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Varsity unions strike: FG, Labour tango over nationwide protest

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The Federal Government and Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, may be on collision course over the nationwide protest slated for next Tuesday and Wednesday by the labour movement over the five months old strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other university unions over federal government’s failure to meet their demands.

 

While the government declared the proposed nationwide protest by NLC, in solidarity with the striking members of the university-based unions as illegal, NLC said no law in the country barred it from embarking on protest without permission.

In fact, government also said civil aviation worker, should not be part of the proposed two-day nationwide protest, even as NLC told the government that the right to peaceful assembly and protest was a fundamental right guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and the UN charter on human and peoples right.

Recall that the NLC had announced that it would embark on a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to press home the need to resolve the over five-months old strike embarked upon by the four university-based unions in the country.

The four unions are the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.

Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chamber, Abuja yesterday, the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said since the NLC had no dispute with government, its planned street protest was illegal.

The Minister observed that what the NLC was doing was about interest, noting that it should insulate itself completely from politics.

Fielding questions on the proposed strike by organized labour, Mohammed said: “While we’re still on
Labour, I think we should also start to interrogate what labour is doing. The NLC is not a political party. The NLC can go on strike or protest if the rights of NLC members are involved.

“What the NLC is planning in the next two days is about interest. There’s no dispute whatsoever between NLC as a body and the federal government. Well, yes, there is a dispute between some members of NLC, ASUU, whatever and the federal government which is being looked into and NLC itself is a party to the committee that is looking into the solution.

“So calling out people on street protest you begin to wonder, what is the motive of NLC in this matter? But you see here, we do not interrogate what NLC is doing. NLC, by its own laws, cannot even give out pamphlets. NLC is supposed to be completely insulated from politics. Now, if you declare dispute with us, yes you can go on strike.

“Even that one would depend on whether certain steps have been taken or not. But this particular NLC, you know, asking and mobilizing people to come out on strike on July 26 and 27 is clearly on nothing.”
Reminded that NLC was worried about the prolonged strike which is affecting their children as well, he said: “The federal government is as worried as NLC and everybody, but the law is the law. What we are saying is that rather than protest, what I expect NLC to do as umbrella body is to join the federal government in finding solution.

‘’They are part of the tripartite agreement that has been negotiating with the federal government on this ASUU issue. So why are they now going out to take sides? I think you also interrogate it yourselves. I think it is popular to get NLC out and support but ask yourselves how does that solve the problem?
“What you are going to create is more anarchy. And I think the NLC should think twice about their proposed strike in solidarity with ASUU. It’s as if the federal government is doing nothing about ASUU. No. And they’ve been involved in this negotiation all along, so why now?”

On his part, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, while responding to the question on how concerned he was on the threat by aviation union joining ASUU strike, said: “I’m naturally concerned about this if the aviation union will shut down in support of ASUU.

‘’I would say they have no need to. I will say also that we should begin to look at civil aviation as a critical national security enterprise. It has all the implications.

“We should not contemplate or think about an aviation disaster. We should also think about the general activity on the economy of Nigeria without civilization. It’s okay. This is democracy, you can push for demands, but in pressing for demands, you should be reasonable in doing so.”

“So, civil aviation workers, I think should not be part of this. Yes I am concerned and yes we’ve spoken to them and I don’t think they will join because they know that there’s huge responsibility of lives on their heads.

“If you’re an air traffic controller, it involves national security. It involves the capability of preventing external aggression and so on and so forth. I believe that they are very aware of the enormous responsibility upon them in civil aviation and should continue to see it so and continue to be as law abiding as we want them to be.”

Asked if he had had any conversation with the aviation union, Senator Sirika said: “Yes, it is an ongoing thing. So in civil aviation, we speak to them almost on a daily basis. They are part of us. They are workers like every other person is and we interact with them.

“ In the ministry, we have their own representatives who speak to me time and again, probably on daily basis. Yes, we have spoken and I don’t think they will join and yes, we are concerned, but yes also reminding them of the enormous responsibility upon their necks and our own necks.”

Asked if the two weeks directive by the President to resolve the issue was achievable, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senato4r Chris Ngige, said he proposed one week to resolve the issue but noted that the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, volunteered to resolve the issues with ASUU in two weeks, adding that he hoped the issue would be resolved at the stipulated time.

He advised the unions to table their case before the Ministry of Education whom the President had directed to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Ngige has told journalists that there was no veracity in the media report that President Buhari ordered him on Tuesday to hands off renegotiations with the striking unions.

Describing the report as false, Ngige said: “Anyway I saw one of the dailies writing something like that today (Wednesday), but the truth of the matter is there is no such thing, it’s just a categorical untruth, there is nothing like handsoff.”

