IPPIS: ASUU, Accountant-General trade blame over October 31 deadline

• IPPIS violates university autonomy ― ASUU • Says Union can't endorse corruption

The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities and Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris on Tuesday traded blame over October 31 deadline for stopping salaries of workers not enrolled on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Idris accused ASUU of endorsing corruption in the universities for refusing to get enrolled in the IPPIS after several meetings on the matter.

But President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi debunked claims by the Federal Government that the Union is endorsing corruption in the University System for refusing to enrol on IPPIS, he said the Union has no confidence.

Ogunyemi who spoke on the telephone with Nigerian Tribune in Abuja on Tuesday night declared that IPPIS violates the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions Amendment Act 2003 which provided for the autonomy of the universities.

He said: “ASUU has never and will never support corruption. The IPPIS they are talking about violates University Autonomy,” he said.

He noted that in a presentation made by ASUU on the 8th October 2019 at the National Universities Commission (NUC) just about two weeks ago, the Union asked for permission to develop an alternative to IPPIS.

Ogunyemi said: “IPPIS as they have means erosion of university’s power to control and regulate their personnel and payroll system. We quoted copiously from the universities ‘ miscellaneous Provisions Amendment Act of 2003.

“There is a section in that Act that said that the power of Council shall be exercised in the law and statutes of each university and to that extent establishment circular that is inconsistent with laws and statutes of the universities shall not apply to the universities.

“We made that clear to them and we even made reference to other provisions of that law that talks about Councils controlling personnel cost, overhead cost, research and library development and of course the balance of expenditure in academic activities.

“They are saying because the Federal Government releases the money, the government must control it from the centre, and the law says you cannot regulate the personnel of the universities directly from the centre.

“Let me tell you one thing, the Federal Government is not the employer of universities academics. The employers are the respective Governing Councils. This is what the law says.

“This matter has been settled in the law court. What the law expects is that the government should release funds to universities and the universities Governing Councils should manage the resources of the universities.

“The law also permits that where the Councils are found to be incompetent or corrupt, that Council should be dissolved immediately and another Council should be reconstituted.

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“We believe that to that extent, we believe that there are checks and balances within the system,” he said.

The Accountant-General, Idris in a statement on Tuesday said the attention of office has been drawn to misinformation being circulated by ASUU to justify their opposition to enrolling on IPPIS, a policy of government for which President Muhammadu Buhari directed that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) drawing their salary from Consolidated Revenue Funds (CRF) should join the IPPIS by the end of October 2019.

He said: “A policy aimed at saving cost and wastages in the personnel cost of government. 2. Prelude to this, several meetings have been held with the leadership of Universities comprising of Vice-Chancellors (VCs), Registrars, Bursars, National University Commission (NUC) and the four Unions (NASU, NAAT, SSANU, and ASUU) where the workings of IPPIS system have been explained and demonstrated as to accommodate all government-approved peculiarities of tertiary institutions such as Retirement age, sabbatical, visiting and other peculiarities.

“We hereby state as follows: i. Retirement age of 70 years for professors & Readers while 65 years for others in the universities. ii. For Polytechnics & Colleges of Education, retirement age is 65 years as is the case in all Research institutions. iii. Visiting lecturers are entitled to 50% of their salary in the visiting institutions but only limited to one institution as approved by NUC, NBTE & NCCE their regulatory body.iv. For Sabbatical, 100% of their salary in the institution where the Sabbatical is taking place in addition to the full salary being paid in their host institution.

“Sabbatical leave salary is for a maximum period of one year only but applicable every 7th year and as it is the standard practice but subject to approval.vi. Other allowances as duly agreed through collective bargaining between their Unions and government as approved and formalised by Salary, Income and Wages Commission (SIWC) will be paid to the last kobo, inclusive of leave allowances.

“The accommodations of their peculiarities were fully demonstrated on our payroll slide to confirm how they will be treated accordingly in the presence of the University stakeholders and all their four unions.

“However, after the practical demonstration, it was only ASUU through their national leadership who questioned the legality of IPPIS and Federal Government to pay salary directly to their members in the face of their autonomy.

“It is heartening to note that, the other 3 Unions namely; NAAT, NASU and SSANU publicly hailed the payroll demonstration and accepted to join IPPIS immediately and promised to ensure that all their members get enrolled into the IPPIS and have since been working assiduously to this effect.

“Despite the practical demonstration, ASUU has continued to mislead their members and the public for any other reason best known to them alone.

“The University Community, based on their level of knowledge, experience, academic and research, one would have expected them to be in the forefront of championing any policy that is geared towards accountability and transparency in government expenditure.

“Instead, ASUU is threatening to go to court for injunction against as IPPIS and Government as well as use propaganda to misinform their members and the public and also to denigrate this lofty policy of the Federal Government which has achieved savings of over N273billion ( Two hundred and seventy three billion naira) from personnel cost between 2017 and 2018.

“There are established rules and procedures on the engagement of contract staff, casual workers, NYSC, consultancy etc and modalities for their payments. These are not full-time employees and therefore are not a payroll matter which ASUU hinged their opposition to IPPIS on.

“It is a known practice all over the World that employees are entitled to their salaries & wages as at when due. That notwithstanding, there is nowhere employees dictate to their employers as to how he or she should be paid as being dictated by ASUU.

“ASUU opposition to IPPIS is an open endorsement to corruption in the Nigeria University system as the IPPIS platform will not allow employment of workers at will without compliance to due process on employment.

“To meet the deadline of Government, the process of enrolment is on-going; we, therefore, urge all University staff to ensure they enrol on to the IPPIS platform.xvi. It is pertinent to note that other Unions in the Universities have complied and the campaign of calumny against OFFICE OF THE ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION by ASUU is uncalled for and should be ignored,”

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