The University Academic Staff Union (ASUU) has denied the alleged failure of the integrity test at the University Accountability and Transparency Solution (UTAS), Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
ASUU President Mr. Emmauel Osodeke said this in a statement made available to journalists on Sunday in Abuja.
Osodeke was reacting to recent statements credited to both the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and the Director General, NITDA that UTAS had failed the integrity test.
“This press release is necessary for ASUU to clarify the background on the reasons already covered in our patriotic fight to get the government to implement UTAS as an adequate solution for the payment of salaries in our university system.
“Let us record that an integrity test was carried out on August 10, 2021 at NUC where the relevant government agencies and all end users of the university system were present.
“At the end of the year, everyone, without exception, expressed their satisfaction with the UTAS as an adequate solution for the payment of salaries in our universities.
“This was attested to by NITDA in that UTAS scored 85 percent on the User Acceptance Test (UAT),” he said.
According to him, in a curious twist of submission, the NITDA technical team, after conducting a comprehensive functionality test, said that out of 687 test cases, 529 cases were successful, 156 cases queried, and 2 cases warned.
He added that taking this report at face value, the percentage score was 77 percent.
“The question that arises from this is: Can 77 percent of any known fair evaluation system be categorized as failure?
“Suffice it to say here that some observations and questions arose that the UTAS technical team has to clarify. As we speak, our engagement with NITDA on the second round of testing continues.
“The union is concerned that while this exercise is taking place, the Minister and DG, NITDA went to the press after the FEC meeting on Wednesday March 9, 2022 to mislead the nation that UTAS did not pass the integrity test.
“We wish to draw your attention to the fact that the NITDA submitted a report that the NITDA submitted the report that UTAS performed well in both the integrity test and the user acceptability check.
“Clearly 85 percent and 77 percent are high-class ratings in any known rating system.
"In their desperation to justify their false claims, they raised issues such as the data center and hosting of the UTAS software that clearly fall outside the rubrics of ASUU's responsibilities in deploying UTAS," he said.
Osodeke said that ASUU and NITDA were still involved in the testing process and that it was pertinent to note that one of NITDA's primary mandates is to encourage the development of local content.
Therefore, he said that NITDA had to fulfill its responsibility to ensure that the solution developed was implemented.
He added that, in doing so, they must adhere to the principles of transparency to make public the set of criteria or reference points for the certification of the application of information technologies in the country.
He also called on the DG, NITDA to stop making comments that could jeopardize the ongoing joint testing of UTAS between the NITDA Technical Team and their counterparts.
“However, if this behavior continues, we will have no choice but to demand that the NITDA Technical Report on UTAS and our Union's response be made public to shed more light on the ongoing controversies without further loss of time.
“The director general, NITDA and the minister who oversees the agency are challenged by a public discussion in any national media to put an end to all matters for the benefit of our students, union members and the general Nigerian public,” he said.
He added that in the current strike, the union had been making compromises with the government on the contentious issues that required it in the first place.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the union has embarked on a nationwide warning strike to emphasize its members' demands from February 14.
The demands of the professors include the financing of the Revitalization of Public Universities, Obtained Academic Assignments, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are: the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The Federal Government says that the meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will be reconvened on February 28, in the hope of canceling the month-long warning strike it has undertaken.
Senator Chris Ngige, Minister for Labor and Employment, said this Wednesday while briefing reporters at the end of a marathon meeting between the government side and ASUU in Abuja.
The Nigerian News Agency reports that the union has embarked on a nationwide warning strike to emphasize its members' demands from February 14.
The demands of the professors include the financing of the Revitalization of Public Universities, Obtained Academic Assignments, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
According to Ngige, the ongoing warning strike is illegal because the union's demands were already being addressed since last year.
He said the strike was a clear violation of the law, adding that the union had not gone through the normal process before taking industrial action.
“ASUU failed to give the Federal Government the prescribed 14-day minimum strike notice, prior to the strike.
