ASUU Strike: Reps To Dialogue With Buhari Next Week, Says Gbajabiamila

ASUU members met with the House of Representatives in Abuja on September 29, 2022.
ASUU members met with the leadership of the House of Representatives in Abuja on September 29, 2022.

 

The leadership of the House of Representatives will seek an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari on the resolution of the ongoing face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with the outcome of its interactions with stakeholders in the dispute, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said on Thursday.

This is as the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AOGF) revealed its readiness to accommodate issues of concern to ASUU over the payment platforms, Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) that constituted a major part of the issues that led to the strike.

According to the Speaker, the leadership, in the next couple of days, will put up a report of its interactions with key stakeholders in the dispute and come up with recommendations that will enable the President to view the issues at stake from an informed second option.

Speaking at the last meeting of the House leadership with stakeholders, Gbajabiamila said the information gathered from the extensive interactions would assist the leadership in arriving at fact-based recommendations for the resolution of the crisis.

Those in attendance included the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen Chris Ngige; Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan; the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh; the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze; the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, represented; as well as the Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta among others. Also present was the delegation from ASUU led by its president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke.

Saying that the interest of the children that had been at the receiving end of the trade dispute should be paramount, Gbajabiamila appealed to both sides to give in and make concessions from their initial demands.

He said: “We will put together our recommendations and our thoughts and take it to Mr. President, that’s why we are here to interface and look for solutions.

“Again let me repeat, we are running a government, nobody, no individual, no group, whether you are legislative, judiciary or whatever can be above the government, can be above the law.

“We can’t be against and I’m speaking specifically to ASUU, we did not say because the court has given judgment, that’s the end of our conversation. In spite of the court judgment, we are still looking for solutions, we didn’t even address it here, I don’t want to address it.

“Otherwise, we could’ve said, if government has given judgment, I don’t know if there’s a stay of execution, I don’t know.

“We are appealing to you, the Judiciary has spoken, the Executive has spoken, the Legislature is about to speak together with the Executive; everybody cannot be wrong and only one person is right. For me I’m happy with the solution on UTAS, no victor, no vanquished, everybody is being carried along.

“for the sake of emphasis, the House is pleading with you, let’s put all interest aside and look at the interest of our children.

“The white paper we told you we’ll get, the letter is here, it’s now waiting for the President’s final approval.

“On revitalization, I asked the DG budget here if provision has been made in the budget. We made a promise to you, and we are staying by that promise.

“Regarding the issue of UTAS, you said you haven’t seen the report; we have it here, so we’ve been working for you”.

During the interactions, following questions from the Speaker, the AGF, Okolieaboh revealed that his office was ready to accommodate issues of concern to ASUU over salary payment if that would bring the crisis to an end.

While the Director General of the NITDA, also disclosed the readiness of the agency to continue the integrity test on the payment platforms.

Following complaints of the federal government’s attempt to strip the Universities Governing Council of its administrative power through the deployment of the IPPIS, the Head of Service, Yemi-Esan allayed the fears of the striking lecturers that the government would not take away the responsibilities of the Governing Council of Universities in the administration of the schools.

Speaker Gbajabiamila assured the striking lectures that the House leadership would invite the ASUU leadership following the outcome of the meeting with the President as soon as it was held.

“When we make our recommendations, we are going to meet with Mr. President and interface on your behalf”, he assured them.

Reps Meet With ASUU In Bid To End Seven-Month Strike

ASUU members met with the House of Representatives in Abuja on September 29, 2022.
ASUU members met with the House of Representatives in Abuja on September 29, 2022.

 

The House of Representatives led by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila met with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Thursday.

The meeting is geared towards ending the union’s seven-month-long strike.

Also in attendance were the Minister of Labour, Head of Service and the Director-General of the Budget Office, among others.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14.

 

In August, the union declared a “total and indefinite” extension of its industrial action, noting that the government has failed to satisfactorily meets its demands.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Elections: Why Govt Cannot Fund Political Parties – Gbajabiamila

Gbajabiamila Gives Akpabio 48 Hours To Publish Names Of Lawmakers Awarded Contracts By NDDC
A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during a meeting in Abuja.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says it is not fashionable to expect the Federal Government to fund political parties at this critical period of Nigeria’s democratic advancement.

For him, using the government’s money to run the parties is an indirect invitation for it to assume control of the political parties by dictating choices and policies that might be in conflict with the tenets of democracy.

