NASS Suspends Plenary To Honour Late Sen Chukwumerije

ChukwumerijeThe National Assembly on Tuesday suspended plenary to honour the late Senator Uche Chukwumerijie who died on Sunday evening.

Federal lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives took turns to sign a condolence register at the entrance of the Senate chamber.

Senate President, David Mark, described the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije as national hero who was a pan- Nigerian and an unrepentant crusader for the respect for human rights and rule of law.

The former Information Minister and Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, died on Sunday, April 19.

This was disclosed in a statement by his first son, Chidi Chukwumerije.

The statement read; “On the evening of Sunday, the 19th of April, 2015, surrounded by his family, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije passed into the open arms of history, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, after a long but gallant battle with lung cancer.

“His life is many volumes, which can only be told with care and time, of dedication and focus, integrity and discipline, and an unbroken love for the highest ideals of our shared humanity.

“Details of burial arrangements will be announced in due course. We ask only for your prayers and good wishes.”

Senator Chukwumerije served as Minister of Information during the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida.

Born November 1939, he was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in April 2003, representing Abia North Senatorial District on the platform of the PDP.

He studied Economics at the University of Ibadan.

Senate Chides FG Over Failure To Attend ASUP Negotiation Meeting

Uche_chukwumerijeThe Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Uche Chukwumerije, has expressed disappointment at the Federal Government over their response and unwillingness to negotiate with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) to bring to an end the lingering strike rocking polytechnic education in Nigeria.

He stated this at the committee meeting with the leadership of ASUP, in which the Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation were absent.

The leadership of ASUP had narrowed down their demands from 10 to 2 and were willing to call off the strike had it been the Government representatives were at the meeting.

Mr Chukwumerije further encouraged the ASUP leadership to be steadfast in their struggle and see that the education sector in the country doesn’t suffer any longer.

ASUP have resolved to continue its nine months old strike pending the outcome of the meeting with the Senate Committee on Education on July 1.

President of the union, Chibuzor Asumogha, made the statement at the end of ASUP’s 77th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos, adding that a meeting of the committee and some education stakeholders scheduled for June 24 did not hold because no Government official came.

2013 In Review: Journalist Approves Performance Of Social Media

The Former Director, Voice of Nigeria, Gabriel Omohinmi, on Friday gave kudos to the social media for breaking the major news stories which dominated the media in the year 2013 but faulted the traditional news media for not performing up to expectation.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr Omohinmi expressed disappointment in the performance of the traditional news media (print, television and radio) despite the enabling atmosphere  Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has created for practitioners. “We’ve actually not had problems with this present administration,” he said and added that “they have been very fair. They have allowed the Press to express themselves.”

According to the seasoned journalist, “the Nigerian media has not done well. We are not doing well. The traditional media is not performing the duties (that is) expected of them” because major stories in 2013 including the controversial letter exchange between former president Olusegun Obasanjo and President Jonathan, were broken by online based media.

This new trend is an indication that “people no longer trust media-men,” he said, adding that, “credibility is the basis of journalism practice.”

In the case of the call for Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah’s sack, Omohinmi said that journalists attached to the Presidency and the House of Representatives have not done their jobs as they should have obtained and published copies of the committees investigating the matter.

He also faulted the Minister for asking a journalist, Simon Ateba, to go back to school, after questioning her about House of Representatives’ call for her sack or resignation.

“Was it the duty of the minister for aviation to do that? Where are the reporters at the National Assembly? Why is it that they’ve not been able to get a copy of the report?”

He further mentioned that cases of journalists having romantic relationships with public officers in the beat they cover,  must stop as it is unprofessional.

“We must demand more from our reporters. They are not doing what is expected.”

Editorial policies of news organisations should be the guiding principle for journalists who are posted on assignments but “majority of them are out to see how much money they can make.” “Every media organisation is expected to have its own code of ethics that guides its own employees,” he said.

Omohinmi stated that the government owned media can perform much better than what they are doing now but the problem lies within the journalists and appointed officials who carry out “self-censorship” in favour of top government officers.

“I was in Voice of Nigeria, there was no time any minister will come and say this is what you take in our news.

“I remember during the MKO Abiola saga and Uche Chukwumerije was busy issuing out statements and I told them I was the news editor, I said No, I can’t carry this and I stood by it.

“My director of news came and said I was suspended and I said all well and good, I’m ready to go… I was suspended for one week but finally they brought me back and said what I did was quite professional.”

He advised that media organisations should establish their credibility in order to avoid external interference in their operations. “Do what is expected of you. Be credible and let the audience know that, is your only source,” he said.

Jamb Announces UTME Cut-off Marks

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has announced 180 points as cut-off marks for admission into Nigerian Universities for the 2013/2014 academic session.

