<SUNBIGHT>~Ghana~Eke~11th February,2022 @ 15:30 WAT
THE ongoing strike has entered its fifth week and threatens to shut down public universities. As a result, thousands of local and international students have been left stranded.
Public universities in Ghana are on the verge of a shutdown in the coming weeks unless lecturers currently on strike for over four weeks return to work.
The lecturers, who are part of the national umbrella body called the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), downed their chalks on January 10, 2022, over poor working conditions.
The lecturers’ union said the government had refused to implement a pay policy that pegs their basic salary and market premium at $2,084 (€1,824). A market premium payment is a salary bonus for a specific group of workers whose posts have been identified as “hard to fill.”
This payment prevents workers like university lecturers from abandoning their jobs for other sectors or even traveling abroad to teach elsewhere.
UTAG’s leadership said that since December 2021, when their members migrated to Ghana’s Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS), their basic premiums have decreased to $997.
Pushing for redress
One of the association’s leaders, Dr. Felix Longi Yakubu Tonsuglo, told DW that the strike had become necessary to force the government to address what he called very poor working conditions
“Our salaries have eroded. From 2013, we had an interim market premium of 114% of our basic (salary), which gave us a cedi equivalent of $2,084. But, as we speak now, that value has eroded to 52%,” Tonsuglo said. “Right now, what a lecturer takes [home] is just a cedi equivalent of $900.”
Besides an increase in their salaries, the lecturers are also demanding more book and research allowances.
The ongoing strike could soon cross the 31-day mark, requiring managers to shut down their universities. But so far, there isn’t any sign of a resolution.
When the lecturers started their strike, the country’s National Labour Commission swiftly sued them, saying they could not continue industrial action while negotiating with the government, which is their employer. But the lecturers have rejected calls to end their strike. On February 4, a court asked the warring parties to resolve the impasse out of court.
Ghana’s education minister, Yaw Osei Adutwum, told reporters that crucial decisions had been made since the court order. “As minister of education, I am a chief advocate and will do everything possible to ensure that this strike ends and their [lecturers’] demands are also considered. Further dialogue happens at the end of the strike,” Adutwum said.
Vice-Chancellors Ghana — the umbrella body of managers of public universities — has said it hopes the lecturers and the government will soon reach an agreement to prevent the total closure of universities.
Empty lecture halls
“We are doing everything possible to ensure our lecturers get back to the lecture halls,” Professor Okoe Amartey told reporters in Ghana’s capital, Accra.
“We have been talking to our lecturers on the various campuses. We are coming to engage them further. We are appealing to them to return to the lecture halls while negotiation continues,” Amartey said.
The government has for weeks failed to get the lecturers back to the classroom. However, faced with the real prospect of locking down all public colleges, Adutwum told journalists that his ministry was working hard to get the tutors back to work.
“Our students are waiting, and we will do everything possible to make sure that our lecturers go back to the classroom,” the minister said.
Growing students’ frustration
While the government hopes the lecturers will call off their strike sooner than later, the impact on students is becoming severe. Thousands of local and international students have been stranded for weeks.
One international student from Cuba studying medicine at the University of Development Studies in northern Ghana told DW that the strike had affected her finances and frustrated her studies.
“You know we have a budget. Our parents send us money for one month, and when you are not going to school, it is like you are wasting the money,” the 20-year-old student, who chose to remain anonymous, said.
“It is my first time seeing something like this. People are going on strike because of the money. It is my first time. It is new to me. In my country, we don’t have this,” she said.
But local students, who are more used to such strikes, are also stranded and hoping for a quick resolution.
Strikes are nothing new in Ghanaian public universities. The same Ghanaian lecturers went on strike last year for similar reasons. They called it off days later after a series of negotiations with the government,
In search of a lasting solution
“We are calling on our lecturers, on the government and all stakeholders to come together and make sure our lecturers return to the classroom,” Emmanuel Boakye Yiadom, president of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), told journalists.
“But before they return, they should be a lasting solution where the lecturers may not see the need or the sense of returning to the strike again,” Yiadom added.
