‘ASUU fighting against localisation’
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has debunked claims that lectures are enrolling for the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) describing the Federal Government’s claim as mere propaganda.
National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi who accused the government of sponsoring crisis in the union said ASUU is proposing an alternative to IPPIS, to be used for universities.
Ogunyemi said, “The university system will progress if they are not caged under such routine procedures as to how they should get paid, delay in payments and clarifications of payment details. Many of the civil servants who have enrolled for IPPIS, have had too many clarification problems, those in teaching hospitals, in Maiduguri, Sokoto, Kano, and Port Harcourt have had to converge on Abuja to correct payment errors. These persons were also our members but they were provided no option, so they made do with that.
“We need to draw a line of distinction between what is possible in people’s habit and what is not workable in academics as they do not operate the same structure. We thought we had been taken out of the civil service when we heard of the autonomy act. As I said earlier, the governing council was in charge of everything that concerns the universities until the military proscribed the council and the university officials had to be under the civil service, which began to dictate when the officials were supposed to get their salaries.
“We have heard comments that Nigerian universities are not recognised globally, with IPPIS, Nigerian universities will continue to diminish. As a new recruit in the university environment, enrolling for IPPIS is as good as not having your three months’ salary paid. We have told the government that the university has an in-built mechanism for accountability; the only thing missing is enforcement. As stated in our advertorial, there are three layers to ensuring accountability. They are the internal audit, external audit and the visitation panel, that will help cover the loopholes of the internal and external auditors.
Ogunyemi added, “They have said severally that the union has been concealing corruption but we (ASUU) have been the ones calling for a visitation panel and have written petitions to the government to investigate vice-chancellors who were not working in line with the provisions of law but there were no responses from them.
The ASUU chief explained that the union’s opposition to the IPPIS enrolment was to prevent the localisation of the nation’s universities in the age of internationalisation.
“As a part of the global university systems, we will not encourage this process. No institution outside has recorded payments of university officials by the civil service. We are currently working on the alternative, we have assured the National Assembly that we have gone more than 33 per cent and would need more time to have it fully perfected and we have been encouraged to carry on with it. We told the government that if the union is allowed the opportunity to carry on with what has been proposed, there will still be enough room to combat corruption.
In the same vein, former vice chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba (AAUA), Prof Femi Mimiko has called on the Federal Government to exercise caution over the enrolment of university teachers into the IPPIS scheme, warning that to force universities into the civil service structure is tantamount to stultifying them.
Mimiko argued that the inclusion of universities would create more problems for the nation than government seeks to stop “by this seeming determination to railroad academics into the IPPIS structure”.
“There are existing Acts and laws that have accorded universities a modicum of autonomy. We should seek to deepen all of those, to greater ends, rather than throw them overboard with this new policy.
Universities everywhere are a unique construct that you cannot subject to the straight jacket of the civil service. Universities thrive on innovation, and challenge of all orthodoxies and assumptions, which are the hallmarks of creativity, and knowledge production. And since the government’s own concern seems to be on transparency, the simple solution is, get the universities to further strengthen the levers of internal control and accountability.
“To force universities into the civil service structure is tantamount to stultifying them. The issues involved here are too important to the very character and essence of the university system to be made the subject of ego trip and collision between ASUU and government. I urge restraint,” the former vice-chancellor added.
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