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ASUU speaks on calling off strike

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Sunday dismissed claims that it has called off the ongoing strike.

ASUU stated this while urging the public to “ignore any announcement” that the industrial action has been called off.

A Twitter user @Buiketalk had stated: “After @officialEFCC that year, @ASUUNGR is becoming my favourite public service twitter handle.”

Responding to the tweet via its official Twitter handle, ASUU disclosed that its resolution after the last meeting with representatives of the Federal Government would be made public on Thursday.

“We pray it remains so after the union calls off this industrial action.

“Meanwhile, ignore any announcements as to @ASUUNGR calling off the strike today.

“Our response to the delegation of @SenChrisNgige will be made available on Thursday, 7th February 2019,” ASUU tweeted.

This is coming at a time the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu assured that the ongoing industrial action would be called off before Monday, today.

He made the disclosure while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday.

ASUU strike: What I will do when I become president – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, has assured the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, that he will end the lingering strike from his first day at work, if elected the next president of the country.

Atiku made this disclosure in Lagos, Sunday evening, at the Silverbird Man of the Year event.

The former Vice President, lamenting about the ASUU strike, described it as disgraceful.

He stressed that the ASUU, students and lecturers would receive his first attention as president if voted into office in the February 16 presidential election.

He said “I am aghast that as I speak, our students across the nation are not being educated due to the ASUU strike caused by an unresolved debate of about N60 billion.

“If I get the job I am seeking, my first task on day one – along with naming my cabinet – will be to end this disgraceful strike and get our students back to their studies.

“I will also triple the amount the Nigerian government spends on education from 7 per cent of its budget today, not just to the 15 per cent recommended by UNESCO, but to 20 per cent.

“I recognise the value education can bring to the individual and the nation. But even more than that, I want every child in Nigeria to have the opportunities I had.”

Buhari campaign reacts to suit on president’s health

The Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) on Sunday condemned the suit filed by the Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) asking that President Muhammadu Buhari be declared medically unfit to re-contest the presidential election.

In a statement by its Director of Communications and Strategic Planning, Mallam Gidado Ibrahim, the BCO said the opposition parties were merely diverting attention from their looming defeat.

Ibrahim said: “Severally, we have had cause to draw the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to the fact that the opposition in the country had been flouting the commission’s rules of engagement in the campaigns by spreading fake news and making inciting remarks.

“The same opposition elements who had prayed for President Muhammadu Buhari’s death while on medical vacation in London claims it has gone to court to challenge the president’s health.

“This is part of their strategy to cover up for their lack of clear-cut manifesto to engage the ruling party in constructive campaign for the 2019 elections.

“But the character of their mental indolence is understood. They are disappointed to see President Buhari on the roof of his car campaigning and attracting huge crowd everywhere he goes to campaign.

“But we invite more cerebral Nigerians to be the judge here by ascertaining whether CUPP’s latest outburst and the suit it claimed it filed are not a reflection of their mental unfitness.”

Obasanjo, Atiku, Saraki, PDP leaders meet in Lagos

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in Lagos on Wednesday.

He attended the Lagos Island Club Quarterly Business Lecture.

At the event, Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), spoke on the theme: ‘My Vision for a New Nigeria.’

In attendance were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, PDP National Chairman, Uche Seondus, a former deputy national chairman, Bode George, Lagos PDP governorship candidate, Jimi Agbaje, former Cross River state governor, Liyel Imoke among others.

Meanwhile, Atiku, on Tuesday released an open letter he wrote to the Ambassadors of France, Germany, EU, US and UK High Commissioner.

In the memo, the former vice president listed what he described as constitutional beaches by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He insisted that Buhari was desperate to remain in power, while giving instances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) disregard for court rulings.

Tension in Ondo as Lassa fever claims over 50 lives, residents, health workers panic

With over 50 deaths recorded in Ondo state as a result of Lassa fever outbreak, residents, as well as medical practitioners, are in panicky mood.

The endemic disease which BENGBENRO gathered has been ravaging the state for the past weeks has found its way into Akure, the Ondo State capital after cases were earlier reported in the border towns of the northern senatorial district area of the state.

According to some sources at the Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owo, where victims were being taken to for treatment, the present the state government is not doing anything as expected at curbing the deadly disease.

