Again, ASUU rejects IPPIS as government offers N20bn to fund varsities
…Commits another N40bn for Academic Allowances
The Federal Government and the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) have again failed to reach a deal on the disputed Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) even as the government has offered N20 billion funding for the revitalization of public universities and another commitment of N40 billion for Earned Academic Allowances(EAA) for ASUU.
These were parts of a range of issues discussed by both sides at a meeting reconvened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in Abuja on Thursday to find a solution to the protracted industrial action embarked upon by ASUU since March 23 over the claim by the university teachers that the government wanted to impose the IPPIS on its members, which will erode the autonomy of the university sector.
ASUU had maintained that the University Transparency and Accountability System (UTAS), has been developed by the universities to pay their staff and therefore argued that it should be exempted from IPPIS.
The meeting was as a follow up to the meeting held with the Senate Leadership led by President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawal on Tuesday 13th October 2020, where Chris Ngige committed to engaging ASUU and other stakeholders to iron out the outstanding issues.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting on Thursday said that on IPPIS “the meeting was informed that ASUU has met its timeline regarding the first stage of the initial demonstration of the efficacy of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) to Government as this was done on Wednesday, 14th October 2020. The Meeting also agreed that if UTAS passes all the different stages of the integrity test which would involve National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Advisers (NSA) and after ascertaining its efficacy; it would be adopted for the payment of the University staff.”
The issue of withheld salaries of ASUU members was discussed as the meeting agreed that the Government will pay this money as soon as the mode of payment is agreed upon by both parties.
The communiqué said further that “the meeting could not agree on how payment would be done for ASUU members during the transitional period of UTAS tests as the Government side again appealed to ASUU to enrol on IPPIS platform in view of the Presidential directive that all Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) employees should be paid via IPPIS. They can thereafter be migrated to UTAS whenever certified digitally efficient and effective with accompanying security coverage. The ASUU maintained that given ASUU’s invention of UTAS, it should be exempted from IPPIS in the transition period.”
On funding for revitalization of public universities, the communiqué said government, in spite of the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, brought an offer of N20 Billion (Twenty Billion Naira) payable by the end of January 2021 and ASUU agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Wednesday 21st October 2020.
“The Minister of Education will follow up with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier Memo to Mr President on sources of alternative funding for revitalization to facilitate the process of additional funding of the University system. This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019,” the communiqué said.
Responding to the demand by ASUU for the payment of the two tranches of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), which cumulated to 40 Billion Naira (Forty Billion naira) that has become over-due since November 2019, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmed Idris committed to releasing 30 Billion Naira (Thirty Billion Naira) on or before 6th November 2020. The remaining 10 Billion Naira would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022 respectively.
The meeting tasked the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to quickly conclude the verification of figures of EAA claims so as to clean up the figures from 2014 to 2020. To this end, a Committee would be constituted by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to develop a template that would capture all the agreed allowances in the 2009 Agreement for all the Unions in the Universities. Thereafter, the OAGF and the (NUC) are to quickly conclude the verification of the EAA figures, so as to defray the payment from 2014 to 2020.
“ASUU is to work with the OAGF and NUC to achieve that by the end of December 2020. The process of mainstreaming of the EAA into annual budget using the agreed formula shall be activated; NUC and Ministry of Education are to coordinate the activation process immediately and to be concluded by 6th November 2020. The National Assembly (NASS) has agreed to implement this process of mainstreaming provided the amount involved is sent in as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education,” the Communiqué added.
The lingering issue of payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) to Loyal ASUU members at the University of Ilorin was resolved.
The Communiqué was signed by Chris Ngige, who negotiated on behalf of the Federal Government while ASUU President Biodun Ogunyemi signed on behalf of the university teachers.
The meeting is to reconvene by Wednesday 21st, October 2020 by 3.00 pm after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting for ASUU to report back on the decision of her NEC, in order to facilitate the calling off their strike, the communiqué said.