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El-Rufai, Kaduna teachers head for showdown over new competency test

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By Philip Yatai/Kaduna

Kaduna school teachers and Governor Nasir El-Rufai are heading for a new showdown over a notice to conduct a fresh competency test.

The test, billed for December is for primary school teachers

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On Wednesday, the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) asked its members to shun the test.

The Deputy National President of the union, Mr Kelvin Nwankwo, gave the directive in Kaduna in a meeting with the teachers.

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The Kaduna government in January 2018 sacked 21,780 primary school teachers for failing a competency test conducted in 2017 and recruited 25,000 qualified ones.

Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in July announced plans to conduct competency test for primary school teachers to ensure quality teaching.

Dr Christy Alademerin, Permanent Member, Human Resource Management, Kaduna SUBEB disclosed that the competency test is to ensure that the state has “the best of the best“.

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“We are going to conduct the competency test to either weed out incompetent ones or whatever the outcome will look like, just to maintain the standards,” she said.

Reacting to the development, the state wing of the union in a communique on Aug. 18 declared that none of its members in public primary school would sit for the test.

The deputy national president said that the union’s NEC was behind the decision of the Kaduna state wing.

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He insisted that the teachers’ competence had been proved by various accredited universities and colleges of education and were also tested before they were hired.

According to him, the NUT affirms and relies on the provisions of Section 1(d) Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) Act, CAP.T3 LFN 2004, which made provisions for the regulation and control of the teaching profession.

“As teachers who belong to a professional body, registered and licensed, we shall only subject ourselves to any professional recommendation issued by our Regulatory Council, but no other body.

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“The NEC had unequivocally resolved that no teacher should be subjected to any form of competency test under any guise or colouration but advised that issues of quality education should be pursued vigorously by the state government and teachers at all levels and at all times,” he said.

He advised state governments to embark on a mandatory continuous training programme in line with the practice in all professions, such as nursing, medicine and the legal profession.

He added that the teachers were available and willing to participate in refresher courses, workshops, seminars, or training to fill knowledge gaps in their various areas of specialisation.

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“However, we are opposed to any political ploy aimed at easing teachers out of service, with the pretext that such teachers had failed examinations,” he said.

The State Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Dalhatu, also stressed that only TRCN was legally empowered to conduct any form of competency test for teachers, adding that teachers would not subject themselves to any test conducted by any other body.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Orji Kalu: My imprisonment 2 years ago was destiny at play

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Orji Kalu, a former of Abia State and a senator representing Abia North said his incarceration two years ago was destiny at play.

Kalu, who marked the second anniversary of his incarceration at Kuje prison on Sunday, said he was jailed for an offense not committed.

The ex-governor, however, noted that he has forgiven everyone instrumental in his imprisonment.

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Read Orji Kalu’s full statement below:

Today is the second anniversary of my incarceration at the Nigerian Correctional Service Medial Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, Abuja.

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I was imprisoned for an offence I never committed. Despite all the witnesses rescuing themselves, I was pronounced guilty of 39 charges out of the 39 concocted charges leveled against me. What magic! In 1998, I used my money to fund the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), my former party and individuals. I built several businesses and I left more than $4 billion balance sheet before venturing into politics.

Today, those who have done no business or multiplied any money parade themselves as holy saints whereas those who have worked hard and multiplied money are expected to be penniless. I am not a saint and should not be judged as one. I didn’t start life as a politician. I am a businessman; a capitalist with a human face.

When I was governor 14 years ago, I served Abia with my conscience and left a prosperous and popular state. I provided security, free education, infrastructure, built hospitals, and never owed salaries or pensions. I created the enabling environment for business growth, encouraged and supported many businesses, and also grew sports. After I left office as Governor in 2007, I stayed out of power for 12 years and only became a Senator in 2019. The beauty of constitutional democracy is term limit and at all times, the government is a continuum.

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Today, my performance as governor is also being replicated as a Senator.

Aside from reconstruction of schools, material empowerment, medical outreach, job offers, I have completed more than 31 rural roads in Abia North and looking forward to others to be completed soon.

My dear friends and compatriots, I am grateful to God for the six months I spent in Kuje; He sanctioned it. God knows I fear no one except Him. Those who conspired against me wanted me buried at all cost, but like the biblical Job, there is a sense in which God allowed those temporary and tragic events to happen to Job. My perception of life changed after the six months of incarceration – life is vanity. I did not just learn a lot of lessons, I became a reformed and better man. I was very impacted by what happened to me. More than ever, I have relearned that kindness and forgiveness are what should rule the world, not wickedness. I have since forgiven all the people that were instrumental to my ordeal. I forgive them because they probably did not know what they were doing.

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I recall that on the first night I slept in the prison, I was questioning God. On the third day, God told me He allowed me to be imprisoned for a purpose and for a short time. I vividly recall I was scheduled to be in Wuhan, China on December 9, 2019, but my incarceration halted my journey.

