The Nigerian federal government has again met with officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), which has led to a two-week warning strike declared by the union.
ASUU said the strike was to also compel the FG to implement the outstanding agreement and resolution of it Memorandum of Action it had with the union in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
Both sides had met last week Thursday but some issues had remained pending.
The government had in recent times insisted that university staff members enrol in the IPPIS but ASUU had been opposed to this because it does not cater for some of the peculiarities of academics.
It also said IPPIS was a violation of the autonomy of universities as enshrined in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003.
ASUU had developed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as an alternative to IPPIS and during last Thursday’s meeting both parties had an interim agreement to merge both payment platforms.
Earlier, government had said that only those on the IPPIS were to be paid their February salaries.
That eventually happened after payments last Friday and had attracted criticisms from other higher education trade unions who observed that their members’ allowances were arbitrarily deducted.
On Tuesday evening, both ASUU and government officials met again.
Speaking at the reconvened meeting in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, expressed hope that both sides would try to resolve the matter.
He added that there was no need to the apportioning of blames.
However, ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union is standing on an existing Memorandum of Action (MOA) even as he blamed the Federal for the crisis.
He noted that IPPIS is simply incapable of accommodating academic staff salary structure at the tertiary level, stressing that government should take full responsibilities for the consequences of the ongoing action.
“Government actually ignited the ongoing crisis when it introduced IPPIS and instead of dialogue, it resorted to the use of force. The government courted the crisis by stopping the payment of salaries of our members citing president Buhari’s budget speech as a directive and they insist that the university must enroll on the IPPIS platform at a time we thought we are engaging ourselves.
“We have responded positively, we resent and resist the logic of force. It should be recalled that during our meeting with President Buhari on January 9, 2020, he promised to set up a high- powered inquiry to look into how much could be allowed in terms of management of resources and personnel by the universities within the limit of the constitution.
“ASUU was still expecting the fulfillment of that promise when the union was confronted with the unilateral stoppage of salaries by the government. It is no longer news that several lapses that we raised over the implementation of the IPPIS have become manifest given what has happened with February salaries for those that were paid.
“IPPIS is simply incapable of accommodating academic staff salary structure at the tertiary level and government should take full responsibility for the consequences of the ongoing action. Again, it was never mentioned anywhere in any of our memoranda that bursars of universities would be the ones to generate a budget for the National Assembly to address the mainstreaming of our allowances,” he said.
The meeting had gone into a technical session over the issues.
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