One of the risks in adopting UTAS is that everybody will come and say give us our own salary.
The military is on IPPIS, the police is on IPPIS
Our heritage reporter reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been urged to adopt the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) as a payment platform by the federation’s account-general, Sylvia Okolieaboh.
However, Okolieaboh asserted that the federal government will take into account the union’s unique payment requirements.
He made the appeal at a meeting that the House of Representatives’ leadership mediated to end the union’s protracted strike.
The Hon.Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said the House leadership would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari next week to discuss resolving the continuing conflict between the federal government and the ASUU after consulting with all relevant parties.
If that will end the impasse, Okolieaboh stated his administration was prepared to address ASUU’s concerns regarding salary payments.
He claimed that adopting UTAS, as demanded by ASUU, may lead to improper requests from other agencies to be compensated with platforms of their choosing.
Okolieaboh said, “If there are peculiarities in the university salaries system, what we need to do is to sit down with ASUU and identify them and address them in IPPIS. We are willing to accept, if the answer is yes, then the whole of the issues will be resolved. What we need to do, in my own opinion, is to sit down with ASUU and know what the issues are and address them inside IPPIS.
Adopting UTAS carries some hazards, one of which is that everyone will demand their own compensation. Both the police and the military are currently using IPPIS. They each have unique quirks.
Yemi-Esan, the head of the federation’s (HoSF) service, reaffirmed that the platform would take into account the union’s unique characteristics while urging the union to embrace the IPPIS.
Yemi-Esan assuaged the fears of the striking lecturers that the government would not take away the responsibilities of the Governing Council of Universities in the administration of the schools in response to complaints about the government’s attempt to deprive the Governing Councils of Universities of their administrative power through the deployment of the IPPIS.
Ben Akabueze, the director general of the Budget Office, suggested that only one payment platform be used.
He claimed that the government couldn’t afford to have more than one platform because resources were so limited.
However, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the president of ASUU, claimed that this was not the first time the government had made a commitment to look into the problems but had fallen short.
The IPPIS plan was not accepted by him.
Osodeke emphasized that the universities should have their own autonomy because it is what the statutes required, in his opinion. According to him, Nigeria is the only nation in which the office of the accountant-general is used to pay the wages of academics.
Osodeke questioned NITDA’s decision to withhold the results of the most recent test on UTAS and insisted that they should have access to the report so they could review it.
Dr. Chris Ngige, the minister of labor and employment, advised institutions to support themselves if they wanted complete autonomy.
Ngige said that while talks were still in progress, he had urged ASUU to accept the IPPIS, which could still account for their unique circumstances.
He praised the House leadership for taking the initiative and urged ASUU to continue working with IPPIS to resolve their issues.
He stressed that he would not accept the broken systems and expressed disappointment that ASUU went on strike while negotiations were still happening without his knowledge.
However, Gbajabiamila said that seeing the UTAS report is useless if the government is to address ASUU’s concerns in the IPPIS.
He stated that it is crucial for Varsities to restore operations as soon as possible so that students can return to their studies.
“We will give you the report. But we do not want delays. So, the issue of UTAS let us say we are waiting to study the report. What are we doing here? What is on ground now is that the government sits with you and asks ASUU what are the problems with IPPIS, we would fix those problems. They did it with the military, and the health sector and others.”
According to him, the House leadership would present a summary of its interactions with significant parties to the disagreement over the next couple of days and make recommendations that would allow the President to assess the issues at stake from an educated second perspective.
According to Gbajabiamila, the leadership will be helped in developing fact-based suggestions for handling the problem as a result of the information obtained from the extended conversations.
The House would invite the ASUU after the outcome of the meeting with the president, Gbajabiamila assured the lecturers on strike.