For some, my imprisonment may have meant different things to them; but for me, my family, friends, business and political associates, supporters, as well as well-wishers, it was destiny at play. Those who knew me early in life will bear witness that I am a child of grace and destiny. When I was a Student Union President at the University of Maiduguri, my activism led to my suspension and some of my executives from the school. Even though the school recalled me, I refused to return because my executives were not included. My life has been that of testimony.

For all my friends and colleagues sitting in the upper and lower echelons who stood by me and the people of Abia North during the trying period, I remain very grateful. Throughout the six months, I ate once a day. I am so much grateful to my lovely wife for her timely delivery of the food. Her love, care, patience, prayers and endurance kept me strong. I also thank my dear mother for her prayers and motherly concern which must have caused her so much trauma. God will continue to bless the two women in my life.

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My special thanks and appreciation goes to the President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan for his loyalty to friendship. God will bless him and his family.

My profound gratitude also goes to Senator Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Kashim Shettima and Senator Sani Musa and a host of others too numerous to mention. May God show you love always.

The hatred, jealousy, betrayal, greed, bitterness in this country is enormous and terrible. People will just hate, curse, and envy you because you are successful, without considering how much hard work, energy, endurance, and patience you have expended in building businesses and your life.

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How I so much wish for love and empathy in this country.
How I wish we can embrace and love each other.
How I wish people could be more loving and considerate towards their neighbors with zero sentiments of tribe and language.

How I wish people can have respect for human lives. I hope that with God on our side, our dreams will someday come true.

Orji Kalu’s conviction

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Kalu was convicted by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday, 5 December 2019, and sentenced to 12 years in prison for N7.65 billion fraud.

He was convicted for defrauding the government of Abia State where he was a governor for 8 years using his company, Slok Nigeria Limited.

He was held in custody at the Ikoyi prisons in Lagos.

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In December, Kalu filed a bail application at a Lagos High Court pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction. On 23 December 2019, the court rejected his bail application for lack of merit.

On Friday,8 May 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that his trial was wrongly conducted and released him from prison while ordering a retrial.

On Friday morning, the Supreme Court deemed Mr. Kalu’s conviction inappropriate and ordered a retrial of the case, according to multiple media reports out of the court.

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A seven-member panel of the apex court, in a unanimous verdict delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, declared that the conviction null and void.

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Nigeria Newspapers

Losing is in PDP’s DNA: APC speaks on Lagos4Lagos move

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By Adeyemi Adeleye/Lagos

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, said the defection of Lagos4Lagos Movement to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), cannot change the PDP’s woes in the state.

APC Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Mr Seye Oladejo, made this remark in an interview.

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He was reacting to the defection of some aggrieved APC members to the PDP on Saturday.

“There is nothing that is going to happen that will change the fortune of the PDP. They have always lost, it is in their DNA. So, they will lose again.

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“So, they are moving to nothing, we will meet at the polls. I can assure you they would not even win a single ward in the state,” he said.

According to him, the aggrieved members’ movement to the PDP underscores their political naivety “for them to think they can bring any special fortune that is unknown and alien to our state”.

Oladejo said that the Lagos4Lagos Movement has just formalised its membership of the opposition party and that the ruling party would not miss the group.

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“They have always been in the opposition anyway. We have always believed that they were acting a script. There is a limit to hypocrisy which is not sustainable.

“No one plays opposition within the ruling party and hope to sustain that. So, it is a good thing that they have finally moved on.

“We are happy that in some of their interviews, they promised to resurrect a dead party. I believe resurrection is left for Almighty God.

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“It is good they are mixing and fraternising with the dead now, which is a good thing for them. For us, we are not going to miss them,” he said.

According to him, everyone knows that the group emerged from nowhere in recent times and they have never contributed anything to APC string of victories since the advent of democracy in the state.

On possible reconciliation with the group, Oladejo said that no one sent the aggrieved out of the party.

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“If they want to come back it is for them to make the move. It is a political party, we do not totally shut the door against any one.

“Hopefully, someday, they will see the light and know that Lagos has always been a progressive state and remains one. They can return.

“So, if they want to come back in the future, why not? Our doors remain permanently open to those who are ready to repent and see the light,” he added.

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On APC’s efforts to reconcile other aggrieved groups within the party like Conscience Forum, AAMCO group and the Democrats, Oladejo said that the reconciliation process in the party is open-ended.

According to him, anytime the party has issues, the party has internal mechanisms to reconcile aggrieved members or groups.

“Reconciliation becomes easy when people are ready to play by the rule but if your target really is all about ambition, then your ambition becomes difficult to achieve.

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“In our party, you earn the ticket to aspire to whatever office. It is not by arm twisting, blackmailing or causing needless trouble.”

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, met with the leaders of the aggrieved APC members on Saturday and wooed them into the PDP.

The declaration of the group’s defection is scheduled for Dec. 18.

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