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Labour Threatens to Shut Down Economy, Plans Strike

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The Nigeria Labour Congress and its affiliate unions on Tuesday defied warnings by the Federal Government and took to the streets of major cities in the country to protest against the failure of the Federal Government to resolve the five-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

Specifically, the NLC said the money the two major political parties – the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party – generated from the sale of forms to aspirants could address ASUU’s demands.

In Akwa Ibom, Uche Nweke who represented the NLC National Chairman, Ayuba Wabba, faulted excuses that there were no funds to meet the demands of the university workers.

“The money the two major parties realised from the sale of nomination forms would be enough to put ASUU, universities on their feet. We the Nigerian workers are the most understanding people. We call on the national leadership to listen to voice of reason, whatever it takes they should send our children back to school” he said

Apart from Akwa Ibom, other states which witnessed protests included Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Enugu, Benue, Sokoto, Lagos and Plateau.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, last week had claimed that a security report also sent to his office by the Department of State Services, strongly warned against holding the protest.

Also, Ngige had in an interview with Channels Television in March said government did not have money to meet ASUU’s demands, which included revitalisation funds for universities.

He stated, “The N1.3trillion you are talking about was promised by the (Goodluck) Jonathan government. Oil was selling between $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich.”

However, the unionists expressed their anger over the Federal Government’s inability to address their grievances, adding that it had become necessary for the current government to leave.

The university lecturers had shut down public institutions on February 14 over the inability of the Federal Government to implement the agreements it made with ASUU in 2009 as well as the refusal of the current administration to exempt lecturers from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

ASUU had also asked the government to increase funding of tertiary institutions and pay outstanding allowances.

The NLC president during a chat with journalists in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom, had earlier said the protest would be against government actions that led to the strike.

On Tuesday, labour union members, National Union of Air Transport Employees and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, civil society groups, and other affiliate unions  gathered under the Ikeja Bridge in Lagos causing traffic congestion.

The teeming protesters expressed their concerns in songs and placards, some of which read; “Stop importation of petrol. Revive the refineries”; “IPPIS destroys our refineries. Adopt UTAS now”; “Reduce the cost of governance. Save the masses from poverty and hunger”; “Stop the looting”, “Tax the rich and subsidise the poor”; among others.

The Lagos NLC Chairman, Agnes Sessi, accused the Federal Government of neglecting education.

“It’s been almost a year. Our children are still at home. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Children who are not engaged will become internet fraudsters and prostitutes,” she added.

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), who also took part in the protest, asked the Federal Government to invest the recovered loot in education.

“We are telling the government, enough is enough. Let them stop deceiving our people, they have money. Buhari should collect money from 10 looters to resolve this problem. Just last week, one of them stole N119bn and others have stolen more.

“In Abuja, they are using dollars to pay delegates and are distributing millions of dollars under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s watch.”

Falana said rather than stay at home to fix the country’s problems, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), continued to engage in irrelevant travel like his recent trip to Liberia.

Also speaking, ASUU Zonal chairman, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, said Nigerians must join hands to force the government’s hand.

The protesters, who marched from the Ikeja Bridge to the Lagos State Governor’s office, submitted a letter – which contained all their demands – to the governor

The Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ponle Ajibola, received the letter from NLC Chairman, on behalf of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Others who took part in the protest were: The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, Nigeria Union of Teachers, The Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers’ Union of Nigeria and other affiliate unions of NLC were at the protest.

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Morning after 25th February 2023 Presidential Election: A Qualitative Trend Analysis by Iyorwuese Hagher

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It is morning on 26th February 2023 in Nigeria. The previous day, the nation stood still, as voters queued at their polling stations to exercise their civic duties to elect Nigerian’s next President. With the new BVAS, the voting, collating and transmission of votes were concluded speedily. The political parties were in their situation rooms, watching throughout the night with deep skepticism the INEC portal and news rooms. In Abuja as in all the thirty six states, Nigerians stayed awake, glued to their Televisions sets, and hand-held devices. Politicians hardly make good historians. They had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing!
The citizens await the results in fear. They are rightly afraid that electing a wrong party, and wrong candidate would push Nigeria over the cliff to total collapse as a failed state where there is no government, and war-lords divide the country, and inflict on the hapless citizens the reign of unmitigated terror.

But outside the homes, on the streets, in the inner cites, and the suburbs, the social media had finished tallying the votes and a winner had emerged. The _Obidients_ began to celebrate the victory of Mr. Peter Obi whom the social media gave the winning votes 55,850,000 or 60% of total votes cast, winning in 20 states while Atiku Abubakar came second 23,250,000 or 25% of votes cast and winning in 10 states. The social media relegated Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the third position, winning in six states with 13,950,000 and 15% of total votes cast. In their results, all 93 million registered voters had cast their votes! The _Obidients_ denounced any announcement by INEC which was contrary to their released results. They threatened mayhem and bedlam if another “rigged” result was announced. The celebration by the _Obidients_ was short-lived, for soon enough, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressed the Nation at 7am.

