No IPPIS, no pay order: FG, ASUU clash again
The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities will clash again on Monday over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
Branches of ASUU in federal universities across the country, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, vowed to shun the registration for IPPIS, which would start on Monday and end on December 7, 2019.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, in an advertorial in The PUNCH on Wednesday, had directed all staff of federal universities and colleges of education “to present themselves for enrolment for the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.”
It said the staff should among, others, bring their letters of appointment, letters of promotion, birth certificates and copies of their bank statement. The office of the AGF said its officers would be in the institutions to conduct the exercise.
But ASUU members in institutions such as the University of Ibadan, the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt; the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and the University of Calabar, Calabar, told The PUNCH that their members would not register for the IPPIS.
FG getting dictatorial – UI ASUU
The Chairman of the union at the UI, Prof. Deji Omole, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “The government is getting dictatorial.”
He said, “We refuse to be harassed or intimidated. We are not strangers in this country. We are veritable stakeholders. We cannot be harassed. We have told them what to do. Let the government come back to the negotiation table and let’s discuss the grey areas.
“Forceful enlistment will not solve the problem. We are not disturbed but we are worried, government is getting dictatorial. A supposedly democratic government is getting dictatorial.”
ASUU, UNIPORT branch vows to shun IPPIS capture
Also, members of ASUU at UNIPORT said that they would not participate in the enrolment.
The Chairman of the UNIPORT branch of ASUU, Dr Austen Sado, said the union would not dignify Federal Government’s directive by any form of compliance, insisting that the IPPIS policy was a violation of the university laws in the guise of fighting corruption.
Union to sanction errant members
Sado told one of our correspondents that any member of the union who violated the resolve not to be present for such enrolment, could risk being disciplined.
He stated, “We are not dignifying that directive with any response because we have given them our views. We had an interaction with the Senate and the Senate asked them (the FG) to make sure that they explore all avenues in resolving it.
“If they (the FG) want to escalate it, there is no problem. But I can assure you that our members will not make themselves available for any capture. We have already shown our disdain for this illegality because it is an illegal policy.
“Our members took a resolution and said that it should be communicated to government that it (IPPIS) is a violation of the laws of the university and so, we are all standing together on the account that this (IPPIS) is a violation of the law and we will not help that violation by any form of compliance.
“Government cannot violate the laws of the land under the guise that they are fighting corruption. If any of our members turns up, we have an ethics/grievance committee that deals with issues of violation of our codes.
“Such members would be tried through the provisions of the constitution at the appropriate time. We will not tell people what we will do to any errant member. We know what to do with our rules and we will get our members to be in line with whatever we are doing,” Sado stated.
On its part, the UNN branch of the union said none of its members would enrol in the IPPIS unless its national leadership directed otherwise.
It said that any member that violated the union’s directive would have himself or herself to blame.
The branch Chairman of ASUU, Dr Christian Opata, who spoke to one of our correspondents, warned members not to disobey the position of the academic body.
Opata said, “Until we get a contrary directive from the national body, no branch is mandated to do anything for now. We may have our individual discrepancies, but we keep that to ourselves till we have a directive from the national body.”
“We cannot even do anything, if the Federal Government likes let it transfer Sambisa forest to various universities, no lecturer is going to enrol until we get a directive from the national leadership. It is as simple as that.”
We will not disobey national leadership, says FUNAAB
The Chairman of the FUNAAB branch of ASUU. Dr Adebayo Oni, said the branch was in support of the national leadership on the IPPIS.
Oni said the branch did not plan to hold any congress over the plan by the Federal Government to begin the enrolment in the federal universities.
He said, “Usually, our union doesn’t disobey our leadership. Whatever that has been brought to the public domain by the office of the accountant general, our union can’t review except we have directives from our national secretariat.”
When asked about the possibility of some members turning up for the exercise, Oni said, “Usually, our members don’t disobey our orders. The directive of the national executive council is very clear until otherwise reviewed by next year. Our members have to comply with the directive.
“It is not an issue. We know our members. When there is an order, our members will comply. Those who you want to talk about are not members of our union. They will have to comply with the directive of the National Executive Council.
At the University of Calabar, Calabar, Cross River State, an ASUU leader and immediate past Chairman of the union, Dr Tony Eyang, said university lecturers had taken a decision on the issue.
He stated, “As a member of ASUU, our union has already taken a position that unless all the concerns raised about the implications of the IPPIS and its wholesale application to universities are addressed, we will not subscribe to that system.
“ There are quite a number of issues bordering on recruitment, the peculiarities of the university system itself and university autonomy and the role of governing council in administering and policy formulation for universities.”
According to him, a directive from the office of the AGF cannot override the law governing each university.
We won’t comply with Buhari’s directive – ABU ASUU
The Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria chapter of ASUU also said it would not comply with the Federal Government’s directive.
ASUU’s Chairman, Prof. Rabiu Nasir, told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Wednesday in Kaduna that since the national body had rejected the IPPIS, the chapter had no option but to do the same.
Nasir said, “ABU ASUU will not comply with the President’s directive on the IPPIS. ASUU as a body has rejected the IPPIS. So, all the branches are following suit.”
The union chairman at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr Adeola Egbetokun, said the leadership of the branch would not call any congress over the matter.
He said, “Our congress had already resolved to uphold and sustain the decision of the national body that our members would not be allowed to be railroaded into the scam of the IPPIS.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the IPPIS is a violation of the university autonomy, an integral part of the agreement government entered into with ASUU.”
He said ASUU would continue to challenge government on the issue in the court of public opinion, adding that “ASUU members are loyal and resolute on the matter of IPPIS. Our members are aware of the demerits of the platform and ready to protect the sanctity of university autonomy.”
To assume varsities won’t comply is pre-emptive – FG
When contacted, the Deputy Director, Press in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Henshaw Ogubike, said that it would amount to “pre-emptive pessimism” to be assuming that the university community would not obey the directive for the data capturing exercise.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had, during the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, ordered the stoppage of payment of salaries of civil servants, who failed to register for the IPPIS by the end of October.
The IPPIS scheme, which was introduced in 2007, is one of the Federal Government’s initiatives designed to centralise payroll and payment systems, facilitate convenient staff remuneration with minimal wastage, aid manpower training and budgeting.
But ASUU had long opposed the system, saying it negated the policy on university autonomy. It also met with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, in a bid to persuade the Federal Government to excempt universities from the payroll.
On October 2, 2019, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, berated the union, saying no government agency must oppose the presidential directive.
She had said, “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 and some medical institutions have some peculiarities.”
The Federal Government, had through a circular dated October 29, 2019, by the acting Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, extended the deadline for enrolling in the IPPIS to November 30.
But ASUU, on Tuesday said its members would not join the IPPIS. The ASUU National Vice-President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said, “On the IPPIS, we have made our position known to the government and they have said that they will get back to us. So, we are expecting their reaction. Our position is that ASUU will not join IPPIS the way it is.”
He said the union would decide its next action should the Federal Government decide to stop the salaries of its members.
Written by Chukwudi Akasike, Ifeanyi Onuba, Ademola Babalola, Bola Bamigbola, Daud Olatunji, Raphael Ede, Ada Wodu and Godwin Isenyo, first published on Punch Newspapers