The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came out to defend its Integrated Payroll and Personnel and Information System (IPPIS) on Thursday 9th January 2020, insisting that the policy had come to stay.
This was as a result of the meeting held with the President, Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and urged the lecturers to embrace IPPIS with a promise to increase university funding.
According to him, he said that efforts would be complemented to resolve the union’s face – off with the government over the IPPIS.
The government said at the meeting that up to 70 per cent of university lecturers had already enrolled in the system, arguing that it was an indication of its acceptance by the majority of the teachers.
The team of government heads which had the following ministers participated at the meeting where figures were presented before the President Buhari. They are:
Mr. Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education
Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance/Budget/National Planning
Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture.
According to Zainab Ahmed, findings indicate that up to 96, 090 out of the 137, 016 university lecturers in the federal universities across the Federation had enrolled for the scheme. She also said that 30 per cent of lecturers were still opposing the policy and have not enrolled.
Ahmed, who had in October 2019, disclosed that the IPPIS already saved the government over N 250bn hitherto paid to ghost workers , argued at the meeting that with the progress achieved so far , the policy had come to stay .
However, The PUNCH learnt that the ASUU’s team , led to the meeting by its President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi , disputed the submission of the minister and expressed surprise that she could give such figures .
Ahmed had also claimed that officials sent to the universities to register the lecturers were harassed and turned away by the tutors.
One source at the meeting stated, “The Minister of Finance told ASUU that about 96, 090 out of 137, 016 members of the union have enrolled in the IPPIS. The ASUU president was surprised hearing this. The lecturers did not agree to this. ”
The meeting reportedly did not resolve the dispute, though it was held on the request of ASUU to see Buhari over the challenges facing the university system.
After the meeting, neither the ASUU officials nor the ministers agreed to speak with State House correspondents.
Recall that ASUU had opposed the IPPIS policy on the grounds that it infringed on university autonomy.
ASUU had directed its members nationwide to shun it and threatened an industrial action to further drive home its opposition to the policy.
In place of the IPPIS, it proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, as an alternative .
Amid the dispute, Buhari had directed the finance minister in October last year to begin full implementation of the IPPIS, adding that all MDAs and government’s institutions must enroll.
Salaries of workers who failed to join the system by October 31 were to be stopped, but university lecturers still got paid in December.
However, the Presidency, in a statement after the meeting, said Buhari promised increased funding of the university system to enable it to deliver on its mandate of providing quality education.
He asked the lecturers to support the IPPIS.
“The President urged members of ASUU to assist the Federal Government in realizing the target of improved education and credible certificates by complying with ongoing verification and validation of human resources in the universities , which will guarantee optimum output ,” the statement, which was signed by Buhari’ s media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, stated.
The statement added that the finance minister advised ASUU at the session to encourage its remaining 40,926 members to comply with the IPPIS.
“The minister pointed out that many anomalies were discovered in the university structures that have contributed to the increased cost burden, which include staff working and earning pay in more than one university , contract staff on payroll of the government, tax reductions on PAYEE and multiple employments, ” the statement added.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, also “urged ASUU to comply with the IPPIS in national interest as his office was already in the process of streamlining all issues of human resources in government. ”
The Presidency’s statement confirmed that ASUU opposed the IPPIS at the meeting with Buhari , arguing that the government ’s visitation policy to the universities was enough accountability process as against the IPPIS .
“On IPPIS and university operations, Prof. Ogunyemi said the Federal Government’ s visitor initiative to the universities , at least once in five years, was the best guarantee for monitoring accountability processes that include internal and external audit processes.
“The ASUU president said the IPPIS would be a ‘disruptive intrusion’ that violates the laws of the federation, violates university statutes, and violates agreements between the Federal Government and ASUU . ’
“The government should welcome ASUU’ s ongoing innovation of a robust system of human resources management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which will address peculiarities of universities and end inappropriate recruitment ,” the Presidency quoted ASUU as saying.