ASUU strike: Hope rises as lecturers reach agreement with FG

For the first time since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) began its indefinite strike on November 4, 2018, there came a gleam of hope on Monday when Labour minister, Chris Ngige, announced that the two parties (ASUU and Federal Government) reached reasonable agreements on the contentious issues in their last meeting.

Previous meetings held between them have deadlocked with the either sticking to its gun.

The union had directed its members in public universities across the country to embark on an indefinite strike to pressure the federal government to honour and implement agreements reached with it in 2009 during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government.

The agreements essentially border on proper funding of university education and autonomy for its governance.

Ngige told journalists after the meeting in Abuja that the majority of ASUU’s demands on the government, including the release of N15.4 billion for payment of salaries shortfall, have been met

“On the issue of salaries in tertiary institutions, especially in universities, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant- General provided evidence that as at December 31, 2018 the Federal Government had remitted N15.4 billon.

“Also on the issue of Earned Allowances in the universities system, they also showed us evidence that Mr. President has approved the N20 billion to be used to offset the outstanding arrears of the 2009 and 2012, audit verified earnings, in the university system.

“This money is being worked on, and will be released to ASUU as soon as the process is completed.

“ASUU has fulfilled its own side of the bargain in terms of NUPECO, which is the Pension Fund Administration Company that ASUU has floated to take care of pension for people in the university system.

“The Pension regulator, the PENCOM, has asked certain positions to be fulfilled and they gave ASUU a temporary license, which has expired.

“ASUU has submitted all the documents and fulfilled all conditions needed to get their license,” he said.

According to Ngige, the government is also considering ingenious strategies to fund the university revitalization agreement entered into with ASUU in 2009. The exercise was designed to affect 220 universities across the country over a period of six years.

Meanwhile, the ASUU has called on the government to show mercy on students and take concrete steps to address the issues that led to its (ASUU’s) ongoing strike.

The call was contained in a statement issues by the University of Ibadan chapter’s ASUU chairman, Dr. Deji Omole, in Ibadan on Monday.

The ASUU boss was reacting to an earlier statement credited to Ngige in which he was appealing to the lecturers to consider the impact of their action on the students and go back to work.

Describing the minister’s statement as “a merciless utterance”, Omole said ASUU’s action was based on patriotism to the Nigerian nation and genuine love for its people.

“We are patriots otherwise we would not go on strike. We would have been looking and allow everything to be destroyed. But we cannot allow our future (children) to be taught in zoo-like conditions. This kind of education system cannot give us a leader who will be kind to others if we are not kind to them by giving them the best environment to learn from. Nigerians should join us to beg President Buhari to meet our demands on time rather using keep them talking approach”

Don condemns ‘abduction’ of God by religionists, scholars

By Jide Jegede

A religious peace and conflict studies expert, Kehinde Ayantola, has berated efforts by adherents across religious groups and scholars to appropriate God to themselves and their respective religious beliefs, describing the act as abduction of God.
Ayantola, a professor of religious ethics, sociology of religion and religious peace and conflict studies at the faculty of arts, University of Ibadan gave the expose in his inaugural lecture delivered at the premier university’s Trenchard Hall recently.
Entitled ‘Rescuing God from His abductors’, the lecture dwelled extensively on the means through which the ‘abductors’ struggle among themselves to claim exclusivity to the ownership of and access to God.
This, according to the scholar, has resulted in many factors that have consistently threatened peace and tranquility across human history and existence.
He identified religious functionaries and religious followers, western researchers, contemporary academics, religious fundamentalists and radicalists as the abductors of God, who only see their belief and knowledge of God as supreme and sacrosanct, while also dismissing others’ conviction about God as inferior or outright false.
“Taking God forcibly outside His space (world) and beyond His will which, manifests in why He created people male and female, black and white, short and long, placed them in different geographical locations and assigned them different responsibilities within the context of their different geographical enclaves,” he reasoned while highlighting what ‘abduction’ of God entails.
Ayantola also noted that the abductor take advantage of religious ignorance of their followers to perpetrate their acts.
“Religious ignorance in the context of our discussion refers to lack of knowledge or information about particular religious beliefs and practices.
“It could be lack of sufficient knowledge or information about the religion we practise by another person belonging to a religious faith different from ours,” he further noted.
The consequences, according to him, include social exclusion, commercialisation of religion, lust for materialism, spiritual pride, title consciousness, false teaching, exploitations, sexual immorality and ritual performance among other vices noticeable in religious circles.
He however offered some tips to effect the rescue of God from his ‘abductors’.
These, he explained, include accepting the equality of religions, understanding the cultural background of religions, identifying and accepting religious pluralism, promotion of objective religious education/studies, accepting the limitation of religious scriptures and traditions as well as monetisation of religion in public places.

