chancellors have acknowledged the receipt of the funds.

“We also have a committee to liaise with state government-owned universities, ASUU and the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education. That committee was inaugurated two weeks ago.

“The visitation panel has been constituted and will commence work on March 2, 2019. On the issue of Earned allowances, the Federal Government has released N20bn for the payment to all categories of university staff. For the Earned academic allowance, the Federal Government has released N25bn and for the revitalization fund, a total of N25bn will be released in the period of April and May 2019 and will resume full implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding entered into in 2019.”

ASUU president, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said the decision of ASUU to call off the strike would take effect from Friday, February 8, 2019.

Credit: Punch

Strike: ASUU denies receiving N163bn from FG

Strike: ASUU denies receiving N163bn from FG

Olufemi Atoyebi and Ademola Babalola

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Sunday denied receiving the sum of N163bn from government in a bid to suspend the three-month-old strike.

In a statement titled, ‘Re: N163bn released to ASUU: Putting the record straight,’ signed by the Ibadan zonal coordinator of the union, Dr Ade Adejumo, the union, said, “Once again, the attention of our union has been drawn to another piece of misinformation which gives the impression that ASUU collects money from government.

“For umpteenth time, let it be known that our union is a patriotic organisation whose activities are driven by principled conviction that the resources of the country can better be managed for the ultimate benefit of the Nigerian society, especially the education sector which is our immediate constituency.

“The government and all civilised individuals are aware of how the university is managed, so also the resources available to it. The government knows that it is the council and the university administration that receive and spend all the money coming into the university. ASUU doesn’t receive money from government and doesn’t spend it.”

It added, “Even money meant for our salaries and other allowances come directly to the university administration which prepares the budget and manages it. ASUU members collect only their salaries as paid by the university. Contracts and all the capital projects are awarded by the councils that are appointed by the government, not ASUU.

“It is in the context of the above that our union calls on the vice-chancellors and council chairmen to stop behaving like vultures that wait silently by the sidelines, waiting for the game to fall only to descend on the carcass.

“They should join forces with ASUU in its struggles to attract requisite funding into our public universities rather than working at cross purposes with us. Part of the least expected from them is to come out openly to put the record straight each time the government comes out with the deliberate falsehood that money has been released to ASUU.”

The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, had earlier on Saturday, similarly said that the Federal Government claim that it released N163bn to settle part of the demands of the union was misleading.

Ogunyemi, who spoke on the sidelines of the Nigeria Labour Congress meeting in Abuja, said, “The minister referred to the release of N163bn but that was not released by the Ministry of Education to revitalisation. That fund he alluded to was from TETFUND. TETFUND was there when we carried out the NEEDS Assessment in 2012. What we called Revitalisation Fund today is a product of that exercise of 2012. We have always drawn a line of distinction between what TETFUND gives and what we should access from the NEEDS Assessment Fund.

“They are different terms of intervention that should not be equated to one. TETFUND as an intervention agent is ASUU’s brainchild which became a reality. The funds from NEEDS Assessment is to fix specific items of deficiency in our system. Both Federal and state governments have now relinquished their responsibilities to TETFUND, they now hold on to it.”

Source: The Punch

Ending Ongoing ASUU Strike

Ending Ongoing ASUU Strike

By DUSTAN AGHEDO

As the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) strike enters its 74th day, DUSTAN AGHEDO, writes on a way to end the lingering crisis between the lecturers and the federal government.

Over the years, Nigerian higher institutions have suffered incessant strikes initiated by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In the last two decades, LEADERSHIP Friday learnt that ASUU has gone on strike at least 15 times, in a bid to ensure that government listens and attends to its demands.

During the strikes, students are usually sent back home, thereby, wasting time which translates in a prolonged stay in the institution.

While the union has continuously gone on strike to seek government’s attention, federal government, on most occasions, doesn’t even take ASUU strike seriously, rarely regarding ASUU as a threat.

But could things be done differently, taking into consideration the fact that students are the ones at the receiving end of the strike actions?

It would be recalled that the ongoing ASUU strike has entered its 74th day and only time will tell when the strike would be called off.

The demand of ASUU has been the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU; 2012 and 2013), Memorandum of Action (MoA, 2017), among others.

