Reps kick over continuous use of failed IPPIS as payment platform
The leadership of the House of Representatives on Thursday expressed grave displeasure over Federal Government’s failure to suspend the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which failed the integrity test conducted by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and his deputy, Hon. Idris Wase expressed his displeasure during the resumed investigation into the lingering crisis trailing the prolonged nationwide strike declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the non-implementation of agreements signed with the Federal Government.
Trouble started when the NITDA’s Director of Information Technology and Infrastructure Solution Department, Dr. Usman Usman Abdullahi disclosed that the IPPIS adopted as payment platform which was conceptualized in 2006 and put to use since 2011 failed the integrity test conducted as a result of the controversy trailing the UTAS payment platform funded by ASUU.
Dr. Abdullahi disclosed that the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami has advised his counterparts on the failed IPPIS payment platform.
According to him, the Minister after the audit of various payment platforms directed NITDA to subject the three solutions: IPPIS as well as University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) to the Agency’s integrity tests.
He said: “On the issue of advising government, NITDA is in a position to advise government. Honourable Minister has been advising that this solution is payment systems particularly that are used by government have not gone through NITDA’s due diligence process.
“He (Minister) has been saying that and of course, he has been mentioning that to his colleagues. And I’m sure as a result of that government said to include IPPIS.
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“Now in response to your second question Honourable Speaker Sir, the IPPIS is what is currently in use by Government, so IPPIS is used by the government, and so it is one that is domiciled in the Accountant General’s office.”
While responding to the unique features in all three solutions, he affirmed that IPPIS is good in one, UTAS is good in another, U3PS is good in another, so in terms of rating, you have to look at all three and then rate them accordingly.
“So, that is something we felt is not at that point that we want. That would be at the point of advice, the expectation is that we should do all these tests, once they meet the due diligence requirements and then we will advise and say this is good and has passed the requirements however this is the grading.
“So, we feel we are not at a position at the moment because the issues with them are critical across board.”
In a swift response to his submission, the Speaker who was infuriated by the recurring cases of corruption in the Accountant General’s office, maintained that the NITDA should accept part of the responsibility for the failed IPPIS solution.
He said: “You know where I’m going with that question, okay let me explain to you. It means that the issues we had in the Accountant General’s office, it means that there is a problem with IPPIS itself otherwise we wouldn’t have that quantum and humongous deficiency whereby I’m not about any person, but an office drops the ball on that amount. IPPIS therefore should be queried.”
On his part, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase who frowned at the presentation of the NITDA official, said: “If you tell me that you carried out the test and they all failed and then you do not deem it fit to advise in the immediate to stop it.
“I think there’s no patriotism in that one, there’s no patriotism because if all the systems failed and then you allowed the one that has failed you to be of service to the nation. Are they of good service? And in your grading, exams are simple, you have criteria to say A, B, C fail and that must be the reason to say this one fails and if you tell me you do not have the scorecard of the three.
“I would say with all modest, you are not being honest. Your Excellency, going further we have the to put them on oath.”
Also speaking, Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan confirmed that Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy officially wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a Committee was set up to carry out the assignment.
While noting that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noted that all the workers across MDAs have fully complied with the payment system.
On his part, Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
He said, however, that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.
He said he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.
Also speaking, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.
After hours of deliberations, the Speaker resolved to invite the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Accountant General of the Federation, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige; Auditor General of the Federation, Director General of Budget Office, Mr. Benjamin Akabueze; as well as the ASUU leadership, scheduled for Thursday next week.