The ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) four weeks warning strike seems to be nowhere near the end as both the federal government and the union are trading blame over the impasse.
The federal government in a statement said it is waiting on ASUU to upgrade and return the union’s Universities Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) that was said to have failed the integrity test.
Kashifu Inuwa, the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) made the claim at Abuja while responding to questions from journalists at the statehouse at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
ASUU has preferred UTAS to Integrated Personnel and Payment Information System (IPPIS) as the payment platform which is one of the reasons for the strike.
However, the federal government insists that UTAS has failed the necessary tests that should qualify it to be used as a payment platform, but ASUU on its own has accused the government of not being ready to accept its alternative platform to IPPIS.
According to Inuwa, “When we received the request to review UTAS, you know, building a complex system like UTAS that involves employees’ personal data, and also payment system, we have to submit it to do best practice tests before approving. Normally, when we are reviewing that kind of system, we perform three tests.
“Firstly, because when you are building a system, it is not just about the technology, you need to consider the people that will use this system and the process. If you don’t align people, processes, and technology, you will never get the result. No matter how good the technology is, if people do not understand how to use it, they won’t use it. And if the process is different from the way the people work, also, they won’t use it. So that is a process of building technology.
“Firstly, you need to get the business requirement. What do you want to achieve? So it is not the technology that will come first, it is the business requirement, what do you want to achieve, then you need to identify the capabilities you need to achieve that is your business objective.
“Part of the capability is the technology you need to bring in and the people that will operate the technology before you start thinking of the technology because technology is always a tool that will help you to achieve an objective or to do your work. If you bring the tool before knowing what to do with it, it will be useless.
“So when they came, we said okay, fine, we will do a user acceptance test, ASUU you have built this system, but you are not the one that will use the system. There are people in bursary and all the finance that will use this system.
“And also we need to do a stress test. You can build a system on your laptop or on a small computer, use it but when you put so much data it will crash, we need to do the stress test to make sure that the system can do it. This is on the system. Then also you need to have a data centre where you need to put that system because just having a system without the data centre it will not operate also.
“The second half of the story also, we need to find where to put that system like IPPIS. We have a data centre built for it. ASUU where are we going to put it? That means we need to have the data centre and also that data centre, we need to check to make sure it meets the minimum requirement. Because if you put people’s information and the system crashes, how can you pay them a salary?
“You need to build redundancy. There are a lot of things to do. So as we speak, they are trying to fix all the issues we highlighted with the system. Then when we finish that, we need to look at the second half of the story, getting where to install it.”
Meanwhile, ASUU has called on Nigerians to stop elected leaders who are bent on destroying public universities and squandering the country’s wealth.
ASUU lamented that the federal government has shown that the interest of the people is not as important as theirs.
Ayoola Akinwole, the chairperson of ASUU at the University of Ibadan urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency on the poor condition of public universities to rescue the sector from outright collapse.
Akinwole made the call at a press conference held at the Large Lecture Theatre, Faculty of Arts of the University of Ibadan.
“If the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been asked to call ASUU to order, who else, apart from Nigerian people, does the union ask to call the government officials to order?
“It is never too late for the government to make it an urgent point of duty to solve the problem of university education and not to think that it will just pass away. Problems do not get solved by propaganda, falsehood, and deceit.
“The government should face the reality and declare a state of emergency on the poor condition of public universities in Nigeria and give it what is due to it,” she said.