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Congress of Academics urge govt against stopping Tetfunds to universities



The Congress of University Academics (CONUA) on Saturday urged the Federal Government to rescind its proposal to stop allocation of Tertiary Education Funds (Tetfunds) to Nigerian universities.

This was part of the resolutions made after the 3-day 2nd National Stakeholders’ Meeting hosted by the Kwara State University, Malete.

The National Coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, told newsmen that the proposal to withdraw grants from universities due to alleged abuse would rather affect the nation’s education negatively.

Sunmonu said instead of the wholesome stigmatisation of all academics, the government should identify the culprits and bring them to justice.

CONUA condemns the wholesome stigmatisation of all academics on the abuse of research grants and we urge the government to make efforts at identifying the cases of abuse and those connected to it should be brought to justice, if established.

”This will serve as deterrent to others instead of the entire castigation of all well meaning and hardworking academics in the country.

”And if the stories been read in the papers are anything to go by, we condemn the proposal to stop these funds due to the allegations above.

”This is because it will make the country retrogress as no nation can survive without research and research can’t be done without grants,” Sunmonu said.

On the issue of enrolment of lecturers on IPPIS, Dr Sunmonu of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, urged the government to provide seamless opportunities for members to still enrol on the platform.

”We want the government to provide seamless opportunities for members that were not able to enroll before due to one reason or the other to do so, so as not to miss capturing.

”Although this does not mean we are happy with the delay in February salary of our members of staff even as the new month enters its seventh day today.

”We are confident that the delay was not as a result of enrollment, as our members were directed in November 2019 to enrol which they did.

”So, we welcome being captured in the new payment system, we just want to hope that the government will take care of all peculiarities earlier agreed on and take it on board in effecting the payment.

”As we await February salary, we appeal to the government to implement the minimum wage to academics without delay as done to other government workers,” he said.

The CONUA National Coordinator added that the congress was still reviewing the ongoing review of labour laws and hoped to make presentations at the National Assembly during public hearing on the proposed bills.

He however urged the government to provide an enabling environment for Nigerian Academics to achieve their potentials.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the meeting had in attendance members from eight out of nine member institutions.

NAN recalls that the 1st stakeholders meeting held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 with five member institutions.

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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Nasarawa PDP to appeal judgment on annulment of its congresses



Nasarawa State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it will appeal the judgment that annulled the wards and local government congresses of the party in the state.

Mr Francis Orogu, State Caretaker Chairman of PDP, stated this while briefing newsmen on Friday in Lafia.

“We will challenge the judgment because it is an attempt to disorganise the party by mischief makers.

“The party has already applied for a copy of the judgment from the court with the view to studying it and know the areas to challenge at the Appeal Court.

“The caretaker committee in the state will not allow few political businessmen to hijack the party,’’ he said.

He urged stakeholders and members of the party to remain calm as the caretaker committee was determined to discharge its duties with every sense of responsibility to unite the party.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that a High Court sitting in Akwanga Local Government Area on Thursday annulled the wards and local government congresses and ordered for a fresh one.

NAN also reports that the court had annulled the congresses over violation of an earlier court order restraining them from conducting the congresses.

The court therefore described the congresses as illegal, unconstitutional and was done in violation of the party’s constitution.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo (NAN)


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Court annuls PDP congresses in Nasarawa



A High Court sitting in Akwanga Local Government Area (LGA) of Nasarawa, on Thursday annulled the wards and local government congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State.

Justice Mustapha Rahamat, the Presiding Judge, annulled the congresses while delivering judgement on the case filed by some members of the party challenging the congresses held on March 21.

The News Agency of Nigeria ,  reports that Alhaji Idris Jidde, the PDP Chairman of Akwanga LGA and 14 others had approached the court seeking to stop the party from conducting the congresses.

The presiding Judge ruled that all the wards and local government congresses conducted on March 7 and March 21 were done in violation of a court order.

He said that the court had restrained the party from conducting the congresses, but the party ignored the court order and went ahead to conduct the congresses.

“The congresses were done in violation of the order of the court and contrary to the laws of the party.

“As such, it is therefore,  illegal and unconstitutional and the party should put machinery in motion to conduct fresh congresses,” Rahamat added.

Reacting to the Judgement, Ocha Ulegede, Counsel to PDP, said he would consult with his client to decide the next line of action.

Meanwhile, Mr Yahaya Dangana, counsel to the plaintiff described the judgement as victory for democracy.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso and Isaac Ukpoju (NAN)

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Media mogul, Deji Osibogun, quits Yoruba World Congress



A renowned media mogul and convener of a Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Yoruba Ko’ya Movement, Deji Osibogun, has resigned his position as the Organizing Secretary of Yoruba World Congress (YWC).

The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that YWC is an umbrella body of about 100 Yoruba Socio-cultural groups within and beyond Nigeria with Emeritus Professor of History, Banji Akintoye, as its President-General.

In a letter addressed to Akintoye, Osibogun said he considered it worthy of quitting as the group’s Organizing Secretary to pave the way for others to contribute their quota to the development of Yoruba Land.