Stating that the situation is going beyond control, a medical practitioner at the FMC, Owo disclosed that at the “isolation ward” of the hospital where patients of such outbreaks are treated, bed spaces are no longer available.

The medical practitioner who craved for anonymity, further confirmed to BENGBENRO that the medical facility is currently battling what she described as negligence from the part of some of her colleagues as a Lassa fever patient who was under observation “mysteriously” escaped from the hospital.

“What we currently facing, is quite beyond what anyone would ever imagine.

“Almost all the patients in the isolation ward are those that have contracted Lassa fever and most of the reported cases are from the border communities within Ose Local Government area of the state.

“It’s quite sad how the state government is not even attending to the situation.

“Citizens are dying from preventable disease, but the government is not showing any concern at all.”

Also, a source at the state’s Ministry of Health who requested that he should not be named being a civil servant, disclosed that the situation is such a terrible one that a state of emergency ought to have been declared within the state health sector.

The medical doctor in the ministry berated the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for allowing the situation to deteriorate to its present level, due to what he described as lackadaisical attitude on the part of the governor.

“From the ministry here, we have approached the governor, on the need to urgently arrest the situation but he his not seeing it that way.

“He claims there are no funds to spend on the medical needs of these people (Lassa fever patient) but let’s be frank with ourselves, all those money being spent on political activities in the state, where are they coming from?

“I believe it is high time our political leaders started to set their priorities right. Because in the real sense of it, it’s those that will vote for them that are dying so cheaply.

“You won’t believe that as terrible as the situation is at present, there’s no single sensitization or awareness going on in the state as regards the outbreak, all in the name of that there is no fund.

“Even for the outbreak to effectively contained, schools within the affected communities should have been shut with intensive awareness taken to market places, churches, mosques and other public places.

“It will interest you to know that health workers might down tools if anyone of us is affected.

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro emphasized that the situation calls for a combined effort of stakeholders as the state cannot bear the burden alone.

Dr. Adegbenro disclosed that the treatment of a Lassa patient costs at least N1.2m, which he said was beyond what the State Government alone can handle considering the number of people infected.

While calling on Chairmen of affected Local Government Areas in the state, Security Agencies, Development Partners and other stakeholders to brainstorm and come up with strategies that would help tackle the disease.

Also the State’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi said there is a war against Lassa Fever and the state should be in a war mood.

He recalled that about 27 States were affected with Lassa fever last year and Ondo and Edo topped the list as they accounted for about 80% of those affected including mortality.

Dr Olalekan Ojo of the Federal Medical Center Owo said the State was witnessing more Lassa patients than any other states of the federation ”and the whole budget of the state cannot handle”

He added that the Federal Medical Center Owo was overwhelmed due to lack of sufficient manpower to cope.

BREAKING: Court dismisses Justice Onnoghen’s appeal

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the motion filed by Justice Walter Onneghen seeking for stay of proceedings of his trial at the CCT

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, had on Tuesday filed a suit against the federal government over his suspension.

The appeal was filed before the Court of Appeal by his lawyers: Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Kanu Agabi (SAN) and James Onoja.

Recall that embattled Onnoghen was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari following an ex parte order issued by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

He based his appeal on the fact that he was not given a fair hearing by the CCT before the order to swear-in Justice Tanko Muhammad was issued. He also questioned the powers of the CCT to do so.

The appeal read in part, “The chairman and a member of the Code of Conduct Tribunal erred in law and violated the right of the appellant (Onnoghen) to a fair hearing when they made the order ex parte that he (Onnoghen) shall step aside as CJN and Chairman of the National Judicial Council over allegations of contravening provisions of the Code of Conduct and Tribunal Act Cap C15 Laws of the Federation 2004 pending the determination of the motion on notice dated January 10, 2019.”

Guardiola reveals why Newcastle United defeated Manchester City

Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola has disclosed why his side were defeated 2-1 by Newcastle United on Tuesday night in the Premier League encounter.

Goals from Salomón Rondón and Matt Ritchie gave Rafael Benítez’s men all three points against Man City.

However, a goal from Sergio Agüero was not enough to hand Guardiola’s men a point against the hosts.

