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Major Victory for ASUU, as FG Exempts Universities, Polytechnics, Others from IPPIS

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In what can be described as a major victory for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU),

the Federal Government on Wednesday approved the exemption of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions of learning from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

It said, henceforth, remunerations to staff members of these institutions would no longer flow through the platform.

The Minister of the Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, disclosed this to State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House, Abuja.

The FG reasoned that the IPPIS does not afford tertiary institutions the freedom to run their affairs, Idris said.

He explained, “Today, the universities and other tertiary institutions have gotten a very big relief from the integrated personnel payroll and information system. You will recall that the university authorities and others have been clamouring for exempting the universities and other tertiary institutions from this system.

“Today, the Council has graciously approved that. What that means is that going forward, the universities, as the Honorable Minister of Education has said and other tertiary institutions, the polytechnics and colleges of education will be taken off the IPPIS.

“What that means in simple language is that the university authorities and other tertiary institutions will now pay their personnel from their own end instead of relying on the IPPIS.”

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, who explained the rationale for the Council’s decision, said the goal was to allow for the efficient running of public educational institutions nationwide.

He argued that Wednesday’s move is not connected to the integrity of IPPIS, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, or other similar systems advocated by various bodies.

Mamman said, “Simply, the president and the Council are just concerned about the efficiency of management of the universities, and so it has nothing to do with integrity or platform options.

“The president cannot understand why Vice Chancellors should be leaving their duty post and run to Abuja to get staff enlisted on IPPIS when they get recruited.

“The basic concern is that universities are governed by laws. And those laws give them autonomy in certain respects and most respects and the IPPIS has sort of eroded that autonomy granted universities is accordance with their act.”

In October 2006, the FG introduced the IPPIS as one of its reform initiatives for the effective storage of personnel records, saying the move would improve transparency and accountability.

IPPIS, which was expanded to cover all ministries, departments and agencies that draw personnel costs from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, has been touted by the government as a means of saving billions of Naira and improving transparency in salary payments.

However, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the umbrella body for lecturers in Nigerian universities, resisted the implementation of IPPIS within universities, arguing that it undermines university autonomy and does not accommodate the unique nature of academic work.

ASUU has instead proposed an alternative system called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which they believe better addresses the peculiarities of the university system, such as sabbatical leave, adjunct engagements and part-time contracts.

ASUU and other academic unions argue that IPPIS centralisation impedes the governing councils’ ability to effectively manage personnel and payroll, affecting strategic planning and the autonomy of universities.

This has led to tensions and a protracted standoff, with ASUU continuing to push for the adoption of UTAS over IPPIS, which they see as a foreign-imposed system unsuitable for the Nigerian tertiary education sector.

Despite the government’s attempts to enforce IPPIS, ASUU has held firm, leading to strikes and disruptions in academic activities, including an eight-month hiatus in educational activities that ended in 2022.

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Jubilations Engulf Plateau, Kano States as Supreme Court Affirms Mutfwang and Abba Yusuf as Governors

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Spontaneous celebrations and dancing broke out on major streets in Kano and Plateau States on Friday after the Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal; and declared that the sitting governors, Kabir Yusuf and Caleb Mutfwang, remain on the exalted seats as chief executive officers of their domains.

Yusuf is of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) defeating the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nasir Yusuf Gawuna, on the ground, as well as the apex court of the land.

The Apex Court on Friday reversed the judgments of the Court of Appeal and the Kano State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which nullified the election of the governor on miscarriage of justice.

Justice John Inyang Okoro who delivered the lead judgment held that the law and natural justice were turned upside down by the two courts below to arrive at the unjust and unfair decision.

Justice Okoro while voiding and setting aside judgments of the two lower courts said that miscarriage of justice in the ways and manners the petition against the governor was handled was manifest.

The Court of Appeal and the Tribunal had in their concurrent judgments annulled the election of Governor Kabiru Yusuf of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and declared
Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna of the All Progressives Party, (APC) as winner of the March 18, 2023 Kano Governorship election.

However, the Supreme Court held that two fundamental flaws were discovered in the findings of the Tribunal and the Count of Appeal which led to an miscarriage of justice.

Justice Okoro said that the allegations of the APC that the Governor was not a member of the NNPP at the time he stood for the election and which the Tribunal used to overturn his victory is against the provisions of the law.

The court held that membership of the NNPP by the governor cannot be challenged by APC on the ground of being an internal affair of the party.

