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NASU/SSANU Strike: strike looms in universities as Non-teaching staff plan action

Another round of strike is looming in the nation’s universities as the leadership of the non-teaching staff of the universities have begun mobilization of their members nationwide to begin a nationwide strike on Monday, July 15, 2019 over alleged breach of agreements by the government.

The leadership of the non teaching staff told newsmen on Friday in Abuja that top on the list of grievances was the exclusion of its members from the workings of the National University Pension Company (NUPENCO) solely operated by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and the allocation of 80 percent of the money released by the federal government as earned allowances to ASUU while the three non academic staff unions got the remaining 20 percent.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) operating under the Joint Action Committee said they were rejecting the 20 percent earned allowance allocated to it and called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, release N30 billion to the non teaching staff as earned allowance for the period of 2009 to 2016

SSANU President, Comrade Samson Ugwoke who spoke on behalf of the unions said the Federal Government should be prepared to meet its demands and called on its members to ensure full compliance with the directive in order to show its relevance to the university system.

He said: “The recent sharing of money where the money collected from the ministry of education signed by the director of tertiary education, allocating 80 per cent of the money to ASUU and only 20 per cent to the three non-teaching staff unions is not acceptable to us.

“We reject in total the 20 per cent allocated to our members, rather we demand from the federal government the sum of N30 billion as part of the earned allowance of non teaching staff from 2009 to 2016 l, and we call on government to hasten the audit of university earned allowances so that we will know how much is paid to who and how much remains.

“The way and manner the money is being shared is contrary to any known accounting procedure or any known international best practice. It should be condemned by all, this house calls it a fraud and calls for investigation.

“We call and demand that the government should release as a matter of urgency, N30 billion for non-teaching staff.

“JAC has approved protests from the branches, protests at the zonal levels of our unions and mother of all protests in Abuja for three days before a deadline is given to the government for the mother of all strikes that will follow. The protest will commence on Monday 15th July 2019”.

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Campus News News University

FG approves N208bn for public tertiary institutions in Nigeria

The federal government has approved N208 billion as the 2019 intervention funds for public institutions across the country.

The reinstated TETFund Executive Secretary, Suleiman Bogoro, made this known at the annual meeting with officials of TETFund and beneficiary institutions in Abuja on Thursday.

According to Mr Bogoro, the annual direct disbursement of N826.7 million was allocated to each university, N566.7 million was allocated to each polytechnic and N542.2 million was allocated to each College of Education in Nigeria.

According to the National Universities Commission website, Nigeria has 43 federal universities and 48 state universities.

Mr Bogoro also said most of the structures in Nigerian institution are built from TETfund interventions.

“Education intervention has been consistent despite the fall in oil price. We spent nearly one hour with the board discussing this issue of increasing number of beneficiary institutions so much so that application of the funds are being whittled (down) and so the impact is reducing day by day,” he said.

Mr Bogoro expressed concerns over the growing number of public tertiary institutions “and their effect on the application of funds provided.”

“Eighteen institutions across the six geopolitical zones are beneficiaries of the Special High Impact Intervention. Six universities, six polytechnics and six colleges of education received N1 billion each,” he said

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Abubakar Rasheed, said there are more beneficiary institutions in 2019 than previous years.

He said this is because more state and federal institutions have been created.

Mr Rasheed, who is also the acting chairman of TETfund Board of Trustees, said, there is a need for more efficient administration of the funds.

He urged all the heads of institutions to work with transparency and openness.

“We hate a situation, as we have seen in this assessment, where sometimes a Vice-Chancellor will not send a Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Registrar or Bursar or any other principal officer even director of works or procurement, but will send his personal assistant to be the one handling the TETfund issues or needs assessment issues. Such transactions will not be tolerated,” he said.

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Debate intensifies over ‘acceptance fees’ charge in Universities

Rights group recently called out the Federal Government to abolish acceptance fees into all tertiary institutions in the country, saying the practice amounts to an extortion of the students.

These fees vary and could be given different names depending on what the institution prefers. Observers described it as smartest way of extorting students and their parents.

Recently, a rights group, One Love Foundation, based in Edo State had called on the Federal Government to scrap the payment of acceptance fee in higher institutions.

The group lamented the fate of the poor masses whose academic pursuits have been truncated due to their inability to pay the thousands of money being demanded as acceptance fee before they could be admitted into the universities.