Gbajabiamila, who argued that the international best practice was for parties to be self-funded, added that using the government’s money would also lead to the proliferation of political parties.

He made the remarks on Wednesday while receiving a delegation of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) at the National Assembly in Abuja.

The speaker stated that people would simply abuse the process by registering hundreds of political parties in the hope of cashing out on free government money.

“I am not sure how many countries fund their political parties; we will have to do research and to be sure that it’s international best practice …Government is an interested party if it will be providing the funds,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Lanre Lasisi.

“That will also mean they can compromise the system. There is also proliferation (of parties) that will become a problem if the government begins to fund the parties since there will be free money.”

Gbajabiamila, who also reacted to requests for fresh amendments to the Electoral Act 2022, said it was not advisable to do so a few months before the 2023 general elections.

He explained that making new amendments to the law during this period could disorganise election planning, create unnecessary tension in the polity, and raise credibility questions.

The Speaker said the safest route would be to further amend the Act after the elections if a need arose, or in the alternative, aggrieved persons could approach the judiciary to seek an interpretation of any contentious provisions.

He called for patience, urging parties to seize the opportunity of the upcoming polls to fully test the Act and determine the success of innovations, such as the electronic transmission of results, and the deployment of the BIVAS, among others.

Gbajabiamila added that upon a successful poll, other innovations such as electronic collation of results and diaspora voting could also be considered.

The IPAC delegation was led by the body’s national chairman, Yabagi Sani, who told the speaker the purpose of the visit was to seek synergy and a good working relationship between IPAC and the National Assembly.

Among the issues, he tabled before Gbajabiamila were the alleged flouting of Section 31 of the Electoral Act by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the funding of political parties, the urgency to establish the electoral offences commission, electronic collation of election results in addition to the electronic transmission of results, and the call for a change in the process of appointing the chairman of INEC.

For instance, he complained that while the law allowed political parties to replace candidates 90 days before the election, INEC opted to shut its portal when the days had yet to elapse, preferring to use its rules and regulations in determining the fate of the political parties and their candidates.

“A lot of people are being disenfranchised because INEC says we can’t substitute anybody even though the 90 days haven’t elapsed,” Sani said. “Do the INEC rules and regulations supersede the Electoral Act?”

The IPAC chairman said since it was the legislature that made the Act, the body was reporting INEC to the House so that lawmakers could caution the commission or invite the leadership of the electoral umpire for questioning.

He expressed concern that the issue had led to much litigation against INEC already, saying that if not resolved quickly, some of the cases could cause a setback to the electoral system in the future.

On electronic collation of results, Sani said while it was commendable that the results would be transmitted electronically, the collation would still be done manually, which he feared might be compromised.

NASS Renovation: Gbajabiamila Inspects Projects, Seeks Quality Delivery

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Wednesday called for the speedy completion of the ongoing renovation of the National Assembly complex ahead of the delivery deadline of August 2023.

Gbajabiamila made the call in Abuja as he toured and inspected key aspects of the work, particularly the House of Representatives Chamber, the dome and foyer of the complex.

However, he warned that this must not compromise the quality of the work to be delivered.

The Speaker said that though the renovation, which began last month, had progressed well, he would still ask the project managers to speed up the pace and beat the deadline.


READ ALSO: Supreme Court Declares Ifeanyi Odii PDP Governorship Candidate In Ebonyi


At the chamber, Gbajabiamila was briefed on the details of the upgrade and the adjustments to be made to the sitting areas of lawmakers, the chamber staff, the presiding officers, the press gallery, the roof and the adjoining rooms to the chamber.

Speaking with House of Representatives correspondents after the inspection, Gbajabiamila said the changes introduced were “impressive” and would greatly assist the lawmakers in their legislative duties in line with global standards.

Gbajabiamila stated, “This work started in August, a few weeks behind schedule, but for a good reason. So far between August and now, giant strides have been made; you can see the whole chamber has been ripped apart, and the innovations are going to be state-of-the-art.

“We will be proud to have a chamber that matches the best standard all over the world; so I am quite impressed with the work so far.

“I would encourage them to double the pace because, as it is, this is not for the benefit of the 9th Assembly but for the benefit of the 10th Assembly.” The whole chamber isn’t going to be ready until sometime in August next year; so we are talking close to a year, and that tells you the level of work that is going on.”