However, if ASUU accepts the current federal government’s proposal of N15.4 billion to public universities for the sake of the students, it would mean postponing the evil day as the issue will resurface in future and the same union will go on strike again.

According to NOI Polls (NOIPolls) for 2019, most Nigerians want the government to mainly focus 49 per cent of its attention on Education, while highlighting poor funding as one of the major reasons for the deterioration and challenges in the educational sector, especially, tertiary education, which has led to frequent strikes by academic and non-academic staff since the early 1990s.

The report also shows that the federal government’s allocation to education in the last 10 years has been inadequate as only a total of N3.90 trillion or an average of 7.07 per cent has so far been allocated to the sector out of a total budget of N55.19 trillion.

No Lecture No Vote Campaign

While the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and Joint Campus Committee (JCC) have thrown their weight behind ASUU, perhaps some would feel it is now time for students and their leaders to take a bolder leap of faith to decry, demand and make a stance on their rights.

As some students clamour for ASUU to call off its strike, others are of the opinion that the strike shouldn’t be called off as it could still come back to hunt them in the future.

According to LEADERSHIP Friday’s findings, students from at least six tertiary institutions from both federal and state comprising of; University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State University (LASU), Ekiti State University (EKSU), Imo State University (IMSU), Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), amongst others, have opted to support a ‘No Lecture No Vote Campaign’ to demonstrate their displeasure about the present happenings.

Stakeholders’ Reactions

Speaking to LEADERSHIP Friday, the chairman, NANS JCC, Lagos axis, Abdulqowiyy Busari, said if the government refuses to agree to ASUU’s full demands, then, the students will do what they should have done before now.

‘There are plans on ground to stage a very gigantic protest blocking major FG roads in Lagos State,’ he stressed.

Reacting, Education Rights Campaign (ERC) Coordinator, Lagos State and a student of LASU, Nurudeen Yusuf, said the federal government needs to meet the demands of ASUU in full such that ASUU will not have any reason for going on strike nor students returning to poor teaching and learning conditions.

According to him, “The No Lecture, No Vote’, simply means, if there is no commencement of academic activities in Nigeria Universities, then no February 2019 general election.

“If we want to get it right, we should get it right once and for all. The federal government needs to meet the demands of ASUU in full such that ASUU will not have a reason for going on strike at least for a period of about 10 years. Yes, I want to resume, Nigerian students want to resume but not into the same old condition of campuses, where we have overcrowded lecture halls, inadequate teaching and learning facilities, poor hostels and electricity, limited water supply, hike in fees, among others.”

He added that, ‘We must resume with a commitment and hope that all of these challenges will be brought to barest minimum and the crisis resolved totally.’

Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, a final year student of EKSU, Stephen Oladele, said: “This campaign is not only agitating that we return back to our classrooms, it is also a campaign that seeks to put an end to the foundational problem in our educational system where the federal government pay lip service to education. If we continue to patch problems without strong will to end this unending unfavourable industrial action by lecturers, our future will face the brunt.”

Credit: Leadership

Strike: We Have No Agreement Yet With FG ― ASUU

BREAKING: Strike: We Have No Agreement Yet With FG ― ASUU

By Tunbosun Ogundare – Lagos

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday debunked the latest claim by the Federal Government to have reached an agreement with the union over their lingering differences, saying the claim is not true.

The President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, refuted the claim in an exclusive conversation with TribuneOnline.

According to him, the negotiations between both parties in still inconclusive as the team that represented ASUU at the meeting has no final say concerning the decision making as a body on matters of such magnitude.

He explained that what they had on ground now is a proposal from the government which ASUU insisted must be written down showing her plans of action unlike all along since the commencement of the two-month-old strike that government always made verbal proposals.

It will be recalled that their last meeting happened to be the seventh time they held meetings over their differences without tangible outcome from the previous meetings.

Speaking further, Prof Ogunyemi said, “it was just yesterday (Tuesday) that government sent the proposal to us without waiting for feedback before going to the public that we have reached an agreement. ASUU does not operate in that manner.”

“The ASUU team that met the Federal Government,” he noted, “would have to consult our principal over the proposal which we are already doing.”