At least 15 public universities are currently affected by the ongoing strike by the lecturers.
It is not only in Ghana that lecturers are agitating for better working conditions. In Nigeria, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has also raised issues over poor working conditions. The university lecturers have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike to fight for their demands.
Should this threat be carried out in Nigeria, it will be the second major strike in two years after the previous one lasted for nine months, leading to the loss of almost one full academic year.■
[Courtesy: Isaac KALEDZI/ Maxwell SUUK/ Chrispin MWAKIDEU// Deutsche Welle]
<SUNBIGHT>~Space~Eke~11th February,2022 @ 14:48 WAT
ASUU said Nigerians should hold the government responsible if another industrial action hits the Universities in no distant time.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos Zone, has called on Nigerians to engage the Nigerian government on issues it said are currently threatening the industrial peace in public Universities.
ASUU said the union dreads embarking on strike, and that deploys it as a last resort only when all other means must have failed.
Recall that the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union had directed its various chapters to set aside a day to sensitise and mobilise Nigerians for its fight of saving the university system from collapsing.
ASUU said the Nigerian government has refused to implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) that led to the suspension of its nine-month prolonged strike in 2020.
In his speech during a press conference at the University of Lagos, Akoka, on Tuesday, the coordinator of Lagos zone of ASUU, Adelaja Odukoya, PhD, Coordinator, said the government’s refusal to listen to the union and address issues it had agreed to address in the 2020 Memorandum of Action, is drawing the line of strike.
He said the government should be held responsible should ASUU decide to embark on another round of strikes, which he noted could happen in no distant time.
Mr Odukoya’s statement reads in part: “It becomes very important and germane to address this press conference to sensitise the public and express the concerns of our union about the refusal of the federal government to sign and implement the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), funding of state universities, non-payment of withheld salaries, checkoff dues and promotion arrears.”
Issues at stake
Some of the lingering issues between the government and the academic staff union as listed by Mr Odukoya is the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, which he noted ought to have been reviewed every three years.
However, nine months after the renegotiation concluded in May 2021, ASUU said the government has refused to sign and implement the renegotiated agreement.
Mr Odukoya said the MoA renegotiation was allegedly deliberately frustrated and delayed by the leadership of the erstwhile leadership of the renegotiated committee.
“However, with the removal of Dr Wale Babalakin and his replacement with Prof. Munzali Jubril, the renegotiation was concluded in May 2021. The union is, however, taken aback that since the conclusion of the renegotiation 9 months ago, the Federal Government is yet to sign and implement the renegotiated agreement,” Mr Odukoya said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in December said the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) gave positive feedback on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), but that with little things to be addressed.
Two months after the submission, the union decried that the government is yet to approve the use of UTAS for universities, saying it is still trying “to force the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) down its throat.”
ASUU also alleges that the IPPIS is found to be marred with irregularities.
He said; “It is against this backdrop that our union calls on the Federal Government to immediately approve the deployment of UTAS as a payment platform in our universities if we expect improvement in the operation and conditions of our ivory towers
“The deliberate refusal of the government to adopt UTAS as a payment platform in the university system further exposed the lip service that our government pays to the war against corruption. Government should therefore embrace ASUU’s innovation and deployment of a more robust system of human resource management and compensation which has been designed to address the peculiarities of our university system and end inappropriate recruitments in the system.”
Funding private universities
ASUU also demands the regulation of the proliferation of state-owned universities by governors who it alleges owe staff salaries and payment of university subventions, leaving the universities with failing infrastructures.
He said; “This proliferation has led to the decayed infrastructural facilities, withholding of salaries of academic staff, no research grants etc. The common practice of State Governments withholding the salary of our members for a period ranging from three to eight months is condemnable! In most cases, net salaries are paid and sometimes not paid at all.
“The continued denial and non-release of subventions to cater for the needs of these universities by reason of exigencies is unacceptable.
“Our union wants to call on the government to, without delay, review the laws of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and make it more stringent for the establishment of universities in the country.”■
AHMED Muhammad, an 18-year old student from Oakland, California, has made history as the first Black male to graduate as valedictorian in his school, Oakland Technical High School.
