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Of IPPIS, FG, ASUU And UTAS

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Sir: Before the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, about a week or so, Nigerian students in public higher schools had been at home due to ASUU’s strike. Several claims were made by the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU), which precipitated the lingering strike.

The Federal government and ASUU had been in serious roundtable discussion before the latter embarked on its warning which is still on. Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was the crux of the argument between both parties. 

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The system, as said by the federal government, was established mainly to enhance transparency and accountability in the payment of civil servants, including lecturers in Nigeria. In furtherance, the policy will also weed out various corrupt practices in the educational sector and open the door for employment. 

In response to that, ASUU rebuked the system and rather substituted it with University Accountability and Transparency Solution (UTAS). The union claimed, upon rejection, the introduction of IPPIS was mainly to topple up the autonomy of Nigeria federal universities, which violates the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003. Initially, the salaries of lecturers who failed to enroll in the scheme were withheld for months. Upon pressure, the federal government released funds for payment of their salaries. Up to date, both parties are still vying for survival. Between spaces of this battle, students suffer the most.

Although, those who neglected ASUU’s voice and succumbed to FG’s threat among the lecturers, regretted their action. Later, they bemoan the system. According to some victims, after enrolling in the scheme, they were later underpaid.

In the same vein, the association of Non-Academic Staff of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) had threatened to go for a temporary strike and withdraw from IPPIS after months of enrollment because of irregularities in the system. From the information gathered so far, civil servants have faulted the payroll platform and have no confidence in it. ASUU is not ready to go back in talks on IPPIS but rather on UTAS. Recently, ASUU said, the designed platform- UTAS is ready for integrity test.

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As was projected, UTAS is going to fish out corruption and enhance accountability and transparency in the payment of lecturers’ salaries. The federal government insists on the scheme as it attracts benefits and promotes development. But, how far has the government attended to the shortcomings in IPPIS? There are many questions on their table to answer. However, the federal government needs to honour the law of the land on the autonomy of Nigerian universities. So, there is a need for necessary consideration in this aspect. Since both sides want to progress and development for the nation, I see no reason why everything that will lead to success must not be done by both sides. There is a need for a mutual agreement with legal hands involving.

To ASUU, a record must be set straight. All terms cannot be met in a day. They shouldn’t expect to get their wants within jiffy minutes. If that should continue, the whole nation would paint them devil and enemy of progress. While it is important for the federal government to honour whatever agreement reached with ASUU so as to put end to strike in the nation’s educational system. Unfortunately, disrespecting their agreements that led to strike often has been tarnishing Nigeria’s image before other countries of the world.

They should also take with caring hands the educational sector and increase its annual budget so as to have a quality education with necessary infrastructures in our universities. Like two sides of a coin, some students blamed ASUU for hypocrisy, unpatriotic and huge demand. Whereas others faulted the federal government for reneging on promises always.

Abdulganiyu Abdulrahman Akanbi wrote from Sokoto.

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