For more than 7 months now, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite strike over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of action between them.
Besides, ASUU and the Federal Government have also been at loggerheads over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The Federal Government’s insistence on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of university lecturers’ salaries and allowances does not go well with the union who insists it would erode university autonomy. ASUU proposed a home-grown payment platform, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which they believe, guarantees autonomy of universities. The union is waiting for the government to conduct an integrity test on UTAS.
Prof.Olusiji Sowande, ASUU Coordinator Lagos Zone, stated that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was a deliberate act by the Federal Government to mislead the public over their insincerity.
“The issue of enrolment into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) was deliberately introduced by government to draw away the attention of the public from the insincerity, lack of interest and disregard for the education of the teeming Nigerian youths especially university students. In addition, it is in the course of the strike and the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic that the salaries of our members in Federal Universities were withheld by government under the guise that members did not enroll on IPPIS. It is disheartening that a government that should uphold the truth, fairness and justice has become repressive, oppressive and blackmailer of its own citizens”, he said.
As of Monday, November 23, ASUU and the Federal Government has not reached any concrete agreement on how to end the lingering strike.
However, ASUU have faulted the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, for stating in an interview recently that 6 out of the 9 demands by the body had been met by the Federal government.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of ASUU, urged Nigerians to seek to know which of the ASUU demands that the Federal Government had met.
“As far as we are concerned, nothing has been delivered to our members and our members don’t want empty promises. Let us take the issues one after the other.
“The withheld salaries of our members which is between four and eight months have not been paid; if paid, accounts of our members would have been credited. Same for Earned Academic Allowances, yet to be paid.
“Visitation Panels have not been constituted for the universities, if that is done, Nigerians would have heard the names of panel members as announced by the government.
“The proliferation of universities by state governments has not been addressed. The renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement has not started, the 2019 Memorandum of Action is not yet implemented,” he said.
Ogunyemi, made it clear that the union is ready for the Federal Government’s threat that the government could deploy labour laws if no agreement is reached by the two parties soon, he reiterated that the union would never feel threatened.
“We are ready for discussions if they invite us. The onus of universities reopening soon lies with the government. We go to meetings we are invited to”, he said.