Regular threats to stop salaries won’t change our stance on IPPIS, says ASUU
This is the second time the Federal Government is creating unnecessary tension in the country with its blank threat of stopping salaries of members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who refused to enrol on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The threats, which is often greeted with ASUU’s insistence and yet another counter threat to shut down the university system always hits up the polity, thereby, creating panic among undergraduates and their parents.
The leadership of the union as well as various branch chairmen told The Guardian that government’s constant threat to withhold salaries of members would not scare them.
Last December, the FG threatened to stop payment of salaries to ASUU members who refused to enrol on IPPIS, only for the union to acknowledge receipt of their wages by the end of the month.Just recently, the news of yet another circular from the Director of IPPIS in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Joshua Olufehinti, with reference number OAGF/IPPIS/19/11/54, broke out.
According to reports, the memo was sent to the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, requesting the stoppage of the release of funds for January salaries to federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, particularly to workers who are yet to be registered on the scheme.
This brought about great panic among Nigerian students with stakeholders and parents appealing to the warring parties not to do anything that will bring harm to the students and the university education as well.But ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in a chat with The Guardian said the union is fighting for the wellbeing of public education, saying both the students and the society will benefit in the long run.
“The struggle is not just about lecturers, it is also about our students, the Nigerian University System and the future of Nigeria in general. The IPPIS officials have said the system has no room for visiting, part-time, adjunct and contract lecturers. They said vice-chancellors should pay this category of academics who are not on pensionable appointment from the internally generated revenue (IGR). However, there is no way the so-called IGR could solve the problem, except the VCs resort to charging fees or increasing current charges.
“Imagine a government that gives less than what the universities need to run their generators, supply water, clean the campuses, and take other recurring expenses being directed to look inward! It means IPPIS would pass the burden of paying staff who are not covered by IPPIS to our students and their parents. It was to prevent this that ASUU has been insisting that the flexibility required by university payroll system is a critical element of its peculiarities. Many universities, especially the newly established ones, depend on contract staff to develop and strengthen their programmes and train young academics.
He continued: “There are also situations in which scholars are invited from other universities abroad to assist some other universities for one year or two. But IPPIS does not have provision for that. This means that the system has shut the door against foreign scholars, including academic diaspora, whose contributions have made significant impact to some of our universities in recent years. Nigerians should not allow IPPIS to take our universities back many years we have left behind. Otherwise our universities would be localised in an age of internationalisation.
“So, Nigerians should hold government responsible for whatever consequences that follow the stoppage of our members’ salaries and failure to address our earlier demands. These other demands are captured in the FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action of 7th February 2019. Our members have taken their resolution on what they would do and there is no going back.
On what government is saying about their proposal on University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which is said to be a good alternative to IPPIS, Ogunyemi said: “ASUU has not been given the opportunity to discuss details about the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). During our visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on 9th January, he passed the documents on our demands to the Education Minister and told him that he had a lot of work to do.
“Our expectation was that the Minister of Education would become the rallying point for addressing the issue of IPPIS as well as other issues that were outstanding from the FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action of 7th February, 2019. We expected others in government, including Minister of Finance and Accountant-General to cooperate with the Education Minister to address the issues, not to compound them. So, the way to go is to return to where we stopped during our visit to the State House on 9th January.”
Also, Chairman of ASUU, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) chapter, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, lamented insincerity on the part of government ever since the IPPIS controversy begun, adding that regular threats wont deter them.
“Let me start by saying that the individuals at the helm of affairs are very insincere, serial liars and living with incurable insensitivity. We have been on this matter since around 2013 and ASUU has made several presentations on how IPPIS violated the law that establishes the university. But apparently, the ministries in charge of managing the funds of the nation have selfishly shielded Mr. President from knowing the true state of things in this nation.
“ASUU will not chicken out on this matter until the university system is saved and safe. We would have believed there are other ways of resolving matters, especially IPPIS, but the events of past years have shown that government is never sincere. They have always failed to listen to voice of reason. Now they are at it again and we will not allow them trample on the autonomy of the university.
He continued: “Nevertheless, if the university lecturers should go on strike, the government of Nigeria should be held responsible. Remember we met with the Mr. President and he had given assignment to the minister of Education on the issues raised by ASUU. We believe we are still negotiating with the government and thus all actions should be put on hold on IPPIS.”
He also confirmed that contrary to the news on social media and the circular that went viral, “many universities have paid January 2020 salary using GIFMIS.”
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