FG-ASUU IPPIS Tussle: Solution lies in dialogue, integrity, not showdown

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The tussle between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPIS) is apparently not in any way reflecting possible agreement to chart a course of solution for a way out. The stalemate on Monday was heightened with  ASUU threatening to embark on strike if the Accountant General of the Federation stops salaries of lecturers this January. The Union has alleged the Federal Government had threatened that it would stop the salaries of concerned lecturers for failing to enrol on IPPIS. The body of Lecturers had replied that a circular from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) was sent to all public universities last week Thursday with information to with-hold January salary of lecturers who refused to enrol in the IPPIS platform.

The Union has for long  been  stern on the ground that its members had resolved to activate “no pay no work” as soon as the government stops its members’ salaries. Prof. Deji Omole, ASUU Chairman University of Ibadan Chapter of ASUU, had in reaction last weekend, taken stern position that the Union will refuse to be deterred by the threat of “undemocratic public servant like Accountant General of the Federation to ridicule tertiary education.”

ASUU’s position against  Federal Government’s IPPIS has been premised on the ground that it is an attempt  to throw public universities into another crisis. According to Professor Omole, ASUU has rejected Federal Government’s IPPIS on the point of law, principle and rule of law, while offering an alternative platform tagged University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS), which would take care of university peculiarities.

Prof. Omole said in quote: “Only patriots can work in our hellish condition. Our position is that the principles of IPPIS are in contradiction to the principles of the autonomy of the university system and the constitution is clear enough because each university has its legal pattern and it doesn’t have provision for IPPIS and it does not even capture the peculiarities of the university system. We are ready for them. We are not slaves that can be subjected to routine humiliation by government appointees.

Highlights of IPPIS reflects that the scheme which was introduced in 2007, is a part of  Federal Government’s initiatives designed to centralise payroll and payment systems, facilitate convenient staff remuneration with minimal wastage, aid manpower training and budgeting. It has been said It will  help facilitate planning and monitoring monthly payment of staff emoluments against what was provided for in the budget. It is also meant to ensure database integrity; facilitates easy storage; updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processes.

However, regardless of the seemingly enticing advantages of the system, it is essentially significant to consider that there must surely be something questionably making the Union to remain adamant on its hostile position of rejecting the directive to be incorporated under the system. Some of these find expression in what have been sampled above.

it is also important that the Federal Government put the cards on the table to look into addressing the concerns of ASUU to allay all that is their fear, instigating hostility to be integrated under IPPIS. Affirmative resolutions that goes beyond doubt should be drawn on strong grounds with immediate effect. Such resolution should be reached on dependable grounds and not just mere agreement that may be subjected to no implementation, as the case has been in so many instances between the Union and the Federal Government.

The fear of ASUU with Federal Government has for long anchored on the incidents of several breaches of trusts by the former. It would be recalled Professor Omole had stated that it was unfortunate that even the President could not be trusted after assuring the Union to look into the matter and set-up committee to harmonise UTAS and IPPIS tabled before him at the last meeting.Therefore, the onus lies on the Federal Government to go beyond just having dialogues with the Union, but rather ensuring that whatever resolutions are arrived both in the past and recent are effected judiciously, including those that will be reached in future dialogue arrangements.

This will build ASUU’s trust in the Federal Government rather than the eye of ridicule with which it currently views it. Incessant songs of war between ASUU and the Federal Government continues to re-echo in the ears of Nigerians. The Federal Government should consider ASUU’s UTAS and see on how it can be streamlined with its IPPIS. By the continuous showdown, no reasonable development can be envisaged across Nigerian public universities and the Education sector at large. The Federal Government should according to its mandate of making all things work out, desist from unnecessary  showdown which will in no way be profitable to the Country.