Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba and Olaleye Aluko
Indications emerged on Friday that the faceoff between the Federal Government and the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities may not end soon.
Despite the ongoing discussions between the two, ASUU said the government had sent officials from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to commence enrolment of lecturers on the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
Saturday PUNCH reported that despite offers of N20bn to cater for the revitalisation of public universities and another commitment of N40bn for Earned Academic Allowances, ASUU had remained adamant that they would not enlist in the IPPIS scheme.
On March 23, ASUU declared a “total and indefinite strike” over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action and over the lingering crisis on the IPPIS.
The union had brought forward five contentious issues in the 2019 MoA which are; revitalisation fund for universities, outstanding earned academic allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, proliferation of universities, particularly by state governments and establishment of visitation panels to universities.
The IPPIS crisis had joined in around October 2019, after the union accused some vice-chancellors of forcing its members to enrol on the IPPIS platform.
The union also in November 2019 berated the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for threatening to withhold the salaries of its members over IPPIS, adding that it would not be moved by such threats. ASUU has also insisted on having an alternative model to IPPIS, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which it urged the Federal Government to adopt for the universities.
The ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in a memo sent to the zone coordinators and members of the union on Friday titled, “Update on engagement with government”, advised members of the union to “stay away from anything related to IPPIS.”
He said, “We have received information that IPPIS officials from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation will be visiting campuses as from Monday, October 19, 2020, for biometric data capture of academics.
“All ASUU members should have nothing to do with them. Fact-check by ASUU with the figures from the OAGF has proven the claim that our members are trooping to enrol in the IPPIS in Abuja as false.
“The enrolled number is inconsequential. On Monday, October 12, 2020, UTAS was presented to the President and other leaders of the Nigerian Senate.
“Discussions on the withheld salaries, Earned Academic Allowance, renegotiation of 2009 agreement, visitation to federal Universities and proliferation of state universities started at the meeting.