BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

AGF to ASUU: You can’t dictate payment method to your employer

...as SGF, labour minister, budget office appear before Reps next Thursday

Sylva Okolieaboh, the acting Accountant General of the Federation (AFG) says, under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, in reference to the insistence of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on University Tertiary and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

Okolieaboh said this while faulting ASUU’s UTAS as against Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) the Federal government uses to pay its workers.

The acting Accountant General spoke at the meeting of the House of Representatives with the AGF office, the National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA), Auditor General of the federation, amongst others to find solution to the ongoing strike by ASUU.

The meeting was a follow up to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday, where issues related to the strike were discussed was also attended by the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Folashade Yemi-Esan, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta.

NITDA’s Director Information technology ad Infrastructure Solution Department, Usman Abdullahi told the House leadership that the IPPIS, UTAS and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and June this year.

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.

Read also: Lawmakers alarmed at proliferation of universities amid ASUU

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 include IPPIS.

“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 government, and so it is one that is domiciled in the Accountant General’s office.”

Femi Gbajabiamila, the House’s speaker who was not satisfied with the explanation asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by government since 2011 but the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

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.”

The Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

“I think there’s no reason patriotism in that one, there’s no reason 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 a 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,” Wase said.

In her intervention, the Head of Service, said the ministry of communications and digital economy 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 empaneled to carry out the assignment.

She also said IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

On his part, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, 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, denying knowledge
of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

Ruling, the speaker invited the Minister of Labour and productivity, Chris Ngige, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, the Head of Civil service of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Director General, salaries, income and wages commission, Director General Budget Office among others to appear before the lawmakers next week Thursday with ASUU officials in attendance.

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