Former VCs back FG on IPPIS, say varsities not truly autonomous
Amid opposition by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) against its enrolment into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPISI former vice chancellors have given a tacit endorsement to the scheme saying since universities are not truly autonomous and are already under the treasury single account (TSA), the proposition by the Federal Government is in order.
However, they cautioned that given the peculiarities of the university system, the IPPIS must be ‘customised’ to suit the institutions.Former vice chancellor, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof Gbenro Jegede as well as his University of Lagos (UNILAG) counterpart, Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe maintained that as long as the Federal Government continues to pay the bills of the universities, it is right to enrol ASUU members in the new scheme.For Prof Jegede, while ASUU might be right from the point of view of autonomy, the question is whether the universities are completely autonomous.
“If the university is autonomous in many respects, is it autonomous of the person that pays the bills? So if government continues to pay the bills of the universities, then I think there is a need to take another look at it. If government is paying, it needs to know how many people were paid salaries, and how much were paid them. I don’t think that the government has put its foot in the wrong place, as they say, he who pays the piper, dictates the tune.”
“While ASUU might be right in saying we are supposed to be autonomous, I think we need to look into the actual definition as well as the implementation of that autonomy. Are we 100 per cent autonomous or in which respect are we autonomous? If we go to government for salaries and through TETFund for support of infrastructural development, then in what respect do we say that we are autonomous?
“If government is saying all organisations under it must come under a particular umbrella of payment in order to be transparent, and to be sure they know what they are doing with regard to salary, if all other organisations are dong that, we need to take another look at the argument why universities must not be part of this.
The former vice chancellor reminded that since government has implemented the TSA without any objection from any group or organisation including ASUU, the opposition against IPPIS enrolment is uncalled for.He said, “Every Federal Government organisation has come under the TSA, I’m not sure if anybody argued on the basis of autonomy on why they must not be within the TSA. Maybe the argument should have started from refusing to be under the scheme, once you are under the TSA, the next thing that follows you cannot t avoid it.”
However, Jegede suggested that the scheme should be periodically reviewed for the universities as they grow.There should be that flexibility to audit whatever that needs to be done. Besides, we all know the special case of universities; people must go on sabbatical, conferences, study leave among others. You cannot therefore use the same format being used for other organisations for the universities, there should be some variants for each of the different situations so universities are different, if they must come under tis system, it must be customized to suit the system.
Prof Ibidapo-Obe who also supported the enrolment of ASUU into IPPIS however stated that there should be an interim arrangement that allows IPPIS to run with some modifications, to satisfy the unique roles of universities.“There has to be a situation whereby we can understand the system much better, government should realise that it cannot treat universities as the civil service because there are very little flexibilities in the civil service but the essence of the university is actually the flexibility and ability to do things as convenient to the administration. Government should set up a team to ensure that some of these little things are minimised.
“When you go to these institutions, you will see the massive presence of TETFund, really it boils down to the fact that the universities are not really autonomous. It is the government that does capital projects, salaries, maintenance and others.
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