He disclosed that the said principal represents various organs of ASUU who will in turn pass any resolution at that level on to the National Executive Committee and then, final decision can be made.

“So, ASUU cannot make pronouncement on a mere proposal. Until our principal agrees, there is no agreement. And that is what we have always emphasised to government that we are going to consult our members and if after consultation, our members think the proposal is good enough, we will get back to government and tell them that now, we have taken a decision which becomes an agreement. But so far on government proposal, we have not taken a decision. And our strike is still ongoing,” he said.

But when asked if there were grey areas in the proposal that would need consultation, he said ASUU might not bother about further consultation on issues that are very clear.

Giving examples, he said: “If you say you are going to set up a committee and you have set up that committee, that one is clear. And if you say you are going to pay certain money for certain purpose and you have paid, that will not also cause further argument. But where we said you should release certain amount of money in five tranches within certain period of time, and you are saying well, you have paid N20 billion, or you have paid N2 billion or N15. 4 billion, it means you haven’t started.

“So, that is the level we are now. And we don’t have a final say on any proposal that is controversial. But for areas that are not controversial as I had mentioned, we will only need to confirm payment. If paid, fine. It then means that one is settled and we now move to another one that is yet to be settled. And the one that is not settled we will need to take feedback to our members and that is the position we are at the moment.”

Credit: Tribune

Minimum wage: FG, labour reach agreement as govt sends bill on implementation to NASS Jan 23

FG, labour sign pact, National Assembly to get minimum wage bill Jan 23

Olufemi Atoyebi, Sampson Itode, Tunji Bosun, Olaide Oyelude, Bola Bamigbola, Adekunle Peter, Samuel Nkemakolem, Peter Dada, Ada Wodu, Godwin Isenyo, Chidiebube Okeoma and Ademola Babalola

The Federal Government and organised labour in the country on Tuesday finally reached an agreement that the Presidency would send the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Bill to the National Assembly after three days of meetings.

The agreement came on a day that labour unions staged a nationwide protest over the non-transmission of the bill to the National Assembly by the Federal Government.

Unlike other meetings, the Tuesday meeting lasted for fewer hours.

However, President of Trade Union Congress, Kaigama Bobboi, warned that if the Federal Government reneged on the date it promised to transmit the bill to the National Assembly, labour would take action without any warning.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Nigige, who presided over the meeting, assured the labour leaders that the Federal Government would send the bill to the National Assembly on January 23, 2019 after members of the National Assembly must have resumed from their Yuletide recess.

He added that necessary meetings on the part of the Federal Government would be held next week to ensure the timeline was met.

The minister said, “As for the transmission of the executive bill to the National Assembly, the government will religiously implement all the processes that will enable us to transmit this bill within the stipulated time.

“We have a target time of January 23, 2019 and we hope that all things being equal, government will be able to do so. We will take all statutory meetings of the Federal Executive Council, National Economic Council and the National Council of State meetings to enable us to transmit the bill on the new national minimum wage. I thank the labour unions for their understanding and appeal to them that the threats should come down. Protests are no longer necessary.”

While thanking Ngige for his role on the issue, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said workers had been patient with government for more than two years.

He added that after the submission of the report by the tripartite committee that deliberated on the minimum wage more that two months ago, it was expected that the Federal Government would have gone beyond the present stage of making effort to transmit a bill to the National Assembly.

He said, “We have finally been able to reach a clear understanding on the processes and timeline for this bill to be transmitted. We are committed to the process and hope that the timeline will be respected. We will put this across to our organs and give them all the details contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.

“You will recall that our demand is for the bill to be transmitted to the National Assembly. We want a firm commitment so that we don’t come round a cycle. We want the agreement to be documented and signed by government’s representatives. With that, we can follow up on the process.

“This thing has been on the table for more than two years and having submitted the report, we expect that the bill should have been submitted. The National Assembly will be back on January 16 from their recess so on or before January 23, the bill must have been transmitted.

“We know that the National Assembly members are desirous of making sure that Nigerian workers have decent wage, they will also be able to do the needful. We will shift our lobby to the National Assembly because once the bill is enacted; the money will be in the pocket of workers.

