IPPIS Crisis: ASUU Strike Looms

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government appear set for a long drawn battle as they disagree over the  use of the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System for payment of salaries in the universities.  .

 Officials of the Accountant General of the Federation Office had arrived at some universities to begin the enrolment of workers in the institutions despite the opposition of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

ASUU has maintained her stand citing peculiarities and university act while the Federal Government has maintained that none of her employees will be exempted for the enrollment.

At  the University of Port Harcourt, a top official, who does not want his name mentioned, said the Federal Government officials, who would carry out the enrolment of lecturers and others, arrived at the institution on Monday and had since begun the exercise.

The source told our correspondent that measures had been put in place to ensure that any lecturer who stayed away from the enrolment for the IPPIS would not get his or her December salary.

He disclosed that the government officials for the exercise were working directly with the university’s bursar.

A splinter group of ASUU members at the University of Port Harcourt known as Congress of University Academics (CONUA) say its members will embrace the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the Federal Government.

CONUA in a communiqué signed by the coordinator, Dr. Ovunda Ihunwo and secretary, Dr. O. Mbalisi said it would cooperate with UNIPORT management on the implementation of IPPIS as directed by the central authorities adding that it had directed its members to begin the enrolment for the IPPIS.

CONUA lamented that higher education system was on the verge of collapse, saying there is an urgent need for stakeholders to adopt deliberate measures towards salvaging it.

Ihunwo accused the current chairman of ASUU, Dr. Austen Sado of being responsible for the crises that had rocked UNIPORT in the past three years.

Reacting to this, Austen Sado, UNIPORT ASUU chairman said the union was intact, stressing that allegations against him were product of the imagination of those who concocted them.

The University of Ibadan chapter of the ASUU on Monday set up a monitoring committee to ensure that none of her members enlist for the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System.

UI ASUU announced the committee at a congress of the union held at the Faculty of Arts of the institution.

The congress which was presided over by the Chairman, Prof. Deji Omole resolved to follow the directive of the national leadership of the union not to enrol on the IPPIS.

In a resolution read by the Secretary of the union, Prof. Peter Olapegba, the congress resolved to stop work in the event of a stoppage of the salary of Academic Staff.

Speaking with newsmen, Omole said, “Our position remains that the university autonomy should be respected. We are not under the government MDAs.

Members of ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka chapter, have also rejected the enrollment of lecturers in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPSI) by the federal government.

Prof. Stephen Ufoaru, who spoke on behalf the union, at a news conference at the end of its congress in Awka on Monday.said enrolling the lecturers in IPPIS would erode the autonomy of the university system and stifle research and learning.

Ufoaru said lecturers were employees of governing council of universities and that IPPIS would whittle the powers of the councils to run the system and make them function ideally.

“As a union, we will not be part of that exercise, we have developed our alternative platform that will address the peculiarity of the university system and we hope that the federal government will engage us so we can make presentation.

“Until these peculiarities and grey areas are resolved, our stand is that will not be part of the IPPIS system. ASUU is not daring the government on this matter, the autonomy of the university is at stake, our autonomy is a law and you cannot by mere oral pronouncement set it aside or implement policies that will undermine it.

“We are assuring that government will appreciate our efforts in developing this alternative platform which is in the interest of the country and the university system general,” he said.

The chairman said the powers to engage the staff of the universities will no longer be with the councils but with politicians, adding that such would lead to collapse of the system.

The union urged the Federal Government to rescind the decision and allow Nigerian universities to operate according to international best practices.

“A university lecturer is not just an employee of the Federal Government, he does other things aside teaching, including research, sabbatical, assessment of colleagues in other lecturers, they are paid for these services and IPPIS does not capture them. ASUU has its mechanisms for fighting for our rights, at the appointed time we will roll out these mechanisms,” he said.

At the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, staff  may have begun enrolment into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, despite an attempt by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to boycott the exercise.

According to a statement released by the Registrar of the institution, Dr Chris Igbokwe, the exercise started on Wednesday at the Epko Convocation Arena, with the Faculty of Social Sciences being the first to be captured into the system

 The statement read in parts “ We have on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, received Officers from Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Abuja who are on ground to conduct verification of personnel records and biometric data capture of staff of the University of Nigeria to complete their enrolment into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

“The exercise will commence, Wednesday, November 27, 2019, at Ekpo Convocation Arena with a staff of Faculty of The Social Sciences. This will be followed by the Faculty of Education on Thursday, November 28, 2019. On Friday, November 29, 2019, spill overstaff from Faculties of the Social Sciences and Education will be captured. “Details of the capturing of other Faculties/Schools, Institutes/Centres and Directorates as well as Administrative Departments/Units, Enugu Campus and College of Medicine will be released subsequently.

Meanwhile, ASUU has met with Senate President Ahmad Lawan on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) enrolment as it rejected a Federal Government’s directive mandating workers at its universities and colleges of education to enrol into IPPIS before Dec. 7.

ASUU National President Prof Biodun Ogunyemi speaking on meeting with Lawan, said, ASUU and the senate agreed the union should complete its payroll model if it would not use the one designed by the Federal Government.

Ogunyemi in a series of posts on the ASUU official Twitter page insisting on resistance to IPPIS added that IPPIS would return universities to the military era.

The post read: “Despite the readiness of other unions such as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) to key into the government payroll system, IPPIS officials from Abuja did not show up.

“ASUU and the Senate agreed that the union should complete its payroll model if it would not use the one designed by the Federal Government. We agreed that we should continue what we have done; the alternative is what we are working on. We showed them the alternative and, hopefully, they would see reasons and it would be accepted.

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