A leading Islamic organisation in Nigeria, The Muslim Congress (TMC) has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to respect the rule of law by resuming academic activities as directed by the court.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja ruled that before it could grant the appeal application of ASUU, the union must first obey the decision of the lower court by returning to the classroom immediately.
The National Industrial Court had given a judgement for ASUU to resume following a suit filed by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labor and Employment.
In the 21st series of its State of the Nation Address presented by the Secretary General of the Society, Alhaji Hassan Adesina, who represented the Amir, Alhaji Abdul Wasi’i Bangbala, TMC said there is enough blame to go round for both ASUU and the Federal Government on the lingering strike, urging the two parties to immediately reach a compromise.
At the press briefing held on Saturday, October 8, at the TMC National Headquarters in Lagos, the faith-based organisation also argued that there must be alternative funding options for the universities, noting absolute dependence on FG’s funding would put the institutions under pressure.
Also speaking on the forthcoming election, TMC called for policy-based campaigns, lamenting the spate of mudslinging, hate speeches and character assassination that has characterised electioneering in the country.
It called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure decent campaigns among political gladiators.
TMC also commended the General Buba Marwa-led National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for the improvement they have recorded in the fight against drugs, noting they must be given all the support to sustain the momentum.
Read full address:
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
By the TMC Committee on Social Mobility, the Economy & Politics
Presented by the Chair of the Committee,
Alhaji Abdul Wasi’i Taiwo Bangbala on Saturday, 8th October, 2022
2023 POLLS: THE NEED FOR AN ISSUE-BASED CAMPAIGN
As the nation is on the cusp of yet another defining political transition, more than any period in its chequered history, a clear direction is required to navigate the election process for the survival of Nigeria’s fragile democracy. Despite successive general elections since the 1999 transition to civilian rule, it is disquieting to note that election campaigns in Nigeria have been largely characterized by political mudslinging, hate speeches and character assassination rather than policy-based electioneering on pressing issues in the polity, especially, now that the country needs a clear direction in critical areas that succeeding administrations have hardly excelled. The electorates must be clear on who among the candidates is competent and capable of handling the country’s perennial issues before they exercise their franchise. It is incumbent on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to nudge the politicians in the right direction as electioneering officially begins for the February general elections. The electoral umpire, having reiterated its commitment to ensuring compliance with the new electoral law, must rein in the political gladiators, reminding them of their obligation to run decent campaigns as stipulated in the code of conduct for the elections. Political parties and candidates must endeavour to shun all forms of smear campaigns and focus on issues critical to our common patrimony. Moreso, the campaign is not a one-way street, thus, the citizens must also see it as an opportunity to engage the political parties and candidates. Nigerians must ask critical questions and demand how the manifestos of the parties will address issues of insecurity, the economy, the malaise of corruption and salvage the challenges facing virtually every sector of the country. The electorates deserve more than the usual distribution of souvenirs, consumables and entertainment of crowds in the name of political rallies.
OIL THEFT AND THE ATTENDANT IMPLICATIONS
The scale of the criminal activities in the nation’s oil sector is gravely worrisome and calls for concern. It is quite disturbing that with the number of security agencies deployed to guard the oil assets, the thievery of crude oil has continued to thrive. Report has it that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude to oil thieves daily and, thus, explains why Nigeria is, perhaps, the only OPEC member-nation that is yet to start reaping the benefits of the spike in oil prices at the international markets. The huge loss has hindered the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited from reaching its quota set by OPEC and this , according to reports, accrues to about $700 million monthly between March and September. This is, indeed, very distressing for the nation considering the foreign exchange crisis currently rocking the country and the attendant freefall of the Naira among other socio-economic challenges. Although, the crude oil theft history predates this administration, the trend does appear to be spiralling and has attained a disturbing dimension that it is driving the country close to bankruptcy. These unfortunate developments have subjected Nigerians to untold hardship as the revenue lost to the massive larceny could have help cushion the effects of the prevailing domestic and global economic downturn. The government must, therefore, see this ugly trend as a national emergency, an organised crime that should be decisively dealt with. The authorities must make concerted efforts toward unmasking the syndicate and their collaborators among the security agents or government officials. The host communities should be made actively involved in surveillance of oil pipelines while the NNPC must also consider deploying technology in monitoring its oil-field assets. The government must come down hard on economic saboteurs who have made oil theft and pipeline vandalism a stock in trade,
NDLEA AND THE ANTI DRUG WAR: SUSTAINING THE MOMENTUM
The string of successful operation of the NDLEA has opened a new vista in the quest for tackling the country’s drug menace and it is worthy of mention. The anti-narcotic agency under the chairmanship of Brigadier General Buba Marwa (retd.) is making a big difference especially coming against the backdrop of the agency’s struggle in combating the increasing rate of drug use over the years. The sudden rise in vicious robberies and murder, bank raids, kidnapping among other audacious crimes are not unnconnected with the prevalence of drug abuse. This make the recent feats of the NDLEA highly commendable. The cocaine warehouse burst in Ikorodu, said to be the biggest singular cocaine seizure in Nigeria’s history, and the recent swoop on another clandestine stimulant laboratory in a highbrow residential estate, Victoria Garden City, in the Lekki area of Lagos State, speaks volume of how the NDLEA under Marwa is rewriting the history in the war against illicit drugs and trafficking. The agency has been reinvented and now more sophisticated. For the relative breakthrough in the war against drug abuse and trafficking not to wane, all hands must be on deck to ensure the efforts are not derailed. The issues bordering on the welfare of NDLEA staff must be prioritized while capacity and capability of the officers with good operational tools must be further strengthened. The efforts at fostering partnerships with drug enforcement agencies in foreign jurisdictions is a welcome development and must be encouraged. The agency is doing things right and getting results. It has indeed risen to the occasion and more alive to its responsibility . The Buba Marwa-led NDLEA must , therefore, be given all the support to sustain this momentum.