Muhammad is honored with the highest academic rank in his class with a cumulative 4.73 GPA. He is also an outstanding athlete as a member of the Bulldog’s varsity basketball team.
Aside from that, Muhammad also founded a science education company called Kits Cubed last year during the pandemic. The company creates fun and affordable science kits that elementary and middle school-age kids can enjoy doing experiments with.
“Founding Kits Cubed was the culmination of all of the valuable lessons I learned throughout high school from so many amazing people,” Muhammad told KTVU. “I’m glad we were able to create something meaningful before graduating.”
However, Muhammad said it was just the start of endless possibilities for him. He was accepted to the 11 universities he applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, and his “dream school” Stanford. He plans to major in engineering and computer science but has yet to make a final decision.
Muhammad, who is poised to be a first-generation college student in his family, is grateful for his parents who worked hard and served as role models to help him reach his goals. He hopes to inspire other young people to achieve success as well.
“Being named valedictorian is a dream come true,” he said. “I hope that me being class valedictorian inspires others from similar backgrounds to do the same.”■
■ There is a heavy presence of security operatives in Jos as the Plateau State Polytechnic students protest the postponement of exams, saying they have spent three years for one semester.
A semester is less than four months.
“We have spent over three years in just one semester owing to COVID-19 lockdown. But largely due to the various strikes embarked upon by our lecturers,” said Deborah John, a student at the polytechnic.
Ms John described the institution’s decision as an attempt to truncate their academic journey.
The armed security agents at the protest scene were said to have been deployed to forestall the breakdown of law and order.
The students trooped out en masse and blocked the Yakubu Gowon way, leading to Jos’ major highway.
The postponement of the semester exams was due to an indefinite strike by the school’s lecturers, who had issued a notice of strike to the government.
They are demanding their earned allowances and sundry issues.
“We came to school this morning to start our examinations only to see a circular that our lecturers have been on strike since Friday,” Ms John disclosed. “We were not informed. Nobody said anything to us. We just discovered that we could not start our examinations.”
The student added, “This is why we are protesting, and it is a peaceful protest because all we want is to go in and sit our examinations.”
She further lamented that “we are getting old, and by the time we graduate, we can’t find jobs because of age.”
Another student, Israel Longdu, decried the incessant strike by their lecturers.
“Nobody has come to address us on the issue, and we feel this is not right. We demand a proper explanation from the management on why we cannot start our examinations today,” Mr Longdu explained. “We are tired of this back and forth. Our academic journey is suffering, and this is not good for us.”
When the polytechnic’s spokesman, John Ramadan, was contacted on the issue, he said he would get back.●
PRESS RELEASE: MUHAMMADU BUHARI SHALL BE LAST PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA TO VISIT BIAFRALAND
■ At the official handover of Authority and oath-swearing ceremony held at the BNG National Headquarters in Nsukka Province, newly appointed Leader of the Biafran National Guard-BNG, General Innocent Orji, sincerely appreciates the confidence placed on him by the Biafran Supreme Military Council of Administration [BSMCA], Biafran Transitional Parliament [BTP] and Biafran Judiciary.
Orji commends the Biafran National Guard and its wings of Biafran Army, Biafran Air-Force, Biafran Navy and Biafran Detective Force for their steadfastness and determination during his time on sabbatical.
He promised not to fail the personnel in the quest for the restoration of Biafra sovereignty as he will enforce every knowledge and connections he acquired while on sabbatical.
The Head of BNG kicked against the visitation of occupying Nigerian State President Muhammadu Buhari to defunct Imo state under the invitation of defunct governor Hope Uzodinma.
Gen. Orji disclosed that the actual intention of Uzodinma’s invitation to Buhari is to intimidate the detained IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, whom he accuses of orchestrating the arson at his country home and continuous crisis in defunct Imo state.
