Dr. Chris Ngige, former Governor of Anambra state and Minister of Labour and Employment, on Tuesday, 29th September disclosed that, the ministries of Finance, Education, Labour and Employment and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation plans to meet with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to resolve issues related to shortcomings of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system (IPPIS) and failure of the Federal Government to honour its 2019 agreement.
ASUU maintained their stance on the rejection of IPPIS, which had resulted into the March 23 strike. The leadership of ASSU insisted that it violates university autonomy, they proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a possible replacement.
However, Ngige unveiled the readiness of the Federal Government to access and address the integrity test of the UTAS that was developed by university lecturers as an alternative to IPPIS.
Ngige in his words, said, ‘The issue of ASUU will soon come to an end. Two reasons – ASUU has called the Federal Government, represented by Finance and the Accountant-General Office and their direct employers, the Ministry of Education to come for the test (of UTAS).’
‘We are ready to do that. After the Independence Day celebration, the four ministries and agencies involved will gather together with ASUU. We will look at the UTAS. If there are shortcomings with IPPIS as complained which UTAS have corrected. What’s wrong about it? It is software, we will look at it.’
‘Secondly, ASUU members have been collecting their money since COVID-19 came and I wrote a memo to Mr. President that ASUU members are still Nigerians. Even the members, have families that they care for. By upper week, we are going to arrange for this demonstration.’ Ngige said.
Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, President of the union, emphasized that, for Nigeria to have top-rate, gloablly ranked 21st century universities, the IPPIS would not be suitable.
According to his words, he said, ‘this is because IPPIS will shut the door against scholars who are to come from outside Nigeria, scholars who are not on the pensionable appointment within the system.’
‘IPPIS will bring universities under direct civil servant control and the system does not work that way.’
He proceeded by saying, ‘That kind of system will kill innovation, will kill creativity and it will kill academic freedom and autonomy.’