Striking university lecturers claim they are not affected by the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, that only federal workers on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) would be paid salaries.
The disclosure was made by the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.
He was responding to a statement credited to the President while presenting the 2021 budget at a joint session of the National Assembly, where he said that only federal workers captured by the IPPIS would continue to receive salaries.
Buhari ordered all federal workers to enroll in the IPPIS platform, saying the platform was meant to check fraud, including the payment of salaries to non-existent personnel. He also disclosed that the platform would also check the payment of unauthorized allowances.
In his reaction to the President’s directive, Ogunyemi said the workers referred to by the President were civil servants and not university lecturers.
He said, “The directive was meant for civil servants; university academics are not civil servants. We have an understanding with the government to develop an alternative platform that would be sensitive to the operations of the university and accommodate its peculiarities. The platform we are developing will also respect the autonomy of our universities as obtained globally. The idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation is alien to university operations because it will halt its flexibility.”
He further said, “The University Miscellaneous (Provisions) (Amendment) Act (2003), which the government gazetted as University Autonomy Act (2007), had vested the powers of personnel and payroll system in the hands of each university’s governing council.’’
Ogunyemi disclosed that ASUU, on January 9, 2019, reached an understanding with the President to develop its proposed University Transparency and Accountability Solution for testing, and adoption of the same for managing personnel information and payroll system in the universities.
He said ASUU has since done that and presented the same to the Federal Ministry of Education. So, what is left is to present it to other major stakeholders, especially the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.
ASUU has been on strike since February 2020 over the insistence of the Federal Government to implement the IPPIS in the university system.
The strike which coincided with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has lingered for 8 months and continues even after the ease of lockdown. The two parties would have to reconvene a meeting and iron out their differences. The Nigerian students are rotting away at home and the Nigerian educational sector has to take a critical look at itself and find a lasting wholesome solution to this yearly strikes.