They revealed that many state-owned tertiary institutions charge as much as N40,000 to N60,000 per student while some federal institutions even charge more.

The Guardian’s check across the institutions on acceptance fee shows that the University of Ibadan (UI) charges N35, 000, Lagos State University (LASU) charges N20, 000; University of Lagos (UNILAG), 20,000; Osun State University (UNIOSUN), N40, 000 for a degree programme. Also, Yaba College of Technology (YabaTECH) charges between N15,000-N17,000; while Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) charges N7,500 for fulltime NCE and N10,000 for part time.

Coordinator of the group, Mr. Patrick Osagie Eholor, said: “These fees pose additional hardship and obstacles to tertiary education aspiration of our well-meaning youths and parents whose enthusiastic votes brought the present administration to power.”

Peter Ibekwe (not real name) was offered admission for a PhD programme at UNILAG in 2014. He paid N50, 000 as acceptance fee. Afterwards, he made additional payment of N150, 000 as school fees, but due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to proceed for the programme. By chance or by circumstance, UNILAG briskly gained N200, 000 into its purse, as the fees are non-refundable.

A parent, Mrs. Loretta Igwe, said it is only the “Federal Government’s intervention that will properly address the issue. Just like government did with the post-UTME, if government truly cares about the wellbeing of the masses, it should make a formal pronouncement on the subject matter, announce a uniform fee and these universities, polytechnics and colleges of education will abide by it.

“It is also worthy of note that Nigerians are not aware of any meaningful project these institutions have carried out with acceptance fee. Yes it goes into the purse of the school, what happens after that? Where do they invest the money? All these should be probed, if the money cannot be accounted for, then it should be abolished completely,” she said.

But former vice chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Prof. Adebayo Adeyemi, did not support abrogation of acceptance fee in tertiary institutions, as he considered it as a component of the admission process. Rather, he advised that it be regulated with a stipulated percentage of the total fees for the first year.

He said it is a commitment on the part of the candidate as an evidence of the willingness to take up the offer of admission.

“Payment of acceptance fee has always been a component of admission exercise in any tertiary institution which is an expression of interest by the candidate offered admission. The convention is to treat the acceptance fee as part payment for the total fee to be paid by the candidate. However, if the candidate fails to take up the admission, he/she loses the acceptance fee earlier paid. The amount charged varies, especially between public and private institutions.

In public institutions, it used to be nominal, which, progressively has been increased and some times a certain percentage of the tuition or whichever fees are charged in public institutions. For private universities, a substantially higher amount could be charged compared to public institutions, which could be relative to normal tuition.”

On whether these universities are being fair to students with the charges, he said, “My take on the fairness is that the acceptance fee should be relative to the total fees to be paid by new students. A situation where the total fees to be paid in a public university for first year, hypothetically, is N100, 000, the acceptance fee should not be more than N20, 000, leaving a balance of eighty thousand naira to be paid on resumption. I will be more comfortable with a minimal and an optimal percentage of 10 and 20 per cent of total fees respectively.”

As a former university administrator, Adeyemi said universities, if properly funded should be able to survive without acceptance fee.
“My experience is painted in the following scenario: At the end of the academic year, most if not all the Nigerian institutions, whether private or public, would have exhausted all funds earned from annual subventions, whether from the government or the proprietor, and fees which form the substantial percentage of internally generated revenue (IGR).

“It is the gap between the end of the academic year when all fees would have been collected and spent, and the commencement of a new session that most institutions are usually in a fix to pay salaries and to keep the institution running. Therefore, the only option would be through collection of acceptance fees as a stopgap to ensure not only payment of salaries but also to meet the cost of essential services. This would be the pattern of running most of our institutions unless proper and adequate funding is ensured.”

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Campus News News University

UNN leads with 3 slots in AAP’S scholarship programme

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka leads other African universities after its candidates clinched three out of eight available Post Doctoral Fellowship (PDF) slots in the inaugural cohort for the African Futures Leadership Program sponsored by the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP), an initiative of the Michigan State University.

The three successful Early Career Fellows would spend one year at the Michigan State University (MSU) for their Post Doctoral Fellowship with all expenses paid by the AAP.

According to AAP’s focal person for the University of Nigeria, Prof. Anthonia Achike, said the candidates were selected out of eight applicants from the University of Nigeria and a total of 19 applicants from different African universities who are members of the AAP consortium.