Guardiola said Manchester City were defeated by Newcastle United because his players “were not aggressive enough”.

“Seven points is a lot of points,” Guardiola was quoted by Irish Times as saying at post-match.

“Liverpool’s advantage is not huge but it’s there – we have to win a lot of games now. But if we want to keep going up as a club we have to accept the challenge. We are in January and we are behind the leaders but there are a lot of trophies and points to play for.”

Guardiola added: “I know how my players are feeling right now and I am close to them and by them.

“Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t – we had just won eight games in a row and scored 30 goals without reply but sometimes things don’t go your way.

“I love these players, they are an incredible group of guys, they gave me all the prestige I have in England.

“Our game was slow, we didn’t commit. It was not our best night. We lost second balls, we were not aggressive enough, that’s why we could not win. We didn’t have the rhythm we needed to impose our game.

“We didn’t play our normal way but it happens sometimes. Players are human beings. It was not a good night but congratulations to Newcastle. They played good – and they have a very good manager.”

Afenifere challenges Buhari to declare his assets

The Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to publicly declare his assets.

Leader of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti made the call while reminding Buhari of the promises he made in 2014 that he would declare his assets.

In a letter he personally signed entitled “I pledge to Nigeria”, Fasoranti said the president had vowed before the electorate that all his political appointees would only earn salaries and allowances as prescribed by the Revenue and Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC).

He said: “I pledge to publicly declare my assets and liabilities, encourage all my appointees to publicity declare their assets and liabilities as a pre-condition for appointment.

“It is now four months to the end of the four-year tenure of Mr. President and this pledge has not been fulfilled. Instead of doing what he pledged, presidential aides have been giving all manners of untenable excuses in the last three and a half years.

“This is a moral burden as it is said that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands and that examples are better than precepts.”

The Afenifere leader stated that a leader must not set for others, standards that are very difficult for him to meet in the order of “do as I say and not as I do”.

He said: “The jeopardy of President Buhari anti-corruption war has really been one set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander.

“Afenifere therefore asks the president to immediately make his assets declaration form public so Nigerians can hold him as a man of his words.

“Such a power of example sets greater tone for good conduct in society than a thousand arbitrariness in the name of fighting corruption. The true meaning of leadership is being able to lead by higher standards.”

2019 election: Buhari not sharing public funds – VON DG, Okechukwu

The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was not sharing public funds, rather was investing the funds, in the nation’s critical infrastructures.

Okechukwu, who stated this in an interview with BENGBENRO, shortly after the APC Presidential campaign rally held in Aba, Abia State on Tuesday, reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-led administration to tackle the infrastructural deficits in the country, so as to enable investments and businesses thrive, for the general well being of the people.

The APC chieftain also lauded the recently-commissioned 9.5MW Independent Power Plant at Ariaria Market in Aba by President Buhari, saying, that would enhance the economic and industrial development of the commercial city (Aba).

Okechukwu, however, commended the people of Abia State and South East in general for the warm reception being accorded to the APC presidential candidate and the incumbent, President Buhari, urging them to massively vote for APC to enable south East zone to take its shot at the Aso villa in 2023.

His words, “I thank the people of Abia State for their turn out to welcome Mr. President. It shows that the South East is coming to the reality that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best for the country today.

“Because, he had embarked on most laudable infrastructural development of the country, spanning from 5000 kilometres of federal roads,5000 kilometre of standard railway,additional 5000 megawatts of electricity.

“What was demonstrated today, in the Ariaria Market Aba, where Mr President in the past year, had instructed that major markets and industrial bases of the country should have mini solar power plants.

“And the Ariaria Market own has been commissioned, and the traders are happy about that, and also the manufacturing concerns, especially the small scale entrepreneurs and Medium scale entrepreneurs in Aba.

“It is a good joy that President Buhari, is not sharing public funds, but he is investing the people’s money in critical infrastructures, so that the nation’s economic development will prosper, and our people, the entrepreneurs can expand their economic talents in different sectors of economic and industrial development.

“It is no more the issue of sharing money. It is now that the investment is coming in real terms, so that a lot of people could advance themselves without the government. This is where we are heading to.”

