The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos zone, has described the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), the new payment platform for the employees of the federal government, as a fraud and grand design by the federal government to centralise corruption in the country.
The body said the federal government had stopped its members’ third party deductions to various cooperatives and the union since January, while salaries of its members were stopped in February.
Speaking at a news conference held at the ASUU secretariat, Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun, Ogun State, on Tuesday, the Lagos Zone coordinator of the Union, Professor Olusiji Sowande, said the union would not succumb to any arm twisting tactics of the federal government.
He said if IPPIS, as the government claimed, was intended to fight corruption, why will the government go-ahead to borrow $140M to procure software and train staff for IPPIS when the Union had volunteered to freely give the federal government same software on the platform of University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS)
The union said, though, this platform is university-based but could be accessed by the government from their offices so that they can monitor what is happening in the universities across the nation.
Prof Sowande said the federal government was only insisting that ASUU must enrol on IPPIS, not because of efficiency or fight against corruption, but rather a bold attempt to justify the reckless spending of a whopping loan of $140M on a project the union had offered to do for free.
He said the union had always rejected this new payment platform because it did not only run foul of the extant law that established Nigerian universities but did not also capture some peculiarities of the university system such as payment of its staff on sabbatical among other concerns.
Sowande explained that the stiff resistance of ASUU to IPPIS had been justified going by the alleged massive fraud and flaws which trailed the use of the payment platform to pay February salaries of some university staff and Colleges of Education.
“We have insisted that the government has an ulterior motive behind the desperate and forceful migration of our members into IPPIS. The experience of other University Staff and staff of Colleges of Education whose February salary through us were paid IPPIS further supports the agitation and resistance of ASUU. The statements credited to SSANU and COEASU after payment of February salary through IPPIS are sacrosanct,” he added.
Sowande said despite the widely reported fraud being perpetrated by the operators of IPPIS within and outside the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the AGF had remained unrepentant in forcing the bitter pill down the throats of the university lecturers saying that the union would, however, resist this with all its strength including total strike except the government toe path of justice and honour.
The union said the ongoing two weeks warning strike was to among other things reject the implementation of IPPIS for its members, and to as well ask the government to implement the outstanding issues in 2009 ASUU -FGN agreement which bothered on proper funding of public universities in Nigeria to make them functional and centre of excellence in teaching and research activities.