The House of Representatives has intervened in the brewing crisis between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the federal government over the implementation of Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) in federal universities.
Also in response to the federal government’s claim that some lecturers were enrolling into the unified salary scheme, despite the opposition by ASUU, the union has threatened to move against any member who defies its directive and enroll into the scheme.
The House said if the issue was not properly handled, the Academic Unions in the Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education might decide to tow their university counterparts’ path.
The decision of the House to intervene in the matter was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Tajudeen Abass, at the plenary yesterday.
He said ASUU, in reaction to the new federal government’s directives on the implementation of IPPIS was not only objecting to the application of the policy to the federal universities, but had issued three counter directives to all its members not to comply with the directive .
Abass explained that the IPPIS was conceptualised in October 2006 by the government as one of its reform programmes to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the storage of personnel records and administration of monthly payroll to enhance confidence in staff emolument costs and budgeting.
Abass said as at April 2018, 490 Ministries, Departments of government and agencies (MDAs) have been enrolled into the IPPIS with a total staff trend of over 700,000 employees.
The lawmaker noted that since the inception of the IPPIS policy in 2007 to date, the federal government has saved about N12 billion by eliminating thousands of ghost workers.
He expressed concern that ASUU has threatened to go on strike if the federal government attempts to enforce the implementation of the policy in the federal universities on the grounds that the policy lacks legal backing and its derogates from the autonomy of the universities.
He stated: “If the federal government refused to back down on the implementation of the IPPIS policy in the universities as demanded by ASUU, ASUU may go on another strike which may jeopardise the current peace and stability being enjoyed in our university campuses.”
According to him, whatever are the differences between the government and ASUU on the implementation of the IPPIS policy in the universities, the matter should not be allowed to degenerate to another strike in the universities.
After considering the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Finance, Education, and Labour Employment and Productivity to intervene in the conflict with a view to identifying the cause, reconciling the worrying parties and to report back to the legislature in two weeks.
Meanwhile, as the face-up between the federal government and ASUU continues, the leadership of the union said it would soon meet to decide on what to do to some of its members that may have registered on the IPPIS platform.
Reacting to a statement made by the federal government that some lecturers have started to enroll, the President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told THISDAY that the union was monitoring the development.
“Well, we are monitoring the situation and at the appropriate time we will let the people know our position,” he stated.
Ogunyemi who spoke from Port Harcourt, said ASUU had responded to government’s letter requesting for its cooperation for the IPPIS enrollment and restated its position against it.
He said the union had also sought an opportunity for dialogue with the government to enable it to present a proposal for an alternative payment software that addresses members’ concerns but that nothing has come from the authorities so far.
According to the ASUU president, such a meeting will offer an opportunity for them to share the alternative idea with officials of the federal government.
He told THISDAY that the union is patiently waiting for government’s reaction to its request.
When pressed further to explain what the alternative position looked like, Ogunyemi said: “Nobody develops software to give to anybody; it is an idea that can be shared at a meeting. We are still expecting government’s reaction to our position and we are monitoring the situation and we intend to meet to review our position.”
However, the Usman DanFodio University, Sokoto chapter of ASUU yesterday said no member of the union from the branch had enrolled into IPPIS .
The branch Chairman of the union, Dr. Abubakar Sabo, told THISDAY that none of ASUU members in all the 36 branches has shown interest in the system.
Chairman of ASUU, University of Ilorin branch, Professor Salihu Moyosore Ajao, also told THISDAY yesterday that no amount of intimidation, blackmail and propaganda would make the union surrender its collective decision to salvage the university system.
The chairman who was apparently reacting to the recent reports that the members of the union in the institution on Wednesday participated in the ongoing enrollment into IPPIS, stated “none of their members in the institution was involved in the exercise…”
At the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, THISDAY gathered that the enrollment started with staff of administrative department.
A top official of the university told THISDAY that it would be the turn of ASUU members on Monday.
Also speaking to THISDAY, the Assistant Secretary of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria chapter of ASUU, Dr. Abubakar Ibrahim, described the implementation of IPPIS in universities as a violation of the autonomy of federal universities.
“It was clear to all present (at the meeting on Wednesday) that the forcible implementation of IPPIS would violate the autonomy of Nigerian federal universities as enshrined in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provision) Amendment Act 2003, also called Universities Autonomy Act No.1, 2007,” he said.
He accused the federal government of violating the provision of the law by insisting that universities must enrol in the IPPS.
The union said the universities were being governed by councils as contained in the laws establishing them and wondered why the federal government would “insist on enrolling university lecturers into the World Bank conceived system even when it did not comply with operational realities of the workforce.”
The University of Benin chapter of ASUU also refuted federal government’s position that lecturers have started enrolling into the IPPIS, describing it as a propaganda.
Chairman, ASUU, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Dr. Monday Omoregie, who spoke with THISDAY yesterday, said: “The information is not true because the university Senate chambers, scheduled venue of the enrollment, is empty and still remain so as no single academic staff has shown up to be enrolled.”
He added that personnel sent by the federal government were demanding for bank statements of lecturers in the last six months as well as BVN number, which he noted, rendered the entire exercise ridiculous.
“We said it from day one that the federal government has a sinister motive. It is a scam. I repeat, ASUU is not going to be a party to this ridiculous exercise,” Omoregie added.