In his address, he discloses that only about 40% of registered voters had cast their votes the previous day. This is higher than in 2019 when only 31% of registered voters voted. The INEC Chairman has declared the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, as the winner of the Presidential Election 2023 with a total of 18,721,167 popular votes, which was 52.3% of total votes and won in 19 states and the FCT. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, came second with 15,692,950 popular votes being 30% of total votes cast and won in ten states. Peter Obi of the Labour Party has scored 9,367,481 popular votes, and scored 18% of total votes cast and won in six states. This is the final verdict having the imprimatur of the INEC Chairman.

In Jagaban’s Campaign Headquarters, there is deep silence and mourning. The people are whispering and urging his doctor and his wife to wake him up to address his supporters on the next line of action. He had been sedated earlier, to calm him and curb his propensity to tantrums and bellicosity. After more than 15 minutes argument with his wife and doctor, the Jagaban agrees to address the press. Many of his supporters are gathered in his situation room at Maitama Abuja, where he has spent the last 24 hours, sleepless, monitoring the Presidential Election and its results. The supporters were caps bearing his insignia of snake devouring its tail, a cultic symbol of infinity. The defeat highlights the irony of the infinity, as cyclical failure. The Jagaban is assisted to the podium and as he faces the barrage of microphones and cameras from different news outlets; the nation holds its breath. He had declared at the beginning of his ambition that the nation owed him his life ambition to be President. He had announced that it was his turn now, “Emi lokan”, no matter whose ox was gored. Nigerians now wait in trepidation and hope that he would do the right thing telling his supporters that Nigerians have spoken.

But the Jagaban does no such thing. He looks left and right, then stares ominously into the cameras and microphones. He coughs in his clenches fist and says: “Tell Buhari he has done his worst. I don’t forgive traitors. Tell the hackers from Russia they are refuse dumps. It is my turn. ‘Emi lokan, Emi lokan’. It is my money”.

He glowers at his aides and yells, “Tell all my supporters this revolution has just started”. He defiantly walks past his wife, and his running-mate, and intentionally pushes away his Campaign Director General. He slowly, ambles away like an enormous crocodile that has been denied its meal. With his head held high and his eyes blazing like hot embers, the Jagaban mutters, in murderous rage, to himself: “It’s a Revolution”. It is at this point that his security guards escort him to his campaign war-room.

At Atiku Abubakar’s Campaign Headquarters, (AACO) scores of thousands of supporters have taken over the building and the adjoining streets in Wuse II, Abuja. Different bands are blaring Atikulated and Okowalated songs. Atiku Abubakar’s face is passive, enigmatic, and bland. His age-old emotional shock-absorbers have kicked in to prevent the exultant emotions from overflowing, even at triumphant moment of sweet victory. He becomes excited when Peter Obi calls to concede defeat and offer his congratulations. He welcomes him as a long-lost brother, saying: “My brother this victory is also your victory. It is Nigeria’s victory my brother, it is time to rebuild the nation”.

Senator Bukola Saraki, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal follow, as the PDP National Chairman, Sen. (Dr.) Iyorchia Ayu, leads the president-elect to the 5th floor, of the Command and Control Centre, which had been set up in anticipation of this victory acceptance speech.
The World Media awaits with intensity, to hear this acceptance speech of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. It is the moment the world has waited for. The return of the PDP in a free election in Nigeria, is proof of the stability and elasticity of Nigeria’s democracy when the ruling party is defeated again. The world sees a rejuvenated Atiku, confident and smiling now. He says, in a presidential voice, he owes his victory to God Almighty, and thanks all the Nigerian voters who had turned up in an unprecedented manner to exercise their civic rights. He especially thanks those who voted for the other candidates. He promises them that he would also be their president. It is time now to heal the wounds of division and to build the bridges of Nigeria’s diversity. He thanks his fellow contestants and tells the world that the problems of the country are such that no individual, nor party has all the solutions. He is going to run a government of National Unity, where there will be political inclusiveness. “Winner takes all has been Un-African and undemocratic,” he assures. He acknowledges the telephone call from Peter Obi, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the other presidential candidates. He thanks his Campaign Council and promises the nation that his victory is the new beginning Nigerians have been waiting for and that he would not fail them. He also thanks President Buhari whom he called “the father of Electoral Integrity in Nigeria” and calls on history to be kind to him for his legacy in electoral reforms.

Outside on the streets in Lagos, Osun, and Imo states, INEC offices are up in flames as thousands of demonstrators set up barricades and armed bandits take over; looting, maiming and instilling fear in the citizenry, with sinister cries of “Revolution”. Nigerians are afraid. Politicians disguise themselves and frantically begin to explore exit routes to just anywhere else! Nigerians stay in their homes, throughout 26th February. There is fear everywhere.

It is now the turn of President Buhari to address the nation. He makes a passionate plea to the candidates to call their supporters to order. He says, “elections are not wars” and that “no person’s ambition is worth anybody’s life”. He consequently orders the military to clear the streets, and end the destruction of life and property. He calls on the governors to impose curfews in those states where violence has broken out. The President pleads with Nigerians, especially those that did not win, to accept the rules of the game, and the verdict of INEC. The military pulls out its tanks into the streets as evening wears out. Sirens and gunfire are heard as the “day after” comes to an end. END OF SCENARIO.

