ASUU Strike Updates: When Will School Resume?
With the ASUU strike entering its 8th month, what students are now anticipating is the possibility that school can still resume in 2020.
Recall that the union decided to embark on a total and indefinite strike from Monday 23rd 2020, rejecting the use of force to enroll on the FG’s Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS)
The bone of contention between ASUU and FG has been on arears left unpaid and preferred platform to pay University lecturers.
The University lecturers had developed UTAS for the payment of lecturers against the Federal Government platform – IPPIS. The lecturers had argued that the IPPIS does not take into consideration the peculiarities of the universities system, hence, the need for a more responsive payment platform – UTAS.
What Is IPPIS?
IPPIS stands for Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System. In June, 2019, the FG directed that the staff of federal universities must enrol on the IPPIS platform just like the staff of other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
According to Technext, “the system is a centralised payroll platform by the Federal Government. It helps the Government plan and manages its payroll budget, ensuring there’s no loophole in the disbursement of pays”.
Why FG Prefers IPPIS
According to the Federal Government, the IPPIS was to engender accountability and centralise the payroll systems of the federal government. Sources indicates that president Buhari who tries to tackle all corruption issues in the country is in favour of the IPPIS and tries as much as possible to make it implementable. The Federal Government believes that the use of the IPPIS will tackles all forms of corrupt payments amongst federal workers.
According to the Accountant-General of Nigeria whose ministry manages the platform, the system has enrolled over seven hundred thousand FG staff from over 561 MDAs. This have helped the government to save well over two hundred billion Naira from managing personnel costs and the discovery of ghost workers.
What Is UTAS?
UTAS is a university developed payment platform known as ‘University Transparency and Accountability Solution’. The Universities lecturers who opposed the IPPIS developed UTAS in response to the rejection of the FG’s UTAS.
Why ASUU Prefers UTAS
ASUU claimed that enrollment on the system violates the autonomy of universities and doesn’t accommodate the peculiarities and structure of Nigerian universities.
Some lecturers have argued that adjunct staff payment are not properly captured in the IPPIS and individual universities may be laden with the responsibility to take care of the pay of adjunct staff.
The lecturers had also explained that IPPIS is corruption prone and ghost worker-friendly contrary to the reason the federal government sold to them that it was meant to curb corruption and other excesses in the payment process.
Why ASUU and FG Meetings Always Stall
The recent meeting between ASUU and the Federal Government to end the lingering strike action was stalled because the Federal government unilaterally refused to pay the withheld salaries through other legitimate means than Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
During the meeting with the FG, represented by the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, there was deadlock on reaching a mutual agreement on how to pay the outstanding salaries owed the lecturers, as most lecturers are yet to be on the IPPIS platform.
According to the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, there was no way workers whose salaries have been withheld for months could be convinced to return to work without being paid.
ASUU and the FG have held several meetings which have always been deadlocked, as a result of disagreement over the payment channel for the ASUU members.
Core Reasons Why ASUU Is On Strike
ASUU has been on strike since March 2020 over some issues such as:
1. Payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAE).
2. Revitalization of the university system
3. Setting up Visitation Panels to universities.
4. Fulfilling conditions included in the 2004 agreement reached between the two sides amongst others.
Since the various ASUU and FG meetings are being held, there is nothing tangible that has come out of their meetings. In fact, there seemed to be no link between ASUU’s demand and Federal Government’s offer. While ASUU have requested for funds reaching into trillions, the FG had managed to offer mere 30 billions, a farcry from ASUU’s demand.
For now, there is no hope of resumption as ASUU and FG have remained adamant and insist on their stance throughout their meetings.
In the last meeting held between ASUU and FG, Chris Ngige had stated that the FG will be left with no option than to petition the industrial court to meddle in the stalemate.