“Issues of industrial relations are always addressed at the negotiation table. We have been diligent in the whole process and workers have been patient, clearly we have carried them along, that is why whenever we want them to be around, they are always around. We are tired of stories and that is why we insisted on a timeline.”

Wabba, however, downplayed the agreement, saying that it was only one step taken out of many in making sure that a new minimum wage was paid.

“For us, it is a win-win situation but until the money is in our pocket, that is when we can talk of success. It is still work in progress and there are many more battles to fight. But once it is at the National Assembly, the half of the work is done. The next level is the implementation in the public and private sectors. But we are optimistic with the success of the bill at the National Assembly,” he said.

Workers, in nationwide protests, say N18,000 no longer realistic

But while the meeting between the Federal Government team and the labour leaders was going on, workers across the country held nationwide protests to demand the implementation of N30,000 minimum wage.

The protests were held in many states including Lagos, Rivers, Osun, Ogun, Katsina, Bayelsa, Edo and Kaduna.

Before the meeting, Wabba had earlier on Tuesday morning led workers in Abuja in a protest march from the Labour House to the Federal Capital Territory Administration office.

Wabba said the present N18,000 minimum wage could no longer cater for workers’ basic needs.

He said most Nigerian workers were unable to eat thrice per day. According to him, workers should be able to take care of their family but, in reality, he said, reverse was the case.

Wabba noted that in South Africa, the minimum wage was over N120,000, stating that the political class in the country were not complaining unlike in Nigeria. He also said that Ghana’s minimum wage was better that what obtained in Nigeria.

The Head of Human Resources in the FCTA, Mr Lazarus Gaza, received a protest letter from the NLC president.

Protest: Heavy traffic in Lagos

In Lagos, the protest by the organised labour caused gridlock on Lagos roads, while many commuters were stranded at the various bus stops.

The News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday reported that the workers’ protest started from Maryland as early as 7am and ended at the Lagos State Government Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.

The protest also resulted in gridlock on Ikorodu Road, Alausa and Ikeja.

The Vice President of the NLC, Solomon Adelegan, told the workers that the demand for a new minimum wage had gone beyond the negotiation stage.

A Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr Benjamin Adeyinka, told the protesting workers that the governor was not available. They shouted and insisted that the gate should be opened.

Adeyinka was not allowed to speak, as the protesters insisted that they did not want to hear from him but from Ambode.

Implement panel report, Oyo, Rivers workers tell govt

In Oyo State, the NLC Chairman, Mr Waheed Olojede, and his TUC counterpart, Mr Emmanel Ogundiran, noted that the federal and state governments, labour and organised private sector had reached a compromise.

Olojede, who spoke on the workers’ behalf, urged both the federal and state governments to implement the report of the tripartite committee.

The state Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Adeyemo, who addressed the workers, said, “Bearing the current economic condition, it is not too much for an average Nigerian to request N30,000 as minimum wage. The governors are sympathetic and acknowledge that N18,000 may be inadequate.”

Members of the NLC in Rivers State called on the Federal Government to implement the agreement it reached with the union.

The Chairman, NLC in the state, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, said any governor that refused to implement the minimum wage would be voted out.

The workers, who marched to the Rivers State Government House, were addressed by the Chief of Staff Government House, Emeka Woke.

Woke said the governor had earlier promised to implement the new minimum wage as soon as the bill was passed into law.

Ogun NLC demands N35,000 as minimum wage

However, the NLC and the TUC in Ogun State urged the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, to pay N35, 000 as minimum wage.

The state chairmen of the NLC and TUC, Akeem Amabali and Bunmi Fajobi respectively, made the demand while speaking with journalists during a rally embarked upon by the unions in Abeokuta.

Both Fajobi and Ambali said the payment of N35,000 would make the state to be different from other states.

No going back on N30,000-Katsina NLC

Workers, who stormed the Government House in Katsina, Katsina State capital, told Governor Aminu Masari’s Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Ahmed Jibia, who received them that any governor who failed to implement the N30,000 minimum wage should forget workers’ votes.

They also said there was no going back on their demand for the payment of N30,000 as minimum wage.

Jibia received a letter brought by the workers on their demands, promising that it would be delivered to the governor.

A national officer of the NLC from Abuja, Marwan Adamu, who is also the National President of Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, led members of the organised labour.

