Our Universities CAN’T Join IPPIS Strike – State Govts

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Oyo, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, and Cross Rivers state governments have said lecturers of their state universities cannot join the planned strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System.

State governments, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Monday, said the IPPIS issue was purely a matter  between the Federal Government and lecturers in its universities.

They said state university lecturers should not subject their students to hardship by   dabbling in an issue between the Federal Government and its employees.

Our Universities CAN'T Join Asuu Ippis Strike – State Govts
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi

It was reported on Monday that ASUU had directed its members to begin a strike action immediately the Federal Government failed to pay their January salaries.

The Accountant General of the Federation, Hammed Idris, had in a letter last week, asked the Ministry of Finance not to release January salaries to universities. He said payment of the salaries would be made through the IPPIS platform.

Following a directive by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), Idris between October 25 and November 7 last year, deployed the IPPIS officials to federal universities and directed all workers in the institutions to enroll for the IPPIS.

But ASUU opposed the directive on the grounds that the IPPIS negated autonomy of the universities.

Both the FG and ASUU failed to resolve their differences when the union met the President three weeks ago, as Buhari advised the lecturers to enroll for the IPPIS.

ALSO READ: Proceed on Strike Immediately Your Salary Is Stopped – ASUU to Lecturers

ASUU, in some universities, including the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, and the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, on Sunday said that they would obey the directive of their headquarters on the IPPIS strike.

But the  Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology, Professor Dahud  Sangodoyin,  said there was no basis for state university lecturers to join the ASUU strike on the IPPIS. The commissioner said state and the federal university lecturers were under different employers.

He asked, “If you say somebody wants to do something that would be the grounds for doing it? In some climes, you don’t go on strike without going to an arbitration court, but in Nigeria, you don’t have that style. If you want to go on strike you must have a purpose for doing that.

“I am not of the school of thought that you just go on strike without any reason, just because you want to do it. The federal universities have their own grounds. Are they the same as state universities? Of course, not. We have many variables that are not comparable. They don’t have the same salary scale to start with; they are not on the same allowances and not in the same category of salaries and emoluments.”

The commissioner disclosed that the state paid the salaries of its higher institutions’ staff on Friday. He stated, “We should really be reasonable in this country. It is not everything that you embark on strike for. By going on strike you are destroying other people’s lives. By going on strike, you are destroying our future generation.”

On his part, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Education, Prof Nse Essien,  said that the plan by lecturers in state universities to join ASUU on the IPPIS strike was not the right thing to do.

He said, “I am not aware of the plan by the lecturers to join the IPPIS strike. I also don’t think that it is the right thing to do.”

Also,  the Cross River State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Asu Okang, advised ASUU in the Cross River University of Technology not to join the IPPIS strike.

He stated, “They should also know that they are (CRUTECH ASUU) a state-owned university and our children must not be allowed to suffer. The issue of IPPIS is not part of our problems right now. It is not a state problem.”

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government expressed confidence that ASUU members in TASUED and the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, would not join the strike in solidarity over IPPIS.

The Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Kunle Somorin, in an interview, said the cordial relationship between the government and the workers in the universities would not make them join the strike.

But  ASUU in the OOU  said it was ready to join other branches in other universities on the IPPIS strike. The Chairman ASUU OOU, Dr. Joel Okewale, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We don’t have Federal Government ASUU. We have only one ASUU. We have not been operating in isolation.

“The NEC will direct us and for that to take place, there will be an NEC meeting even if it is an emergency.  Until that is done,  we cannot say whether we will join the strike or not. The issue  will be brought to the table and we will  look at its  merit and demerit.”

In Enugu State, the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chidi Aroh said that ASUU in the state University of Science and Technology had not notified it that it would join the ASUU national strike.

The Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State chapter of ASUU, said it would join the strike on the controversial IPPIS if the national body of the union declared the industrial action.

The Chairman of the union, Dr. Simon Erhiabi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “This is a union matter, if the strike is declared, we will join the strike; we don’t have an option. Our national body is our parents and if they declare strike we will join.”

But the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi, said ASUU would not win the fight being declared against the Federal Government on the IPPIS.

Ogunlesi said it was better for ASUU to re-channel the energy being dissipated on a losing battle to a push for improved research and teaching efforts in universities.

He said the government would not be moved by the union’s opposition to IPPIS which he said had come to stay.

The President’s aide made his position known in a message he posted on his Twitter handle, @toluogunlesi. He wrote, “ASUU cannot win this fight against public finance accountability (embodied by IPPIS).  IPPIS is here to stay, @NigeriaGov will not be moved.

“The energy spent fighting a losing battle would be better deployed into the push for improved research and teaching efforts in universities. (It is) important to realise the battles that cannot be won (because they must not be won).”

Olalekan Adetayo, Wale Oyewale, Daud Olatunji, Rapael Ede, Patrick Odey, Peter Dada and Ada Wodu Credit: punchng.com

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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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