Before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, about a week or so, Nigerian students in public higher schools had been at home due to ASUU strike. Several claims were made by the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU), which precipitated the lingering strike.
By Abdulganiyu Abdulrahman Akanbi
The Federal Government and ASUU had been in serious roundtable discussion before the latter embarked on strike which is still on.
Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was the crux of the argument between both parties.
The system, as said by the Federal Government, was established mainly to enhance transparency and accountability in the payment of civil servants, including lecturers in Nigeria. In furtherance, the policy will also weed out various corrupt practices in the education sector and open door for employment.
In response to that, ASUU rebuked the system and rather substituted it with University Accountability and Transparency Solution (UTAS) . The union claimed, upon rejection, the introduction of IPPIS was mainly to take away the autonomy of universities which violates the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003. Initially, salaries of lecturers who failed to enrol on the scheme were withheld for months before,upon pressure, the Federal Government released funds for payment of their salaries.Till now,both parties are still trying to negotiate. Between spaces of this battle, students suffer the most.
Although, those who neglected ASUU directive and succumbed to Federal Government’s threat among the lecturers, regretted their action. Later, they decried the system. According to some victims, after enrolling on the scheme, they were later underpaid. In the same vein, the association of Non-Academic Staff of Universities(NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities(SSANU) had threatened to go for temporary strike and withdraw from IPPIS after months of enrollment because of irregularities in the system.
So far, civil servants have faulted the payroll platform and have no confidence in it. ASUU is not ready to go back in talks on IPPIS but rather on UTAS. Recently, ASUU said, the designed platform; UTAS is ready for integrity test. As was projected, UTAS is going curb corruption and enhance accountability and transparency in the paymentof lecturers’ salaries.
The Federal Government insists on IPPIS as it attracts benefits and promotes development. But, how far has the government attended to the shortcomings of IPPIS?. There are many questions to answer. However, the Federal Government needs to honour the law of the land on the autonomy of Nigerian universities. So, there is need for consideration in this aspect.
Since both sides want progress and development for the nation, there is need for mutual agreement.While it is important for the Federal Government to honour whatever agreement reached with ASUU. the union needs to softpedal and end the ongoing strike. However, some students have blamed ASUU for hypocrisy, unpatriotism and inordinate demands, while others faulted the Federal Government for not fulfilling its promises.
- Akanbi is a 200-Level student of Islamic Studies, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.