Justice Okoro held that the issue of party membership cannot be raised as a post election matter as done by the APC and its governorship candidate and wrongly upheld by the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court found that the Governor’s nomination was submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC in an NNPP letter head paper jointly signed by the party’ national Chairman and national Secretary.

Justice Okoro also held that since the nomination, no member of the NNPP had queried the action except the APC in its petition before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.

Besides, the apex court reversed the unlawful removal of 165, 616 votes from the total votes cast for the NNPP and its governorship candidate at the poll.

The court said that there was no basis for the unlawful removal of the votes from the governor’s votes because the ballot papers used for the poll were duly issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

The apex court dismissed the allegations that the ballot papers were not signed and stamped at the back

Justice Okoro said that there was no scintilla of evidence from any witness or documentary exhibits that the ballot papers were illegal and unlawful as erroneously concluded by the Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court therefore agreed with the governor that miscarriage of justice was perpetrated against him in the way and manner his election was nullified.

Justice Okoro ordered that the 165, 616 votes unlawfully deducted from the governor be returned to him.

The court while allowing the appeal of the governor and the NNPP dismissed the two judgments earlier granted in favour of the APC and its governorship candidate on the ground that the judgments were erroneously entered in their favour.

Also on the same day, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal which in November last year removed Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau State from office on ground of unlawful nomination.

The apex court held that the Court of Appeal made fundamental error in allowing the All Progressives Congress APC to poke its nose into the conduct of the primary election by the People’s Democratic Party PDP and nullified the election unjustly.

Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, who delivered the lead of the unanimous judgment, said that the issue of primary election was an internal affairsl of political parties and that no other party can dabble into it except members of the same party.

Besides, Justice Agim said that the issue of alleged improper conduct of the ward and local governments election used to sack the tovernor was not justiceable.

He said that conduct of the ward and local governments election was an affair of the State Executive Committee of a political party while the conduct of the primary election for the nomination of a governorship candidate is entirely that of the National Executive Committee of a political party.

Justice Agim held that there was no issue of irregularities in the way and manner the Governorship primary election that produced the governor was conducted in Plateau and wondered why that of the ward election was used to nullify the gubernatorial poll.

He said that evidence was even well adduced that an order of Plateau State High Court allegedly disobeyed was indeed obeyed by parties involved.

Justice Agim, therefore, voided and set aside the order of the Court of Appeal that Nentawe Goshwehe, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) be inaugurated as Plateau State Governor.

The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Plateau State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal which had earlier dismissed the petition of the APC and its governorship candidate.

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Tinubu Approves N683bn Intervention Fund For Tertiary Institutions

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…. Varsities get N1.9bn, polytechnics N1.1bn, CoEs N1.3bn each

12th January 2024

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved the sum of N683,429,268 billion as the 2024 Intervention Funds for public tertiary education institutions in the country.

The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono, disclosed this on Friday during the Fund’s strategic planning meeting with heads of beneficiary institutions in Abuja.

Echono said from the total, 90.75% was budgeted for direct disbursement and 8.94% for some designated special projects. A stabilization of 2.27% was allowed to enable the Fund to respond to emerging issues.

He also disclosed that each University shall get for the Year 2024 intervention cycle, the total sum of N1,906,944,930.00, each Polytechnic N1,165,355,235.00
while each College of Education shall get N1,398,426,282.00.

LEADERSHIP reports that this year’s intervention witnessed a boost as compared to last year, which saw the disbursement of over N320 billion.

It would be recalled that the 2023 intervention cycle saw each university receiving N1,154,732,133.00; Polytechnic – N699,344,867.00, while each College of Education got N800,862,602.

Echono said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr. President has approved the Year 2024 disbursement guidelines in the total sum of N683,429,268,402.64. From this total, 90.75 % is budgeted for direct disbursement and 8.94 % for some designated special projects. A stabilization of 2.27 % is allowed to enable the Fund to respond to emerging issues.

“This is inclusive of the difference between actual collections and the projections made for November and December 2023 collections as requested and approved by Mr. President.

“Based on this approval:
Each university shall get, for the Year 2024 intervention cycle, the total sum of N1,906,944,930.00. This comprises N1,656,944,930.00 as annual direct disbursement and N250 million as zonal intervention. Similarly, each Polytechnic shall get N1,165,355,235.00 comprising of N1,015,355,235.00 as annual direct disbursement and N150million as zonal intervention, while each College of Education shall get N1,398,426,282.00 comprising of N1,248,426,282.00 as annual direct disbursement and N150million as zonal intervention.

