Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said the Federal Government’s proposal to exempt members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was a temporary measure, pending the conclusion of integrity test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.
Ngige, who clarified the position of the government team on the negotiation with ASUU, stated that it was not true that government had abandoned the IPPIS or that ASUU should not be on the platform.
Making the clarification on Saturday, the minister said, “I think it is better because a lot of people are quoting us out of context, saying we abandoned the IPPIS and that we said they should not be on IPPIS; it is not true.
“What we said in the meeting and what we agreed was that, in the interim, for the transition period, UTAS is being tested by the NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) and the Office of National Security Adviser for cyber security.
“For that transition period, ASUU members that are not yet on IPPIS will be paid through the platform with which they were paid the President’s compassionate COVID-19 payment done to them between the months of February and June.
“That platform is a hybrid platform between IPPIS and GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System) platform for the transition period. That was what was used; it’s a hybrid.”
Ngige explained that the reason for reaching that position was that no government payment would be done outside the IPPIS platform.
“So, there is a handshake between IPPIS and GIFMIS platform and that was what was used in paying them for that period and so we are going to continue with that until UTAS undergoes all the integrity and cybersecurity tests and it is confirmed for use, ” he added.
On the N65bn offer made to ASUU, the minister said, prior to the Friday meeting, the government made an aggregate offer of N50bn to the union.
He said, “The offer made was clear. You can understand it this way. Prior to the meeting of yesterday (Friday), government brought an aggregate offer of N50bn to ASUU; N20bn for revitalisation, to show good faith that government is still with them on the issue of funding for revitalisation and pending the affirmation of the new sources of funding public education.
“There is a committee on that and the committee is working on sourcing new education funds; it is a NEEDS committee.
“So, pending that NEEDS committee effecting a new funding source and strategy, government offered them N20bn for revitalisation, apart from the funds that are coming from TETFUNDS that is also used for revitalisation. They refused the N20bn and said they wanted N110bn, which was 50 per cent of a tranche.”
Meanwhile, ASUU, on Saturday, denied reports that it had suspended the ongoing strike over better funding of universities and IPPIS.
The organisation also said that contrary to reports, it does not have a Twitter account and that reports announcing the suspension of strike was fake.
The President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, made the clarification in an interview with Sunday PUNCH.
“How many times have I told you that ASUU does not have a Twitter account? If we want to call off our strike, we will address a press conference and that is how we operate,” he said.
Some online media, quoting @Official_ASUUNGR, had reported that ASUU had suspended its strike, adding, “The union apologises for all the inconvenience caused to (sic) students and parents.”
On Friday, the Federal Government had accepted the demand by ASUU that they be exempted from the controversial IPPIS.
The government, after weeks of negotiations and disagreements, shifted its ground on a number of issues, including the insistence that all the academic staff of federal universities must be paid through the IPPIS platform.
The breakthrough in negotiations is expected to end the eight-month strike embarked on by the university lecturers.
Giving a breakdown of the cash offer, Ngige said the Accountant General of the Federation had offered to release “N40bn or in the alternative, N35bn to be shared by all the registered trade unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.
“The Federal Government reiterated that her offer of N40bn or N35bn, whichever is accepted by ASUU, was for all the universities’ unions. ASUU had proposed that N40b be paid immediately for all unions.”