Tinubu Punctures Atiku’s Claim to Be a Democrat, Defender of Democracy

All Progressives Congress National Leader and Co-Chair of the party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has questioned former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s claim to being a democrat and defender of democracy, saying this rebirth as a defender of democracy must have taken place only a few hours ago.

He asked: “Where was he (Atiku), his voice and action during Abacha’s suffocating maximum rule? Was he not a member and cheer-leader of one of the five Abacha parties aptly described then as five leprous fingers of Abacha? Did he even have the courage to visit his mentor, late Major General Shehu Musa Yar Ádua, in jail for fear of Abacha stopping him from running for the governorship of Adamawa?

Asiwaju Tinubu also said contrary to the impression created by the PDP presidential candidate (Atiku) that the Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen was removed, he was only asked to step aside for the allegations against him to be investigated and could be reinstated if found not guilty.

The statement personally signed by Asiwaju is titled “REPLY TO ATIKU’S STATE OF THE NATION”.

It reads: “The PDP’s presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku, recently made comments regarding suspension of CJN Onnoghen. Atiku’s release is entitled “State of the nation address”. I encourage everyone to read it. In its disregard for the truth and patent misrepresentations, it will go down in political history as a classic of self-incrimination. Atiku thinks the piece exalts him. Instead it evinces his penchant for wilful misstatement that make him unfit for the office he now seeks and has always coveted.

In the statement, he claims to have dedicated all his life to the defense of democracy. Those of you who know him, and even those who don’t, know this is not true. If all of his life has been dedicated to support for democracy, then he is far too young to run for president; however, I must congratulate him for having somehow managed to find or begin a second life. This rebirth as a defender of democracy must have taken place only a few short hours ago.

“His previous life of over seventy years was one of skirting democracy and of blatant impunity in attempting to enshrine reactionary government and installing an unjust political economy on the backs of the people.

In his address, he claims the nation has entered a difficult moment. To my dear and good friend Atiku, I say the difficulty is not so much with the moment but with your memory.

When you lorded over Nigeria in tandem with President Obasanjo, there were myriad court orders mandating that your government render to Lagos state the funds due it to improve the lives of its millions of inhabitants. Instead, you gladly and without dispute joined Obasanjo in utter disregard for these unambiguous legal verdicts. In so doing, you demeaned the rule of law. You also readily sacrificed the economic development and welfare of millions of innocent people in Lagos just to gain some illicit political advantage that proved to be fleeting and of no avail to you in the end.

“You now speak of democracy and the need for executive restraint. But such verbal finery never crossed your lips or traversed your pen when you and Obasanjo improperly removed Senate Presidents more easily than a trendy cad exchanges a pair of shoes or changes the subject of his false affections. Your love for democracy is such that you were recently observed apologising to the PDP for not rigging the Lagos 2003 gubernatorial polls as you did the polls in the other Southwestern states.

Instead of repenting for rigging at least five states too many, your expressed regret was that you had not rigged enough; that you rigged one state less than the complete mauling of democracy your party and your principal had mandated. Regarding such a destructive love as this, I am sure democracy and fair elections would rather do without.

“A few weeks ago in a televised broadcast you even revealed to the people that your official policy envisioned the base enrichment of your friends should you achieve the presidency.
I must assume that your lifetime as a defender of democracy began after this long record of unjust deeds and even after your latest statement of intent to mould Nigeria into an oligarchy. If this is not the case and if all these things you have done and said are consistent with your current notion of democracy, then there is but one conclusion. The democracy you now claim to support remains a rather strange breed of democracy, such as to be nigh indistinguishable from the regressive, rentier political economy you designed and foisted on Nigeria as the crafty lieutenant of the bullish Obasanjo.

“Strange that you would choose to depict the current situation so inaccurately as to stir emotions unduly. You claim that CJN Onnoghen has been removed. However, this is not so. He has been temporarily suspended. You and your advisors should know and recognize the vast legal difference between “suspension” and “removal.” Yet you persist in conflating the two in what you say is a pursuit of justice. While true you may be in pursuit of something. It is not justice.

