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Poetry and essay competition to celebrate Tokunbo Wahab at 50

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A poetry and essay competition has been instituted by renowned filmmaker and the President of Association of Movie Producer and Founder of African Movie Academy Awards, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe to celebrate the 50th birthday of Tokunbo Wahab, the Special Adviser on Education to the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. According to Anyiam-Osigwe, the essay and poetry anthology is a form of appreciation to Wahab, whose indelible footprints has been widely celebrated in the education sector in the state, especially the giant strides in tertiary education.

Speaking further on the project, she disclosed that turning 50 is a major milestone in the life of anyone and there’s no better way to show appreciation to a friend like Tokunbo who himself is very passionate about education and a lover of poetry than to come up with a competition like this one, whereby students who have a flair for writing can be encouraged and rewarded. Wahab himself is a logophile whose love for words and poetry is well known to those close to him.

The theme of the anthology is “Education as the Essence of a good foundation” and entrance for the competition is already opened and those turning in their entries must relate to or revolve around the theme. Essays/Reviews are not to exceed 500 words, while poetry is not to exceed 30 lines. Submission is free and open to undergraduate students in Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics. All entries are to be sent to Publishing@allmediainternational.com and are opened between May 17 and June 17, 2022.

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Education

ASUU’s struggle beyond salaries, welfare only — Osodeke

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The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Emmanuel Osodeke, has warned members against making the union’s struggle look like a fight for their salaries and welfare only at the expense of better public universities.

Osodeke said unions in the past made members’ salaries and welfare the only focal points of their struggles when they should have fought diligently for the survival, continuity and efficiency of public institutions and systems.

Osodeke disclosed this while making remarks during a ‘University-wide Seminar with the theme: “The Demands of Scholarship in the 21st Century’ which entered its second day on Wednesday at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.

He said the former approach made the union lose their jobs and welfare at the end of the day when those institutions collapsed.

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Citing examples of worker’s unions of moribund Nigeria Railways, National Electric Power Authority, and Nigeria Airways among others, the ASUU president said the workers lost their jobs as those public institutions collapsed.

He said that had the unions in such places fought for the survival and preservation of the public institutions, they would still be standing today as national assets and employers of labour.

Osodeke expressed concern over the practicability of the Federal Government’s student loan scheme to work in favour of ordinary Nigerians from modest backgrounds, saying “Given the stringent conditions for accessing the scheme, it is certain that it would end up serving the interest of children from already wealthy families”.

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He said the requirement stipulating that a guarantor of such a credit scheme must be a level 12 officer takes it away from the reach of poor students in public higher institutions across the country.

He said, “We need to educate our members. We need to let them know why we are struggling and to let them know about the union. We also need to bring them up to the principles of the union. They need to know why we take some actions like strikes because we have some new members among us.

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“In my opening remarks, I tell them that look, immediately you start struggling for your salaries alone and the system dies, then you have no job again and that is why today, those things that were there in the 60s, 70s, are not there again.

“For instance, we used to have Nigeria Railways. Nigeria Railways was the best in Africa, but the workers left the system and were fighting for themselves and their salaries alone and today no railway again and they have lost their jobs but if they had been fighting for the system, like fighting to have railways working from Calabar to Port Harcourt, Benin – Lagos, Kano Maiduguri and others working, their jobs would still be working and the union would still be stronger.

“Nigeria Airways too used to have a strong union but what do you have now? Also, look at NEPA. NEPA workers left the institution and were fighting for themselves, today NEPA is no more. The same thing is happening to the Nigeria Union of Teachers. The public primary schools and secondary schools are dead while private ones have taken over and when they are private, they do not unionise.

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“Go to private universities in Nigeria and see what the lecturers are facing because they are not unionised. They are suffering but they cannot speak out. If you see what lecturers in private universities are facing, you will be shocked. That is why we are left to speak for the institution.

“All our hospitals are going the same way. Go to our government hospitals, they are not what you can be proud of. That is why when you have some level of commitment, we must struggle for the system. That is why we talk of TETFUND and today, we have public universities and they account for more than 95 per cent of the university population.

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“We still have the public universities working because of the fees and because of the environment where you are free to express yourself freely unlike when you still have to go to one church where the owner of the university says that you must be a member of that church, where you must pay tithe and that is the difference.”

