The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has given the reason it is yet to call off its ongoing strike, following its dispute with the Federal Government.
The national body of the university lecturers said that they are waiting for the government to conduct an integrity test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), a homegrown payment platform created by ASUU in place of the government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
While making the disclosure during an interview with Punch, the ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said the government needed to give the clearance to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to conduct an integrity test on UTAS.
The ASUU President said, “The integrity test will be handled by NITDA, it is the government that will facilitate it because NITDA is a government agency and unless you get clearance from the government that test cannot be conducted.”
On whether the government had accepted UTAS, Ogunyemi said, “We are still talking, we have given them the position of our members, we are thinking we should be able to hold a meeting this week if they have not changed plans. The meeting for Monday was postponed. In principle, they have accepted UTAS and told us to go for the test, and on our part, we have started the process.
“We had presented UTAS at three levels, starting with the Ministry of Education, Senate President and members of his team, officials of Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, where all other stakeholders were present, including NITDA. All stakeholders have witnessed the presentation and the next stage of integrity test is what we are moving into.
“If government facilitates it, it is not something that should drag for too long at all. We don’t foresee any problem with UTAS, it also depends on how early the government makes it possible for the integrity test to be conducted.”
Ogunyemi also explained that ASUU was ready to resume academic activities if the government was ready to play its part.
He said, “Our members are ready to resume work as early as the government is ready to play its part. I’m sure you are not suggesting that our members should resume on an empty stomach or the strike should be suspended without any concrete action on the side of the government. We don’t like to stay away from our work because we like our students; they are also our children.’’
Ogunyemi noted that as far as they are concerned, they don’t have any issue with going back to work, but they want more sincerity on the side of government.
What you should know
It can be recalled that ASUU embarked on an industrial action about 8 months ago across the country, following its dispute with the Federal Government over their insistence on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of University lecturers’ salaries and allowances. Alternatively, ASUU developed a homegrown payment platform, UTAS, which they believe guarantees the autonomy of the university.
The Federal Government, following negotiation with ASUU, said that it might consider adopting UTAS as a way of finding a solution to the lingering crisis.