• IPPIS October deadline: No pay, no work, union tells FG
The Academic Staff Union of Universities will on Monday (today) meet with the leadership of the National Assembly as part of its battle against the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
A source in the nation’s parliament confided in one of our correspondents that the meeting would be held behind closed doors today (Monday).
He said, “It has been confirmed that the ASUU leadership will meet the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday. The meeting will centre on the ongoing face-off between ASUU and the Federal Government over the IPPIS saga.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, had during the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, ordered that all public sector workers must register for the IPPIS to save cost and fight corruption by blocking leakages in the Federal Government’s salary payment structure.
But ASUU had last week opposed the President’s directive, saying the IPPIS negated the law on university autonomy.
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris, who faulted ASUU, said the union’s position was an open endorsement of corruption.
Also, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had on Thursday said no government agency must resist the payment system.
The Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Ola Awoniyi, on Sunday confirmed ASUU’s meeting with the National Assembly leadership.
He said the meeting would hold at 11am in his principal’s conference room.
Awoniyi in a WhatsApp message to one of our correspondents, wrote, “The Academic Staff Union of Universities will meet His Excellency, the Senate President, on Monday at Meeting Room 301 by 11am.”
When contacted, the ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, also confirmed the meeting, but declined to provide details of demands the union would table before the Senate President.
“The most important thing is that we are meeting tomorrow (Monday). We want to discuss the Nigerian education generally. All issues (including the IPPIS) will be touched. I think that is enough,” the ASUU president noted.
No pay, no work, union tells FG
But the South-West branch of the union on Sunday reiterated its opposition to the Federal Government’s move to enrol university lecturers in the IPPIS.
The ASUU leaders from the South-West during a press conference held at the University of Ibadan, described the IPPIS as “a one-size-fits-all approach tainted with corrupt tendencies.”
The ASUU position was made known by the Coordinator of the South-West, Prof. Ade Adejumo, who led the Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter, Prof Deji Omole, and its Investment Secretary, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, to address journalists at the ASUU Secretariat on the UI campus.
Adejumo was asked what would be the reaction of the union to the Federal Government’s statement that anyone who failed to register for the IPPIS by October 31 would not be paid, he said, “ASUU’s position has always remained no pay, no work.”
Adejumo berated the Accountant-General of the Federation for alleging that ASUU was encouraging corruption by its opposition to the IPPIS.
He said the IPPIS was rather capable of encouraging corruption, more so that its civil service nature negated the legal administration of universities.
Adejumo said, “Sequel to this fact of the peculiar nature of universities from the civil service, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, government had agreed to the autonomy of public universities in Nigeria and had signed into law the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act in 2003.
“The IPPIS clearly violates the law. The Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003, provides in Section 2AA unequivocally, as follows: ‘the power of the council shall be exercised, as in the laws and statutes of each university and to that extent, establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the laws and statutes of the university shall not apply to the universities.
“Inter alia, the 1992 Act establishing, for example, the Federal Universities of Agriculture Section 8 (1 and 4) provides; ‘Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the visitor, the council shall be the governing body of each university and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finance and property of the university. The council shall ensure that proper accounts of the university are kept and that the accounts of the university are audited annually by an independent firm of auditors approved by the council.’
“Our union has no reason to believe that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will flagrantly act against the law, which he vowed to uphold in his oath of office.”
While declaring that ASUU had aversion for corruption, Adejumo asked the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to name Nigeria’s corrupt public officials it recovered about N273bn from.
“Who were the culprits that have been sanctioned for such infractions?” he asked.
On the retirement schedule of academics which is 70 years for professors, the union stated that the IPPIS only recognised 60 years of age.
He stated, “The IPPIS is too rigid a platform that it discountenances the peculiarities of the university system in the sacred areas of replacement or recruitment of academics, mobility of academic staff for visiting, adjunct, part-time and sabbatical offers.
“Not only these, academics are chopped off the platform at the age of 60 thereby creating bottlenecks in the collection of salaries and emoluments because once the name of a worker is removed, such a victim will continue to frequent Abuja until it is rectified. The victim not only abandons his duty post, but faces the hazards on the Nigerian roads. The platform also does not capture the earned academic allowances and remunerations due to academics who retire before the age of 65.”
Adejumo also berated the Federal Government for failing to implement the 2009 agreement, stressing that the government had not released its report on the presidential audit visitation panel to universities.
He said vice-chancellors had been turned to “errand boys” of some assistant directors who summoned them to Abuja at will through text messages.
He said, “Our members are poised to pursue another patriotic struggle that will assert sanity in the university system and in the country at large. The tools of the struggle are now being primed and oiled, the union will have no blame when they begin to grind.”
IPPIS: Our fears – Gombe State varsity lecturers
Also, the Chairman of ASUU at the Gombe State University, Dr Oladimeji Lawal, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the IPPIS would duplicate the functions of universities’ governing councils.
He said the IPPIS model was developed in such a manner that anyone above 60 years of age would not receive salary.
He also said ASUU had a better alternative.
Lawal stated, “So, if you are brought into this net, automatically if you are 61, 62 years, you will not get paid because the system was programmed not to recognise any worker who is more than 60 years.
“Universities around the globe are created as ivory towers. This explains the autonomous status of institutions; their freedom, ability to operate in a manner in which universities operate elsewhere. The power to recruit staff, pay as and when necessary, to expand without being subjected to bureaucratic control which is typical of the civil service. Government seems to approach universities as one of its departments and agencies. We have a better model than the IPPIS.”
Lawal added that it was not true that the IPPIS would ensure accountability and transparency.
He wondered why federal and state governments had failed to constitute visitation panels in the public institutions.
He stated, “The fact that we say universities have autonomy does not mean that fraudulent activities can’t be prosecuted. In as much as the governing council has the right to supervise the running of these universities, the visitor has the authority from time to time to constitute a visitation panel, to overhaul whatever that must have happened in five years with a view to establishing whether things were rightly or wrongly done.”
UNILORIN VC knocks ASUU
But the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, knocked ASUU for rejecting the IPPIS.
The vice-chancellor, during a press conference in the university, supported the Federal Government on the IPPIS.
Abdulkareem said, “ASUU’s logic is not clear to me. I wonder why ASUU is taking a different position after attending a meeting with the representatives of all the five unions in the nation’s university system with the representatives of the Federal Government where they were adequately briefed on the new policy.
“I want to appeal to members of ASUU not to delay the October salary of the staff of federal universities with their action because the new system will not change their salaries. It is only the nomenclature that is changing.”
He explained that with the IPPIS, the Federal Government would maintain the payment of its employees’ salaries without cheating them.
The vice-chancellor stated, “What probably is the fear of many of the academic members of staff is that the system would expose them for not working for the money they earn in their primary place of engagement.”
We are in agreement with FG–OAU management
Although the Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, was not available for comment, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju, said from the available records, only ASUU among other unions in the university was opposed to the IPPIS.
Olanrewaju, who reacting on behalf of the authorities of the institution, said as far as the management was concerned, it was in agreement with the Federal Government on the issue.
Olanrewaju said, “We have different unions on the university and the only union that the Federal Government says is not cooperating is ASUU.
“So, I would have expected reactions from ASUU. It is purely a union matter and has nothing to do with the university. On the matter, we are in agreement with the Federal Government.”
ASUU faction takes stand today
However, a breakaway faction of ASUU, the Congress of University Academics, will make its position on the IPPIS known on Monday (today).
The National Legal Adviser of the union, Ayodeji Ige, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, said, “The decision will be taken tomorrow (today). A decision will be taken tomorrow and we will make it known to the media. The appropriate organs will address the press conference”.