“I saw your letter in my office on February 18, which is last Friday, and as you know, you started your action on Monday, February 14. Therefore, it is a clear violation of labor laws. There are violations.
“If you must notify us of an intention to strike, you give us a minimum of 14 days notice. I pointed out that we are a country governed by laws. Nobody is above the law. You must obey it,” he said.
Ngige said the Trade Disputes Act allows him to apprehend the strike and once this is done, the industrial action should stop.
The minister also noted that the meeting addressed all of the union's five-point demands and resolved four of them with deadlines for action.
He explained that the demands were not new areas, but issues that are already being addressed by the Government.
“That is why I said that we are surprised that they have made this strike. These issues were discussed in November/December of last year, up until the time we paid out the Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) monies.
“It was done last year. We paid N22.172 billion. So, they have received the money.
“The second area is the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement. It talks about the renegotiation of their conditions of service, both salaries and allowances.
“I made it clear to them that there is a government process. The Federal Ministry of Education alone cannot wake up and increase their salaries.
“There was a committee that we formed at the Federal Ministry of Education to take it on because they are his direct employer.
"There was a draft proposal, which the Ministry of Education has to agree with them and then distribute it to the higher government bodies, the Presidential Salary Commission (PSC) and from the PSC, then it can go to the Federal Executive (FEC) to your approval,'' he said.
Ngige pointed out that there were known rates for the allowances and any proposal that was not in sync with what was prescribed by the National Wage, Income and Wage Commission (NSIWC) would not be carried out.
Ngige also made it clear to ASUU that they should go the normal route and work with NSIWC and PCS to meet their demands.
“So if you're talking about duty travel allowances for a university professor, who's also a civil servant, it shouldn't be above what's currently put in place as the new guideline.
“If you're talking about dangerousness allowance, it shouldn't be above what you can get for the university system. You have to compare everyone.
“That's why we even compared doctors in that risk allocation area. If you have it like that, you will be able to pull it off,” she added.
He advised ASUU not to bully the ministry of education or its committee into proposing things that were not in line with the normal rate, then the document would not work.
He said the meeting agreed that the education ministry should resurrect the committee within two weeks to discuss the proposal it had with ASUU; “so they could think of something for the PSC to review and then send to the FEC.”
Regarding the dispute over the payment platform for speakers, Ngige recalled that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) finished its evaluation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) developed by ASUU.
He added that his Minister of Supervision, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy sent him the report.
He said that although it was not his duty, he sent the report to ASUU to obtain information and necessary measures, saying that this is how the government works.
“I sent that on December 12. They now responded to NITDA through me on February 2nd. So who has wasted time? I took your report, sent it to NITDA, copied Fice, Education and the rest of them.
“Some of these things are not supposed to be done, but we are proactive in everything related to Education and Health.
"Now that you've told NITDA they haven't done the right thing, the next logical thing, as we agreed to today, is for the two technical teams from ASUU and NITDA to get together and sort out the differences," he said.
He said: “As far as I'm concerned, I was doing what I'm supposed to do and the government is doing what it's supposed to do. We have agreed UTAS now.
“But we are going to do a joint test of both technical teams and find areas of reconciliation because UTAS itself is a local system and Executive Orders 3 and 5 encourage local content.
“So, we should be able to encourage them. That's what I told them but they have this phobia that the government wants nothing more than IPPIS.
"I told them that no matter what solution they have, they must have a handshake with IPPIS, so that the government controls the movement of their funds," he added.
On the pending issue of the Revitalization Fund 2022, he said that the government side, made up of the Ministers of Education and Fice and the Chief of Staff, would meet as instructed, to finalize the gray areas on the matter.
Ngige urged ASUU to properly inform its members and call off the strike before the month-long strike expires.
“By Monday, we would have addressed some of the issues that they are talking about and come back to them for further discussion. We will meet again with them and with the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and go from there,” he said.
The University Academic Staff Union (ASUU) has called on Nigerians to persuade the Federal Government to avoid impending strike promises.
The president of ASUU, chapter of the University of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Akinwole, stated this in Ibadan in an interactive session with journalists.