The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayattu Rufai who announced this at the end of a policy meeting with administrators of tertiary institutions in Abuja also announced 150 marks as cut-off point for students seeking admission into polytechnics and colleges of education.

Professor Rufai says the reduction in the cut-off marks for polytechnics and colleges of education is aimed at encouraging students to seek admission into those educational institutions.

Vice Chancellors, Registrars and Administrators of Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education as well as the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board attended the policy meeting to determine cut-off marks into tertiary institutions for the 2013/2014 academic session.

The Minister of Education stressed the need for students to be encouraged to seek admission into polytechnics and colleges of education.

On his part, the Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, advocated the complete computerisation of JAMB examinations while the Senate committee chairman on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, appealed for greater funding for the examination body.


Chukwumerije Urges Federal Universities To Generate Revenue

The chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Uche Chukwumerije has advised tertiary institutions to enhance their revenue generation through consultancy and endowments.

This, he claims, will help address issues confronting the institutions and funding from government will only come in as grants and subvention.

Chukwumerije gave the advice when the committee toured federal tertiary institutions in Kwara state as part of its oversight functions.

The Senate committee visited the University of Ilorin where the Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdulganiyu Ambali, and other management staff of the university made presentations on the challenges facing the institution.

The Vice-Chancellor called for more funds or the federal government and prompt actions to be taken in the development of the education sector.

The Senator in his remark urged tertiary institutions to be more proactive while commending the University of Ilorin for the work being done by the management of the institution.

The Senate committee were earlier at government house Ilorin where the state governor, Abdulfattah Ahmed called for the revival of vocational and technical education for the growth of the sector.

Kano Bombing: Senate Warns Of Military Takeover

As the death toll in Kano bombings continue to rise, one of the Senators representing Kano State, Kabiru Gaya has warned of a military takeover of government if solutions are not quickly found to the bloody terrorism ongoing in Nigeria.

Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya

He disclosed this while contributing at Wednesday’s Senate plenary on matters of urgent national importance.

Senator Gaya, a former Governor of Kano State said Nigeria has gradually become a failed state.

He notes how school teachers and kids in Kano no longer attend schools, like their Borno state counterparts, for fear of being bombed by Boko haram.

Warning of dire consequences if solutions are not found to the intimidating bombings and terror attacks on Nigerians, the Senator feared that the country may drift apart.

Uche Chukwumerije, who jointly moved the motion with Senator Gaya, claimed that about 100 to 120 persons had been confirmed dead in the Kano blast.

TheSsenate asked the executive arm of government to diversify its approach to tackling the problem of insecurity in the country.

Raising a point of order in the chamber, Senator Chukwumerije condemned Monday’s bomb attack on a motor park in Kano pointing out that 80 per cent of the victims were from a particular part of the country.

He also expressed concern over what he termed the perceived indifference of Kano state government to Monday’s bombing of the motor park.

He said it was sad that more than 24 hours after the destruction, the Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, had not seen it fit to pay a visit to the motor park.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, condemned the attack and asked the executive to effectively tackle the insecurity challenges in the country.



Senate Rates Edo Among Three Fastest Growing States

The Senate has rated Edo State among the three fastest developing states in the country.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Uche Chukwumerije who gave the assessment during a courtesy call on the governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole in Benin City, said though the state was not amongst the richest states in the country, the achievement of the governor were glaring for all to see.

Senator  Chukwumerije, who has been leading the Senate committee on a visit to states across the federation, said he was impressed with the development in the Edo State education sector.

He said Governor Oshiomhole had further proved that development is determined by the character of the political leadership of a state rather than its resources.

On his part, the governor  said being a product of the public school system he immediately took steps on assumption of office to tackle the dismal state of public schools in the state.

He added that in addition to the renovation of all schools through the UBE counterpart funding, his administration has abolished all forms of fees in Edo public schools to make education truly free in the state.

Governor Oshiomhole, however, stressed the need for more engagement between the states and the Federal Government so that policy formulation and implementation can be tidier.

The state government said it’s on a mission to rehabilitate all public schools across the state before the expiration of the Oshiomhole administration.


Chukwumerije decries low 2012 education budget implementation

The Chairman Senate Committee on Education Senator Uche Chukwumerijie says it is regrettable that the level of implementation of the 2012 budget in the education sector has remained below 50 per cent. 

Senator Chukwumerijie made the remark when the minister of education, Ruqqayattu Rufai, appeared before the senate committee on education to defend the 2013 budget.

The education minister said the total capital releases in the 2012 budget is N30.3 billion amounting to 45.46 per cent of funds released by the ministry of finance.

This was in contrast to the remarks of the minister of finance who said 75 per cent of funds in the 2012 budget have been released to government agencies.

About N427 billion was appropriated for education in the 2013 budget; a far cry from what experts believe is needed for the sector.