If justice was your goal, you would acknowledge that the CJN has only been temporarily suspended not permanently removed. Thus, your recourse to saying that the president violated the constitutional provision regarding the removal of a CJN is inaccurate in that Buhari never intended to remove the CJN. What he has done is to have the CJN temporarily get out of his chair so that the serious matters against him can be heard by someone other than himself. Should the charges show themselves to be wrong or unproven, the CJN will be automatically reinstated as the head of the Nigerian judiciary. However, for Atiku to state that the CJN should remain on seat while credible and grave charges swirl around him is to put the entire workings of the Supreme Court under a heavy cloud.

“It is ironic that Atiku of all people throw such darts at President Buhari. Buhari actually exercised considerable restraint in this matter. He has reasonably balanced concerns about the integrity of the judiciary with concerns for the individual rights of the accused. Nothing has been taken from the CJN that cannot be restored if the facts warrant such restoration. Thus, President Buhari conditionally suspended the CJN. By doing so, this allows for the case to move forward without the CCT or others fearing the CJN might use his position to unduly interfere with proceedings. If the CJN is exonerated, then he will return to his position. If not exonerated, then a more permanent discipline awaits him.

This is an imminently fair and balanced approach, especially given the fact that the constitution and other laws really do not provide clear and unambiguous guidance in how to proceed in a case whether the CJN is the defendant under this unique fact pattern. While Atiku rails against Buhari because of this act of restraint, we can but imagine the tack Chief Obasanjo and Atiku would have taken if they presided over this situation. By now, they would have put CJN Onnoghen in the stocks or shipped him off to that infamous farm in Ota where he would have begun his new career in plucking poultry.

“It is curious that Atiku would take up the marker of a jurist who has enjoyed the sweet but hidden benefits of several million dollars of mystery money passing through his secret bank accounts, Even when discovered, these accounts held several hundred thousands of dollars in them.

Someone in Atiku’s position would normally be wary of a judge thusly tainted. A politician in Atiku’s position should more objectively be concerned that the government would have been the source of the hidden funds or that government would use the fact of the clandestine money as leverage against the judge to make sure he did government’s bidding for surely this a jurist highly compromised by pecuniary indiscretion. It is almost unnatural that an opposition candidate would champion the soiled cause of such a judge who seems to have sold something in exchange for the money found in his vest’s secret pockets.

“Yet, Atiku now cries the anguished cry of a man who thought he had won the lottery only to find he had misread the last number on his claim ticket. Or perhaps these are the tears of a man who thought he had invested in a sure deal only to see the reason for the investment evaporate before his very eyes. Now, Atiku and his cohort seek to turn their personal disappointment into a burning national issue. They seek to manufacture a constitutional crisis where none exists.

They said they suspended their campaign because of this matter. Here, they are as illogical as illogic can beget. By suspending their campaign, did that mean they were permanently ending it? Of course not! That would be a boycott or the permanent “removal” of the campaign. No, they have resumed their campaign after temporarily suspending it. If they know the meaning of suspend in this regard, only malign intent allows them to feign ignorance to the meaning of the word “suspend” when applied to CJN Onnoghen.

“There is no need to quake at the solitary incident of the interim suspension of a justice pending the legal resolution of serious criminal claims against him. If this matter is shorn of the political trappings it has acquired, there is no fairer way to handle the matter.

Atiku, I gather, would rather leave the man in seat and allow the charges against him to go unattended. Or Atiku would rather that the CJN preside over his own trial. Such is the logical conclusion of Atiku’s position. It is an odd bravery that would lead Atiku to stake such a position. If Atiku is as oddly courageous as he now depicts, then let him venture a step further. Pray tell, let Atiku tell us what good and precious thing he and the PDP rendered that they cannot even countenance the temporary and conditional suspension of a single jurist until the charges of illegality against the man have been fully resolved in open proceedings conducted by his judicial peers.

“Atiku claims to be a democrat and defender of democracy, but where was he, his voice and action during Abacha’s suffocating maximum rule? Was he not a member and cheer-leader of one of the five Abacha parties aptly described then as five leprous fingers of Abacha? Did he even have the courage to visit his mentor, late Major General Shehu Musa Yar Ádua, in jail for fear of Abacha stopping him from running for the governorship of Adamawa?

“Dare Atiku say what is really upsetting him and what he really is hiding in his attempt to cloak his lifetime of undemocratic reckonings in the swaddling of this much too belated democratic second birth he now claims for himself”.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
January 29, 2019.