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US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, arrives South Africa in first leg of African tour

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The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on Sunday, arrived in South Africa as he begins his three-nation tour of Africa.

Blinken’s African tour following recent visits to the continent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and French President Emmanuel Macron, is seen by many as part of competition between Russia and Western powers to curry support from African countries over the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The other African countries on Blinken’s itinerary include Congo and Rwanda where he will round up his international tour which also took him to Cambodia and the Philippines.

On arrival in South Africa, Blinken visited the famous Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto township, which commemorates a student killed in 1976 when protesting South Africa’s apartheid regime which ended in 1994.

On Monday, Blinken is scheduled to give a major policy speech at the University of Pretoria where he is expected to describe the United States’ strategies for sub-Saharan Africa.

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Complying with court order, CSU releases Tinubu’s records to Atiku. Here are the key details

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After a long-drawn battle, the
Chicago State University (CSU) has finally released the academic records of President Bola Tinubu to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, following an order by a United States District Court in Northern District of Illinois.

The CSU, which released the documents to Atiku, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the disputed February 25 presidential election in Nigeria, also affirmed that Tinubu graduated in 1979 with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.

The institution said that after diligent search, it was able to find some documents Atiku had requested for but could not give specific names because of privacy concerns.

It further said that it could not find the particular documents of Tinubu which Atiku claimed were presented by the president to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but said the university found some diploma certificates with the same font as the one being queried by Atiku.

“CSU does not, in the ordinary course, keep copies of student diplomas, and after the diligent search cannot locate a copy of the original diploma it prepared for Mr Tinubu in 1979, hence, has no documents responsive to this request,” the varsity said in a statement.

The CSU documents which were released late Monday, was in response to Atiku’s four requests which included a request for “a true and correct copy of any diploma issued by CSU in 1979 to Mr Tinubu.”

The release of Tinubu’s academic records by CSU was in compliance with the the district judge’s dismissal of the president’s motion of objection filed last week by his lawyers.

In ruling in favour of Atiku, the judge, Nancy Maldonado, had given the CSU till Tuesday to release the records.

“For the foregoing reasons, the court overrules President Tinubu’s objections to Magistrate Judge Gilbert’s recommended ruling, and therefore, adopts the ruling in full,” Maldonado had said.

“Mr Atiku’s Application is, therefore, granted. In light of the pending Supreme Court of Nigeria deadline, represented to the court as October 5, 2023, and based on CSU’s representations that it is ready to comply with the discovery requests and produce a witness, the court sets an expedited schedule for completion of discovery.

“Respondent CSU is directed to produce all relevant and non-privileged documents in response to Requests for Production Nos. The Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of CSU’s corporate designee must be completed by 5:00 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. Given the October 5, 2023, filing deadline before the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the court will not extend or modify these deadlines,” the ruling added.

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Again, Nigeria’s labour unions suspend strike

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Nigeria’s organized labour, comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has once again suspended the indefinite nationwide strike that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, October 3rd, by 30 days.

The leadership of the two unions, which announced the suspension of the strike at the end of a marathon meeting with representatives the Federal Government in Abuja on Monday night, said the decision to suspend the indefinite strike, which was aimed at protesting the hardship of Nigerians as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government, was due to some agreements reached with the government.

The unions had held a meeting with government on Sunday night and promised to present a fresh list of offers from the federal government to their various organs before taking a final position on the strike.

The Sunday meeting had seen the government resolve to waive the Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel for six months, as well as fast-track the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to address the cost of transportation arising from the removal of fuel subsidy, among other measures.

At the Monday night meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, General Secretary, Emmanuel Ugboaja, as well as the TUC President, Festus Osifo, and Secretary General, Nuhu Toro.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Dr. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, and Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, appended the document on behalf of the federal government.

Announcing the outcome of the meeting, Lalong said:

“The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.”

According to the terms of the agreement, the government agreed to grant a wage award of N35,000 only to all federal government workers beginning from the month of September, pending when a new national minimum wage is signed into law.

Parts of the agreement read:

“The NLC and TUC accept to suspend for 30 days the planned Indefinite Nationwide strike scheduled to begin, Tuesday, the 3rd of October, 2023.

“The Federal Government grants a wage award of N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) only to all Federal Government workers beginning from the month of September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.

“A minimum wage committee shall be inaugurated within one month from the date of this agreement.

“Federal Government accepts to vote N100 billion for the provision of high capacity CNG buses for mass transit in Nigeria. Provisions are also being made for initial 55,000 CNG conversion kits to kick start an auto gas conversion programme, whilst work is ongoing on state-of-the-art CNG stations nationwide.

“The rollout aims to commence by November with pilots across 10 campuses nationwide.

“The Federal Government should urge state governments through the National Economic Council and Governors Forum to implement wage award for their workers.

“Similar consideration should also be given to local government and private sector workers.  A joint visitation will be made to the refineries to ascertain their rehabilitation status.”

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