“I am positive that in the inner recess of your mind and conscience you will agree that this is a positive decision taken to allow me to continue to contribute to the progress of Yoruba land.

“After working for the establishment of Yoruba World Congress and your emergence as its Leader, I think it is time to move on and allow others to play their part,” he said.

Osibogun appreciated the opportunity given to contribute to the development of Yoruba land.

He assured that he would continue to contribute his quota to the emergence of the Yoruba Nation.

“I thank you for the opportunity of working with you; it has been a lifetime learning experience.

“Be rest assured that I will continue to contribute my quota to the emergence of the Yoruba Nation,” he said.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

Edited By: Abiodun Esan (NAN)

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Congressman Amash decides against third-party campaign for White House




Congressman Justin Amash, a Republican-turned independent, announced on Saturday he would not run for the White House as a Libertarian.

“After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate,” Amash, from Michigan, said on Twitter.

“Polarization is near an all-time high,” he continued. “Electoral success requires an audience willing to consider alternatives, but both social media and traditional media are dominated by voices strongly averse to the political risks posed by a viable third candidate.”

Amash, first elected to U.S. Congress in 2010, announced late April the establishment of an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination.

A critic of U.S. President Donald Trump and an advocate for his impeachment, Amash left the Republican Party in July 2019 to become an independent before joining the Libertarian Party last month.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is set to be challenged by former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, for the 2020 election.


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India’s Congress leader backs cash transfer to poor, urges Modi to reconsider economic package over COVID-19




India’s main opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that the government should think about transferring money directly into the bank accounts of people worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown.

Gandhi, while addressing a press conference through a video call, said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reconsider the 267-billion-U.S. dollar economic stimulus package announced on Tuesday.

“Our people need money. The prime minister should reconsider this package. Modi should think about direct cash transfer, 200 working days under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), money for farmers because they are the future of India,” Gandhi said.

He expressed “serious reservations” about the government’s package for Indian economy, calling it a “package of loans” that did not provide immediate on-ground relief for farmers and migrant workers.

“I don’t want to make a political statement but I have a serious reservation about the nature of the package that the government has given. I would like the government to reconsider,” he said. “It’s not a bad step but the most important thing right now is that we put money directly into the hands of our poor people.”

The Congress party leader warned the government of a “catastrophic problem” if it did not put money into their bank accounts.

“The migrant laborer walking on the street needs money, not debt. The farmer who is suffering needs money, not debt,” he said. “If we do not, this will become a catastrophic problem.”

Last week Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said during a video interaction with Gandhi that India needs a big stimulus package and money should be put in the hands of people to renew demand.

The move, he said, would help revive the Indian economy that at present is hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Saturday India’s federal health ministry said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 85,940, including 2,752 deaths.

A nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 is underway in India to contain the coronavirus. The move left thousands of migrant laborers stranded at their place of work. The lockdown has badly hit the Indian economy and resulted in the loss of jobs. Thousands of people following the non-availability of work began walking to their homes in distress from big cities in the absence of public transport.

The government this week announced a relief and stimulus package that had some measures for stranded and struggling migrants, including food rations and affordable housing.

Gandhi said unless the government ensured a significant level of demand from consumers across all economic sections, India would struggle to recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a televised address on Tuesday, Modi said India would enter into the fourth phase of lockdown with a new set of rules to fight COVID-19 effective from Monday.


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Spotlight: Ousted health official to warn Congress of “unprecedented illness and fatalities” if U.S. fails to act more




Rick Bright, a U.S. health official recently ousted from a post key to developing vaccines, will warn Congress of “unprecedented illness and fatalities” in the nation if it fails to ramp up preparation against the coronavirus, according to his written testimony to a congressional panel.

“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” Bright will tell in a testimony to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee.

“Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history,” according to the testimony.

Bright is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the panel after he filed a whistleblower complaint last week alleging he was removed in April as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) for opposing the broad use of a drug frequently touted by the White House as a coronavirus treatment.

“When I resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks, I was removed from BARDA,” according to the testimony.

The official, who is working at the National Institutes of Health with a narrower role, will additionally say that he sought to warn his superiors about potential shortages of critical medical supplies as far back as January, but that his “urgency was dismissed” and that he “faced hostility and marginalization” from Health and Human Services officials, after conveying his concerns about shortages to a senior White House official.

“As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook,” Bright will testify.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that he doesn’t know who Bright is, “but to me he’s a disgruntled employee and if people are that unhappy they shouldn’t work.”

The president added, “I hadn’t heard great things about him.”

In response, Bright told CBS News that he is not disgruntled.

“I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me,” he said.

More than 1.38 million people in the United States have been infected by the coronavirus, with over 83,000 deaths, according to the latest count by Johns Hopkins University.

Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the nation has not had the coronavirus outbreak under total control yet, as states, shut down for months, are reopening or planning to reopen.

“If you think we have it completely under control, no we don’t,” said Fauci, also a key member of the White House coronavirus task force. “If you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places — such as in New York City, which has plateaued and is starting to come down, but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes.”