408 students withdrawn from UI

The management of the University of Ibadan has announced the withdrawal of a total of 408 students over poor academic performance.
The decision was ratified by the Senate of the university during a recent consideration and approval of results of graduating and non-graduating students.
Sources within the system hinted that about three-quarter of the affected students were those in 100 level who were admitted into the university without writing the Post-UTME screening examinations.
The University of Ibadan had admitted a total of 3,483 for the 2016/2017 session when there was opposition to the conduct of post-UTME screening.
While speaking with journalists on the development, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor Adeyinka Aderinto, stated that the premier university will continue to uphold its standards in accordance with the global practices despite dwindling funding it is experiencing.
He admonished parents of returning students to monitor their wards and ensure that those asked to withdraw from the university do not lie and continue to extort money in the name of being students at the University.
Aderinto added that the conduct of UI Model of Post-UTME screening has helped to separate ‘men from boys’ and helped the institution in maintaining its historical standard as a global brand.
“The University is determined to uphold standards. We are saying that being admitted to the University of Ibadan is a rarely privilege that require students to be up and doing in their studies. There are minimum academic requirements a student must meet at the end of the session and those who fall short of that would have to leave the university. UI has been able to invent her own model of screening applicants and it has shown that those who we screened performed far better than those not subjected to our screening after taking JAMB.”

University of Ibadan demands special funding status

University of Ibadan

Top echelons in the management of the University of Ibadan took turns to demand a special funding status from the Federal Government on Friday, arguing that such is necessary for the university to maintain its place in the nation’s educational sector.

Led by the University’s Chancellor and Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, the canvassers included the Pro-Chancellor, Joshua Waklek and the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka.

They all made the case during the 69th Foundation Day of the university, which climaxed its five-day graduation ceremony for the year 2017.

The programme held at the International Conference Centre, had eminent Nigerians, including the former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwukah, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the Sultan, for the university to maintain its premier status, there is need for the federal government to jerk up its subvention.

This, he said, would avail it the opportunity to also come up with innovations that would help propel development in the university education system in Nigeria.

In his own word, Vice Chancellor cited, among his reasons for a special funding status, the need to recruit younger academic staff to fill the vacuum created by the exit of some professors, who have reached the stipulated retirement age and had to quit.

A total of 402 candidates from various disciplines were awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degrees, while one other bagged Doctor of Medicine.

Honorary doctorate degrees were also conferred on four Nigerians whose interventions have touched the university and mankind.

They include a foremost linguist, Emeritus Prof Ayo Bamigbose; former presidential Special Adviser on Petroleum, Dr Emmanuel Egbogah; seventh vice chancellor of the university. Prof Bankole Oyediran; and Chairman, Dubri Oil, and pioneer chairman, University of Ibadan Research Foundation, Dr. Chevalier Itsueli.

President Buhari, in his address delivered by Anwukah, pledged commitment to the federal government’s obligations to the universities under its watch to assist then performed at the optimum.

How curricula review can better Nigeria’s democracy, by Varsity don

Curricula

A professor of religious studies, Simeon Ilesanmi, has recommended a complete overhaul of curricula in the Nigerian university education as the only way products of the ivory tower would make better and informed citizens.
The don gave the charge while delivering the 2017 Convocation Lecture of the University of Ibadan at its Trenchard Hall on Wednesday.
He expressed displeasure over the situation in which academic programmes are structured in manners that only restrict students to a specific line of knowledge, arguing that the essence of university education is to produce citizens needed for the advancement of a society.
“We must recognise plainly that all education is education for citizenship. What we teach, how we we teach it, and whom we teach it to necessarily describe a vision of society and of the types of individuals we want to prepare for that society.
“Values do not merely infiltrate education from the outside, as ideological add-ons, but are constitutive of the very practice of teaching,” he said.
In the lecture entitled “Appraising the National Covenant: Faith, Public Reason, and the Search for Ethical Integrity in Nigeria’s Democracy”, the scholar opined that the Nigeria university system, more than any other sector, has a critical role to play to help the nation in making her adventure in democratic governance fruitful and rewarding.
Ilesanmi, a teacher at the Wake Forest University in the United States, however, said the current nature of the curricula guiding teachings in the Nigerian universities would not support this mission.
“It is more important now than ever for universities to break the stronghold of specialisation, especially on undergraduate curricula, and to educate students with an awareness of what is required to produce an informed citizenry.
“If we want to see and live in a Nigeria flavoured with the open flow of ideas, goods and people; transparent government adhering to the rule of law; respect for diversity: tolerance of difference; concern for vulnerable members of society; independent judiciary; and a free press, this is where the foundation should be laid, the university, by introducing students, regardless of their majors, to the text, ideas, and norms of deliberative argumentation that gave rise to liberal-democratic politics,” he submitted.
The chairman of the occasion and former Vice Chancellor of the university, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, described the lecture as illuminating, adding that its delivery has given the attendees ‘a lot to ruminate about.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Idowu Olayinka, also said the annual convocation lecture series was an opportunity for the premier university to keep adding value to the Nigerian scholarship environment through quality and robust intellectual engagements.