The Academic Staff Union of Universities has asked the Nigerian Government to pay salaries of members as part of conditions to suspend its ongoing strike.
Speaking at the unveiling of the union’s Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution at the University of Abuja on Tuesday, National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said the move was key to further negotiations with the government over the ongoing industrial action.
Ogunyemi said its members at the University of Maiduguri and the Michael Opara University of Agriculture have not been paid about five months’ salaries by the Accountant-General of the Federation on account of non-registration on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
He added that thousands of other academics across universities are suffering the same fate.
He said, “Thousands of other academics across the universities are suffering the same fate. So, while we counsel that government at both the federal and state levels must meet the task force specified guidelines for reopening of educational institutions, we insist that all the arrears of the withheld salaries of our members in federal and state universities must be paid immediately to pave for further discussion on the outstanding issues in the Memorandum of Action of February 7, 2019.”
The ASUU Chairman noted that the union had taken concerted steps towards achieving provisions of the IPPIS initiative with the UTAS.
He said that the software will cater to the peculiarities of universities in Nigeria both private and public.
“We had always promised that ASUU would produce a robust software solution that would be sensitive to the uniqueness of the university system in addressing personnel information and payroll system, among other things.
“Following our engagements with the Federal Government over the issues that eventually led to the declaration of the ongoing strike action on 17th March, 2020, the government declared that it accepts in principle the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which is being developed by ASUU and its researchers for the financial administration of the university’s FG’s staff monthly payroll and accounting processes.
“In addition, the Federal Government pledged that when fully developed UTAS will be subjected to various integrity tests in order to verify its efficacy to see whether this final product will pass the necessary technical attribute test as specified by NITDA.
“On our part, ASUU had given a timeframe of 18 months to the government to develop, test, and deploy UTAS. In keeping with this promise, ASUU is pleased to announce that UTAS is now ready for the integrity tests required of it by the government. Indeed, the software was unveiled by way of demonstration to the minister and senior management staff of the Ministry of Education, including the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission yesterday, 17th August, 2020.
“We must however emphasise that UTAS is far more than just an alternative to IPPIS which does not respect the nature, structure, and character of the Nigerian university system.
“It was ill-advised, ab initio, to have deployed IPPIS in the universities. All the distortions and disruptions being reported within the university payrolls of federal universities in the last six months or so, even by those who initially welcomed IPPIS with open arms, were predicted by ASUU. Unlike IPPIS, however, the UTAS is a web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application deployed for the overall management of university resources in an efficient, transparent, and accountable manner. It is developed to run on the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS), in which universities maintain sub-domains as tenants.
“Users are fully identified and authenticated for the purpose of gaining access to any of the aspects of the platforms such a user is appropriately authorised,” he added.
It is our sincere hope that the government would not renege on its promise because the benefits of UTAS to the university system (both public and private) cannot be found in any other software in Nigeria today. Now that the union is close to meeting the government’s demand on an alternative to IPPIS, it is our sincere hope that the substantive issues in the ongoing strike action would be given the desired attention,” he said.
ASUU had in March declared an indefinite strike, citing the Nigerian Government’s failure to meet its demands.