Akinwole, who has joined the institution's leadership, said the government has yet to implement the 2009 agreement covering its members' conditions of service, emoluments and allowances.
“What remains in the universities since 2009 remains the same. So, we have agreed, we have concluded the negotiations with the government team that attended in May, but it has not yet become law.
“Instead of putting him up for presidential promotion, what the government wants to do now is set up another tripartite committee to look again at what took us four years to get there.
“This is unacceptable to our union and we are telling the public that the government is playing a time bomb with regards to higher education and universities in general,” Akinwole said.
He pointed out that the intervention of the National Interreligious Council prevented the industrial action that could have been in December 2021 and promised to discuss with the government and mediate.
Akinwole said that another issue in dispute was the registration of UTAS, the software that ASUU developed for the management of personnel, wages and salaries in the university system, which, according to the government, would be evaluated for implementation in six months.
“The government asks us after a year of submission to resubmit the software for another re-evaluation. Despite the fact that the average evaluation rated the software very highly, the government is not willing to implement UTAS.
“We call on Nigerians to convince them to do what is necessary to not throw the university system into yet another crisis that they may not be able to handle.
“Another issue is the revitalization of the university system. The government team claimed that N1.3 billion will be needed to revitalize Nigeria's education system to catch up with the West African average from 2013.
“Until today, the government had released only N270 million, which leaves a surplus of more than one point something trillions still unreleased. The government promised that 220 million naira would be released before the end of last year.
"But N30 million was released on top of N20 million released in 2019, which makes N50 million that should be released by the government in 2014. With the additional outstanding N850 million, it should be released over the next four years," he said.
Akinwole said there was no need for another crisis if the government had kept its promises, noting that "the ASUU UI congress calls on the federal government to honor the MoA signed in December 2020."
ASUU, a branch of Cross River State University (UNICROSS), has called on the Federal Government to implement the University Accountability Transparency Solution (UTAS) and other union demands.
This, they said, was to prevent the planned indefinite industrial action.
Union President at UNICROSS, Dr. Patrick Ineji, made the call Thursday during an interaction with journalists after a union congress in Calabar.
Ineji said the union has given the federal government enough time to implement its demands, adding that no substantial implementation has taken place.
According to him, hundreds of union members had been owed wages for more than 10 months due to anomalies in the Integrated Personal Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
He said that this was the reason why ASUU wanted the deployment of UTAS for the payment of their salaries.
He highlighted other union demands that have yet to be implemented to include the Federal Government's refusal to sign and implement the 2009 renegotiated agreement with ASUU and the revitalization of public universities.
The ASUU president maintained that UTAS passed an integrity test and was deemed worthy of being used to pay university professors' salaries.
“After a union congress, we analyzed the areas that can cause ASUU to go on strike if the Federal Government does not do what is necessary.
“The federal government has refused to sign and implement the 2009 renegotiated agreement with ASUU.
“The federal government forced ASUU to go into IPPIS with all the anomalies that followed the exercise and refused to deploy UTAS, which is a better option than IPPIS,” he said.
He further said that the renegotiated agreement between the Federal Government and the ASUU of 2009 includes the welfare of university personnel, how the universities should be operated and the service scheme and others.
Also speaking, Union Secretary at UNICROSS, Dr. Emeka Ategwu, said the union also frowned on the proliferation of universities in Nigerian governments.
According to him, the current universities lacked infrastructure development and basic services, however, some state governments were moving forward to establish more universities.
“What is the need to establish many universities when the ones on the ground have not been properly funded?
"Some of the governors are establishing more universities for political gain, this is not correct because the level of our educational system is degrading with this type of proliferation of more universities," he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the federal government remains committed to fulfilling promises made to the University Academic Staff Union (ASUU).
This, he said, was to prevent disruptive strikes, generate uninterrupted academic programs, and improve funding for educational institutions.
The president made the promise when he received members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, and the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in Abuja on Tuesday.
He praised NIREC management for intervening in the year-long strike and consulting with the parties.