Besides, he told U.S. lawmakers that it is “entirely conceivable and possible” that a second wave will happen this fall.


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U.S. virus expert Fauci to testify to Congress 



The top U.S. expert on infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, will testify to the Senate on Tuesday, as the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic comes under the spotlight amid sharp criticism by Democrats.

President Donald Trump announced last week that he would allow Fauci to testify in the Republican-controlled Senate, but not to any committees in the House of Representatives, which is dominated by his rivals from the Democratic Party.

The Senate hearing at the health committee will be handled largely remotely.

The chairman, Lamar Alexander, is in self-quarantine, after being exposed to someone who has the virus.

Fauci himself and other top officials have also been exposed and are in forms of self-isolation.

Also testifying will be Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); Stephen Hahn, the chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of health.

Democrats accuse Trump of mishandling the response to the virus, including a fairly lax approach through February and lingering testing shortages.

The president also publicly pushed treatments that have been deemed questionable, at best.

Despite the committee having a Republican majority, Democratic lawmakers will still get to ask questions.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)


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Congress: PDP chieftain kicks against tenure extension for party officials in Plateau



A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State Chairmanship Candidate in Plateau, Mr Bitrus Kaze has kicked against extending  tenures of party officials that had indicated interest to re-contest.

Kaze told News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Jos that doing so was a recipe for litigations, as  such would give undue advantage to the officials.

The chairmanship candidate said that the PDP constitution  allowed  individuals whose tenure had not elapsed to contest while in office but  there was no provision for them to serve as caretaker and preside over their elections.

“I understand the provisions of the party’s  constitution which provide that under emergency and where necessary, the state executives of the party be dissolved and caretaker constituted.

“This is not exactly the case especially with the current officials in Plateau. The tenure of the current executives ends today, Sunday.

“Anybody can be caretaker except somebody that is contesting, because anybody contesting including the officials cannot be judges in their own case.

“If they are made caretaker, then they can be judges in their own case and to me that is what can be challenged in the court of law,” he said.

The candidate who was a  former member of  the House of  Representatives,  said  the purported party decision was  contradictory especially in the state.

According to him, the party in 2019,  issued a statement, describing Gov. Simon Lalong as a dictator, when he made party candidates,  caretaker committee chairmen of the party  in four local governments areas of the state.

“If the governor was wrong by appointing party candidates, PDP is wrong in appointing somebody who is contesting to become a party official as caretaker.

“If this is done, the candidates will be managing an election that they are contesting,” he said.

He said that he was not aware of the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) to extend the tenure of the state officials.

Kaze pointed out that even if the NWC had taken  the decision, it must be ratified by the National Executive Council.

“But I know from my contacts in Abuja  that no NWC meeting had been converged not to talk of NEC.

“Therefore, anyone who issues a letter in the name of working committee is doing so illegally.

“To me, the party cannot work against its own laws and if that happens, the door is open for the decision to be  tried in the law court,” he said.

Kaze emphasised that such illegality would engender crises for the party as it would lead to civil disobedience.

The chairmanship hopeful stressed that he would do everything within his powers to resist such.

But the State PDP Chairman, Mr Yakubu Chocho, told NAN that no illegality was perpetrated.

Chocho said the decision by the national leadership of the party was in line with the prevailing situation in the country.

The chairman stated that the party acted in line with federal and state governments directives,  banning gatherings including those of political parties because of COVID-19.

“The party is supreme and, in its wisdom, decided to extend the tenure of the current executives by three months.

“I wasn’t there when the decision was taken, but our national leaders are people of proven integrity and I believe they took the decision in the best interest of the party.

“The national body did not make a decision outside its scope and in the general interest of the people of Nigeria.

“Anybody who does not accept the party decision should feel free to challenge the national body in court,” he said.

He added, however, that there would be dire consequences for any member who flouted the party’s decisions especially those made in the best interest of all.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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U.S. Congress to return on May 4 to start coronavirus stimulus talks



Both chambers of the U.S. Congress will convene on May 4 to begin working on the government’s fifth bill this year to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives said.

“If it is essential for doctors, nurses, health care workers, truck drivers, grocery store workers, and other brave Americans to keep carefully manning their duty stations, then it is essential for senators to carefully man ours and support them,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a tweet.

Following McConnell’s announcement that the Senate would convene on May 4, House majority leader Steny Hoyer said the Democrat-controlled House would do the same.

The latest stimulus package has already been beset by partisan divides as Democrats seek government funds for state and local authorities, while McConnell has accused Democratic governors of financial mismanagement prior to the pandemic.

“Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?,” U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday.

Hoyer said on Monday that Trump is “leaving states to fend for themselves.”

The U.S. Congress has passed an unprecedented amount of stimulus funding – nearing 3 trillion dollars – with many Americans already obtaining direct payments of 1,200 dollars.

The latest 484-billion-dollar stimulus, passed in late March, aimed at aiding small businesses and hospitals, and provided new funding for coronavirus testing capacities.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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