Civil servants in Osun State led by the Chairman of the NLC, Jacob Adekomi, and his counterpart in TUC, Adekola Adebowale, held a peaceful protest in Osogbo to demand N30,000 minimum wage.

The protest began at the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, Osogbo, from where the workers moved through major streets of the state capital.

The Edo State chapter of the NLC threatened to boycott the 2019 general elections if the N30,000 minimum wage bill was not transmitted to the National Assembly.

The state Chairman of the NLC, Mr Emmanuel Ademokun, stated this in Benin, when he led a protest march to the Government House.

Responding, Governor Godwin Obaseki, reassured them of his administration’s readiness to pay whatever amount was passed into law.

Organised labour in Bayelsa State said that the new national minimum wage would largely determine the electoral preference of workers during the 2019 elections.

The Bayelsa State Chairman of the NLC, John Ndiomu, and his TUC counterpart, Mr Tari Dounana, stated this in Yenagoa during the minimum wage protest.

Ndiomu urged the federal and state governments to make workers’ welfare their priority.

The Chief of Staff, Bayelsa Government House, Mr Talford Ongolo, who received the labour unions on behalf of Governor Seriake Dickson, said the state government was in support of the N30, 000 new minimum wage.

Ondo workers ask Akeredolu to pay N30,000

Also, civil servants in Ondo State, during the protest urged Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to ensure payment of the N30,000 minimum wage.

They urged President Buhari to submit a bill to the National Assembly for the implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage for workers.

The Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Mr. Ifedayo Abegunde, who addressed the labour unions on behalf of the governor, said the welfare of the workers in the state was paramount to the government.

We’ll pay minimum wage, Ayade assures C’River workers

But in Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade assured workers in the state that his government would pay the N30,000 national minimum wage.

He gave the assurance on Tuesday when labour leaders led workers on a street rally to his Diamond Hill office in Calabar to present a letter of commitment to him.

According to the governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, John Ulafor, “the N30,000 minimum wage is just alright. It is not beyond the government to pay. It is your right.”

If I have the capacity, I’ll pay Benue workers above N30,000 — Ortom

In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom said if he had the capacity, he would pay the state workers above N30,000 as minimum wage.

Ortom stated this on Tuesday in Makurdi while addressing members of the NLC.

NAN quoted Ortom as saying, “If I have the capacity, I will not hesitate to implement the new minimum wage even above N30,000.”

The NLC state Chairman, Mr Godwin Anya, called on the governor to consider the workers’ plight and stand on their side by accepting to pay the proposed minimum wage.

Vote out anti-labour leaders, says Kaduna NLC chair

In Kaduna State, the Chairman of the NLC, Adamu Ango, and his TUC, Shehu Mohammed, urged the workers “to remain steadfast and vote out anybody who is anti-labour during the February elections.”

He also asked the various state governors to cut their huge expenditures and hearken to the voice of the people over the new minimum wage.

Also in Imo State, the NLC called on Buhari, to intensify the process of implementing the N30,000 minimum wage.

The protesters who marched through the major streets in Owerri, the state capital,said it was high time the Federal Government took the welfare of the workers seriously.

Credit: The Punch

Varsities may resume next week as FG,ASUU reach agreement

FG, ASUU Reach Agreement; Varsities May Resume Next Week

By Clement Idoko –

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may call off the lingering strike this weekend to allow public universities to resume academic activities next week

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, gave this indication on Monday after long hours of conciliatory meeting with the representatives of ASUU led by its President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi.

He said the deliberations were fruitful and the government has presented the Union with offers for them to get back to their members and return on Thursday for an agreement to be signed by both parties.

He disclosed that over N15.4 billion has been paid to the lecturers across tertiary institutions in the country to offset arrears of salary shortfalls, while President Muhammadu Buhari has approved N20 billion to pay the outstanding arrears of Earned Allowance of the lecturers.

He said: “On salary shortfall in tertiary institutions, the Ministry of Finance and the office of the accountant general on having provided us with evidence that on the 31st of December, 2018, before the expiration of the current 2018 budget that they have remitted N15,389,940,335.71.