According to him, no society that loves itself neglects its educational system and all its components.
Buhari urged NIREC that in their further consultations with ASUU members, it was important that they share with them that the government think highly of them and their service to the nation.
”However, they should be aware of the fiscal pressures we are currently facing. However, we remain committed to keeping our promises.
”For its part, I would like to encourage ASUU to continue working with us to find solutions to the challenges we face.
"My administration is committed to this engagement and dialogue, and I urge you to stay the course toward a joint resolution in the best interest of our children and the nation," he said.
In response to questions raised by NIREC about finding sustainable solutions to the perennial and disruptive strikes that threatened the sanctity and integrity of the nation's university system, the president said he had directed his Chief of Staff, the Labor Ministers and Employment and Education, which made solving the problem a priority.
The President said that he had received information from the Minister of Labour, “detailing where we are today, given the various stakeholders, and reported on the meeting as follows:
”To show our commitment, several payments have been made in the last 6 months, addressing several of the issues you raised, details of which the minister of labor and employment can make available to you.
”Funds have also been provided for the development of infrastructure in several public universities and several of them have started to use this facility to improve their level of infrastructure.
”Finally, and perhaps the most controversial of the issues regarding the decision to use the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) or the University Responsibility Transparency Solutions (UTAS).
”As you may know, IPPIS was introduced as a means of blocking leaks. Through IPPIS, the federal government was able to save more than 100 billion naira annually in the central civil service alone. In view of ASUU's resistance, we devised UTAS which is now on the table.
"I was also informed that the Digital Economy and Communications System Assessment Report has been shared with all stakeholders, including ASUU, and they are required to make appropriate modifications and report back on their recommendations."
On behalf of the Council, the president of the CAN said that the meeting with the president was the sole point of avoiding the strikes in the universities and the challenges of the ASUU, which they considered to be of national interest.
Ayokunle told the president that from NIREC's meeting with ASUU on January 10, 2022, university professors highlighted that the bone of contention between the union and the federal government centered on eight issues.
According to him, these issues include the inconclusive renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN agreement of 2009, UTAS, IPPIS and the distortion in wage payment challenges.
Other contentious issues include visiting panels at federal universities, reporting issues, funding for public university revitalization, earned academic allocation, state universities, and promotion arrears.
While acknowledging that some of the issues had been addressed, the NIREC leadership appealed to the president to order an immediate return to the table to conclude the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
”If the renegotiation process continues to its conclusion, the issues with which the government does not feel comfortable can be renegotiated with a view to reaching only implementable agreements.
"We believe that with the renegotiation underway, other issues will be adequately addressed along the line," the NIREC co-chair said.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government remains committed to honoring promises made to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
This the President said was to prevent disruptive strikes, engender uninterrupted academic programs and improve funding of educational institutions.
The President made the pledge when he received members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, led by the Co-Chairs, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa'ad Abubakar, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Samson Ayokunle, in Abuja on Tuesday.
I have commended the leadership of NIREC for intervening in the year-long strike by ASUU and holding consultations with the parties.
According to him, no society which wishes itself well neglects its educational system and all its component parts.
Mr Buhari urged NIREC that in its subsequent consultations with members of ASUU, it was important that they shared with them, that the government regarded them and the service they provided to the nation very highly.
”However, they should be cognizant of the fiscal pressures that we are currently facing. Nevertheless, we remain committed to honoring our promises.
”For their part, I will like to encourage ASUU to continue to work with us toward finding resolutions to the challenges that confront us.
”My administration is committed to this engagement and dialogue, and I urge them to stay the course toward a joint resolution in the best interest of our children and nation,” he said.
Responding to issues raised by the leadership of NIREC on finding sustainable solutions to the perennial and disruptive strikes that threaten the sanctity and integrity of the nation's university system, the President said he had directed his Chief of Staff, the Ministers of Labor and Employment and Education , to make resolving the issue a priority.
