The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is set for a showdown with the federal government over the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and has directed its branches to shun the enrolment into the scheme, which commences nationwide today at federal universities.
The federal government has, however, threatened to stop salaries of workers not captured on the payment platform, designed to weed out ghost workers. The Office of the Accountant General of Federation (OAGF) had directed all staff of federal universities to come with their credentials to their various institutions between November 25 (today) and December 5 for enrolment into IPPIS.
While the National Steering Committee of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a splinter group from ASUU, had directed its members to immediately begin enrolment in compliance with the federal government’s directive, ASUU had vowed to resist the scheme.
Huhuonline.com gathered that after a protracted meeting of ASUU, which lasted throughout the weekend, the union resolved to mobilize its members for a strike should the federal government suspend their salaries for refusing to enroll into the scheme.
When contacted, ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, promised to brief the press at the end of the marathon meeting but he could not do so as at the time of going to the press. However, a source privy to the meeting told Huhuonline.com that the national body was mobilizing its members for a strike if the federal government suspends their salaries.
Also, the Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Jamilu Shehu, told reporters that if the federal government insists on stopping the salaries of the university lecturers for not joining IPPIS, the union’s policy of ‘No Pay No Work,’ will definitely be implemented.” “If government insists on stopping the salaries of the university staff for not joining IPPIS, the union’s policy of No Pay No Work will definitely be implemented,” he said.
He added that IPPIS violates the provisions of the Establishment Act of all federal universities and the union viewed the claim by the OAGF that ASUU’s position against IPPIS was an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and a calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy. “Taking the next line of action depends upon the stopping of our salary by the government,” he added.
The Sokoto zonal office of the union comprises Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina; Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Sokoto State University; and Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero.
The ASUU Chairman, Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Dr. Abubakar Sabo, also said the union had directed its members not to enroll in the IPPIS, adding that if the government compels them, they would know the next line of action to take. The Chairman of University of Ilorin chapter, Prof. Moyosore Ajao, told reporters that the national body had directed its members not to enroll into the IPPIS as directed by the federal government.
When asked if the union would commence strike immediately, Salihu said: “Our national headquarters would deliberate on that so as to take the next line of action.” Chairman of University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Prof. Deji Omole, also confirmed that the national body has directed the branch unions to boycott the government’s directive. Omole said no ASUU member should appear before the Accountant General’s team until further directive of the union, noting that while ASUU supports the fight against corruption, it would resist attempt by the government to trample on university autonomy.
He stated that ASUU’s leadership was still in discussion with the federal government and helping it to develop more robust template, stating that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as an academic understands the peculiarities of the university system and had benefited immensely from the peculiarities. He urged members of the union to remain steadfast and stand firm to protect public universities by not filling any form or submit their bio-data for enrolment into the IPPIS.
Also speaking on the issue, the Chairman of the University of Calabar branch of ASUU, Dr. John Edor, told THISDAY at the weekend that his members would abide by the directive given by its national secretariat that they should not be “forcibly migrated into the IPPIS without smoothing the rough edges of that system of payment.”
“We have said that we have peculiar concepts, we have peculiar practices in the universities that are not congenial with the modus operandi of IPPIS so the university should be exempted from using IPPIS for its payment,” Edor said. He said no member of ASUU would comply with the directives and that every member had been fully sensitized to ignore the proposed enrolment. According to him, any action taken by lecturers in the University of Calabar under the umbrella of the union must be in tandem with the stance of the ASUU national leadership on IPPIS.
The chairman of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka chapter of ASUU, Mr. Steve Ufoaroh, did not respond to text messages but the immediate past chairman of ASUU in the institution, Prof. Dennis Aribodor, told reporters that the effort of the federal government to force them to enroll would come to naught.
The Chairman, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) chapter of ASUU, Dr. Christian Opata, accused the federal government of adopting dictatorial measures instead of engaging with the union and making efforts to meet their demands. Opata said it was surprising that the OAGF would after calling for a negotiation between the federal government and the union, still go ahead to issue the IPPIS directive, maintaining that governments must meet the demands of the union or risk having a country with no university system again.
“If they want us to shut down the universities, we are ready. The only thing that will suffer is the future of our children and the future of education in the country, which we all have been making efforts to improve over the years.” he said.