The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Lagos said that the Federal Government will continue to address job creation for the youth.
Mohammed said this while speaking with newsmen after the meeting of governors, ministers and traditional rulers of South-West states following the EndSARS protest mayhem.
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The meeting was attended by a Presidential delegation, led by the Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
He said that the government would continue to engage the youths and address the issue of poverty alleviation.
“It is not as if the government has not been addressing the issue of unemployment. The newly launched funds by the government was actually aimed at creating job opportunities.
“What the government has done so far is to provide platforms where businesses can thrive,´´ the minister said.
Mohammed said that the purpose of the South-West meeting was to allow governors and other political leaders in the South-West to interact.
He also said that the federal government delegation used the moment to commiserate with the Lagos State Government following the attack it suffered recently in the EndSARS protest mayhem.
“It was a peaceful meeting and it was agreed that the state and the federal government response to the initial demand of the EndSARS protest was appropriate,´´ the minister said.
He said that the government would continue to invest in the development of human capacity, with more implementation of economic policies that will engender development and building of more public infrastructure that would empower the teeming youths.
President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, in a statement Monday morning, explained that the Union has shifted position on some key expects of the demands to facilitate quick resolution of the crisis wondering why government has continued to prevaricate.
He said even though steady progress has been made on some of the issues, what has stalled meaningful dialogue was government’s insistence that payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of the lecturers would only be effected through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
He demanded unconditional payment of the outstanding salaries and release of the Union check-off dues, which he accused Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) of illegally seizing all the deducted Union check-off dues in the last nine months.
While maintaining that it was government that is prolonging the matter, Ogunyemi said: “In closing the meeting between the leadership of ASUU and the Federal Government team last Wednesday, 4th November, 2020, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, promised to send to the Union government’s written position on ASUU’s response to their initial offer.
“He said all concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would be consulted on Friday, 6th November, for their inputs into government’s new position.
“Nigerians should bear with us. ASUU is doing their battle. Our Union is struggling to ensure that the children of the poor, who cannot afford the prohibitive cost paid in private universities or do not have opportunities to study outside Nigeria, get quality education which is not priced beyond their reach.
“This will only happen when government adequately funds public universities and addresses the rot and decay in them,” he said.
Ogunyemi said ASUU has shifted positions in some respects, saying for instance that members the Union have reduced their demand of one tranche, N220 billion, of the outstanding revitalization fund by 50 per cent.
He said the Union has also agreed that N30 billion out of the so far verified arrears of N40b of the earned academic allowances (EAA) be paid to the members while the balance of N10 billion could be spread over the next two tranches.
ASUU President said: “We were equally making steady progress on other issues. What has stalled meaningful dialogue was government’s insistence that payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of our members would only be effected through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
“Government is punishing university teachers because they rejected IPPIS, which was imposed on the universities against the provisions of the law on autonomy and universal practices.
“ASUU is at the final stage of the integrity test of the Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
“UTAS was developed locally by ASUU members, unlike IPPIS which was engineered by the World Bank.
“UTAS has been presented to the Minister of Education and senior management staff of the Ministry, the President and leadership of Senate, and the Office of the Accountant-General where NITDA and Office of the National Security Adviser and other MDAs were fully represented.
“Last Thursday, 5th November, 2020, the National Universities Commission (NUC) facilitated the presentation of UTAS to Vice-Chancellors and Bursars of federal universities.
“All questions raised at the four levels of presentation of UTAS were satisfactorily answered. With the full cooperation of the concerned agencies, the final test with NITDA could be completed as a matter of days and UTAS adopted in place of IPPIS in our universities.
“ASUU disagrees with government on the use of IPPIS during the so-called transition period. In practical terms, there is no transition period if government is sincere.
“It would take a longer period to capture more than three-quarters of our members who are not yet on IPPIS than the time required to run through the last stage of the integrity test for UTAS.
“The claim by government that the platform used in paying our members’ salaries before the imposition of IPPIS has been dismantled is not true.
“Some of our members who have not enrolled in IPPIS were paid part of their withheld salaries last week. But, in furtherance of the attack on ASUU, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) has illegally seized all the deducted union check-off dues of our members in the last nine months.
“So, government should release all what is due ASUU members and the union without the conditionality of IPPIS.
“That would enable us conclude on the outstanding five demands (revitalisation, EAA, renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, inauguration of the Visitation Panels, proliferation of state universities and governance issues in them) of the Union to pave way for the quick resolution of the lingering crisis.
“It is government that is prolonging the matter, not ASUU,” he said.
A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Garus Gololo warned former Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan against contesting the 2023 presidential election.
Though Gololo admitted that it would be the turn of the South to produce the next President, but he said it would certainly not favour Jonathan as it is no longer for South-South region.
Gololo, while speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, said it would be foolhardy for Jonathan to think he could still win any election in Nigeria.
Some northern groups and associates of Jonathan in the South, according to Sunday’s Nation newspaper edition, had reportedly met in Abuja, while considering drafting the Bayelsa-born politician to gun for 2023 Presidency.
Their calculation is that, the Presidency can return to the North in 2027 since Jonathan, if he wins in 2023, will be ineligible to contest again.
But Gololo, while reacting to questions, said such calculation was evil and selfish.
He said, “I’m from the North and I want to say it emphatically that power should return to the South in 2023 for eight years.