The President said he had received a briefing from the minister of labour, “detailing where we are today, given the various interested parties, and he apprised the meeting as follows:
”To show our commitment, several payments have been made over the last 6 months, addressing several of the issues you raised – details of which the minister of labor and employment can make available to you.
”Funding has also been provided for infrastructure development across several public universities and several of them have begun drawing down on this facility to improve their level of infrastructure
”Finally, and perhaps the most contentious of issues regarding the decision to use either the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) or the University Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS).
”As you may be aware, IPPIS was introduced as a means of blocking leakages. Through IPPIS, the Federal Government was able to save over N100 billion annually from the core civil service alone. In view of the resistance from ASUU we devised UTAS which is now on the table.
”I have also been informed that the System Assessment Report conducted by NITDA has been shared by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to all stakeholders, including ASUU, and they are to make the appropriate modifications and report their recommendations.''
Speaking on behalf of the Council, CAN President said the meeting with the president was on the single point of averting strikes in the universities and the challenges of ASUU, which they considered to be of national interest.
Mr Ayokunle told the President that from NIREC's meeting with ASUU on Jan. 10, 2022, the university lecturers outlined that the bone of contention between the union and Federal Government centered on eight issues.
According to him, these issues include the inconclusive renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, UTAS, IPPIS and distortion in salary payment challenges.
Other contentious issues are visitation panels to Federal Universities report issues, funding for revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowance, state universities and promotion arrears.
While acknowledging that some of the issues had been addressed by the government, the NIREC leadership appealed to the President to direct the immediate return to the table to conclude the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
”If the renegotiation process continues to conclusion, issues that the government is not comfortable with can be renegotiated with a view to reaching only implementable agreements.
“We believe that with renegotiation in place, other issues will be adequately addressed along the line,” the NIREC co-chair said.
The federal government said in Abuja on Thursday that it would respond to basic demands from the University Academic Staff Union, ASUU, next week.
Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed revealed this during a tripartite meeting hosted by House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the government and the union.
It will be recalled that the ASUU issued a three-week ultimatum to the federal government to honor the agreements reached, failing which the union would go on strike.
The union had demanded the release of 30 billion naira as part of the first tranche of the University Revitalization Fund.
The union has also demanded the release of 22.12 billion naira which is to be paid to its members in the form of earned compensation.
The union also insisted on the implementation of University Transparency Accountability Solutions, UTAS, and a renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the union and the federal government.
Addressing the meeting, Ms Ahmed said the process to respond to the union's demands has started and the money will be released before the end of next week.
She said that the effectiveness of UTAS was still being verified by the relevant agencies and would be implemented once concluded.
She also said the process for starting the renegotiations of the agreement between the federal government and ASUU had started.
Earlier, Mr. Gbajabiamila said he called the meeting so that the strike issues would be addressed once and for all.
Mr Gbajabiamila said the consequences of interrupting the education process were enormous and the unintended consequences were more deadly.
“We can't sit here as leaders and watch it fall apart; education is very important and no amount of money is too high.
“It cannot be a lasting exercise, the strike cannot be a tool that we use all the time; it should be the last resort after all other efforts have failed.
“We have to solve this problem once and for all,” he said.
ASUU President Professor Victor Emmanuel said the union had given the government a three-week ultimatum, after which it would start the strike.
He said he would relay the information to union members and report their response to the speaker.
The federal government has announced that it will soon begin disbursing N30 billion revitalization funds to public universities.
Labor and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said this at the end of a closed-door conciliation meeting between the federal government and the University Academic Staff Union, ASUU, in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, around N22. 172 billion have been provided in the 2021 supplementary budget for the allowances deserved to all university workers.
The meeting was called by the Minister to assess the level of implementation of the MoU, the MoU, signed by both parties in December 2020 and the resolutions of the follow-up meeting, held on August 2.
Mr. Ngige said the meeting had fruitful deliberations and the six agenda items were dealt with in a satisfactory manner.
He assured the government was not dragging its feet on anything that would make the university system good, adding that it wanted public universities to be seen as suitable and appropriate places for learning and research.
