ASUU presents, seeks adoption of new payroll system

• Seeks NASS intervention for the acceptability • As Lawan canvases compromise on 2009 agreement

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has presented its own alternative payroll system christened University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

ASUU said UTAS is a customized payroll platform which synchronized with its peculiarity of its membership earning style besides, being local content development that promotes a part of the responsibilities of Nigerian Universities in the area of providing digital solutions to national challenges, under its mandate as a research institution.

ASUU’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) is its alternative to the nationally adopted Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Biodun Ogunyemi who presented and demonstrated the payroll application to the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan in a closed-door session said ASUU stands on UTAS, as against the demand of the federal government that it should migrate to IPPIS.

“We call it University Transparency and Accountability Solution, (UTAS) and today, we presented it to the Senate President; he commended it and we believe that they are going to provide the platform for presenting it to other stakeholders.

“We are talking about local content and we have shown that we are inventors. We are creators of software and we are not inferior to our colleagues in other parts of the world,” Professor Biodun told journalists after the closed-door session that lasted about three hours.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari has said that any institution that does not enrol on IPPIS will not get salaries of her members paid in the 2021 fiscal year.

Abiodun who had earlier hinted on their mission to the office of the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan during the opening ceremony of the engagement said UTAS was supposed to be worked on by a team of three each from the federal government and ASUU.

ASUU said to its surprised, the federal government, instead of sending a team of three as agreed, read a riot act and said there is no salary for ASUU members.

“During our last meeting, we lodged a complaint about the forceful introduction of the IPPIS in the Universities which we challenged and have been challenging since 2013 because there is nowhere in the world where it is used in the University system and we promised Nigerians that we are developing an alternative.

“Sometimes in 2015 when we were engaging government, the government challenged us as if there is something better. And we were going to reach an agreement with the government but suddenly the government did not turn up.

“We said we will bring three members and government will bring three members and we will work together. But for five years we did not hear from the government until they came back five years later to say it is IPPIS or no salary.

“Based on promises that we will take up the challenge today I am happy to inform you that we have it.

“But the problem is that we have outstanding issues from the memorandum of action government signed with us on 7th February 2019 and we had written to your excellency detailing those five issues that were outstanding.

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“Your Excellency you will need to lend your weight to our demands because our demands hold the future for quality University education in this country.

“We are here in furtherance of our previous interaction and today we hope to share with you as you requested the last time we were here the product of our invention which is an alternative to the IPPIS.

“We are also here to solicit your support on the need for the government to urgently address the outstanding issue concerning our demands.

Responding to the opening remark of the ASUU President, Lawan said ASUU should be open to a review of its demands on government even as he chided the federal government for entering into an arrangement it was not prepared to implement.

He pointed out that the National Assembly represents the interests of all, families students ASUU, and children and stressed that the students are the victims of the whole crisis and both sides just compromise on their stands to have the schools open to offer the services it owes the people.

According to Lawan “The purpose of this meeting is really to explore further on how the Senate and indeed the National Assembly can intervene to resolve the issues that are still lingering. We really don’t need this kind of situation where our universities are shut.

“Our children are the main victims of this. Therefore both government and ASUU have to find a common ground for our universities to open and offer the kind of services expected of our universities. We cannot afford as a country to continue to have this kind of crisis.

“This may explain why those that can afford will normally go out of the country even to West African countries like Ghana to receive University education. I believe our universities are better than most of these universities that our children go to in other African countries.

“The idea is to find out how we can resolve the outstanding issues and it is supposed to be given and take. The government cannot have all its way and I believe ASUU should not expect to get everything it has asked for. Our situation today is something that everyone knows what it is.”

The President of the Senate also gave reasons why ASUU should compromise in her demands: “It is a very stressful economic situation and I believe that government is supposed to even within this type of situation play its own part. Its obligations must be redeemed within the confines of what we can do.

“But ASUU I know is prepared to meet government halfway somehow because I am sure we have joint determination to resolve these issues. The National Assembly is the best place to go because while on one hand, we are a government, on another hand we represent the people.

“We represent you. We represent the families and the children who are now at home because the universities are shut. I think as parliamentarians we have to tell the truth as it is no matter how bitter it may be at the right place and at the right time.

“When we sign agreements we must do so with the full intention of implementing them. And when we negotiate, we must negotiate in such a manner that the final product will be implementable.

“This is to say that we have to accommodate each other with the government doing what it is supposed to do and ASUU being the body of our lecturers, it stands to protect its members but everybody else in the country must ensure that our universities remain open and functioning because it does not do anybody any good when the universities are shut.

“This meeting is for us as a Senate to look into the area of agreement and see where we can find an accommodation for ASUU as well as for the government to be able to implement the agreements.

“I am sure that we need to review some of the items on the agreements, I don’t know who will hurt when I say that but the reality is that some many things have happened.

“We cannot have an agreement signed in 2009 and still think this is the only way we can deal with it. We should be able to have a look at the agreements signed and see at this time whether or not some of the issues are really practicable at all. We have to be realistic.

“I always hold this belief that government should not sign agreements when it knows that it cannot implement them. Under whatever situation, let the government be practical and ASUU, being a very patriotic body, will understand with the government when there are sincerity and honesty in negotiating such agreements.

“Sometimes you wonder how somebody would sign some of those agreements and later say I cannot implement them. Why did you sign in the first place?” Lawan quarried.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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