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Business

FG’s directive on IPPIS does not affect us – ASUU

ASUU has remained defiant, claiming it is not affected by the Federal Government’s directive on IPPIS.

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ASUU gives conditions to call off its nationwide strike action

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.

READ: How FG saved over N206 billion in 2 years -IPPIS

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.

READ: FG guarantees mortgage loan to low income buyers at low interest rate

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.

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READ: United States loses $11 billion to shutdown

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.’’

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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.

READ: Coca-Cola Amatil invests in crypto payment company

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.

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Backstory

ASUU has been on strike since February 2020 over the insistence of the Federal Government to implement the IPPIS in the university system.

READ: Does Buhari’s new minimum wage approval mean “Nigeria is broke”?

Bottom line

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.

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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    Business

    Cement prices surge in South East as scarcity, price hike hit North East

    Prices of cement have risen by 67% in many Southeastern states and by 40% as observed in northern states including Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, others.

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    The prices of cement have risen by 67% in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

    This is as some residents of the North-Eastern part of the country also complained of price hike of cement, which they attributed to the scarcity of the product and the activities of middlemen who try to capitalize on the situation.

    According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a market survey conducted at various wholesale and retail shops in the eastern zone shows that the price of the product has almost doubled when compared to the price in 2020.

    What the cement traders in the eastern states are saying

    A cement dealer at Kenyetta Market in Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Amadi, said the increase in the price of the product which started last year was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in dollar exchange.

    He pointed out that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags, which sold for N1.5 million in 2020, sold for N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.

    Another retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, noted that a bag of Dangote Cement now goes for N3,900, Unicem for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement for N3,600.

    While begging the suppliers to reduce the price and make the product available, Uwakwe expressed his reservations at few individuals being given the opportunity to supply the product noting that the prices would likely crash during raining season.

    In Abia, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also decried the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50kg bag.

    Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hope of many Nigerians, wishing to own their personal homes.

    A businessman, Mr Victor Ugwu, said he had to suspend his building project because of the current development as he could not afford to continue with the current price of the commodity.

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    He said,  “I think the hike can be attributed to the monopoly being enjoyed by the cement producers in the country. Unfortunately, there may not be any respite until that monopoly is broken.”

    However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the price increase had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the commodity but rather put the blame on the activities of shylock distributors of cement.

    He said, “In the first and second week of March, we sold a bag for N3,200, but within the third week we started selling at N3,500. By the end of March, the price moved up to N4,000 and now, we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”

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    A cement dealer in Awka, Mr Kenechukwu Okoye, said before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at N2,500 bur rose to N3,000 immediately after the protest and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4,100.

    The survey also says that in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.

    At the building materials Market in Naze, Owerri North Local Government Area, Dangote and BUA cement are sold at N4,000 per bag while BUA and UNICEM are sold for N3,900.

    Mr Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation as a result of fuel price increase adding that major dealers sometimes hoard the product in their warehouses to create artificial scarcity.

    The survey report says that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, prices of almost all building materials have gone up, with Dangote and Bua which sold for N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 now selling for between N4000 and N4500.

    Similarly, Unicem cement which also sold at N2,300 within the same period had also gone up to N4,000 and N4,300.

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    Similar price increase in North East

    The survey report in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Jigawa, shows an average of 40% increase in price.

    According to the respondents, this could be attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected production in factories, while demand kept rising.

    Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.

    Malam Ibrahim Sanusi, a cement dealer at the Gombe main market described the hike as outrageous when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.

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    He said that a bag of Dangote brand which he bought for N2,400 and sold for N2, 500, is bought for N4,000 from their depot in Gombe and sold for N4,200.

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    Business

    FG explains why it wants to reduce human contact at the ports, achieves 70% digitalization

    This is to help drastically reduce inefficiencies, corruption, diversion of money, revenue leakages and constant delays.

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    Container shipping operations from China to Onitsha resume

    The Federal Government has moved to reduce human traffic into the Nigerian ports as it says that the ports have achieved 70% digitalization.

    This is to help drastically reduce inefficiencies, corruption, diversion of money, revenue leakages and constant delays being experienced at the various ports by stakeholders and other ports users.

    This disclosure was made by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr Hassan Bello, on Friday at a news conference on the first quarter activities of the council in Lagos.

    The NSC boss said that the 70% digitalization was lower than the 90% targeted by the council in the first quarter of 2021, which although it did not achieve, it is still pushing to actualise.

    What the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Executive Secretary is saying

    Bello in his statement said, “Most of the ports in the world are digitized, Nigeria cannot be an exception. We cannot have a multitude of people going into the ports every day, human contact in the ports is very dangerous, it is anti-efficiency and once there is human contact, there will be corruption and then delay.

    Some people don’t even have any business to go to the port but you see them there, what are they doing?

    We have been working with shipping companies and terminal operators to ensure we make the deadline we set for the first quarter but we saw it was not feasible to attain 90% digitalization. What we were able to do on the average was 70%, but digitization of the ports is a process in the making. We want this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

    He said that the port was not a place for contact, as one could move millions of tons of cargo with a computer adding that they were happy to announce that the council was on course.

    Bello noted that a non-contact port was the solution to many problems in the system such as delay which caused demurrage, diversion of money, corruption and revenue leakages.

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    He said that digitization would make our ports more competitive, noting that the country had competitors in West and Central Africa sub-regions.

    On the level of digitalization of shipping companies, he said that Grimaldi had 88%, Ocean Network Express 76%, and CMA CGM 63%, among others, while for seaport terminals, PTML had 92%, and in Port Harcourt, Intels, BUA and Wact had 70% digitalization each.

    He said, “Where we are having problems is on reforms and claims processes which is mostly manual but we have some that scored 50%. Also, the second phase is the integration of systems because anybody can be online but there is a need to integrate with the banks for example and even the Nigeria Customs Services.’’

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    What this means

    The digitalization of operations and reduction of human contact at the ports is going to greatly increase efficiency, reduce corruption and ensure that more revenue comes to government coffers.

    This will also help eliminate the illegal activities of louts at the ports, improve on the ease of doing business, promote a clean environment at the ports and tackle the menace of illegal trading activities which also degrades the environment at those facilities.

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