A nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities is imminent in January with the failure of the Federal Government and the union to settle their disagreement on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
The PUNCH on Wednesday gathered that the two sides had not resolved their differences over the payroll system. While ASUU said it was still waiting for the National Assembly’s invitation as part of efforts to resolve the disagreement, a top officer of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said the regime’s decision on the IPPIS remained the same.
Following a directive by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation deployed the IPPIS officers to universities between October 25 and November 7. The AGF office said that based on Buhari’s directive that all federal employees must enroll for the IPPIS, universities workers must make themselves available for the enrolment during the period.
On Wednesday, ASUU said it was waiting for an invitation from the National Assembly, especially the Senate, so that it could demonstrate the alternative model it developed to the IPPIS. The ASUU said that the alternative model, University Transparency and Accountability Solution, was ready and its team of experts would display it to the government once the National Assembly invited the union.
Ogunyemi, who said this in an interview with one of correspondents in Abuja, stated that the UTAS was ready but the union needed the support of the government which would in turn give a directive to the authorities of universities.
He said, “Well, we are expecting to hear from the National Assembly but we have not heard from them. The last time we met them, we told them about that proposal and we said that our team had started working on it. So, we went back to meet representatives of the National Assembly after that and we told them that we were 33 per cent ready as of that time. But we have gone beyond that. Now we are moving towards a stage where we will need the consent of the universities and that is why what we have been saying is that the government should agree with us that we would go further with that alternative.”
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, had at the meeting with ASUU on October 28 appealed to the union not to go on strike over the IPPIS, but the union had told Lawan that it was developing an alternative model to the IPPIS. The union, after the NEC meeting on Wednesday last week, had said the UTAS was designed by a team of crack software engineers, who are based in the Nigerian universities.
The union argued that unlike IPPIS, UTAS would address the uniqueness of the university system, particularly the flexibility of the payroll and personnel management. The IPPIS platform is an integral part of the Federal Government’s public finance reform initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of government payroll.