The above scenario, painted on the backdrop of qualitative futuristic canvas, is perhaps the best prediction of the coming Presidential Election. It is the most consequential election that Nigerians will hold, to pull their country from eight years of APC misrule when all NIgeria’s fault lines, became wide cracks, and threatened to suck us into our worst national fear. All Nigerians are afraid that their country might become a critically failed state, a giant Afghanistan in the centre of Africa. If the Jagaban wins instead of Atiku, Nigeria’s religious divide will become an open chasm. Just like the Kaduna Muslim-Muslim experiment has been an open wound of terrorism and religious extremism, a Jagaban President will, people fear, become the gloating of Islam over Christianity, and the Nigerian exceptionalism in managing the delicate balance between Christianity and Islam would be lost forever. A full scale religious war would be expected such as John Campbell had earlier predicted in 2011. If the Jagaban wins, the lopsided electoral votes of the South-West and North-West, would now become a permanent relay of power as one North-Western Zone President would deftly hand over to the South-Western Zone President. All other four zones would be excluded in the bare-faced disregard of the zones created specifically for power sharing. A Jagaban victory would be a dreadful and grotesque power grab of money politics that is blind to disability, incapacity and shameful character flaws. The Jagaban phenomenon represents the emergence of a demagogue, whose politics is a horrific politician’s politics, where power is privatized and appropriated to serve private interests. Electing the Jagaban, is to elect the Nigerian version of a doting Paul Biya, where arbitrary power is exercised by a corrupt coterie, and democracy is lost forever! Atiku Abubakar’s victory on the other hand should be regarded as victory for Nigeria and the reality of zoning. There is justice and equity in the North-East zone producing the next president. The South-East should be expectant next. It is unhelpful when sabre-rattling governors talk about the North-South dichotomy and cry about equity and justice. They are merely being self-serving within their convoluted colonial mentality. Equity is no longer a matter of North and South. It is zonal, where power is zoned rotated among the six geographical and political zones. With all the mud, dung, and grime that had been flung at Atiku Abubakar during the campaign period by opponents, it is my hope that Nigerians will now see the real Atiku, as an underprivileged peasant boy, whose grass to grace story, inspires the next great Nigerian generation. Atiku as Vice-President and consummate politician has capacity, ability and vision deserving of victory. With Atiku as President we can advance democratic multi-culturalism to confront sectarian fundamentalism, because he is cosmopolitan and not a hero of locality nor ethnic bigot. The PDP through Atiku has learnt its lesson. It is not seeking to conquer power as the APC, but rather to transform it to give the citizens rights that the APC government eroded and left Nigerians, poorer, uneducated, unprotected, afraid, and deeply insecure.Atiku is well aware that politics is for the strong, who must endure stupid criticism, and judgment from very annoying characters like the corruption embattered former Minister of Aviation, and some disgruntled governors within his party. He is under-girded with a solid stoic personality, whose mien is unperturbed by stupid things, silly things, aggressive things of people’s perceptions of him. This is the time! This is his time! Finally, Atiku must engage in serious nation building, manage change, and the constantly changing Nigerian environment. He must intentionally seek better ways of making Nigeria great by advancing growth, equity, inclusiveness, peace, compassion and integrity.

Prof Iyorwuese Hagher

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Winners Get Glo Festival of Joy Promo Prizes in Onitsha

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Several lucky and loyal Glo subscribers in Onitsha, Anambra State, were on Tuesday presented with various prizes, including a brand new car in the company’s ongoing Festival of Joy promo.
The car was won by a 30-year-old Construction Technician, Chukwuemeka Chikezie. Many other Nigerians also went home with different prizes such as power generating sets, sewing machines and rechargeable fans.
Chikezie, who was impaired in his left arm from a job related accident he had in 2019, disclosed that when he was called the previous day following the draws, he was working on a project in Enugu, far away from his Onitsha base. Despite that, he found it difficult that he could become an instant car winner just like that.
Till he got the keys to the car on Wednesday at an elaborate ceremony held at the Gloworld premises at Conoil station, Onitsha Bridgehead, Chikezie was hesitant to believe he had become a car owner.
“If anyone had told me yesterday that I would be a car owner today, I would never have believed”, he said, adding that “I love the Glo network very well and I have always depended on it for my calls and data needs”.
Hon. (Mrs) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, representing Onitsha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly, disclosed that her first number upon returning to Nigeria some years ago, was a Glo number. She commended Globacom for its support to its subscribers through the life changing prizes in the promo.
Representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Ezelue Nnamdi, said the Commission was happy with Globacom for its transparency in the conduct of the promo draws and the presentation of prizes to winner.
The Transition Chairman, Onitsha South Local Govt Area, Anambra State, Hon. Emeka Orji, expressed happiness that the event was held within his jurisdiction. He commended Globacom for putting the promo in place.

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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