However, the Speaker insisted that speeding up the pace of completion must not compromise the quality of the work.

While the renovation, which is being carried out by Visible Construction Limited, is ongoing, members will reconvene from their annual break next week to hold plenary sittings in a temporary chamber already prepared at Hearing Room 028.

Giving his impression of the temporary chamber, Gbajabiamila said, “So far so good, we are happy and this temporary site where we will be sitting for the next 9-10 months, is obviously a far cry from where we used to be…

“This used to be a hearing room to a legislative chamber, a lot of adaptations and a lot of innovations have been made and we are quite pleased with the work so far; so we are ready to go.”

The Speaker said the 10th Assembly would most likely be inaugurated in the temporary chamber, except the project managers would be able to complete the renovation of the main chamber months before the scheduled deadline.

“The 10th Assembly more than likely will kick off from here unless work can be accelerated, but you don’t want to accelerate work and compromise the quality of the work, so it’s better late but done well. Anything worth doing is worth doing well”, he added.

Asked if the temporary chamber would accommodate all 360 lawmakers, Gbajabiamila replied, “The configuration is not just this place but upstairs. So, I think there are about a 100 and something seats in terms of accommodation on this level and about 200 and something upstairs.

“But, it has been configured in such a way that everything is connected and you can see the screen. I can see everybody upstairs; whoever is presiding can see everybody upstairs and you can see everybody downstairs.”

Gbajabiamila gave hints that the 2023 budget presentation would likely be done in the first week of October.

The Speaker rounded off the project inspection at the permanent site of the National Assembly Service Commission building, which is also being constructed within the National Assembly complex.

He said he was satisfied that the project was being executed according to plans.

Queen Elizabeth II: FG Pays Condolence Visit To British High Commissioner 

The SGF Boss Mustapha signing the condolence register.

 

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mister Boss Mustapha has visited the residence of the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing to condole her over the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

Boss Mustapha who visited on Saturday, also signed the condolence register at the High Commissioner’s residence in Abuja.

The SGF is on behalf of the Federal Government consoling the British people on this great loss of the Monarch not just for the United Kingdom but the entire Commonwealth.

Mustapha, who was accompanied by his wife, had during a meeting with the British Envoy, delivered President Muhammadu Buhari’s message to the British people and discussed other issues of common interests.

READ ALSO: FG Directs Flags To Fly At Half-Mast For Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth died at 96.

 

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has also arrived at the residence of the British Ambassador to sign the condolence register.

“Paid a condolence visit to the UK High Commissioner in Nigeria, H.E, @CatrionaLaing1 on the demise of Queen Elizabeth II and also signed the condolence register,” the Speaker tweeted on his handle. “Her Majesty served till the End. May She rest in peace. To King Charles III, I say God bless the King!”

In a brief meeting with Ambassador Laing, the Speaker goes down memory lane about Nigeria’s relationship with Britain and both nations’ common interests.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has directed all flags in Nigeria and its missions abroad to be flown at half-mast on Sunday, September 11, 2022, and on Monday, September 12, 2022.

This move was disclosed by the Ministry of Interior in a statement on Saturday.

“In honour of Queen Elizabeth II, The Sovereign of the United Kingdom, Chairman of the Commonwealth, and an eminent global personality, whose passage was announced, the Ministry of Interior of the Federal Government of Nigeria declares that all flags in Nigeria and our missions abroad be flown at half mast on Sunday, September 11th, 2022 and Monday, September 12th, 2022,” interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola said.

“We commiserate with the government and people of the United Kingdom and all the affected people of the Commonwealth and the world. The Queen is dead. Long live the King.”

Gbajabiamila Mourns Prof. Akin Mabogunje

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila has described the death of a foremost geographer, Prof. Akin Mabogunje, as a sad development.

In a statement signed by his spokesperson, Lanre Lasisi, the Speaker said Prof. Mabogunje, the first African President of the International Geographical Union, was one Nigerian that lived an exemplary life.

READ ALSO: Reps Deny Alleged Plot To Impeach Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila

He said during his lifetime, Prof. Mabogunje symbolized diligence, hard work and patriotism, noting that he would be sorely missed.

Gbajabiamila recalled Prof. Mabogunje’s invaluable contributions to the growth and development of geography as a field of study not just in Nigeria but also the world over.