But organized labour said it would not fold its arms when some of its affiliate unions were having issues with the government.

It also said the law provides that no permission was required for any peaceful assembly and protest.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, while reacting to the position of the federal government on labour’s involvement in the proposed solidarity protest, said,: “Its elementary knowledge that the right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution, the UN Charter on human and peoples right.

“The current crop of our political elites have excised this right. Secondly NLC is directly involved in the current dispute affecting four of its affiliates trade unions in the university education system, namely SANNU,NASU,NAAT and ASUU, Lai Mohammed is economically with the truth.

“As citizens, our children have been out of school for five months, and their destinies being destroyed. Its enough reason for a national protest The law provides that no permission is required for any peaceful assembly and protest. Lai Mohammed’s statement is unlawful and lacks legal basis in a democratic society.”

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LASG DISBANDS M.O.T ENFORCEMENT TEAM

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The Lagos Ministry of Transportation has placed an indefinite ban on the operations of its enforcement team tagged M.O.T Taskforce.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr. Sola Giwa, stated that the decision was reached after a thorough appraisal and review of the enforcement teams operating under the Ministry of Transportation.

Giwa explained that the ban is part of measures initiated to streamline transport enforcement activities in Lagos State to achieve the required effectiveness in line with global best practices, warning that the ban is not an excuse for drivers to disobey the traffic laws of the State.

The Special Adviser averred that Traffic Management and Transportation is a cardinal pillar in the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stressing that the readjustment of the enforcement strategy was to enhance service delivery to the people of the State.

He, therefore, enjoined the general public to report the activities of any unauthorised enforcement team still operating with the tag M.O.T Taskforce to the Ministry of Transportation for prosecution.

Appealing to Lagosians to cooperate with the State Government in its effort to improve the traffic situation across the metropolis, the Special Adviser gave an assurance that a lot is ongoing behind the scene to bring the much-desired change in the transport sector.

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One million compatriots died to keep Nigeria together — Buhari

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said Nigeria has gone through all troubles from January 15,1966, to date which resulted in the killing of a million of the citizenry in order to keep the country together.

He also urged political leaders to stay focused and uphold the ultimate objective of promoting interest of the country, saying “we are Nigerians, God willing, we remain Nigerians, and Nigeria shall remain one.’’

Speaking when he received former state chairmen of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, at State House, Buhari noted that the passion and zeal to improve the livelihood of Nigerians, which culminated in creation of the political party, had not dwindled, calling for more steadfastness as Nigerians.

He said the self-centeredness that led to the loss of about a million lives between 1967 and1970 must not be allowed to repeat itself.

While noting that the CPC was founded on the bedrock of patriotism and loyalty to the unity of Nigeria, the President said: “Our main objective is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are human beings. We have our weaknesses, but I can assure you that the patriotism in us is hard earned.

”We have gone through all the troubles from 15th of January 1966 to date. You know what I mean by this, we have killed a million of ourselves in order to keep this country together.

“I don’t think there can be any practical experience more than that. We are Nigerians, God willing we remain Nigerians and Nigeria will remain one.”

He urged all members of defunct CPC and political leaders to always be mindful of the larger picture by working towards preserving the unity, peace and integrity of the nation.

The President thanked former chairmen of the political party, which was merged to form the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, for always highlighting the achievements of the government, admitting that some areas will surely get more attention.

“I am delighted to welcome the forum of State Chairmen of the former Congress for Progressives’ Change to State House today. I accord great significance to this visit as it demonstrates a determination and commitment to identify with our administration.

“This visit recalls the solidarity with the successes that we have recorded in critical areas of our society. The visit also affords us the opportunity to discuss other issues of interest to the forum.

“I commend members of this forum and all members of the legacy party-CPC, for their continued dedication to the ideals of democratic governance that we all believed in.

“The doggedness with which we pursued our vision and goals that culminated into the success we recorded remain like bright stars in the history of our dear nation,’’ he added.

He said he was particularly grateful for the unalterable belief members of CPC and, by extension, the Nigerian electorate, had and still had in him as demonstrated in their unalloyed support for his electoral struggles which reflected in the results he consistently recorded at the polls over the years.’

Describing the President as the patriarch of the CPC’, the Chairman of Forum of State Chairmen of the defunct CPC and former chairman of the party in Niger State, Umar Shuaibu, said the party had maintained all its structures across the country, assuring President Buhari of their loyalty, especially in the forthcoming elections.

Shuaibu commended the President for providing strong leadership over the years, particularly in remaining balanced, fair and above board on electoral issues.

“Before you, the opposition was arrested and maltreated, but it is no longer so. You did not deny them what they denied you when they were in power,” he said.

