The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were on the warpath on Wednesday over a presidential directive on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview, restated the union’s opposition to the IPPIS.
Also, the union Chairman in the University of Ibadan, Prof Deji Omole, condemned the Federal Government for faulting ASUU’s position on the IPPIS.
Despite ASUU’s opposition, there were indications that the Federal Government would not extend the October 31 given by President Muhammadu Buhari for all civil servants to enrol in the scheme.
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 (this month).
According to the President, the directive is part of efforts to manage personnel cost to fight corruption and save billions of naira.
He had said, “I have directed the stoppage of the salary of any Federal Government civil servant that is not captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System platform by the end of October 2019.”
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.
It also facilitates planning and monitoring monthly payment of staff emoluments against what was provided for in the budget. It also ensures database integrity; facilitates easy storage; updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processes.
ASUU berated the Accountant-General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris.
ASUU, had on Monday, opposed the IPPIS, but Idris on Tuesday said the union’s position was an endorsement of corruption.
But the ASUU President, Ogunyemi, in the interview with The PUNCH said, “Our members are saying that they stand by their position. Our position is that IPPIS is against the principle of autonomy as established by law and to that extent, our members do not see any reason to enrol in the IPPIS.
“For now, nobody has called us for any negotiation. Our members will determine what we will do at the end of the day. I cannot tell this is what we will do or what we will not do. For now, we have not thought about the next line of action. But our members have not changed their position. If they do, we will let everyone know.”
The accountant-general of the federation had said university lecturers could not dictate to their employers, the Federal Government, how they should be paid.
The ASUU Chairman in the UI, Omole, asked the AGF to deal with corruption issues in his office rather than describe the union as endorsing corruption.
He challenged the Accountant-General to name the specific ministries where the IPPIS had saved N273bn for the Federal Government and how many persons had been prosecuted to show the government was serious about fighting corruption.
The ASUU chairman, who said this while addressing the congress of the union in Ibadan, stated the lecturers would never support corrupt practices.
He, however, said that ASUU would not allow the Federal Government to extort lecturers or make them vulnerable to corruption.
Omole stated that the introduction of Treasury Single Account into the university system had crippled operations as many departments could not buy a ream of paper due to paucity of funds.
The ASUU boss said despite signing a Memorandum of Action with the union in 2017 and 2019 to create separate interest-yielding accounts for university endowment funds, grants and other funds, nothing had been done to that effect, thereby making universities vulnerable.
He said, “The autonomy of the university is a legal issue and the Federal Government will not be allowed to trample upon it. The issues here are very clear as the forceful movement of university workers into the IPPIS is an act of illegality and ASUU, as a responsible union , will not fold its arms and allow the law to be broken by a mere pronouncement.
“The forceful imposition of IPPIS on university workers is a violation of the university autonomy act.
“It is, therefore illegal. While ASUU is not against accountability on the part of the university administrators, government should not be allowed to destroy public universities in its purported claims of fighting corruption.
“Our members should remain focus and committed in our struggles to protect public university education by resisting forceful imposition of the IPPIS on university workers.” – Punch.