“It is pertinent to note that this represents a very significant increase above our last year’s intervention and indeed every other year, since inception.

“This remarkable success is due to, sustained efforts at expanding and increasing the efficiency of collection of the Education Tax, and the gracious concurrence of Mr. President for an increase in the tax from 2.5% to 3.0% in the year 2023.

“We are grateful to all the key actors, notably the Minister of Education Prof. Tahir Mamman Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, the Chairmen and members of the Senate and House Committees on TETFund, and the Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for their unwavering support, towards the sustainable improvement of the collection,” he said.

He further said the meeting was also an avenue to receive feedback and evaluate the performance of the intervention lines while calling on all heads of institutions to ensure the smooth, timely, judicious, and effective implementation and utilization of the year 2024 intervention allocation, to make the much-needed impact in the respective tertiary institutions.

“I also wish to advise that in addition to the broad-based budget and project monitoring committee stated in your letter of allocation, you should consult widely with the community in the implementation of your TETFund projects.

“Furthermore, Heads of Institutions should ensure timely payments to contractors and vendors when due this will enable the proper completion of projects and mitigate the incidence of contractors writing letters of complaints to the Fund.

“I seize this opportunity to respectfully register our debt of gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for his commitment to the development of Education in his Renewed Hope agenda and to Prof. Tahir Mamman (SAN), for his leadership, trust, and prompt consideration of our requests,” he added.

According to Echono, the approved new intervention lines in the Annual Direct Disbursement include the establishment of Career Centers/Units in all categories of beneficiary institutions as well as the Institution Skills development for Polytechnics.

For the Special Direct Disbursements, he said it has increased the allocation for the Special High Impact Programme (SHIP), and the number of benefitting institutions has also been increased to two per geopolitical zone per category given a total of 36 beneficiary institutions.

Other areas of Special Direct Disbursement, he said, were provision for Hostels using the Public/Private Partnership arrangement, innovation hubs, Disaster Recovery, Security Infrastructure, Completion of abandoned projects, and many others.

“In our bid to resolve the problems arising from the increase in exchange rates to our scholars, we have made provisions in the Year 2024 intervention to address the shortfall therein.

“We have sustained allocations for research including the National Research Fund, Research, and Innovation Fund, Uptake of research findings to commercialization and supervision of scholars for Ph.D. research.

“We have made provisions for four central multipurpose laboratories and additional provision for the three agricultural laboratories and demonstration farms initiated in 2023,” he stated.

On his part, the acting Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Zubairu Abdullahi, said there was a new hope and commitment from the president that everyone must key into it.

He urged stakeholders to redouble efforts to achieve President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda for the education sector.

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Matawalle, Shehu Sani, Peter Okoye… 11 Nigerians With Honorary PhDs From West African ‘Degree Mills’

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By Sodeeq Atanda

On Wednesday, the Federal Ministry of Education announced the suspension of the evaluation and verification of certificates issued by over 57 academic institutions operating in Benin Republic and Togo.

This development followed an investigation by Daily Nigerian into the fraudulent issuance of a degree certificate by Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic, in six weeks.

Many Nigerians rush to the named institution and others in the two countries for undergraduate studies and become eligible to participate in the mandatory national service organised by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

It has become routine for some prominent Nigerians to get honorary degrees from these institutions now described as “degree mills”.

Although honorary degrees follow different criteria and are meant to recognise people who have contributed to the growth of their chosen careers and society at large, the flagging of these schools as “degree mills” raises questions about the integrity of such degrees.

Aside from young Nigerians holding first degree certificates obtained from these “degree mills”, FIJ has found that some Nigerian policymakers and professionals have affiliations with some of these schools by virtue of their honorary doctorate degrees.

SENATOR SHEHU SANI

In 2017, Shehu Sani, a former senator from Kaduna Central Senatorial District, became an honoree of Ecotes University. Pictures from the ceremony were on the school’s Facebook page.

Commenting on the ridiculous system that allowed someone to obtain a degree certificate in six weeks, the senator has posted a social media jibe about degrees obtained from Cotonou. He tweeted: “Cotonou degree is like: 100 level, 2 weeks; 200 level, 2 weeks; 300 level, 1 week; 400 level, 1 week. Then Graduation.”