Prof Achike, who attracted the partnership to the University of Nigeria, said the remaining five slots of the fellowship opportunity were won by other candidates from other African universities.

In a statement by AAP’s Communication Officer, Justin Rabineau revealed mentors and early career researchers were selected based on how their work aligned with AAP’s six priority areas: agri-food systems, water, energy, and environment, youth empowerment, education, culture, and health and nutrition.

Rabineau said that the successful candidates would be jointly supervised by faculty members from the University of Nigeria and the Michigan State University (MSU). The mentorship will focus on research for impact, writing of scholarly and policy publications, dissemination of research results, and grant proposals.

The candidates and their mentors include, Amelia Ngozi Odo, mentored by Dr. Evelyn Nwagu (UNN) and Masako Fujita (MSU); Helen Agu, mentored by Prof. Joy Ezeilo (UNN) and Meredith Gore (MSU); and Linda Chukwurah, mentored by Prof. Elsie Umeano (UNN) and Lepsetswe Malete (MSU).

The main objective of the fellowship Program according to Rabineau is to train a cadre of African researchers that will return to their home institutions and become scientific leaders in their communities, help solve Africa’s challenges, and in turn become trainers of the next generation of African scholars.

According to AAP Co-Director, Dr. José Jackson-Malete, “In Africa, on average, only 30% of researchers are women. The AAP’s African Futures Program is designed to address this critical gap, and we are excited to support the next generation of African women scholars.”

The AAP consortium, led by the Michigan State University, is partnering with over nine African Universities. The consortium targets to solve current global problems in a way that is sustainable, effective and equitable.

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Campus News University

UNIZIK sacks lecturer who allegedly forged B.Sc certificate

Dr Peter Ekemezie, a senior lecturer at the department of pure and industrial chemistry, Faculty of Physical Sciences of Nnamdi Azikwe Univeristy, Anambra, has been sacked.

The senior lecturer was sacked by the university’s governing council for the gross misconduct of plagiarism. He was accused to have forged a B.Sc certificate from the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers state.

Ekemezie was found guilty of the act by a committee that was set up by the council to probe the allegation of plagiarism and the claims that he got his B.Sc from the University of Port Harcourt.

A letter by the council said that the institution’s decision was guided by provision of its constitution to relieve Ekemezie of his duties with immediate effect from Wednesday, June 26.

A part of the letter read: “The Governing Council at its 117 general meeting held on Wednesday 26th June, 2019, considered the report of Appeals and Petitions Committee against your person, titled ‘Fraudulent claims of Patent by Dr Peter Ekemezie and other irregularities in the general appraisal.’ “The council noted that the matter which had lingered for more than five years was criminal case pending before court of law. It, therefore, resolved to suspend the deliberation on it.

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NERC seeks academic researches to improve electricity

To really address the Nigeria’s intractable energy crisis, the Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof James Momoh, has called on tertiary institutions in Nigeria to carry out researches and innovations to improve power supply in the country.

Momoh made the call over the weekend while delivering a Convocation Lecture titled “Reform of the Power Sector in Nigeria” at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja.

He said that the traditional way of operating the universities and colleges should be radically changed to support the sector through research and development.

“Capacity development, innovations and solution providing roles in partnership with other sister research centres is a sure way universities can make impacts on the power sector.

“Special courses and curriculum should be introduced to facilitate a unified knowledge approach towards finding sustainable solutions to existing and emerging demands of the power sector,” he said.

He listed areas of interest in the power sector where universities can leverage on to include; power policy research, design and installation training, smart metering, smart grid, techniques of data mining, among others.

Momoh said that proper policy, research, innovations, application of advanced technology, appropriate regulation and standard with optimised technology are all interconnected in determining the efficiency of the modern electric grid.

“The role of universities and research institutes in promoting efficient power generation, transmission, distribution, market and tariffs cannot be overemphasized,” he said.

Momoh stressed that the engagement of the tertiary institutions and research institutes in synergy with critical stakeholders is crucial to improving electricity supply in the country.

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Campus News News University

Trinity University commences operations, pledges stable academic calendar

The Management of Trinity University, Yaba, Lagos, says it has commenced operations for the 2018/2019 academic year with seven students, six lecturers and five adjunct lecturers.

Mr Jide Shoaga, the university Registrar, told NAN in Lagos that the institution commenced operations on May 20.

