FG vs. ASUU: Presidency Presents Evidence Of Payment

The Presidency has produced evidence of payment of 200 billion Naira for universities infrastructure revitalisation.

At a media briefing in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President On Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, presented a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria, confirming that a sum of 200 billion Naira, agreed with the Academic Staff Union Of Universities at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4, 2013, has been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure account.

In the letter, signed by the Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr Tunde Lemo and addressed to the Accountant General of the Federation, the apex bank confirmed that the total sum was paid in three tranches of 129.3 billion Naira, 20.7 billion Naira and 50 billion Naira, into the account as directed.

The presidential aide added that “the Federal Government does not intend to victimize anyone who participates in a legitimate strike action in view of the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation convention which guarantees workers’ rights to strikes convened in line with due processes.”

The impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities reached a crescendo in the past week with ASUU  expressing lack of confidence in the government in keeping the agreements it reached with the Presidency on its issues and had requested for evidences of the Government’s financial commitment to the ASUU course.

In a statement by the ASUU President, Dr Nasir Issa-Fagge, while appearing on Channels Television on Tuesday, December 3, the union stated that once the bank account opening was done and the committee that would disburse the funds start working, “our members will have no reason not to suspend the strike” insisting that the “most important part of this thing at this point is that let there be documentation”.

He said the union insisted on documentation to ensure that it would not embark on another industrial action, as a result of the government not meeting the requirement, particularly the promises by the President.

“Why won’t government make available this money so that we know the money is there and the universities commence drawing from this money to address the problem of decay in infrastructure, teaching and research facilities? When that is done, our members will suspend the strike,” he promised.

The Presidency is expected to maintain its earlier stance that “from the government’s perspective, everything that needs to be done has been done and whether the strike would be called off or not now lies in the hands of the leadership of ASUU”.

CBN Stops Polymer Note Production, Reverts To Paper Money

Years after spending millions of Naira on campaigns and migration of the nation’s currency from paper prints to polymer notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced that it is ready to stop the printing of small denomination naira in polymer notes.

The deputy governor, banking supervision, Tunde Lemo, in a statement on Sunday said the apex bank decided to scrap the polymer notes because they fade easily, despite earlier experiments which showed that the notes could last longer than paper notes.

Mr Lemo adds that no new polymer note is being printed at the moment and the CBN will begin to produce the second generation of lower denomination notes sometime between June and July this year.

The CBN deputy governor also appealed to Nigerians to be more careful in handling the naira notes, stressing that its campaign against the abuse of the currency has not been successful.

Mr. Lemo, further explained the new policy disclosed this in an interview in Washington on the side lines of the on-going Spring Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“By the middle of the year, we will start to produce the second generation of lower denomination notes, now in paper and not in polymer. My plea is that Nigerians should exercise patience; it wasn’t the fault of the CBN; it was just because we had to go back to the drawing board to rethink the ‘Project Cure’ in the light of the wish of the public that we should not go ahead with the N5,000 notes and lower denominations” he said.

“We will correct that in the course of the year. Polymer certainly will be phased out. In fact, we are phasing out polymer.  No new note is being printed in polymer now.”

Lemo stated that when the CBN was going to introduce the polymer currencies, its research showed that they could last longer than ordinary paper notes. “However, with the benefit of hindsight, we probably should not have dumped polymer because, yes, the substrate lasts longer, but the in-consubstrate began to fade; we didn’t realise that at the time of introduction.”

“So, part of ‘Project Cure’ was actually to move away from polymer substrate to paper; unfortunately, we had a push-back because of the issues around N5,000 note and coins.

“The entire programme was put in abeyance; otherwise by now, we should have stopped producing polymer.’’

Lemo said the CBN had awarded a contract for the printing of the higher denomination notes to a foreign company because of low capacity at the Nigerian Printing and Minting Company.

He said the bank would begin to receive the fresh notes from June.

On the campaign for careful handling of the Naira, Lemo said that it was unfortunate that it was not successful, but noted that it was a criminal act to abuse the Naira going by the CBN Act.

The deputy governor said, “Unfortunately, CBN is not a law enforcement institution; we left that in the hands of the law enforcement institutions and that has not kicked in.

“I still go to parties and see people spraying money, stepping on money, I see touts distributing mint-fresh money that should go to customers.’’

Lemo also said that the CBN had talked to the police to step up surveillance to reduce their abuse of the naira, adding that the bank had no right to arrest people who sold the currency on the streets.

He said the act of abuse and sale of the naira by touts had defeated the clean note policy of the bank, but assured that efforts were being made to tackle the problem.