DOMINIC NGENE JOSHUA

The same Ecotes University conferred an honorary degree on Dominic Ngene Joshua, an alleged serial fraudster who duped Nigerians of over N2 billion.

He was arrested by the Nigeria Police Force’s Special Fraud Unit in 2021. Some of the proceeds of the fraud have been confiscated.

FIJ reported how Joshua and Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi allegedly conspired to lift money from Union Bank customers’ accounts to the tune of N681 million.

BELLO MATAWALLE

The African Institute of Science, Administration and Commercial Studies (IAEC), located in Lome, Togo, honoured Bello Matawalle, the immediate-past governor of Zamfara State, with an honorary PhD.

According to Yusuf Idris Gusau, a former media aide to Matawalle, the award recognised his principal’s achievements in leadership and administration.

Matawalle is currently the Minister of State for Defence.

LANRE OLUSOLA AND LUKMAN AKANBI

R-L: Lanre Olusola, Lukman Akanbi. Source: Facebook
In April 2022, Escae Benin University, properly called Ecole Superieure des Sciences, Commerce, Administration des Enterprises du Benin (ESCAE-BENIN) gave honorary doctorate degrees to Lanre Olusola and Lukman Akanbi.

Olusola is a life coach and behavioural psychologist, while Akanbi practices as a business coach. The ceremony was held in Lagos State.

PETER OKOYE (MR. P)

Peter Okoye also holds an honorary degree from the said Escae-Benin University, which was awarded to him in 2022.

The school described the celebrity hip-hop artiste as “a singer, writer, dancer, and director; better known as one half of the African pop duo, P-Square, with more than 100 million views on YouTube” on its website.

He described the school as a “distinguished educational institution” in an X post where he published the news of the honour.

IKECHUKWU MITCHEL OGBONNA

In June 2022, Ikechukwu Mitchel Ogbonna, a Nollywood actor, was recognised with an honorary doctorate degree in arts, leadership and development by Institut Supérieur De Management Et De Technologie (ISMT St Salomon University).

Following the recognition, the actor introduced himself as “Dr (Hon) Ikechukwu Mitchel Ogbonna” on his verified Instagram handle.

MICHAEL EZURUONYE

Another film maker, Michael Ezuruonye, also received such a degree from ESTAM University, Seme Campus, located in the Republic of Benin.

Out of excitement, he shared the news on his Instagram page, where he described himself as Dr. Michael Ezuruonye while appreciating his fans for their support.

OONI, OLUWO OTHERS LISTED AS HONOREES IN 2023

In October 2023, some prominent traditional rulers were reportedly nominated to receive degree honours from Edexcel University of Benin (Institut Universitaire Edexel Du Benin), according to a report by Tribune Newspaper.

Among the listed traditional rulers were Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ooni of Ife; Alhaji Mohammed Sani, Emir of Borgu; Oba Abdulrasheed Adewale, Oluwo of Iwoland; Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser (NSA); and Usman Ododo, Kogi State governor-elect, among others.

According to blog posts and a flyer seen on the school’s Facebook page, the event was held in Sultan Bello Hall at the University of Ibadan.

FIJ could not independently verify if these personalities attended the event in person or by proxy to accept the recognition.

BEAUTIFUL NUBIA

In a Facebook post on October 16, 2016, Segun Akinlolu, a Nigerian songwriter and musician, announced that the management of ESEP Le Berger University, Benin Republic, had awarded him an honorary PhD in arts.

The institution is among the foreign schools currently blacklisted by the NUC.

ALI BUKAR DALORI

FIJ also found that Ali Bukar Dalori is one of the previous honorees of the IAEC. The school premised Dalori’s award on his contributions to international relations and diplomacy.

Dalori, the All Progressives Congress (APC) deputy national chairman (North), was, at the same time, inducted as a member of the school’s board of trustees in 2023.

DAUDA LAWAL
During its 8th convocation ceremony in 2021, IHERIS University, Togo, decorated Dauda Lawal with a doctorate degree in trade and investment.

Lawal is the incumbent Governor of Zamfara State, having defeated Matawalle in the governorship election held in March 2023.

He is a former banker. After his political victory, the school eulogised him and assured him of “its full support as you embark on this new journey to taking your state to the next level”.

Benin does not currently have any universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. However, many of these institutions appear to have created an inroad into Nigeria’s leadership structure, honouring decision-makers with various awards and sustaining active networking with them.

Source: Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ)

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