• IPPIS is an illegality – Lecturers
• Civil servants rush to meet deadline
The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities were on the warpath on Wednesday over a presidential directive on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview with The PUNCH, restated the union’s opposition to the IPPIS.
Also, the union Chairman in the University of Ibadan, Prof Deji Omole, condemned the Federal Government for faulting ASUU’s position on the IPPIS.
Despite ASUU’s opposition, there were indications that the Federal Government would not extend the October 31 given by President Muhammadu Buhari for all civil servants to enrol in the scheme.
Buhari had, during the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, ordered the stoppage of payment of salaries of civil servants, who failed to register for the IPPIS by the end of October (this month).
According to the President, the directive is part of efforts to manage personnel cost to fight corruption and save billions of naira.
He had said, “I have directed the stoppage of the salary of any Federal Government civil servant that is not captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System platform by the end of October 2019.”
The IPPIS scheme, which was introduced in 2007, is one of the Federal Government’s initiatives designed to centralise payroll and payment systems, facilitate convenient staff remuneration with minimal wastage, aid manpower training and budgeting.
It also facilitates planning and monitoring monthly payment of staff emoluments against what was provided for in the budget. It also ensures database integrity; facilitates easy storage; updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processes.
ASUU poised for showdown with FG
ASUU berated the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.
ASUU, had on Monday, opposed the IPPIS, but Idris on Tuesday said the union’s position was an endorsement of corruption.
But the ASUU President, Ogunyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH said, “Our members are saying that they stand by their position. Our position is that IPPIS is against the principle of autonomy as established by law and to that extent, our members do not see any reason to enrol in the IPPIS.
“For now, nobody has called us for any negotiation. Our members will determine what we will do at the end of the day. I cannot tell this is what we will do or what we will not do. For now, we have not thought about the next line of action. But our members have not changed their position. If they do, we will let everyone know.”
The accountant-general of the federation had said university lecturers could not dictate to their employers, the Federal Government, how they should be paid.
ASUU knocks AGF over corruption allegation
The ASUU Chairman in the UI, Omole, asked the AGF to deal with corruption issues in his office rather than describe the union as endorsing corruption.
He challenged the Accountant-General to name the specific ministries where the IPPIS had saved N273bn for the Federal Government and how many persons had been prosecuted to show the government was serious about fighting corruption.
The ASUU chairman, who said this while addressing the congress of the union in Ibadan, stated the lecturers would never support corrupt practices.
He, however, said that ASUU would not allow the Federal Government to extort lecturers or make them vulnerable to corruption.
Omole stated that the introduction of Treasury Single Account into the university system had crippled operations as many departments could not buy a ream of paper due to paucity of funds.
The ASUU boss said despite signing a Memorandum of Action with the union in 2017 and 2019 to create separate interest-yielding accounts for university endowment funds, grants and other funds, nothing had been done to that effect, thereby making universities vulnerable.
He said, “The autonomy of the university is a legal issue and the Federal Government will not be allowed to trample upon it. The issues here are very clear as the forceful movement of university workers into the IPPIS is an act of illegality and ASUU, as a responsible union , will not fold its arms and allow the law to be broken by a mere pronouncement.
“The forceful imposition of IPPIS on university workers is a violation of the university autonomy act.
“It is, therefore illegal. While ASUU is not against accountability on the part of the university administrators, government should not be allowed to destroy public universities in its purported claims of fighting corruption.
“Our members should remain focus and committed in our struggles to protect public university education by resisting forceful imposition of the IPPIS on university workers.”
ASUU to write Buhari, considers court action
It was gathered that at its meeting on October 17, the union listed a court action as part of options to frustrate the implementation of the IPPIS in universities.
A source said before the court action, ASUU planned to write a letter to the President, through the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and demand audience with Buhari.
The source stated, “We also plan to write a letter to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and also have audience with them to brief them correctly on the situation.
“We will consider a court action seeking an injunction restraining the Federal Government from violating the law (on university autonomy) by imposing the IPPIS on our members.
“There will be national and zonal visitations to all our branches, sensitising and mobilising our members for an action in case our salaries are stopped.”
Further findings revealed that the ASUU members were adamant on the rejection of the IPPIS. A top ASUU official at the meeting, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “ It takes a minimum of 60 days for an enrollee to be paid after all the biometrics are done. This contradicts even the short notice given by the President to the civil servants.
“The IPPIS, which is an initiative of Mrs Okonjo Iweala, has its roots in the World Bank political tools used to further subjugate less-developed countries. This further generates crises in the various sectors of our nation.”
Fear grips civil servants, rush to meet IPPIS Oct deadline
The PUNCH’s correspondent, who visited the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja on Wednesday, observed that hundreds of workers waited for their turn at the corridor leading to the ministry’s IPPIS office.
Some of them lamented that they had been coming for revalidation and registration into the system for days but had yet to be registered because the process was slow.
They expressed the fear that they could be left out of October salary payment unless the IPPIS office in the ministry engaged more staff to attend to workers before Buhari’s deadline expired.
A worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “I have been coming here since last week but I have yet to be attended to. I left work in my office to do this and with the end of the month approaching, I may not collect salary according to the President’s directive.
“We need more staff at the IPPIS office so that more workers can be attended to within a short time than what we are currently witnessing.”
A female civil servant, who confided in The PUNCH, also said, “I got here at 8am, but I have not been attended to. It is 2pm now.”
Poly lecturers meet OAGF, consider IPPIS
In a related development, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has said it has met with the government and it is considering the enrolment of its members in the IPPIS.
The ASUP National President, Usman Dutse, stated this in Abuja on Wednesday after an emergency meeting with officials of the Accountant General of the Federation, adding that it would present the government’s position to its National Executive Council.
The ASUP had earlier on October 10 kicked against the IPPIS and issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address some of the issues in the scheme or risk an indefinite strike by its members nationwide.
The ASUP president on Wednesday, said, “Actually we just finished a meeting with the director of the IPPIS and his team. They came and made presentation that indicated a template that captured our fears.
“This is because in the series of meetings we had with them, we identified our peculiarities which needed to be addressed. In this meeting, we held, they made that presentation which indicated that they had captured those peculiarities.
“They promised that this arrangement would address all our fears. We believe that what they said is going to be implemented because that assurance was given.
“From now, we are going back to our congresses, to our national executive council meeting to present what we have received here, and it will guide our subsequent decisions and actions.
“Particularly, the issue of retirement age, 65 years, has been captured. The issue of our allowances also has been indicated. Others are the sabbatical, part-time visiting also and the payment of our promotion arrears.”
We will address your concerns under IPPIS, FG tells ASUP
But the accountant-general of the federation assured ASUP that all the issues peculiar to the polytechnic sector would be addressed in the IPPIS.
Idris, in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, urged the union to respect the directive of the President by taking advantage of the current mop-up window to enrol its members.
He said, “In compliance with the directive of Mr President, several meetings were held with the leaders of ASUP on the advantages of enroling in the IPPIS platform.
“All the issues that are of peculiarities to their sector such as sabbatical, visiting, peculiar allowances, and 65 years retirement age were addressed, likewise as it applies to other academic sectors.
“Currently, all other three unions in the polytechnics have joined the IPPIS and have been properly enrolled. We have assured and re-assured ASUP that all their genuine concerns will be properly addressed.”
Minimum wage to shoot up FG’s personnel cost by N611bn
Meanwhile, the consequential adjustment of civil servants’ salaries after the introduction of the N30,000 minimum wage will push up the personnel cost of the Federal Government by N611bn.
Investigation by one of our correspondents on Wednesday at the Ministry of Budget and National Planning revealed that already, the adjustment had been provided for by the government in the 2020 budget.
Findings showed that while personnel cost of ministries, departments and agencies of government would increase by N553.33bn from N2.28tn this year to N2.84tn in 2020, that of government owned enterprises is expected to rise by N58.3bn from N160.5bn to N218.5bn.
As of 2018, the Federal Government budget for personnel cost was N2.11tn, based on the budget document for that year.
After five months of disagreement, organized labour and the Federal Government during a meeting on Thursday last week, agreed on consequential adjustments of workers’ salaries.
According to a communiqué issued after the meeting, workers at grade level 7, will get 23.2 per cent, those at grade level 8, 20 per cent; grade levels 9, 19 per cent, grade level 10 to 14 is 16 per cent, and grade level 15 to 17, 14 per cent.
On Wednesday, it was learnt from ministry officials that the government had anticipated that some aspects of the new minimum wage would take effect this year and had provided an additional N170bn for its implementation in the 2019 budget.
The source said, “You will recall that the negotiations for the new minimum wage commenced last year. The government had anticipated that the implementation would commence this year and as such, the Budget Office had projected an increase of N170bn in personnel cost for this year to capture the wage adjustment.
“For the 2020 budget that was submitted to the National Assembly, the adjustment was captured by the government and a provision of over N550bn was added to what was budgeted for this year for MDAs. So the government is already taking steps to pay the money as indicated in the annual budget.”
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had during a consultation with stakeholders on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework said the 2020 to 2022 fiscal years would be challenging, particularly with respect to revenue generation and rapid growth in personnel costs.
Ahmed had attributed the growth in personnel cost to the creation of new ministries and appointment of additional ministers.
She however said that government was ready to take firm decisions in that regard.
To contain rising personnel cost, she disclosed that any government worker not captured in the IPPIS by October 2019 would not be paid.
She said from 2020, the budgets of all ministries, departments and agencies and Government Owned Enterprises would be contained and published in the nation’s annual budget.
The Federal Government had in June issued a circular where it warned Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to avoid inflating their personnel budget.
The government also issued a warning to chief executives of all agencies of government against the introduction of ghost workers in the personnel payroll, adding that such act would not be condoned.
The warning is contained in the 2020 Personnel Budget Call Circular with reference BD/2000/EXP/S.651.