A nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities is imminent in January with the failure of the Federal Government and the union to settle their disagreement on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System IPPIS the PUNCH has revealed.
While ASUU said it was still waiting for the National Assembly’s invitation as part of efforts to resolve the disagreement, a top officer of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said the regime’s decision on the IPPIS remained the same.
Following a directive by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation deployed the IPPIS officers to universities between October 25 and November 7.
The AGF office said that based on Buhari’s directive that all federal employees must enrol for the IPPIS, universities workers must make themselves available for the enrolment during the period.
But ASUU faulted the payroll system, saying it negated the principle of universities’ autonomy. It also directed its members to shun the registration for the IPPIS.
But the top officer, who said the position of the regime on the IPPIS had not changed, stated that those who failed to register for the payroll system would not receive their December salaries.
The officer said, “The government has been very clear that everyone must be on the IPPIS to be able to get salaries. So if you are not enrolled, how do you get paid?”
He, however, said the Presidency would take the final decision on the fate of those that had not been enrolled for the IPPIS.
90,000 workers in 43 universities enrolled for IPPIS
The officer said no fewer than 90,000 workers in about 43 universities had registered for the IPPIS. He said 8,000 out of the 90,000 universities’ workers were lecturers.
He stated, “The IPPIS officials have done the enrolment across the universities based on the window given for the exercise to be conducted and they are back to the office.
“So, we are reviewing the data and whatever action that is going to be taken will be from there. But what I can tell you is that we have over 90,000 university workers on the IPPIS.
IPPIS registration in varsities succeeded – Officer
“So, if we have over 90,000 that enrolled, it shows that it is good enough. And out of this figure, we have quite a number of academic staff. We have over 8,000 from academic staff that have enrolled.
“So, definitely, we had a very good outing because over 90,000 were enrolled during the period and people are still calling to be enrolled.
‘ASUU members who want to enrol should come to Abuja’
He said those who failed to register when the IPPIS officers went to universities should come to Abuja, if they were interested.
He stated, “If they want to enrol, they should come here (Abuja) and we will enrol them. If you give people opportunity to enrol and they wasted it, we can’t go to their houses to enrol them.”
“The IPPIS is a presidential directive and for now, it is the Presidency that will determine what will be their (ASUU’s) fate.”
We are set for strike, if our members’ salaries are stopped – ASUU
On Wednesday, when asked what it would do if the Federal Government failed to pay the December salaries of lecturers that failed to register, the President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union still stood by the decision of its National Executive Committee meeting in Minna, Niger State.
After meeting in Minna on Wednesday last week, ASUU had threatened that its members would go on strike if the Federal Government stopped their salaries.
Ogunyemi had said, “As resolved at the ASUU-NEC meeting at FUT Minna, should the Accountant-General make bold his threat of stopping the salaries of our members, the union shall activate its standing resolution of “No Pay, No Work.”
“NEC did not only reiterate its unequivocal rejection of IPPIS as an ill-wind that will blow the Nigerian University system no good, it also resolved that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and outright misinformation of the Nigerian public will make ASUU lose focus on its historic role as the conscience of the university system.”
ASUU awaits N’Assembly invitation
On Wednesday, ASUU said it was waiting for an invitation from the National Assembly, especially the Senate, so that it could demonstrate the alternative model it developed to the IPPIS.
The ASUU said that the alternative model, University Transparency and Accountability Solution, was ready and its team of experts would display it to the government once the National Assembly invited the union.
Ogunyemi, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, stated that the UTAS was ready but the union needed the support of the government which would in turn give a directive to the authorities of universities.
He said, “Well, we are expecting to hear from the National Assembly but we have not heard from them. The last time we met them, we told them about that proposal and we said that our team had started working on it. So, we went back to meet representatives of the National Assembly after that and we told them that we were 33 per cent ready as of that time. But we have gone beyond that.
“Now we are moving towards a stage where we will need the consent of the universities and that is why what we have been saying is that the government should agree with us that we would go further with that alternative.”
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, had at the meeting with ASUU on October 28 appealed to the union not to go on strike over the IPPIS, but the union had told Lawan that it was developing an alternative model to the IPPIS.
The union, after the NEC meeting on Wednesday last week, had said the UTAS was designed by a team of crack software engineers, who are based in the Nigerian universities.
The union argued that unlike IPPIS, UTAS would address the uniqueness of the university system, particularly the flexibility of the payroll and personnel management.
The IPPIS platform is an integral part of the Federal Government’s public finance reform initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of government payroll.
Senate keeps mum on ASUU claims on IPPIS
The Senate on Wednesday kept mum on the claims by ASUU that the red chamber had not invited its leadership for another meeting after their first engagement some weeks ago.
Several calls made to the mobile of the Senate spokesperson, Godiya Akwashiki, were not responded to on Wednesday evening.
Akwashiki had also, yet to reply a text message sent to him as of the time of filing this report.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Senator Ahmad Kaita, had yet to reply a text message sent to him after efforts to reach him on the phone failed.