President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja said Federal Government will give more attention to improving personnel and infrastructure of universities to produce quality graduates, assuring that education will, henceforth, be a top priority in development goals of the country.
President Buhari, who received leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) led by Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi at the State House, said effective and efficient operations of universities will go a long way in improving the economy, especially with focus on science and technology.
The President urged members of ASUU to assist the Federal Government in realising the target of improved education and credible certificates by complying with ongoing verification and validation of human resources in the universities, which will guarantee optimum output.
“The future of the country depends on quality education and our certificates must be credible to inspire confidence,’’ he said.
President Buhari said constitutional provisions should be carefully studied and adhered to for more harmonious relationships, and standards that will promote efficiency.
The President directed the Ministry of Education to put in more effort in ensuring that Nigerian universities are properly funded, with adequate infrastructure and staffing.
In her remarks at the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said out of the 137,016 academic and non-academic staff members of the universities, 96,090 have been enrolled in the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), urging ASUU to encourage the remaining 40,926 members to comply with the process.
She said a desk has been opened in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for registration of university staff, assuring that peculiarities of the tertiary institutions will be accommodated.
The Minister pointed out that many anomalies were discovered in the university structures that have contributed to the increased cost burden, which include staff working and earning pay in more than one university, contract staff on payroll of the government, tax reductions on PAYEE and multiple employments.
Ahmed said some universities had rushed to recruit more staff before the IPPIS registration commenced, which was then detected.
“While it is clear that ASUU has peculiarities, it should be recognised and rightly accommodated, and the allowances will be made, and not leaving the university out of IPPIS because of the peculiarities,’’ she added.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, urged ASUU to comply with IPPIS in national interest as his office was already in the process of streamlining all issues of human resources in government.
In his remarks, the President of ASUU, Prof. Ogunyemi said the educational sector needed more Federal Government attention, noting that implementation of agreements over the years will go a long way in improving the quality of education in the universities.
Prof. Ogunyemi said:
“Nigerian universities can make meaningful contributions to addressing the challenges of the country (economy, security and corruption) if given the opportunities. Appropriate funding level, competitive conditions of service, university autonomy and academic freedom are critical to creating such an atmosphere.
“With adequate and effective education, particularly university education, Nigerians will be less susceptible to manipulation, our economy will grow and problems of insecurity and corruption will be drastically reduced,’’ he said.
The ASUU President said Nigeria could learn from countries like China, Malaysia and Singapore that have encouraged universities to drive their educational development through tripartite linkages of government, industries and universities called Triple Helix Principle.
On IPPIS and university operations, Prof. Ogunyemi said the Federal Government’s Visitor initiative to the universities, at least once in five years, was the best guarantee for monitoring accountability processes that include internal and external audit processes.
The ASUU President said the IPPIS will be a “disruptive intrusion’’, adding: “IPPIS violates the laws of the federation, violates university statutes, and violates agreements between the Federal Government and ASUU.’’
“The Government should welcome ASUU’s ongoing innovation of a robust system of human resource management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which will address peculiarities of universities and end inappropriate recruitments.’’
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and Labour and Employment , Dr Chris Ngige, assured that the Federal Government was committed to improving the educational sector, promising to work closely with ASUU.
How Rotary International’s 3-day health outreach brought relief to hundreds of indigents in Port Harcourt
The three-day Family Health Program of the Rotary International District 9141 has come as a lifeline for many residents of Port Harcourt and its environs as the impact of the global health pandemic which has been made worse by the current recession has pushed access to health care farther away from those living in poverty.
Speaking to journalists at the flag-off ceremony of the medical outreach at the Churchill Road Primary Health Centre, Port Harcourt, on Thursday, November 29, the District Governor, Virginia Major said: “it might seem like N5,000 is a little money to some of us, yet it is a lot of money to some families. For them to spend that kind of money on health, they won’t be able to eat for some time.”
The outreach which took place simultaneously at four different locations in Rivers State provided free testing, screening and examination for ailments like HIV, hepatitis B and C, MP, blood sugar level, cervical cancer. Beneficiaries received free eye test, dental cleaning and dental examination. Participants were given free drugs after proper diagnosis after diagnosis. Also, nursing mothers received free-mosquito nets as well as sanitary pads.
As the program wound up on Saturday, hundreds of adults, children and even infants and children had found some reasons to smile in these difficult times.
A community leader in the Old Port Harcourt Township, Daniel Clement Iyalla told newsmen that the medical outreach by Rotary International in the past five years has saved several lives through the distribution of free mosquito nets and other medical services which many cannot afford.
He said: “some are dying because they cannot take care of themselves. Even to buy drugs for malaria is a problem. This program is laudable.”
Assistant program officer of the cervical cancer program of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Sophia Dunu, told FR News at the Churchill Road Primary Health Centre, that they were working in partnership with Rotary International as part of their cervical cancer secondary prevention program. She said the program involves the screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions in eligible women.
“Currently we are implementing in 50 health facilities across 19 local governments in Rivers state. So far, we have trained Master Trainers who have facilitated training for health care workers across these 50 health facilities”, she added.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the Rivers State Primary Healthcare Management Board, Dr. Agiriye Harry has praised the efforts of Rotary International to reach out to the sick and vulnerable in the society and for championing the fight that eventually led to the eradication of polio in Nigeria and Africa.
Niger State Gov Cuts Own Salary: Civil Servants, Political Appointees Also Affected
The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello has appealed for understanding of civil servants and political appointees over a reduction in their November salary, as a result of the shortfall from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FACC).
The salary cut was revealed in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mary Noel Berje, Bello, describing the situation as unfortunate, especially now that the economy is hitting hard on people due to recession.
The governor added that the government’s decision is temporary, and hopefully soonest, the situation will improve.
Bello, who attributed the shortfall to the present poor economy, noted that the situation is not peculiar to Niger State alone and promised that his administration will expedite action towards improving its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to complement Federal government allocation.
The Governor also said that he and his deputy are also affected by the salary cut.
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