The Biafran Military Head also declared the visit of Muhammadu Buhari as the last by a Nigeria President. He laughed out at the use of ballistic shields by Buhari‘s security team during the visit of the ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ to defunct Imo state. Emphasising that no form of weapon shall be enough to protect him from the wrath of BNG if he dares ventures into Biafraland again.
He lamented the conspiratory silence by politicians of Biafran origin over the rehabilitation and reintegration of BokoHaram/Fulani Herdsmen terrorists into the society by the Nigerian Presidency while Indigenous Biafrans are extra-judicially arrested, detained and even killed by Nigerian security forces.
General Innocent Orji hereby warns that no harm must befall Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who was abducted from a foreign country and kept in the custody of the Nigerian secret service. He called for his speedy trial which must conform to international law standards.
Continuing, the leader of BNG stated that words are not enough to express his feelings for those Indigenous Biafrans imprisoned for over fifteen (15) years in the Onitsha and Awka Prisons whose purported crime is demanding for the right to self-determination as recognized by international law and conventions.
These prisoners of conscience are Mrs. Onyekachi Orji, Uche Idikaigbo, Michael Okezie, Uchenna Nicholas, Peter Igbokwe, Ikechukwu Aghara, Miss Okwudiri Bassey, Chima Asor and Chinweike Irondi.
Others are Sabastine Amadi, Casmir Odakara, Ojemba Anyanwu, Eni Kalu, Ndubisi Okam, Ikechukwu Chikwem, Emmanuel Orji, Chukwuma Kalu, Chidiebere Chikwem and Mmaduabuchi Asika.
Orji vows to restore the dignity of these Biafran prisoners of conscience held unjustly for over fifteen years using whatever strategy it shall entails.
Innocent Orji pointed out an extract in the second paragraph of the ‘Introduction’ on the CHARTER OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM which states as thus: ”One of its main achievements was the General Assembly’s adoption in 2007 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which, by 2010, was supported by the vast majority of United Nations Member States and opposed by none.”
“The Nigeria State has never opposed the right to self-determination at the UN General Assembly and has even propagated the same right for the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, SADR, otherwise called Western Sahara. But opposes the same right to self-determination for Indigenous Biafrans, accusing us of treason and terrorism, such wickedness!” he added.
Furthermore, the Head of BNG/BSMCA reiterated that the Biafran National Guard is in accordance with Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which reaffirms that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.
In conclusion, the General called on Indigenous Biafrans in Biafraland and across the globe to begin preparation for the independence of Biafra, warning that his words must never be taken for granted so as not to become victims.
He pledged to ensure the success of the BNG live broadcast slated for 27-30 October, 2020.
Also, commended the BNG media department on the launch of the official news website which is http://www.biafranstar.com , urging Biafrans to be alert on fake websites/blogs bearing the Biafran National Guard.
He added that Biafrans must also endeavour to get updated via the following official BNG social media platforms which are:
Official Facebook page: Biafran National Guard – BNG[@thebiafranationalguard],
Official Instagram: Biafran National Guard – BNG [@biafrannationalguard],
Official Twitter: Biafran National Guard – BNG [@GuardBng]
Happy Independence in advance to every Indigenous Biafrans.
UNIVERSITY LECTURERS IN NIGERIA THREATENS INDUSTRIAL ACTION
■ The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed its readiness to embark on another round of industrial action due to the failure of the government to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the union in December 2020.
The lecturers had called off an earlier industrial action in December 2020, which began in March.
ASUU is accusing the government of owing earned academic allowances and also for selective payments of salaries, saying professors in some institutions received N80,000 in June and senior lecturers got N25,000.
The University teachers had given the government till the end of August to implement the said agreement, following which a meeting of its National Executive Council would be convened to decide the next line of action.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said he is still awaiting official reports from the Ministry of Education which penned the agreement with the academic union before any action can be taken by the government.
The minister accused the union of always issuing strike threats to cause panic among the populace.
Also, the National President, Nigeria Civil Service Union, Chief Lawrence Amaechi, has threatened that Nigerian workers may embark on sympathy strike with the lecturers if the government, through its attitude, compels them to embark on another industrial action.●