The Minister reaffirmed the government's commitment to raising the level of the country's university system.
"The Buhari administration will try as much as possible, within its limited resources, to make a significant contribution to the development of the university system," he said.
On the issue of revitalization funds for public universities, he noted that the meeting had received an update from the National Universities Commission, NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education.
According to him, they are happy that the mission entrusted to them has gone satisfactorily.
Mr. Ngige said that the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education have done their mission by bringing universities to come and defend the various allocations allocated to them according to the needs of the universities.
“A monitoring committee has also been set up by the NUC. We are delighted and hope that the disbursement of revitalization funds will begin very soon, ”he added.
On the issue of allowances earned, Ngige said the meeting was also satisfied with the work NUC is doing in compartmentalizing payments based on existing universities and unions.
He said N22. 172 billion have been provided in the 2021 supplementary budget for the allowances deserved to all university workers.
Mr Ngige expressed optimism that payments to individual universities would start very soon, as the meeting had set a timeline for payment to start no later than October 30.
He said they received the report from the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, on ASUU's preferred payment platform known as the University Transparency Solution System, UTAS. .
“We are also satisfied with the report they gave. We asked them to liaise with ASUU and NUC, to work on this system for user deployment as soon as possible, ”he said.
According to Ngige, the meeting reviewed the promotion arrears and other overdue payments of university professors and gave the end-October timetable for the problems to be resolved once and for all by the universities.
He said it would allow those affected to enjoy the fruits of their promotion.
Regarding the shortfalls in payments, he said the meeting urged the IPPIS office to have a model and liaise with vice chancellors and university bursars to hold a discussion next week.
According to him, this will ensure the development of a foolproof model that will allow those affected to get their wages.
“We know from a reliable source that some university professors have not been paid for several months, due to problems with incomplete data.
“We have asked the IPPIS office to collect this data as soon as possible, to ensure that these university professors are paid.
“A worker must receive his salary. As a government, we don't agree with using issues of incomplete data to hold back workers' wages for months.
“We think that should be fixed as well. We have given a timetable at the end of the month to do it, ”said Mr. Ngige.
He said the meeting called on the Federal Ministry of Education to speed up the renegotiation process, so that the proceeds of the renegotiation reach the government for consideration.
The minister said the meeting also agreed on the areas of the collective bargaining agreement, CBA, contained therein for speedy implementation and enforcement.
ASUU National President Professor Emmanuel Osodeke expressed the hope that all issues would be resolved quickly, for the benefit of the children, the university system and the country in general.
Nigeria's news agency, NAN, reports that Peter Yerima-Tarfa, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment, and Professor Abubakar Rasheed, NUC Executive Secretary, were present at the meeting.
Others were representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education, the IPPIS Office and the National Wages, Incomes and Wages Commission, NSIWC.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), says there is no hope in sight to suspend its lingering strike due to alleged lack of commitment by the Federal Government
Prof. Theophilus Lagi, the ASUU, Abuja Zonal Coordinator, disclosed this at a news conference on Tuesday at Gwagwalada, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the ASUU, Abuja Zone, comprises the Federal University of Technology, Minna; Nasarawa State University, Keffi; Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai; Federal University of Lafia, and University of Abuja.
Lagi said the strike had lingered for several months as the government had yet to show any serious commitment or willingness towards addressing the unions core demands for students to resume studies.
According to him, members of the union have been advised to seek other legitimate means of survival as the government has not released salaries withheld since February, 2020.
“Today, we wish to let Nigerians especially our students and parents know that there is no hope in sight to ending or suspending the ASUU strike that lingered for long.
“Government is yet to show serious commitment towards addressing our core demands.
“One needs not to be a psychologist to understand the behavior and recent utterances of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, by showing his disdain for Nigerian Academics and has failed to play the role of an unbiased umpire in moderating the imbroglio.
“He has now become the spokesperson to the accountant General of the Federation and Ministry of finance, instead of finding solution for lecturers to get back to work.
