Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have vowed not to comply with the federal government’s directive to enroll in the disputed Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
While the federal government has insisted that all lecturers in the universities and polytechnics must register in the scheme, ASUU has declared that the tertiary education institutions are not Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), which must embrace the system.
The union told the federal government yesterday to leave the universities out of the payroll system and allow them to operate independently as obtained across the globe.
The accountant-general of the federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, recently accused the lecturers of supporting corruption by rejecting their inclusion in the IPPIS system as directed by the government.
Also, the minister of finance and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, said on Thursday when she appeared before the Senate for budget defence that most of the federal agencies had enrolled into the IPPIS except lecturers in the universities and polytechnics.
In a reaction to Idris’ remark in Akure, Ondo State capital, yesterday, the zonal coordinator of ASUU, Akure Zone, Prof. Olufayo Olu-Olu, told journalists at a press conference that “it is irresponsible of the AGF’s office to accuse the union of promoting corruption by opposing IPPIS.”
Olu-Olu, who alleged that the intention of President Muhammadu Buhari administration through the policy is to commercialise education, stated that the union would “resist this under any guise.”
He said that the union read with dismay the press statement issued by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) on the outcome of the interactions between the union, the OAGF and others on the government’s intent of their compulsory migration to the IPPIS, insisted that the system would undermine university autonomy.
According to him, “the publication was misleading, uncharitable and a blackmail against the union by the OAGF having been flawed by the union based on superior arguments on point of law as against the sentimental International Monetary Fund (IMF) policy being peddled by Idris.”
The ASUU leader added that the statement from the OAGF was aimed at painting their members corrupt amongst other thingshaving failed to proffer intellectual and constructive responses to union’s observations on the proposed policy.
ASUU maintained that “the 16-point release by the OAGF on ASUU’s opposition to IPPIS was a mere propaganda and did not show any sincerity of the intention of the government to follow simple laws in the country.
“Points one to seven as raised by the OAGF are still in contention as there is no assurance that these peculiarities have been adequately captured and besides the intention has somersaulted on point of law, which should be supreme.
“We will address this much better in a short while. It is irresponsible of the OAGF to accuse the union of promoting corruption by opposing IPPIS. The policy has provided ‘food for the boys’ under the supposed savings of N273billion. We marvel at this huge savings and request that he publishes a full list of MDAs where these funds were recovered and what happened to the recovered funds (loot?).
“Despite our cry of gross maladministration and mismanagement of funds by certain public office holders, the OAGF has not been heard to make any indictment. We call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to undertake a covert investigation on the operation of IPPIS by MDAs currently on the platform; then Nigerians will truly know who is shielding and promoting corruption. The OAGF cannot absolve itself from this.” he said.
Olu-Olu recalled that the IPPIS tussle with the union had been on since 2013, adding that “we expected that a serious and anti-corruption minded government would have seen reason to respect the law and let the universities run along their statutes.
“The Autonomy Act is sacrosanct and cannot be replaced by a policy, more so, we have argued and pointed out severally that universities are not MDAs and this fact is enshrined in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003 Section 2a as amended,” he said.
But Ahmed has insisted that the universities and polytechnics must enrol in the payroll system in order to block leakages.
“The IIPPIS is the integrated payroll system of the government. So far, we have been able to put most federal agencies on the platform. It helps us to control practices in the past because we used to have those that were not supposed to be on the payroll.
“The military, the police, and most agencies of government except for a few tertiary institutions are still resisting, but we have been engaging them and we are in the process of uploading them into the system,” Ahmed said while defending her ministry’s budget at the National Assembly on Thursday.
“The resistance to the IPPIS is misplaced as far as I am concerned because there is no agency of government that must resist it. It must be treated with utmost importance. The universities have some peculiarities. The same goes for some medical institutions. For instance, a consultant can consult in different hospitals but he should still have one primary point of employment.
“A lecturer, based on the approval given by the minister is also allowed to lecture in more than one university. That, however, does not mean that he should feature in all the institutions as a member of staff. At best, there would be special allowances that would be due to them for that extra work.
“The allowances should, however, not be included in the payroll. We have been discussing with them and we are arranging peculiar allowances for them. This is to make sure that the extra work they do, according to the limit that is allowed, is provided for in the payroll,” Ahmed stated.