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Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan Hits the Right Safety Button with LNSA

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Since the inception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Administration in 2019, there is one thing he reiterated in his manifesto and has sworn to uphold under his THEMES agenda where he highlighted Security as one of the pillars of his administration. In a bid to ensure all Lagosians can go about their lawful activities without fear of the unknown, he saddled himself with the responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state to ensure he puts the necessary security apparatus in place to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu delivered in every aspect as no stone was left unrolled. Taking the Security of lives and properties serious, he invested a heavy financial war chest in the acquisition of security gadgets for the Police, the Response Rapid Squad RRS and the Lagos State Neighborhood Agency LNSA headed by the indefatigable Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan.

 

Since the Administrative commencement of the Agency in 2017 during the Past government till this moment, Mr. Governor has ensured proper funding for the safety outfit investing Billions of Naira to equip it so it can give the necessary security support in the aspect of surveillance to the necessary agency for a swift collaboration and a positive synergy for a better Lagos. When Ifalade took over in 2021, He was like a fresh Gust of Summer wind who had a loft idea owning to his background as a seasoned technocrat having worked at the Law Enforcement Training Institute LETI and his experience working with a dredging company and also as a season legal luminary. On assumption of office, one thing he ensured was to bring a different feel to consolidate the effort of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring the agency functions optimally to ensure it lives up to its expected expectation. He used his good relationship to ensure Mr. Governor increases his stake in the affairs of the agency. The transformation agenda started by re-orientating his officers on proper conduct, proper dress code and proper ethics among the citizenry. He introduced the use of Body cameras for his officers. He also ensured they often attend LETI for proper updating of knowledge in discharging their duties. In addition to that, he also ensured proper welfare packages for his staff by raising a motion for life insurance for officers who are injured in the cause of discharging their duties or eventually loss of life. This was infused as many commended his effort that to protect lives and properties, one must be fully motivated to give his all. Falade did not only stop at that with the help of Mr. Governor, He also ensured several visiting routines were taken to ensure the functionality of each Local government and a general meeting with the head of commands where they relay their concerns on pressing issues and the challenges. This gives room for positive and negative feedback which the agency acts upon to be above board at all times.

 

In his process of rebranding, he also requests the permission of Mr Governor to further recruit more hands to enable adequate manpower for the agency to function well. Currently, the Agency is recruiting over one thousand officers who will be commissioned into the agency before the end of the year. In a bid to also spread its tentacles through a public and private partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, the agency launched an anti-trafficking unit last year August in collaboration with NAPTIP on child and human trafficking among other vices. In a bid to rebrand, he has gotten the approval of Mr Governor to create several units in the agency that will also be supportive of intelligence gathering. The agency will create a research and documentation unit, Forensic unit, Situation Room, Water Ways surveillance, Drone deployment, Forest Monitor team and a host of others.

 

Over the week, at the Agency’s head office in Bolade, Oshodi, Falade and ensured the distribution of tactical materials like; caution tapes, Ropes, Scanners, Tasers, Shin and elbow guide, Generators, Riot Shield, LNSA Photo book and a host of items for administrative purposes and enforcement.

 

In his quest to show effectiveness in duty through proper monitoring, the agency under Falade’s watch also commissioned 16 zonal heads. The Zonal heads will monitor zonal local Government unit. He also handed out brand new patrol cars to the officers who emerged having gone through proper scrutiny, training and exams. The Zonal head will ensure the smooth running of their domain and ensure all unit functions optimally and report to the Agency’s head office. As part of the rebranding process, The Agency next month will commence the rebranding of all its offices across Lagos with full painting with the agency’s Blue and Yellow colour with visible signage to ensure uniformity. The agency will also commence building and furnishing of new offices for some units that run under a temporary office.

 

A close source disclosed that; all these giant strides and impeccable records would not have been possible if not for the full support and the quest for the protection of lives and property of the State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu. In a quick conversation; Prince Ifalade averred that; “Mr Governor has been supportive in all ways. Our mode of operation now is different from what it used to be. Anytime we give Mr Governor a proposal on anything regarding security, he does not joke with it. In fact, he signed it with immediate alacrity. He has also told us to ensure that each time we have any request we should not hesitate to call his attention that he is ready to support us to the fullest so we can keep functioning at a higher capacity.”

 

“The Agency is not relenting despite some challenges we face. We will continue to intensify our effort to make Lagos a safe haven for all. We are also open to public and private partnerships. Every top individual and private firm in Lagos who wants to reach out through their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, will also ease the burden on Government. Security is the responsibility of all sundry and should not be left to some selected people only. If all hands are on deck, Lagos will be a safer place”. He further concluded.

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