Shoaga said that the National University Commission (NUC) had approved 15 courses for take off in the institution with only Faculty of Science and Faculty of Art, Management and Social Sciences.

He said Prof. Ayo Charles, a former Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Ota, has been appointed as Vice-Chancellor to oversee the institution.

According to him, the vice-chancellor assumed office on May 20 alongside the take off of academic activities and he will be unveiled at a later date.

“We took off with seven students, but as at June 15, we have 14 students for the 2018/2019 admission and by the grace of God, we will end the session in December.

The registrar assured parents and students of stable and uninterrupted academic calendar.

He said the university had two campuses officially approved by the NUC, the City campus, Yaba, and the Mega campus located in Lalopa Village, Ogun.

Shoaga added that the mega campus was located on 510 hectares of land and was under construction for Engineering, Medicine, Pharmacy, Agriculture students.

He said the institution has hostel accommodation for male and female students, for four students per room.

The registrar said the tuition is between N300,000 and N350,000 per session.

He said that the institution had made it easy for parents as they could pay twice per semester, and the accommodation was affordable.

“Our accommodation is N250,000 per session, and presently, we have students on ground.

“There will be no academic interruption, because our students and lecturers are on ground and everything is going on fine.

“We have started with Faculty of Science; Faculty of Art, Management and Social Sciences.

“Under the Faculty of Science, we have programmes like Computer Science and Information Technology to which we have students.

“In the Faculty of Art, Management and Social Sciences, we have students, majority of them in Mass Communication.

“We have students in Microbiology; we have six lecturers and five adjunct lecturers, while the VC himself is a lecturer,” he said.

Shoaga said the university had facilities to accommodate about 4, 000 students, adding that a sick bay, male and female hostels, stable electricity and water supply were also available.

The registrar said the university had also commenced admission process for the 2019/2020 session.

He urged parents to enroll their children who were unable to secure admission in any of the Federal or State institutions to trinity university.

“We have commenced the process for the 2019/2020 academic session.

“We encourage parents to allow their children who are unable to secure admission into Federal or State universities to change to Trinity University,” the registrar said.

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ABU Zaria Campus News News University

Fertiliser firm partners Ahmadu Bello Uni on maize production

A fertiliser company, OCP Africa is set to partner with the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria to distribute nutritionally-enhanced maize and promote collaboration and capacity building for scientists, researchers and technicians.

The partnership will involve international and local experts seeking ways to increase climate resilience and productivity of maize and to strengthen maize-based cropping systems  across the country.

OCP Africa has launched an agricultural intervention programme at ABU) tagged “Agribooster campus offer” targeted at 5,000 maize farmers within the university and its immediate environs.

OCP Group, the Moroccan parent company of OCP Africa, is the world’s largest producer and exporter of phosphate and phosphate-based fertiliser. The multinational company drives the bilateral partnership between Nigeria and Morocco on the supply of phosphate to blending plants in several states across the country.

As part of the launch, the Faculty of Agriculture of ABU nominated 15 of its postgraduate students to be trained and equipped by OCP Africa on agriculture extension skills to reach the targeted farmers, teaching those best practices in the application of various farm inputs to maximizs their yield in maize cultivation.

The Country Manager OCP Africa, Mr. Caleb Usoh, said the “Agribooster Campus Offer”, the first of its kind in Nigerian universities, would provide the farmers with fertiliser, seeds, and agro-chemicals; funding through its project partner, ABU Microfinance Bank Limited; and training for the postgraduate extension workers who will, in turn, train the farmers.”

According to Usoh, “We are very positive that this programme will significantly expand the yields of these farmers, based on the quality of the seeds and fertiliser we have brought in. The students who are going to become agri-promoters in the different villages where these 5,000 framers are operating will create awareness for them in the proper use of farm input. With this intervention by OCP Africa and its partners, the farmers will be able to get the right types of fertiliser and other critical input in sufficient quantities, and at the right time.”

ABU’s Dean Faculty of Agriculture, Prof Olufunmilola Alabi, said: “We are happy that OCP Africa has chosen our school to begin the roll out of its Agribooster Campus Offer in Nigerian universities. The selected postgraduate students are being trained to become extension workers who will work with the farmers within our immediate environs. We expect that this intervention would increase the maize yield drastically for the farmers concerned, and it will translate into more money for them.”