“This is to accommodate payment of shortfalls in all the tertiary institutions that have been verified by the Presidential Initiative.

“On the issue of earned allowances in the university system, they also showed evidence that the president has approved the sum of N20bn to be used to offset outstanding arrears of 2009, 2012 audit-verified allowances in the university system. This money is being worked out and will be released to ASUU as soon as the processes are completed.

“We also discussed the issue of the revitalization of public institutions which the then administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to inject about N220 billion into the university system every year for about six years,” Ngige said.

He added that government was committed to the agreement and that a token has been approved and would be released to ASUU.

He said the parties were working towards ensuring that the strike is called off this weekend to allow students to resume next week to schools.

The conciliatory meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU initially scheduled for 3:30 pm could not start until about 5:06 pm.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Ngige, at whose instance the meeting was held, in his opening remarks, said the meeting would be short since a lot of work had been done since the adjournment of the meeting December last year.

President of ASUU, Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, said the delegation would take to offer to their members and report back to the government.

However, when journalists were excused from the meeting for the technical session, President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) , Comrade Danielson Akpan, insisted that members of NANS and journalists be allowed to be part of the deliberations.

He said this would avoid the problem of discordance voices that usually come out of such meetings, he noted often leave the public without real facts of the deliberations.

He added that what journalists were always informed as of the outcome of such meetings by the government representatives, most often differ from what the Union would tell while briefing newsmen.

Akpan said the over 80 million students, he was representing were the ones that bear the brunt of the incessant strike and must be allowed to have the inkling of the key issues in dispute.

Ngige, in his response, however, appealed to the NANS President to repose confidence on members of the conciliatory meeting, assuring him that he would be happy with the outcome of the meeting.

He said the Federal Government was interested in revitalising university education to the extent on graduation the students would be happy with the quality of certificate obtained, he added would be globally competitive.

Since November 4, 2018, Public Universities across the country have been under lock and key as ASUU leaders insisted the ongoing strike would not be called off until key demands of the Union are met.

Credit: Nigerian Tribune

NLC to hold nationwide protest Tuesday

NLC to hold nationwide protest Tuesday

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Nigeria Labour Congress says it will on Tuesday hold a nationwide protest to drive its demand for the upward review of the national minimum wage from N18,000 to N30,000.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said in a statement that there would be no strike for now.

Ozo-Eson, therefore, asked members of the public to disregard reports that the strike would begin tomorrow.

The statement read in part, “It has come to our attention that some sections of the news media have largely misrepresented our action plan in reaction to the delay in transmitting the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on a new national minimum wage to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It should be recalled that the National Executive Council of the NLC met on December 17 last year and directed that we hold nationwide mobilisation of workers and our allies if, by December 31, 2018, the bill on the national minimum wage has yet to be sent to the National Assembly to be passed as an Act of Parliament.

“We immediately announced then that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, there will be a nationwide mass mobilisation and protests simultaneously across all states in Nigeria. This does not translate to a strike.”

Credit: The Punch

Strike: FG to continue negotiation with ASUU Monday

Strike: FG to continue negotiation with ASUU on Monday

by Agency Reporter

The Federal Government says it will continue negotiation process with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday to resolve ongoing industrial action embarked by the striking lecturers.

Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment said this in a statement signed on Saturday in Abuja by Mr Samuel Olowookere, Director of Press, in the ministry.

According to the statement, the meeting is in furtherance to efforts at resolving the on-going industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“The Minister of Labour and Employment Sen. Chris Ngige is scheduled to hold a meeting with the Executive of ASUU.

“The conciliatory meeting is scheduled to hold on Jan. 7, at Minister’s Conference Room by 30:30 pm prompt.

ASUU commenced an indefinite strike on Nov. 5, 2018 over certain demands based on agreement reached with government in 2009.

One of the demands is the replacement of Dr Wale Babalakin as the chairman for the government renegotiating team of the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government Agreement.

Other issues are non-payment of earned allowance, funding of revitalisation of the Nigerian universities, implementation of needs assessment report, poor funding of state universities, among others.

As part of efforts by the Federal Government to end the strike, it commenced meetings with ASUU leadership on Nov. 15, 2018 followed by the last one on Dec. 17, 2018 before Christmas break.

NAN