The Federal government has enter into what it called a “reconciliatory’’ meeting to resolve the two-week warning strike embarked upon on Monday by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU over disagreements concerning the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information system, IPPIS.
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, who is leading the government delegation in the meeting on Thursday decried that ASUU embarked on strike without properly notifying the government. He however, noted the government was willing to resolve the issues so that the strike can be called off. Ngige had on Wednesday declared the strike illegal.
“Notwithstanding that the normal process of withdrawal of services were not complied with, we felt that we had to resolve this dispute here.
“I want us to fashion out a solution from this meeting; have an interim agreement so that the strike would be called off. Government was taken aback that the strike was called, nobody notified us but that notwithstanding we are doing our work to resolve the issues,” Ngige said.
ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi in his remarks stated clearly that IPPIS was a distraction to the university system adding that it was meant for the civil service.
“In 2013 IPPIS was first introduced to us as a subject, we engaged the officers in charge and by 2014 when we were almost coming to a point of providing an alternative, the government side withdrew and for five solid years, we did not hear anything from the IPPIS office until July 2019.
“Suddenly it appears IPPIS has been made the major subject about university governance and staff unionism,’’ he said.
He faulted IPPIS, saying “some of some of the policies we impose on our system are taking us many years back and IPPISS happens to be one of them. The position of ASUU is that IPPIS will take universities back into the mainstream of the civil service.”
He added that ASUU proposed the University Transparency and accountability Solution, as an alternative, which could be reconciled with IPPIS in order to take into account the peculiarities of the universities and the required flexibility for University payroll system.
He said the government rather than listen to the union tried to impose IPPIS, which he insisted is meant for the civil service not the universities.
Discussions are ongoing as the meeting has entered a technical session. Minister Finance, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo, among others were in attendance.
ASUU has been having a protracted face-off with the Federal Government over the introduction of the IPPIS in October last year, which the government said was to ensure transparency in salary payment.
The Federal Government had maintained its position that all members of the union must be enrolled on the platform just like other government employees. The government had threatened that those who did not register for the IPPIS won’t be paid their salaries and there are indications that ASUU members have not been paid their February salaries because they have not been enrolled in the scheme.
However, ASUU had faulted IPPIS policy, claiming it was in gross violation of the autonomy of universities as enshrined in the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003.
ASUU said the strike was to compel the FG to implement the outstanding agreement and resolution of it Memorandum of Action it had with the union in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2019.