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Kaduna State, and representative of the governor at the event, Alhaji Abdulkadir Kasim, expressed his optimism that the offer would be a powerful complement for transforming agriculture in the entire state. “We congratulate the company and its partners on putting together this intervention which wil,l ultimately, help our state to move agriculture away from subsistence levels and make it a more profitable business.”

One of the ABU’s postgraduate extension workers, Mr. Elijah Ogunshola, said: “With the training, he has undergone both in the classroom as well as what he has now got from OCP Africa in the past six months, the yield of farmers under his watch would significantly increase. It is high time we brought our local farmers up to speed with modern practices, and by God’s grace, we will try our best to see that we put a smile on the farmers face, helping them to make farming a more profitable venture than what they are used to.”

Earlier, Usoh, and  ABU Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Garba,  signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to deploy the offer for the school.

Usoh said his company decided to launch the programme first in ABU because of its robust Faculty of Agriculture and access to extensive agricultural land within the university campus.

He explained: “Many Nigerian universities have very robust agriculture faculties and they are also sitting on vast lands, so instead of keeping those lands fallow, we want to engage with these schools for farming. For instance, with the knowledge that the ABU Faculty of Agriculture imparts on its graduate and postgraduate students, coupled with well designed extension services, these students can combine their academics with practicals. In the process, we can spur their interest in agriculture as a business. Upon their graduation, they could then begin to see and take advantage of the great opportunities in agribusiness.”

Prof Ibrahim Garba said the school would assist OCP Africa to achieve the goal of the Agribooster Campus Offer. According to him, “The university and its environs is a very well known agrarian environment. We therefore see what you are offering to us as a complement to what we are already doing under our ABU Microfinance Bank Limited and our Institute for Agriculture Research (IAR)”.

Maize is an important food in Nigeria  and the main ingredient in several well-known national dishes. Examples are tuwon masara,pap and akamu. It’s also used as animal feed and as raw material for brewing beer and for producing starch.

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Tragedy as Gunmen kill university staff in Calabar

Unknown gunmen killed a staff of the Cross River University of Technology, Mr Bassey Ekpenyong Inyang, late Thursday evening.

It was gathered that Inyang was killed by the gunmen who laid in wait for him just outside his house, along New Airport Road in Calabar-South, as he just came back from church with his wife.

As he drove home it was gathered that the gunmen who were in a nondescript bus, shot him killing him instantly, an eyewitness said.

The reason for the attack could not be ascertained.

Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, who confirmed the incident said investigations have been launched into the matter.

The late Bassey was the Chief Architect in the Works and Physical Planning unit of the university.

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Campus News University UNN

History as UNN unveils first alumnus as VC

Fifty-eight years after its establishment, an  alumnus of the University of Nigeria (UNN) Prof Charles Arizechukwu Igwe has become its Vice-Chancellor (VC).

Of the 15 VCs the premier university has produced, Igwe is the first ‘made-in-UNN’ product, having obtained his Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctorate degrees from the university.

Igwe, a professor of Soil Science, was selected as VC by the  Chief Mike Olorunfemi-led governing council, after the  screening of about 70  contenders.

Last Friday, Igwe delivered his inaugural address to workers and students, vowing to turn his alma mater into a tech-driven institution.

Igwe said he had spent about four decades in the university, having joined its workforce from the lowest rung of the ladder.

“I have witnessed some of the finest eras in the history of this citadel of learning. I have also witnessed its difficult times,” Igwe said.

He said the UNN would be technologically-driven, academically robust and would promote enterprise and entrepreneurship. His strategy, according to him, would be an integrated development model, anchored on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He said his administration would develop a database of the university’s alumni with the aim of harnessing their goodwill and partnerships to improve funding.

“We shall ensure sustained infrastructural development and supply through public-private partnership, attend to ongoing and abandoned projects, and enthrone maintenance culture  and environmental cleanliness,” he added

Igwe, who is from the Faculty of Agriculture, also promised to refocus the university, make it self-sustaining as well as a model for survival to other institutions nationwide.

Appreciating the research effort of the university, which led to the generation of electricity using organic waste products, Igwe said his administration would harness the potential of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Engineering and the Centre for Energy and Research Development to break new grounds in electricity supply.

In his goodwill message, the first National President of the University of Nigeria Alumni Association, Prof B. I. C. Ijomah, described Igwe’s emergence as a new dawn for the university and its alumni who had endured years of being ruled by alumni of other universities.