By Edward Etuka
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU ) has given fresh reasons why its more than 7 months old strike has lingered.
A statement signed by ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi made available to EAGLE EYE WATCH explained 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.
ASUU said the position of government that the platform initially used for paying lecturers’ salaries before the imposition of IPPIS has been dismantled was not true.
The statement said some ASUU members who have not enrolled in IPPIS were paid part of their withheld salaries last week but in furtherance of the attack on ASUU, the Accountant-General of the Federation has illegally seized all the deducted union check-off dues in the last nine months.
ASUU said it is at the final stage of the integrity test of the Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS with the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
The statement said that”…UTAS was developed locally by ASUU members, unlike IPPIS which was engineered by the World Bank and with the full cooperation of the concerned agencies, the final test with NITDA could be completed as a matter of days and UTAS adopted in place of IPPIS in the universities.”
ASUU said In closing the meeting between the leadership of the lecturers union and the Federal Government team last Wednesday, November 4, 2020, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, promised to send government’s written position on ASUU’s response to their initial offer.
ASUU said the minister also added that all concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies would be consulted on Friday, November 6, for their inputs into government’s new position and as at the time of this press release, it is yet ro received any position from government.
The statement read further that “…ASUU has shifted positions in some respects. For instance, our members have reduced their demand of one tranche of N220 billion of the outstanding revitalization fund by 50%.
It said the Union has also agreed that N30 billion out of the so far verified arrears of N40 billion of the earned academic allowances be paid to our members while the balance of N10b could be spread over the next two tranches.
The statement stressed that It was the government that was prolonging the issues at stake, not ASUU, adding that government should release all that is due ASUU members and the union, without the conditionality of IPPIS, which would enable them to conclude on the outstanding five demands which are revitalisation, Earned Academic Allowance, renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, inauguration of Visitation Panels, proliferation of state universities and governance issues in them.
Recalled that ASUU embarked on an industrial action about 8 months ago across the country, following its dispute with the Federal Government over their insistence on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of University lecturers’ salaries and allowances.
Alternatively, ASUU developed a homegrown payment platform, UTAS, which they believe guarantees the autonomy of the university.
The Federal Government, following negotiation with ASUU, said that it might consider adopting UTAS as a way of finding a solution to the lingering crisis.