THE FLOOD MENACE AND THE ABSENCE OF VIRILE MANAGEMENT
The issue of flooding has assumed petrifying height in recent years and has remained Nigeria’s most predominant natural disaster. Climate change may be one of the main causes of flooding around the world. In Nigeria, apart from the changing weather patterns that have caused heavy downpours making coastal areas vulnerable to more floods and rising sea levels, flooding are generally caused by improper interactions between human systems and the natural environment as the issues are mostly attributable to improper planning and lack of essential infrastructure. The abject lack of proper waste disposal services and general attitude toward waste disposal services and the absence of proper urban planning have contributed to flooding and not necessarily the amount of rainfall. Earlier this year, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had warned of heavy flooding in about 15 states in the country. It is on record that flood has wreaked havoc in as many States, including Abuja, Lagos, Anambra, Benue, Jigawa, Kogi and several others, between June and September. The government needs to tackle head-on the recurrent flooding issues and must start by closing the gaps in terms of appropriate legal and policy frameworks for the control and management of flooding in Nigeria. It is important to have effective early warning systems in place to alert Nigerians on impending floods. The authorities must enforce compliance with town planning regulations and ensure effective control to prevent the outspread of structures over unapproved places. The citizens must be reined in on the need to stop indiscriminate waste disposal and this requires collaboration with relevant stakeholders. The authorities need to prioritize the exposure to flood risk as part of disaster risk management, rather than focusing on post-flooding response. For virile flood management, emergency management institutions should be restructured while their capacities are strengthened to adopt technology in assessing flood impact. Also, the release of water from dams must be done in ways that prevents or minimized disastrous incidents.
ASUU STRIKE: TIME TO RESOLVE THE AGE-LONG DISPUTE
The long-drawn-out negotiations between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government reached rock bottom when the former, on the 29th of August, declared indefinite the strike action which began 14th February. In dispute is the implementation of an agreement ASUU reached with the government in 2009 regarding appropriate funding of universities. The government’s unsuccessful efforts at renegotiation since 2013 have failed to resolved the crisis. Few weeks ago, there appeared to be a silver lining to ending the deadlock after ASUU’s purported consideration of the offer made by the Federal Government. The union eventually backtracked when the government insisted on “no work, no pay” for the period of 6 months the strike lasted. At this critical moment, it behoves all the stakeholders in the education sector to come together and find an end to this impasse. The lingering crises underscore the pertinence of alternative funding options for the varsities to function optimally. Students should be made to pay considerable tuition fees to augment grants from government. In addition, other options for financial pool that can be explored are endowment funds, funds generated from consultancy services, donations and all. Absolute dependence on funding from government coffers will not only put the institutions under pressure but also infringe on their autonomy which gives them freedom to establish rules and capacity to take charge of their affairs. Both ASUU and the Federal Government should critically reflect on their positions and endeavour to reach an accord in the interest of our common good. There is enough blame to go round; The government blameworthy for not honouring the agreement reached with ASUU and for creating more universities it is not prepared to adequately fund. ASUU, for its insistence not to operate the payments platform for salaries as proposed by the government and its other uncompromising postures, can not be absolved of responsibility as well. The Federal Government must commit to honouring its pacts with ASUU, work out improved wages for the lecturers and save the country of this protracted national embarrassment.
NIGERIA @62: A SILVER LINING ON THE HORIZON
As the nation marks 62 years of independence, we have continued to rehash the tales of Nigeria’s greatness and making new promises without commitment. Today, the country is overwhelmed with many problems: insecurity, unemployment, poverty, industrial crisis, ethnic agitations, corruption, climate change, and many more. At independence in 1960, Nigeria was regarded as the giant of Africa owing to its unmistakable potentials. The nation enjoyed a spell of prosperity at the outset , though under a cloud of political crisis. It is pertinent that as we celebrate the Independence Anniversary, there is need for us to reflect on why the country is yet to be industrialized and has remained underdeveloped despite the promising start at independence. The underdevelopment as a challenge has visibly manifested in many ways and posed numerous challenges to the citizens. Since independence, the perennial power problem has refused to go away. The nation has struggled to wean itself from overdependence on oil, the discovery of which has kept agriculture and other sectors in the doldrums, consequent upon which the country has remained stifled by widespread poverty. We, therefore, urge the citizens to see this period as a moment of great awakening to latent possibilities and greatness that abounds in the country. The time affords us a fresh opportunity to renew trust in our nation. We must approach the political transition period with renewed vigour and patriotic zeal. This is the time for us to wean ourselves from primordial sentiments and focus on the reality of our shared destiny of progress and prosperity. Without being equivocal, it has not been doom and gloom for our dear country as some considerable level of progress have been made. The country has managed to remain as one despite the rough patches. We call on the father of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, to endeavour to make the most of the final stretch of his administration and put the country on solid foundation as he prepares to leave the stage.
Happy Anniversary, Nigeria. An indissoluble and indivisible nation we shall remain.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
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