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By Tony Afejuku
13 December 2019   |   3:58 am
Many of us who are addicts of newspapers must be no strangers to the combat between ASUU (Academic Staff of Universities) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) over the Integrated Personnel Payroll...

Many of us who are addicts of newspapers must be no strangers to the combat between ASUU (Academic Staff of Universities) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) over the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) which the Federal Government is introducing in our federal universities. The office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) insists that our federal universities comply with the directive of our president and key into IPPIS which will plug all leaking holes and avenues of bad money in every establishment in the civil service and beyond. But ASUU is not buying the line of argument of the Federal Government as advanced by the Accountant General of the Federation and other sundry officials of the central government. ASUU is ready to do that which is right on this matter and has rightly argued that it has an alternative proposal to IPPIS. In fact, ASUU has met with our central government’s officials at different times to advance its position. And one key point ASUU has made is that IPPIS is not an antidote to corruption as the office of the AGF wants the public to believe. ASUU even took a full page advertorial in this paper not long ago (see page 24 The Guardian of Monday, November 25, 2019) to articulate its position and opposition to IPPIS.

ASUU’s advertorial is so rich and very clear are its submission and its ideas. It would give me great pleasure to paraphrase the advertorial and its ideas here but I won’t. I will instead quote verbatim ASUU’s prayers as contained in the said advertorial:

The Federal Government should allow universities to operate within their laws.
Government should immediately investigate the operations of IPPIS to save the country of further embarrassment. Forceful migration of universities to IPPIS is further encouragement of corruption which is endemic in the implementation of the system.

Government should support the ongoing initiative of ASUU to develop an alternative application, different from the World Bank-imposed IPPIS that will address the peculiarities of the university system and be domiciled in each of the universities. By so doing, government will demonstrate that the interests that are most paramount are the interests of Nigerians not those of the international finance institutions, the same ones that got our country into the economic mess we have been in since the Structural Adjustment Programme.

My impression of or reaction to ASUU’s fruitful or, better put, ASUU’s ingenious submission above is that our shrewd academic body will never ever submit to combat fatigue in its heroic dispute on behalf of Nigerians with our central government. Why should our federal or central government every now and then advance the interests of foreign institutions and bodies to the detriment of Nigerians? Why are officials of our respective governments and administrators traitors to the cause of our people? It is interesting that our government’s defenders have not created answers to demolish ASUU by means of rigorously objective criteria or validly objective standards. Despite ASUU’s valid objection officials of government went to the university campuses to compel academic staff to enroll into IPPIS. As combative propagandists who are out to deflate ASUU they have claimed that a good number and percentage of ASUU members have embraced IPPIS by virtue of their high enrolment into the scheme. If this is true, those ASUU members who did so, as I cannot but perceive them, are traitors who betray their union by selling their consciences to the government and their foreign collaborators whose hearts are filled with hatred for our public universities and country that they wish to wreak havoc on without the slightest hesitation.

In any case, it is with pleasure that I report here that ASUU has presented a different picture from the government’s own as reported in the Vanguard newspaper of Monday, December 9, 2019 on page 11. As reported, “ASUU claimed it had recorded over 90 percent compliance from its highly focused, dedicated and loyal members.” And as the ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan, Professor Deji Omole, said: “We have never had it so bad. A government sworn in as civilian, but lacks democratic norms and hates negotiations, government that disobeys court orders…. a government run on deceit and falsehood, is an enemy of growth and development.”

It is needless for me to say or to stress here that I have quoted Professor Omole with approval. The salvation this government wants to give Nigerians is not the salvation Nigerians need. Nigerians did not vote for a government that will not listen to them. Nigerians did not vote for a government that will not provide for their yearnings. Nigerians did not vote for a government that will ruin them. Nigerians did not vote for a government that will throw them into the flames of its corrupt, greedy and exploitative officials and personnel. We own this government and all governments. They don’t own us. The central government should re-think its many policies that go against the grain of democratic decency. Its officials are not wiser or better or more intelligent than those who are not numbered among its officials and personnel. And the government must obey all valid court orders in all their ramifications. If this government does not hearken to us in the hope that it can withstand anything and everything against it, what a terrible error of chaos it is creating for itself. I have spoken. No, we have spoken. We are not building castles in Spain. Phew!
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.