By Joan Nwagwu
Striking university teachers say they are not affected by President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that only federal workers on Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) would be paid salaries.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), made the claim in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Abuja.
Buhari, while presenting the 2021 Budget at a joint session of the National Assembly on Thursday, said that only federal workers captured by the IPPIS would continue to receive salaries.
He ordered all federal workers to enroll into the IPPIS platform, declaring that the platform was meant to check fraud, including the payment of salaries to non-existent personnel.
He said that the platform would also check the payment of unauthorised allowances.
But Ogunyemi, while reacting to the President’s directive, said that the workers referred to were civil servants.
“The directive was meant for civil servants; university academics are not civil servants.
“We have an understanding with government to develop an alternative platform which would be sensitive to the operations of the university and accommodate its peculiarities.
“The platform we are developing will also respect the autonomy of our universities as obtained globally.
“The idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is alien to university operations because it will halt its flexibility.
“The University Miscellaneous (Provisions) (Amendment)Act (2003), which government gazetted as University Autonomy Act (2007), has vested the powers of personnel and payroll system issues in the hands of each university’s governing council,” he claimed.
He added that ASUU, on 9 January, 2019 reached an understanding with Mr President to develop its proposed University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), for testing and adoption for managing personnel information and payroll system in the universities.
“We have since done that and presented to the Federal Ministry of Education. What is left is to present to other major stakeholders, particularly in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
“The development of UTAS was done at no cost to government. We used contributions from the check-off deductions of ASUU members to finance the project and this cost us millions of naira,” he said.
NAN reports that the university teachers have been on strike since February to register their disapproval of government’s insistence that they must be captured on the IPPIS platform if they were to receive salaries.
They have also cited other issues bordering on welfare and more funding for the universities as some of their reasons for abandoning the classrooms.