“Northerners are not the only Nigerians in this country. I can’t support such evil and selfish permutations. And for Jonathan, he should rather go and rest. If he dares to contest, we shall do to him what we did in 2015”.
Dr. Gololo also warned the former President to be weary of some political jobbers who may be muting the idea of drafting him into the contest.
He said, “there is nothing wrong in asking someone to come out to contest, but what makes the difference is the votes. The votes shall decide who becomes the next President and if PDP like, let them give it to Jonathan, same fate shall repeat itself, like in 2015”.
When asked which region should produce the next President from the South and if he had anyone in mind, the national APC Chieftain said there are many other capable hands in the South that can deliver.
“It must not be Jonathan. He was there before and we all know what happened then. Let’s try fresh people who have capacity. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is there. He has enough capacity.
“I would even prefer PDP giving it to Jonathan so we all mobilise and team up for Tinubu in APC and Jonathan’s defeat will shock him, like Donald Trump. We are wise now and this country is bigger than any individual”, Gololo added.
House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts has summoned Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, over alleged withdrawal of $20.3 billion from the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dividend account.
Its chairman, Wole Oke, expressed concern over the NNPC chief’s supposed refusal to respond to the quiz by Auditor General of the Federation (AGoF). Oke (Osun: PDP) argued that there was need for Kyari and heads of relevant agencies to appear before the committee to do clarication.
Details of the fund were contained in a document submitted to the panel by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) on the need to investigate NNPC management’s ‘illegal withdrawals from the NLNG’s dividends account’.
The text revealed that from the $21.686illion that accrued to NLNG dividend account from 1999 to 2020, NNPC spent $20.3 billion, leaving a balance of $1.384 billion as at June 30, 2020.
The report also stated that the NLNG generated $100 billion in sales revenue since inception out of which it paid over $18 billion as dividend through the NNPC and $6.1 billion as Company Income Tax (CIT) through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
“Additionally, the company spent over $15 billion for the purchase of feedstock gas for its operations. Between April 2002 and March 2007, it paid $450,000 as Licence fees and N28.696 million as NLNG licence renewal between 1999 and 2017.” Govt continued: “On payment of dividend, NLNG paid all dividends due to the Federation Account to NNPC,” it added.
But a breakdown of the NLNG income tax payment from 1999 to 2020 showed that no revenue was paid between 1999 and 2013, as it enjoyed pioneer status.
It however, paid $1.301b in 2014, $1.491b in 2015, $625.331m in 2016, $304.669m in 2017, $704.182m in 2018, $907.754m in 2019 and $764.143m in 2020.
“As part of its monitoring mandate, the RMAFC visited the NLNG in August 2008 and March 2013, and consistently requested the NNPC to remit all dividends received from NLNG to the Federation Account.
“Information available to the Commission indicates that $21.685b accrued to the NLNG Dividend Account from inception to June 30, 2020,” the report stated.
Details of how the NNPC disbursed the $20.3b showed that NLNG secretariat got $1.854m, NLNG scheme 4 top up received $159.250m, funding of Brass LNG Scheme got $574.420m, the West African Gas Pipeline ($259.900m), N-Gas (Takoradi CEB Account, Gas Monitoring Station ($9.433m), Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline ($1.278m), Olokola LNG ($216.928m), while security project received $1.520b.
The report also stated that $4.372b was transferred to Federal Government, Product Importation Loan to NNPC received $5b, while $3.335b was spent on Paris Club Refund, Sovereign Wealth Fund got $1.050b, $1.200b went for 2016 JV Cash Call Balance and $2.6b was spent on National Fuel Support Fund.
In its recommendation to the Committee, RMAFC Chairman, Elias Mbam said: “The commission does not support diversion of revenue to the Federation Account for whatever reason, as it is illegal and contravenes section 162(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The NNPC or any other agency does not have the powers under the law to withdraw money from the NLNG Dividend Account for any other purpose apart from remitting it to the Federation Account.”
There was tension in Ogun community as a yet-to-be identified person was reportedly shot dead during a clash involving Orimerunmu Boys and Asese Boys in the Obafemi Owode Local Government.
According to PUNCH, the unrest occasioned by the #EndSARS demonstration in the state prompted the hoodlums to block the Asese area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where they reportedly demanded cash from motorists plying the axis to their destinations.
An undisclosed prominent man was said to have given the hoodlums a huge sum of money but a fight was said to have broken out among the hoodlums.
Speaking with newsmen, a resident simply identified as Seyi disclosed that one of the hoodlums allegedly sustained bullet wounds and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Seyi added that another clash broke out when it was learnt that the injured victim died on Saturday.
He said, “The hoodlums blocked the Asese area of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway during the #EndSARS unrest and were collecting money from motorists plying the expressway. But a popular man gave them a huge sum of money and that money caused a fight among the hoodlums.
“One of the hoodlums was severely injured during the clash and was taken to the hospital. And for a while, we didn’t hear of the crisis until the injured person died on Saturday. They have been creating unrest in the area.”
Footage in possession of our correspondent showed armed hoodlums engaging each other in a free-for-all along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, halting vehicular movements in the process.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi said a manhunt had been launchef for those responsible for thr victim’s death.
Oyeyemi added that normalcy had been restored in the area.