The Speaker sent heartfelt condolences to the family of the late academician.

Gbajabiamila also prayed to God to grant Prof. Mabogunje a peaceful resting place.

‘Not Sensitive’: Gbajabiamila Apologises For Posting Harvard Photos

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has apologised for posting pictures of his course attendance at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Many Nigerians criticised the pictures for being insensitive at a time when public universities across the countries have been closed for several months due to striking academics demanding better welfare.

Mr Gbajabiamila, in a series of tweets on Wednesday, acknowledged that the photos had been insensitive but defended his committment to quality education in Nigeria.

“Yesterday I posted a picture of myself at the Harvard Kennedy School, undergoing a course,” he said.

“That post was not sensitive to the present feelings of fellow citizens, especially parents and students who are presently bearing the brunt of the ongoing closure of public universities …owing to the unresolved issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I apologize for the post at this time, and I hope you will understand that it was not my intention to cause disaffection. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have made multiple interventions within the powers of the legislature to avert the ongoing strike. I had direct engagements with ASUU and relevant government agencies.

“The House of Representatives is still keenly involved in seeking a resolution to the issues so our students can return to school. We all await the outcome of the 2-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiations with ASUU.

“I have long been a champion of public education in Nigeria, and I have consistently advocated programs, policies, and investments to improve the quality of public education in the country. In my constituency and beyond, I have attracted a new international student hostel in UNILAG.

“I facilitated access to free internet WiFi in ALL public tertiary institutions in Lagos State; provision of modern ICT centres in 24 secondary schools across the state, provision of scholarships and grants to indigent students in selected tertiary institutions, provision of laptops to ALL secondary school teachers in my constituency and hundreds of students, facilitated the renovation of over 15 public schools in Lagos.

“I facilitated the ongoing construction of the Open University Campus and JAMB CBT Centre in my constituency, facilitated the ongoing construction of School Auditoriums in both LASU and School of Legal Studies, Katsina; facilitated the construction of a public library in Ondo;

“I facilitated the ongoing construction of an emergency care centre for the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital amongst other numerous interventions. In keeping with my passion for education.

“I regularly take time to teach in some public secondary schools across the country and will continue to work within the remit of the legislature to provide our young people with access to quality education.”

Reps Deny Alleged Plot To Impeach Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

Members of the lower chamber of the National Assembly have denied an alleged plot to impeach the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The lawmakers made the disclaimer during Tuesday’s plenary amid reports that the Northern Caucus of the House was planning to impeach the speaker to ensure that the controversial Water Resources Bill was passed.

According to them, it is ridiculous that such a publication will be made and insist that they are solidly behind the speaker.

The matter was later referred to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges for further investigation.

READ ALSO: Buhari Asks Senate To Confirm Justice Kayode Ariwoola As CJN

The controversial Water Resources Bill, which seeks to bring all water resources (surface and underground) and the banks of the water sources under the control of the Federal Government, was first introduced in the 8th Assembly but was rejected by the lawmakers.

It was then reintroduced in the 9th Assembly but received backlash from a broad section of Nigerians and legislators who feared that it could endanger the unity of the country.

The bill was again reintroduced in the House of Representatives chamber on June 29.

Sada Soli, who sponsored the bill, said wide consultations have been made for a better version of the bill.

He gave an assurance that if at any point, indications suggest that it would negatively affect any section of the country, he would voluntarily withdraw the bill.

The bill was then read for the first time and would be debated when scheduled for the second reading.

Meanwhile, a bill to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act has scaled the second reading in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.

Sada who also sponsored the bill informed his colleagues during Tuesday’s plenary that the move was in defence of the sanctity of the nation’s financial regulator.

The bill seeks the removal of the governor, deputy governor, or director of the apex bank if they are involved in partisan politics.

Alleged Organ Trafficking: Gbajabiamila Asks Nigerian Embassy In UK To Support Ekweremadu

(FILE) Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, presides over a plenary at the green chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Tuesday said he is shocked and concerned about the situation with former deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu and his wife.

Ekweremadu and wife, Beatrice, have been arrested and charged in the United Kingdom for trafficking a 15-year-old boy to the United Kingdom for organ harvesting.

They are currently detained in the UK over the charges ahead of a court date on July 7.

READ ALSO: Immigration Confirms Age Of ‘Victim’ In Ekweremadu’s Case

The couple have denied the trafficking charges.

