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BUHARI BEGS ASUU TO END STRIKE AS ZLP, 15 OTHERS THREATEN PROTEST

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its strike in the interest of students.

He also urged pupils in public tertiary institutions to be patient with government as it strives to address the nagging issues in the nation’s university system within the ambit of available resources.

The Nigerian leader made the appeal, yesterday, at the 19th National Productivity Day and conferment of National Productivity Order of Merit Award (NPOM) on 48 eminent Nigerians and organisations in both the public and private sectors in Abuja.

Buhari recalled that he had directed his Chief of Staff, Ministers of Labour and Employment, Education, Finance, Budget and National Planning to immediately bring all parties to the negotiation table to critically review the grey areas in the demands by ASUU and other university-based labour unions.

On the theme of the event, “Achieving Higher Productivity Through Improved Education System,” the President pledged that the Federal Government would continue doing everything humanly possible to lift the education sector, adding that his administration recognises that the future of any nation “is contingent on the standard of its educational system.”

He said: “Therefore, if we desire to transform Nigeria into a competitive, strong, vibrant, productive and sustainable economy, improving our educational system should be accorded the highest priority.”

Highlighting notable achievements in the sector, including the drastic reduction of the number of out of school children from 10.1million in 2019 to 6.9 million in 2020, automatic employment for graduates of education, review of the retirement age of teachers from 60 to 65 years, the nation’s first citizen stressed that more still needed to be done.

He continued: “Quality educational system is good not just for the national economy, it is also good for the citizens.

“Ignoring the productivity dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty and social exclusion.

“It will be difficult to improve our economic performance and overall productivity, without improving our educational system.”

THIS is even as Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and 15 fifteen other political parties, yesterday, said they had concluded plans to join the ongoing protest by university students over disruption of academic activities in the country.

ZLP’s National Chairman, Dan Nwanyanwu, told reporters in Abuja that he had the nod of the parties for the planned march.

Concealing the identities of others when prodded, he stated: “I won’t want to name the parties, but ZLP is number one.”

Nwanyanwu said it was “appalling and embarrassing that the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has generated over N2 billion from the sale of expression of interest and nomination forms in less than two weeks, could not prevail on President Buhari to meet the demands of ASUU.”

BESIDES, the union has berated Senate President Ahmad Lawan for reportedly asking the protesting students not to disrupt political activities.

Chairman of University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, stated yesterday that Lawan represents the “class of political vipers bent on destroying the future of the children of the masses in order to access Nigeria’s resources.”

As a presidential aspirant under his ruling APC, the don argued that the Senate President had not “even shown the capacity to solve problems by not knowing the importance of education over political activities.”

Akinwole said ASUU at some point lobbied the National Assembly to forestall the strike, but was not “forthcoming, forcing the union to take the fate of members in its hands.”

THE GUARDIAN

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GDP SOFTENS AT 3.11%, NON-OIL SECTOR REMAINS GROWTH DRIVER

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GDP Statistics

THE National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, has said that the nation’s economy as measured by the   Gross Domestic Product, GDP, grew   by 3.11%, year on year, YoY, in the first quarter of the year (Q1’22), from 0.51% recorded in the corresponding period in 2021 (Q1’21).

The Q1’22 growth rate was, however, 0.87 percentage points lower than the 3.98 per cent recorded in the previous Q4’21. 

The growth in Q1’22 was driven by the Non Oil sector which expanded by 6.08 per cent YoY in Q1’22, as against the 26.04 per cent YoY contraction recorded by the Oil Sector in the same quarter. 

In its   Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report (Q1 2022) report released yesterday, NBS stated: “The Q1 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51% growth rate recorded in Q1 2021 by 2.60% points and lower than 3.98% recorded in Q4 2021 by 0.88% points.

“In the quarter under review, aggregate GDP stood at N45,317,823.33 million in nominal terms. This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of N40,014,482.74 million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25%”. 

Oil sector contraction persists

NBS further stated: “Real growth of the oil sector was –26.04% (year-on-year) in Q1 2022 indicating a decrease of 23.83% points relative to the rate recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2021. Growth decreased by 17.99% points when compared to Q4 2021 which was –8.06%.

