There is palpable tension in Nigerian universities, with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, boycotting the ongoing Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, seminar in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Lecturers are bent on downing tools again, barely a few months after calling off a protracted industrial action, if the government insists on getting them to join the new payment platform.
The Federal Government had directed all its Ministries, Departments and Parastatals, MDS, to join the computerised payment platform to reduce corruption and human error in the payment of salaries.
As part of measures to bring universities into the programme, the government distributed IPPIS forms to lecturers all over the country through the National Universities Commission, NUC.
It also organised seminars in the six geo-political zones of the country to sensitise management, union leaders and other stakeholders in government-owned universities, on the new payment platform.
The seminar for the South-South zone was said to have kicked off on Monday in Port Harcourt, but members of the union would not turn up for the programme.
A similar programme which is going on simultaneously in other geo-political zones of the country is also said to have been boycotted by members of the union.
A source from the University of Uyo, Uniuyo, told PREMIUM TIMES that ASUU had barred its members from attending the Port Harcourt seminar.
Already, the source said university teaching hospitals that adopted the IPPIS are being owed salaries due to the ineffectiveness of the new platform.
While some workers got jumbo salaries, he noted that others got far below their entitlements, due to the unreliability of the new payment platform.
He also noted that February salaries of the teaching hospitals are yet to be paid because of the problem encountered the previous month.
“The vice chancellor had intimated us about the seminar but based on the directive from our union, we cannot honour the invitation for the programme,” a union member in UNIUYO told PREMIUM TIMES. He requested not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
“ASUU is not against the computerised salary system but we are saying that the policy does not favour the peculiar nuances of the academia.
“For instance, the IPPIS does not recognise the peculiarity of the academic environment and cannot meet our payment needs. Our members go on sabbatical, act as adjuncts and we engage in regular recruitment of staff which are not addressed on the IPPIS platform.”
Having experienced the failure in the payment of monetisation, the source hinted that the union would not allow its members to be part of the new payment system.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported that the University of Ibadan chapter of the union had early in January barred its members from filling the IPPIS form.
The Secretary of the chapter, Deji Omole, said the move would inject a new form of fraud into salary payment in the universities.
In a statement, Mr. Omole stated, “Our attention has been drawn to an NUC circular directing university staff to fill IPPIS forms. This is to remind you that the union’s position on IPPIS has not changed.
“Until NEC reviews its earlier decision, no ASUU member is to fill the form. NEC is to discuss this issue in February and give further directive. United we bargain, divided we beg.”
Also speaking on the matter, ASUU chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Olusegun Ajiboye, said the latest move by the NUC was aimed at further creating problems for the university lecturers.
According to him, the integrated payment system did not take into consideration the peculiarities of the work of academic staff and negated the principle of autonomy which ASUU won since 1992.
He explained that academic staff were employed by their respective university councils which managed the resources and took care of the welfare of its staff; and not centrally by the NUC.
“IPPS negates the principle of university autonomy that ASUU fought for. We are employed by our respective governing councils and not centrally by NUC. For salaries to be paid from Abuja is strange to the world university system apart from the dangers inherent in it. IPPS does not take into consideration the peculiarities of our job,” Mr. Ajoboye said.
“Now that we are even paid by our universities, members who have problems with their salaries face difficulties before getting it resolved let alone salaries being paid from Abuja. They are talking of ghost workers when salaries have not been paid from Abuja but somebody in front of the system in Abuja will manufacture fictitious names and pay themselves. It will give room for fraud and make life difficult for our profession and members. We say no to IPPS,” he added.
Attempts to speak with the National President of ASUU, Nasir Faggie, on the issue failed as he would not take calls or respond to a text message sent to his telephone.
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