He urged the Federal Government to pay salary arrears owed members in some universities, saying there was nothing to celebrate about the two months’ arrears recently paid.

According to him, the government can pay if it makes arrangements on the way to go about it.

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Two new varsities to be approved next week – NUC

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The National Universities Commission said plans are being concluded to announce the establishment of two new universities in the country which will further bring the total number of institutions in the country to 272.

The commission’s acting Executive Secretary, Chris Maiyaki, said this during an interaction with journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

Maiyaki said the NUC would continue to approve new universities to cater for the admissions gap in the country.
He noted that while about two million candidates seek admission into universities every year, the total available quota for admission range between 500,000 and 700,000.

Maiyaki’s stance comes amidst the fight of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other stakeholders in the tertiary education sub-sector against the proliferation of institutions in the country by the government at the Federal and State levels.

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Stakeholders on numerous occasions said the establishment of new universities amidst poor funding of existing ones was not the way to go and hence had called on the government and the NUC to halt approvals given to new public universities.

“We have no choice but to as a matter of deliberate policy undertake the massification of universities,” Maiyaki said.

He said what separates the developed today from other countries is the level of investments in education.

Maiyaki said every year, almost two million candidates seek admission into the universities but only between 500,000 and 700,000 students get admitted.

He said, “You need to see the anguish and the frustration on the faces of families who are desperate to make sure that their children attend university education every admission session. It is very tough and challenging for university leaders and NUC and so we have no choice but to continue to approve the universities.

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“The approval for two more varsities to bring the number of universities in the country to 272 has been concluded and will be announced next week.”

He maintained that Nigeria will continue to widen universities’ access by approving more universities to meet its demands and supply of quality education.

While noting that countries like Brazil, Indonesia and others who have a population not up to Nigeria have more than 1,000 universities, he said efforts were ongoing to reposition the university system through transnational education by allowing foreign varsities to come in and operate in the country.

The Executive Secretary said the commission is presently processing applications for the establishment of distance learning centres that will be monitored to provide quality education.

The NUC boss, however, stressed that it does not mean the era of establishing distance learning centres is back.

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Reacting to a statement by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission inviting proprietors of private universities and other institutions of higher learning in Nigeria to charge fees in dollars, he said no tertiary institutions is allowed to charge tuition fees in dollars.

He said the commission had made an inquiry into the allegation and thus investigated but discovered that the said private university was not charging fees in dollars.

“On the dollarisation of tuition fees in this said university, we have investigated it and the university is not charging fees in dollars.

They only charge dollars to foreign students. So I want the media to join hands with us to tell the public that no Nigeria university is allowed to charge fees in dollars,” he said.

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Education

NYSC Has Stopped Posting Corps Members To ‘Very Unsafe States’ – FG

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The Federal Government said members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are no longer posted to states deemed unsafe in the wake of worsening security conditions in the country.

Several corps members have been abducted in some parts of the country during their one-year mandatory national service, raising fears about the sustainability of the scheme.

But the Minister of Youth Jamila Ibrahim says the scheme has taken steps to secure NYSC members including posting them only to safe states.

“As an immediate intervention of the government and the NYSC as an agency, we have actually stopped posting corps members to the very unsafe states,” Jamila said on Channels Television’s current affairs show Sunday Politics.

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“We have been doing it. We have been doing it in the past. There are states we have not been posting corps members to to ensure their safety,” she added.

According to her, the security of corps members requires collaboration with other agencies of government.

“When it comes to security matters, it is a multi-sectoral approach. So, it is not the NYSC alone and the ministry that is involved. We are working with security outlets to ensure corps members are safe,” the minister maintained.

“We are also working on group transportation strategies for them to ensure that they are transported to and from camps safely and to their destinations.”

The minister said the Federal Government is working on reforming the NYSC scheme to reflect the present realities of the nation, particularly in the area of their allowance.

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“When it comes to remuneration, we are looking at the holistic funding of the NYSC. You are all aware that we have announced a reform of the NYSC scheme itself. We want the scheme to go beyond being a social programme of the government,” she added.

“The reforms will actually transform the NYSC into a revenue-generating agency and prepare corps members for the job market…”

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