“Quarter-on-Quarter, the oil sector recorded a growth rate of 9.11% in Q1 2022. The Oil sector contributed 6.63% to the total real GDP in Q1 2022, down from the figures recorded in the corresponding period of 2021 and up compared to the preceding quarter, where it contributed 9.25% and 5.19% respectively.”

Non-Oil strengthens further

On non-oil sector, NBS said, “The non-oil sector grew by 6.08% in real terms during the reference quarter (Q1 2022). This rate was higher by 5.28% points compared to the rate recorded in the same quarter of 2021 and 1.34% points higher than the fourth quarter of 2021. “This sector was driven in the first quarter 2022 mainly by Information and Communication (Telecommunication); Trade; Financial and Insurance (Financial Institutions); Agriculture (Crop Production); and Manufacturing (Food, Beverage & Tobacco), accounting for positive GDP growth.”

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FG TO COMPLETE GAS, REFINERY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS BEFORE 2023

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The Federal Government, through the Ministry of State for Petroleum Resources, says it is working hard to complete various gas refinery projects on the back of the decade of gas initiative before the end of this year.

This was even as the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) revealed that it will sign another agreement this month to build another LPG vessel that will transport products within Nigeria given the expansion that is currently going on in the NLNG.

Speaking to Daily Sun on the sidelines of the Nigerian Content Midstream-Downstream Oil and Gas 2022 summit which held in Lagos on Monday, the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the theme of the summit tagged “Maximizing potentials in the Mid and Downstream Oil and Gas sector – a local content perspective” is timely and apt and comes at a time the Nigerian Oil and Gas industry is exploring the opportunities and potentials associated with the mid and downstream sectors. While commending the NCDMB for taking the driving seat in articulating an agenda for actualizing the full potential and prospects of the massive investments in the industry, Sylva noted that the under the decade of gas initiative, gas has been declared a transition fuel towards our actualization of a net zero carbon emission target and the country must find way to unlock the natural gas and domestic production potential of Nigeria and drag millions of its people out of energy poverty.

He also revealed that the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is progressing very nicely, adding that this has brought a lot more appetite for investment in Nigeria.

When quizzed on the timeline of the projects the government is working on, Sylva said, “We are working on the Trans-Saharan gas pipeline, the AKK Gas pipeline project is also advanced and there are a lot of projects that are actually scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. 

Walter Smith refinery has already been completed while the DuPont refinery and Atlantic refineries are billed to be completed this year.The brass petroleum product depot also should be completed this year as well as a lot of other projects that are designed to be completed this year”.

Corroborating Sylva, the Executive Secretary, NCDMB, Engr Simbi Wabote, said that with the World gas conference holding this week in South Korea, one of the key highlights of the event will be a signing of an agreement to construct second LPG vessels.

SUN

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N23.3BN FRAUD: DASUKI’S CASE BEGINS AFRESH AFTER SEVEN YEARS

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Sambo Dasuki

The N23.3bn fraud case involving a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, on Monday started afresh nearly seven years after he was first arraigned.

Dasuki was first arraigned on December 14, 2015 before Justice Peter Affen of the Federal Capital Territory High Court but he was later elevated to the Court of Appeal, forcing the trial to begin afresh.

The case was subsequently re-assigned to Justice Baba Yusuf.

However, it was learnt that after Justice Yusuf was appointed as the Chief Judge of the FCT, he again assigned the case to Justice Yusuf Halilu.

On Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Dasuki along with a former Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa; his son Sagir Bafarawa; their company, Dalhatu Investment Limited; and a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, on corruption charges.

They were re-arraigned on allegations of breach of trust and criminal misappropriation of public funds amounting to N23.3bn

The EFCC, which slammed 25 counts against Dasuki, Bafarawa and Yuguda, accused them of diverting various sums in various currencies to different bank accounts under the false pretence of using the funds for the procurement of security equipment.

When the charges were read to them, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty.

The trial of Dasuki follows an investigation by the EFCC into allegations that he diverted $2.1bn meant from the purchase of arms.

The former NSA, however, applied for permission from the court to travel overseas for medical reasons, a move which was opposed by the Prosecution lawyer, Leke Atolagbe.

Justice Halilu subsequently adjourned the matter till June 7.

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