Big Education Politics

Strike: Govt Grants ASUU More Concessions On IPPIS

Strike: Govt Grants ASUU More Concessions On IPPIS

The Nigerian government has offered to accommodate identified peculiarities of university workers on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the payment platform for entitlements of the government employees.

Grants ASUU More Concessions
Grants ASUU More Concessions

ASUU has, however, said based on the university autonomy law, it rejected payment of salaries through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

This commitment was made by the Acting Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Okolieaboh Sylva, at a meeting of relevant parties involved in the lingering crisis between the government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities.

The meeting, which held on Thursday, was facilitated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Also at the meeting were other heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government including the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa; Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, and the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan.

The new development may have foreclosed the possibility of the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) developed and proposed to the government by ASUU.

ASUU’s non-academic counterparts- Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and other Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have also presented another alternative, which it tagged University Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (U3PS).

Grants ASUU More Concessions

Adoption of UTAS is one of the conditions ASUU said must be met by the federal government before the ongoing more than seven-month-old strike by the union could be suspended.

But the acting AGF said adoption of UTAS as insisted by ASUU would only open floodgate of similar requests by other agencies and departments of government.

Govt’s position
Mr Sylva said rather than having multiple payment platforms the government is willing to identify the peculiarities of universities including the allowances due the academic staff and accommodate them in the IPPIS.

He said the adoption of more than one payment platform by the government will lead to additional costs.

Mr Sylva added that by accepting UTAS, the government risks getting demands from other MDAs to opt out of the platform.

“Let us sit down and know what these issues are and address them inside IPPIS. We can correct whatever mistake we make now, ” he said.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

“If we accept what ASUU is saying, it will create room for everyone to be asking for their own payment platform, the military is on IPPIS and health workers, ASUU should sit down with us and see the progress we have made.”

He said his office is willing to adopt the peculiarities to resolve the lingering dispute with ASUU. “Let ASUU come to us, we are willing to accept. If we are going to adopt UTAS, that shows we are going to build the salaries of other civil servants to UTAS.”

ASUU rejects offer
However, ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said this was not the first time the government was making a promise of looking into the issues and yet failed.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

Quoting the University Miscellaneous Act, ASUU insisted on the autonomy of the university and rejected payment of salaries through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

Mr Osodeke also queried NITDA’s refusal to make available the report of the last test conducted on UTAS. He insisted that the report must be made available for the union to study.

He said: “We have two options. Use the one we have developed. Is there any other country in the world where the salaries of universities are paid by the office of accountant general? No country in the world will harvest the data of their university lecturers and give it to a foreign company.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

“The Nigerian people have a law that says that the universities are autonomous. What we want is real accountability. Allow the universities to operate on the basis of the laws of the country.

“Circulars should not dictate what goes on in the university system. It’s this perception that the universities are corrupt and cannot manage themselves that has put us into this problem.

“Until we see the report and our committee goes through it, we cannot talk. Why did you send the first two to us and refused to send the last one?,” Mr Osedeke queried NITDA.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

Govt’s earlier offers
The government had, in the past, agreed to increase the salaries of all university workers by 23.5 per cent and 35 per cent for professors.

But ASUU rejected the increase, saying it is way below the recommendations in the renegotiation committee headed by an emeritus professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Nimi Briggs.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

The committee was constituted by the government to renegotiate the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement after the report of a similar committee set up by the government was not adopted.

Meanwhile, the government has also promised to capture N170 billion for revitalisation and N50 billion for Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) in the 2023 budget and release the funds in 2023.

But ASUU has also rejected the offer.

Gbajabiamila appeals to ASUU
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has appealed to the lecturers’ union to suspend the strike for the sake of the students.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

He also promised to see to the implementation of the outcome of meetings between the lecturers’ union and government MDAs, assuring that the parliament would be a witness to the agreements.

Mr Gbajabiamilla noted that all the agreements he had with the union in his last meeting are still intact.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

He, therefore, appealed to ASUU to cooperate with the MDAs in deciding on the preferred payment platforms.

He also appointed the Chairman, House Community on Education to be a part of the tripartite meeting.

“I am happy for the solution on the issue of UTAS. It is no victor, no vanquish: everybody is carried along. And if it is possible to accommodate everything that ASUU wants in UTAS, for me, that is the best way to go,” he said.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

He added that the report of the meeting will be ready in days for onward transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “Let me just say I believe this would be, hopefully, the last meeting we are going to have on this matter, because from here the leadership of the House will put together our reports, our recommendations and our thoughts, and take it to Mr President.

I am hoping that with whatever we have done, ASUU will at least – this is an independent arm of the government – accept in good faith and, hopefully, the government too will accept in good faith so that our children can go back to school and that is what this is all about.”

Grants ASUU More Concessions

Background
Three Weeks ago, after the labour and employment minister referred the dispute between the government and ASUU to the industrial court.

ASUU is demanding the implementation of the several agreements it has had with the government.

The agreements contained better conditions of service for Nigerian academics, better funding for the university system and the exemption of universities from the IPPIS payment platform.

Grants ASUU More Concessions

Last week, the National Industrial Court (NIC) ordered ASUU to suspend the strike when it granted an interlocutory injunction filed by the government.

While ASUU has appealed the court order and applied for a stay of execution, talks have continued with the leadership of the House of Representatives and other key parties.

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