The Big 5: Amnesty International is damaging the morale of our troops – Buhari; Ekiti can’t afford a cabinet now – Fayemi | Other top stories

These are the stories that drove the conversation today:

The scheduled reconciliation meeting between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government over the ongoing strike by university lectures has been adjourned indefinitely after its two-hour meeting with government late Monday ended without any agreement.

While the ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, and his team refused to speak with newsmen after the meeting asking journalists to “go and ask the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige,” in what appeared like a walk out by the union, Ngige says there is no dissatisfaction by the union as “we have already agreed on implementation and we have given ourselves some work plan.”

“So we are going to give ourselves some days for it to be done and to see whether we can accomplish them before Christmas,” he said. “So that for students who are home, will have some hope of resuming in January and those who have missed their exams this time will also have hope for first week in January,” he added.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the operations of the Amnesty International (AI) in Nigeria and the role of the organisation in the war against terrorism, appear to be dampening the the morale of the Nigerian military.

In a statement by presidential media aide, Garba Shehu, President Buhari who expressed worry that “the obvious bias and inaccuracies in Amnesty International’s recent country reports on Nigeria risk Amnesty’s reputation as an impartial international organisation,” appealed to the leadership of the international organisation to scrutinise its advocacy, especially as it relates to the war against terrorism.”

“The Federal Government is increasingly concerned about the role that Amnesty International is playing in the war against terror in Nigeria. “It often appears as if the Nigerian government is fighting two wars on terror: against Boko Haram and against Amnesty International,” the statement added.

Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti on Monday attributed the sorry state of finances on ground on his assumption of office for the delay in putting up a cabinet two months after being sworn-in.

Addressing a news conference in Ado Ekiti, the governor expressed worries over how former Governor Ayodele Fayose who owed between four and eight months salary and pension arrears at the time he left office, could not defray the backlog of workers’ benefit with the N18b Paris Club Refund to Ekiti.

“I decided to delay appointment of politicians to government to enable me pay workers’ salaries. “I don’t want to do media trial for anyone, so I have hired the services of a renowned audit firm to look into our finances, and the forensic state’s accounts will then be published during our 100 days in office in Jan. 2019,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that only the Secretary to Government (SSG), Chief of Staff (COS), Acting Head of Service (HOS), Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, as well as Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor, among few others had been appointed.

The Leadership of the National Assembly on Monday directed the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure adequate security within the vicinity of the National Assembly for Tuesday’s plenary. in order to prepare the ground for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday to present the budget proposal to the joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

According to statement by the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Sanni Omolori, the political leadership urged the security agencies to take charge so that “Senators and members of the House of Representatives, their aides, other workers and people who have legitimate business within the National Assembly Complex are therefore advised to come in as they will be free to operate without any hindrance and molestation.”

“They must enforce the laws which allow the striking workers to down tools if they choose to and also the ones which restrain them from disturbing those who choose to work or stop parliamentarians from entering the chambers or their offices to do the work for which they were elected,” the statement read.

President Muhammadu Buhari has again restated his commitment to ensure a level playing field for all contestants in the 2019 general elections, assuring that he had also directed the heads of all security agencies to be professional in their work.

The president who disclosed this on Monday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja when he received a delegation from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), USA who are in Nigeria to assess pre-election preparations, stressed that he knows what it is to be cheated at the polls as he alleged that in past elections when he contested before he won eventually in 2015, votes were “awarded” to the winners to deny him victory.

“Having run for President three times, ending up at the Supreme Court all three times, before God and technology made a way for me the fourth time, I know what it is to be cheated at the polls. “What they used to do was just to award votes and tell anyone who was dissatisfied to go to court. But we won’t do that. I am prepared to give the opposition the opportunities I was not given in the past,” he said.

And stories from around the world:

Turkey may launch a new military operation in northern Syria at any moment, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, adding that US President Donald Trump had given a positive response to Turkey‘s plans. (Al Jazeera)

President Xi Jinping vowed Tuesday to push ahead with China’s “reform and opening up” but warned that no one can “dictate” what it does, as the Communist Party celebrated the policy’s 40th anniversary. (AFP)

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday she would bring her Brexit deal back to parliament for a mid-January vote, pledging to get assurances from the European Union before then to break a deadlock over Britain’s fraught efforts to quit the bloc. (Reuters)

Meanwhile, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn on Monday tabled a motion of no confidence in Theresa May, after she said MPs would not vote on her Brexit deal until the week of 14 January, as he said it was unacceptable for MPs to wait a month to vote, adding the PM had led the UK into a “national crisis.” (BBC)

The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks U.N. chief António Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor a ceasefire agreed by Yemen’s warring parties for the key port city of Hodeidah, diplomats said on Monday. (Reuters)

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