“He is turning the wheel of progress backwards by setting ASUU on collision with other pressure groups in the University.
“In the past few weeks for instance, Ngige has said one thing when he met with the Union and a different thing on the same subject in an interview with the media.
“This double character of a Minister and a purported negotiator in the face-off should be a source of worry to not only Nigerian students but parents who patronise public universities.
“On this, we will like to educate the honourable Minister that public universities in Nigeria are creatures of law as each University is established by an Act enacted by the National Assembly,” he said.
Lagi maintained that in spite of agitations with comprehensive and indefinite strike to compel the federal government to address its core demands, government had not shown any commitment.
He however, called on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, payment and mainstreaming of earned academic allowances into salaries, release of funds for revitalisation of the Nigerian university system among others.
The coordinator condemned the event at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) where the authority allegedly invited the military to assist in the conduct of the 2019/2020 first semester examinations.
“Another bizarre turn of event is unfolding at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, where a letter written by the Ag. Registrar, Barr. T. M Ikpenwa on 12th November, 2020 inviting the 103 Batalion of the Nigerian Army to assist in the organisation and conduct of the 2019/2020 First semester Examinations.
“Such involvement of the military crack team in a normal University function is primitive and height of insult and lack of regard to the Academia in Nigeria.
“The union wishes to call on the authorities at ESUT to refrain from the ugly trend because we do not want a repeat of 1976 in Nigerian universities,” he said.
He described the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as better suited in the University system, as it recognised all agreements entered into between government and university based trade Unions.
Ladi noted that the UTAS platform ensured simultaneous payments of employees salaries and third party deductions like tax, pension, Union dues, cooperatives and bank loans.
Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) urged the Federal Government to leave the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as condition to call off its ongoing strike in the country.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President said this in a statement made available on Sunday in Abuja that the ongoing strike may still linger if government failed to meets its demand.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that ASUU had embarked a nationwide strike on March 23 to press on its demands which include revitalisation, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, Visitation Panels, among others.
According to Ogunyemi, Nigerians should bear with us. ASUU is doing their battle.
“Our Union is struggling to ensure that the children of the poor, who cannot afford the prohibitive cost paid in private universities or do not have opportunities to study outside Nigeria, get quality education which is not priced beyond their reach.
“This will only happen when government adequately funds public universities and addresses the rot and decay in them.
“ASUU has shifted positions in some respects.
“For instance, our members have reduced their demand of one tranche N220bn of the outstanding revitalization fund by 50 per cent.
“The Union has also agreed that N30bn out of the so far verified arrears of N40bn of the earned academic allowances (EAA) be paid to our members while the balance of N10bn could be spread over the next two tranches,
“We were equally making steady progress on other issues,”he said.
ASUU president, therefore, noted that what had stalled meaningful dialogue was government’s insistence that payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of its members would only be effected through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
He added that government was punishing university teachers because they rejected IPPIS, which was imposed on the universities against the provisions of the law on autonomy and universal practices.
Ogunyemi said UTAS had been presented to the Minister of Education and senior management staff, the President and leadership of Senate, and the Office of the Accountant-General where NITDA and Office of the National Security Adviser and other MDAs were fully represented.
“All questions raised at the four levels of presentation of UTAS were satisfactorily answered.
“In practical terms, there is no transition period if government is sincere,”Ogunyemi said.
The ASUU president said it would take a longer period to capture more than three-quarters of its members who were not yet on IPPIS than the time required to run through the last stage of the integrity test for UTAS.
He added that the claim by government that the platform used in paying its members’ salaries before the imposition of IPPIS had been dismantled was not true.
He noted that some of its members who had not enrolled in IPPIS were paid part of their withheld salaries last week.
“That would enable us conclude on the outstanding five demands including revitalisation, EAA, renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, inauguration of the Visitation Panels.
“Others are proliferation of state universities and governance issues in them of the Union to pave way for the quick resolution of the lingering crisis.
“It is government that is prolonging the matter, not ASUU,” he added.
Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu