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Nigeria’s government wants to regulate social media

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Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed, hinted on Tuesday that the Federal Government plans to regulate social media. The minister, however, assured that the regulation would be in line with global best practices as obtained in the United Kingdom and Singapore among others.


Mohammed said the government has no plans to gag the press or stifle the media as being insinuated, adding that online television stations and web TVs would have to obtain operational licenses.

Making the clarifications at a briefing in Abuja against the backdrop of the ongoing campaign against fake news and hate speech, the minister said the government will never allow anarchists to take over the nation’s airwaves and media space.

Although he was not forthcoming on the details, Mohammed hinted that a committee will soon be set up on the modalities for sanitising the social media.

The minister did not entertain questions on the form of the proposed sanitization, warning that the recklessness in the social media could set the nation on fire if not controlled.

He said: “Gentlemen, since we launched our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look into how to sanitise the Social Media space.

”I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space which, today, is totally out of control.

“ No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration.

“That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both.

“Therefore, gentlemen, we once again seek your support for our efforts to banish fake news and hate speech from our media space.”

Mohammed said the ongoing reforms in the broadcast industry and the proposed regulation of social media were not designed to repress press freedom and free speech.

He added: “But, as I have been saying, we have no intention of stifling free speech or gagging journalists or anyone. Again, this Administration has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech.

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Public policy

ASUU insists on strike over IPPIS

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Wednesday insisted on embarking on industrial action if the federal government stops the payment of their salaries for their refusal to enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The Benin, Sokoto and Ilorin zonal branches of the union said yesterday that their members would resort to their “no pay, no work” policy if the federal government carry out its threat to stop their salaries.
The Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Mr. Fred Esumen, said during an enlarged meeting of the Benin Zone of the union, held at the Ugbowo campus of University of Benin, in Benin City, that if the federal government sanctions its members, who do not enroll for the IPPIS on the October 31, 2019 deadline, ASUU will embark on “no pay, no work.”

The ASUU membership in the zone comprises University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma both in Edo State; Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba, Akoko), University of Science and Technology (Okitipupa) both in Ondo State; Delta State University (Abraka) and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) both in Delta State.

Esumen who addressed journalists, declared that the IPPIS policy being championed by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) was a mere directive, which cannot and should not take precedence over the law.

The directive, he said, violates the agreement ASUU had reached with the government in the past and the laws establishing universities via the miscellaneous act as amended in 2003 that vested powers in the Governing Councils to take control and manage funds of the universities including staff recruitment and promotion.”

The ASUU coordinator however, ruled out legal option in the pursuit of justice, saying that government does not honour agreement.
The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of the union, Mr. Jamilu Shehu, said wednesday at a press conference held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that the attempt by federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only an illegality, but total violation of university autonomy.

According to him, the IPPIS also violates university autonomy and FGN/ASUU agreement and did not tackle the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.

Shehu explained that IPPIS does not capture the remuneration of staff on sabbatical, external examiners and assessors, earned academics allowances part time and consultancy services being rendered by lecturers across universities.

He stressed that the union viewed the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy.

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Politics

Buhari finally signs AfCTA agreement

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Nigeria at the weekend in Niamey, Niger Republic, officially joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as President Muhammadu Buhari finally signed the agreement at the opening of the African Union (AU) Summit.

This is coming as the President of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, yesterday hailed Nigeria’s membership of AfCFTA and commended Buhari for signing the agreement.
The president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari signed the treaty at exactly 10: 47 a.m. in the presence of other African heads of state and governments, delegates and representatives from the private sector, civil society and the media, which attended the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on the launch of the Operational Phase of the AfCFTA.

The phase one of the agreement was adopted by African Union (AU) Heads of State and Governments at its 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.

But Nigeria pulled out of the agreement signing ceremony at the last minute, following agitations from the private sector that the agreement would make Nigeria a dumping ground for goods and services in Africa.

Consequently, the president set up a committee to make wider consultations on the agreement with a view to coming up with recommendations on whether Nigeria should join AfCFTA or not.

The committee, while submitting its report on June 27, advised Buhari to sign the agreement, listing a number of factors, which aided the committee’s recommendations and the benefits accruable from it.

Shortly after signing the agreement yesterday, the president, according to the statement, declared that Nigeria’s commitment to trade and African integration had never been in doubt neither had it ever been under any threat.

The statement added that Buhari told the summit that Nigeria would build on yesterday’s signing of the treaty by proceeding expeditiously with the ratification of the AfCFTA.

‘‘Nigeria wishes to emphasize that free trade must also be fair trade. As African leaders, our attention should now focus on implementing the AfCFTA in a way that develops our economies and creates jobs for our young, dynamic and hardworking population,” Buhari said, adding: “I wish to assure you that Nigeria shall sustain its strong leadership role in Africa, in the implementation of the AfCFTA. We shall also continue to engage, constructively with all African countries to build the Africa that we want.”

The statement, which copiously quoted the president on his observations on the agreement, also said the president congratulated Ghana on its selection to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA while describing the signing of the agreement on behalf of Nigeria as an honor.

The president recalled his hesitation to sign last year, explaining it was due to reservations at home.

He said he subsequently extensively consulted and sensitized the stakeholders, adding that the outcome was a buy-in by all concerned.

“Our consultations and assessments reaffirmed that the AfCFTA can be a platform for African manufacturers of goods and providers of service to construct regional value chains for made in Africa goods and services,” Buhari said, adding: “It was also obvious that we have a lot of work to do to prepare our nation to achieve our vision for intra-African trade, which is the free movement of ‘made in Africa goods.’

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Public policy

Osinbajo to head FG Audit committee

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the constitution of the Policies, Programmes and Projects Audit Committee. Chairman of the committee is the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo.

Members of the committee are Chief of Staff to the President, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Minister of Finance.

Others are Minister of Power, Works & Housing, Hon. Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development.

Also in the committee are Minister of Water Resources, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Security Adviser, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs Office and Deputy Chief of Staff to the President is a member and secretary of the committee.

The Terms of Reference include “To audit and determine the status of implementation of policies, programmes and projects either inherited or commenced by the out-going Administration;

“Identify and highlight a residue of works and challenges that may militate against their successful implementation;

“Prepare and produce a detailed working document that would guide the incoming Cabinet Members on the direction of Government regarding policies, programmes and projects;

“Co-opt any organization(s)/person(s) relevant towards the successful execution of the exercise; and

“Make any other recommendation(s) as may be necessary.”

The date of Inauguration of the committee is Friday 15th March 2019 at the Vice President’s Conference Room.

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Politics

Minimum wage: What will you gain by ‘cutting 3k from 30k’ – Sen. Shehu

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Shehu Sani, the Senator representing Kaduna Central has criticised the approval of the sum of N27,000 as the new minimum wage by the National Council of State.

Senator Shehu Sani

The national council approved the sum during its meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, presided by President Muhammadu Buharion Tuesday.

The N27,000 approved by the Council of State is N3,000 short of the N30,000 the Tripartite Committee on Review of National Minimum Wage recommended.

The National Council of State also approved the transmission of the National minimum wage bill to the National Assembly.

Reacting, Sani on his Twitter page criticised the decision of the National Council of State.

The Kaduna lawmaker wondered why N3000 was deducted from the N30,000 minimum wage proposed by the Labour union.

Sani wrote: “National Council of State what will you gain by ‘cutting 3k from 30k’ in a nation where even government agencies are declaring ‘record breaking’ billions and trillions in revenues and also states making claims of higher IGR?

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