Gbajabiamila, speaking at a plenary session on Tuesday, asked the Nigerian High Commission in the UK to avail Ekweremadu all the support he requires.

The speaker said he is in contact with the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK to ensure that all resources needed for the defense of the Ekweremadus are made available to them, considering that allegations do not equal judgement.

2023: Gbajabiamila Questions Failure Of 170 Reps To Win Party Tickets For Re-Election

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila. Photo: Facebook/Gbajabiamila.

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has questioned the primaries of political parties held across the country.

He was concerned that about 178 serving members of the house failed to secure the ticket of their various parties to return to the green chamber of the National Assembly.

Gbajabiamila made the remarks on Tuesday in his opening remarks to the lawmaker at the resumption of plenary after over one month of recess.

According to him, many members lost because of the process of primaries, using the delegate system which is what the House fought for by making direct primaries compulsory in the Electoral Act which the President has yet to sign.

That clause of the Electoral Act had to be expunged, allowing political parties to decide their mode of primaries to select their candidates for various elections.

 

Controversial Direct Primary 

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law on February 25, amid outcry over his delayed assent to the legislation.

He assented to the Act barely a week before the expiration of the window he had to take a decision on the legislation, as required by the Nigerian Constitution.

This followed unsuccessful attempts to amend the nation’s electoral laws during the 8th National Assembly led by former Senate President Bukola Saraki and former Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

But lawmakers in the 9th National Assembly successfully amended the act, although they also had an initial setback over the decision to make the direct mode of primary compulsory for political parties in 2021.

President Buhari had, however, withheld his assent, citing the cost of conducting direct primary elections, security challenges, and possible manipulation of electoral processes by political players as part of the reasons for his decision.

Thereafter, the House re-amended the law to include the direct and indirect primary options while the Senate re-adjusted it to include the direct, indirect, and consensus modes of selecting political parties’ candidates.

Both chambers later passed a harmonised version on January 25 – the final agreed version of the amendment to Clause 84 which included the direct, indirect, and consensus primary modes.

Gbajabiamila Congratulates Nigerians On Democracy Day

A file photo of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila giving a speech during a plenary at the House of Representatives chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has congratulated Nigerians on the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day.

In a statement on Saturday by his media adviser, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila said Nigerians have a lot to celebrate as the country’s democracy has developed in the past 23 years.

The speaker described this year’s Democracy Day as historic, coming on the eve of the 2023 general elections.

He expressed delight at how the citizens have embraced democratic governance in the past two decades, saying there was a lot to come in the coming years in terms of dividends of democracy.

Gbajabiamila called for the continuous support and cooperation of the people for the entrenchment and deepening of democracy in the country.

He used the occasion to call on Nigerian leaders at all levels to intensify efforts at making the country’s democracy work for the people.

Conference Of Speakers To Pursue Debt Forgiveness For Africa – Gbajabiamila

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

Conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments (CoSAP)on Tuesday agreed to pursue debt forgiveness for the continent from creditor-nations.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed this in Abuja while briefing reporters on the sidelines of a two-day conference which held in the nation’s capital.

“We talked about debt cancellation and debt forgiveness. We felt parliament should be involved and speak as one voice and speak to our creditors and make a case as to why we needed debt forgiveness,” he said.

READ ALSO: No Extension Of Timeline For Party Primaries – INEC

“We also agreed that in doing so, we are going to push for a tripartite agreement between the creditors, the executive other governments and the legislators, reason being that even if your debt is forgiven and funds are freed up to be diverted in other areas like health, education, your creditors will need to assured that the institution that is responsible for appropriation is involved and that is the case we are making.

“CoSAP as an institution has made commitments, even signed commitments within ourselves and ready to commit to the creditors that we would follow the money.”

The session was chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa, Rt. Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Participants at the session, backing Gbajabiamila’s position, spoke on the need for parliaments to step up their oversight duties in tracking how the Executive spent the loans taken on behalf of countries, which ended as debt burdens or traps.

Some argued that in countries that secured debt reliefs, the parliaments must interrogate how the money returned to them was spent.

They pointed out that the creditor-nations, in considering the appeals for debt cancellation or relief, would look at several factors, including accounting for how the loans were utilised and the compliance of countries to agreements signed at the inception of the loan requests.