By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, has disclosed that discussions with the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were still ongoing and that both parties would meet next week for continuation.
Mr Ngige made this clarification to dispel speculations of uncertainty over talks between the Federal Government and union.
Speaking in a statement issued by the Deputy Director Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Samuel Olowookere, the Minister said as the chief conciliator of industrial disputes in the country and the Minister of Education, whose Ministry is the employer of the university lecturers, were still leading the talks.
The statement further said that the consultation at the office of the Vice President by both Ministers after last Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was in consolidation of the negotiations so far held with ASUU.
“The Vice President has not taken over the matter. The meeting in his office was in consolidation of negotiations.
“Engagement of the striking ASUU members is still being handled by Ministers of Labour and Employment and the Minister of Education.
“Issues of strike by an employee is a labour matter. The Minister of Labour and Employment is therefore synergising with his Education counterpart where the strike occurred to resolve the dispute.
“Just as the Minister of Labour and Employment led negotiation with the National Association of Resident Doctors in conjunction with the Minister of Health, the same applies in the case of ASUU.
“As a matter of fact, the Minister of Education reported progress on the issue to the Federal Executive Council and together with the Labour Minister held a meeting with the Vice President subsequently. This is normal procedure in government where Ministers brief/report to the President or Vice President to streamline efforts and gains in a given assignment.
“But that does not entail such assignment is no more being handled by the Minister charged with the responsibility,“ Mr Ngige was quoted as explaining in the statement.
The statement added that the Minister of Labour specifically told reporters that government negotiating team on ASUU strike was to meet with the Vice President.
“It was reporters that erroneously interpreted it to mean the Vice President has taken over negotiation,” he said.
Meanwhile, in view of the determination of the Federal Government to end every disruption in the academic calendar of universities, the Minister said conciliation with the university lecturers will resume immediately after the Sallah break as requested by ASUU.
Oyo Threatens to Revoke Unexecuted Contracts
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Oyo State Government has threatened to revoke unexecuted contracts on renovation and construction projects under its 2012-2018 UBEC/SUBEB Intervention Project from defaulting contractors in the state.
This threat was made on Thursday by the Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Nureni Adeniran.
Speaking with the 22 contractors in Ibadan, the state capital, Mr Adeniran this action may likely be taken under the breach of contract terms.
He noted that many of the contracts, including those awarded by the previous administration had been dragging since 2018, adding that this is in contravention of the time frame of the contractual agreement which stipulated two weeks for completion of borehole and a maximum of 24 weeks for completion of model schools.
Mr Adeniran said the board would not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions against these defaulting contractors, who have failed to meet project specifications in the execution of UBEC/SUBEB jobs in the state.
He added that the contractors may answer queries from the anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after the November 2021 deadline, adding that they also risk being blacklisted by UBEC for further contracts of UBEC/SUBEB nationwide.
“The message here is clear, the job has taken too long, your failure to deliver on the agreed dates is affecting the wellbeing of our children, we will reverse the contract,” he said.
“We have issued several warnings, this is about the third time. We need to revoke the contract and give those that will do the job. The guideline is clear and we are not going to compromise,” he warned.
The SUBEB boss, who was at the meeting in the company of the management staff of the Board, queried the rationale behind the contractors’ refusal to deliver results, despite the mobilization fee Government had given them.
The educationist noted that as part of concerted efforts to enforce standards, as well as ensure that there are only appropriate executions of projects, the board in 2019 did not revoke their contracts, despite the fact that they were issued by the former administration.
Katsina Has 775,000 Out-of-School Children—SUBEB Director
By Sodeinde Temidayo David
The United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has commenced a new campaign on the rising number of out-of-school children in Katsina State.
The campaign tagged Back to School and Behavioural Change, is with the aim to prevent the threat that could be caused if there is a high number of children who would lack a formal education.
The scheme, which is targeted at returning over 200,000 out-of-school children, including Al-Majirai to schools in 2021, is supported by the UNICEF and sponsored by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Speaking at the unveiling of the programme, the State Commissioner for Education, Mr Badamasi Lawal, noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 and banditry had triggered the number of out-of-school children in the state, particularly in Kafur and Kankara Local Government Areas.
According to statistics released by the State SUBEB Director, Social Mobilisation, Mr Abdulmalik Bello, the state has 775,000 out-of-school children across the 34 local government areas of the state as a result of banditry and COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Lawal further expressed that with the new flagship, the back to school campaign would reduce the number of out-of-school children across the 34 Local Government Areas of the state.
The state commissioner recalled that the state government, under the leadership of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, had prioritised the education sector hence the employment of 10,000 teachers, prompt payment of teachers’ salary and timely provision of instructional materials to schools.
He, therefore, tasked traditional and religious leaders in the state to support the state government’s effort of uplifting the education sector by ensuring the enrolment, retention and completion of school by all children irrespective of gender affiliations.
On his part, the SUBEB Executive Chairman, Mr Lawal Buhari Daura, applauded UNICEF for supporting the state government in curtailing the number of out-of-school children and other educational challenges afflicting the state.
Following this development, UNICEF reaffirmed the goal to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents, and to protect the rights of every child, and to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, helping to meet their basic needs, and giving them a fair chance to reach their full potential.
Kaduna Prioritises Education, Health in N233bn 2022 Budget
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Kaduna State Government has presented the 2022 draft budget of N233 billion to its House of Assembly, with a capital expenditure of N146 billion and recurrent spending of N87.6 billion.
This was done by the state governor, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, on Tuesday. In the further breakdown of the budget estimate, it was stated that the capital to recurrent ratio stands at 63 per cent to 37 per cent.
Mr El Rufai noted that the 2022 estimates are slightly smaller than the 2021 budget of N237.52 billion, which had N157.56 billion as capital and N79.96 billion recurrent expenditure, a 66 per cent to 34 per cent capital to recurrent ratio.
He said that the priorities of the 2022 estimates are education, healthcare and infrastructure, like the previous budgets.
The Governor noted that the allocations in the 2022 budget estimates reflect the political values and governance principles that have consistently guided the six previous budgets of his government since 2015.
“Most of the capital spending will be in the economic and social sectors, in keeping faith with our stated governance agenda.
“We propose to devote 76.8 per cent of the capital budget to schools, hospitals, and infrastructure, including housing.
“Capital spending on education is N68.4 billion (29 per cent) and for health N35.1 billion (15 per cent),” he said.
According to the governor, “these figures show that the 2022 draft budget estimates express our political values and governance principles in the same consistent manner as our six previous budgets.”
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