Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
As the country braces up to the challenge of a looming industrial action in public-owned universities over implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has insisted that no employee is at liberty to decide how to be paid and urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to exercise caution in pushing their case.
While reacting to reports of threats by ASUU to observe a ‘no pay, no work’ if the federal government goes ahead to stop salaries of lecturers for not registering with IPPIS, Ngige said there had not been any notice of strike from the union.
Ngige who spoke to THISDAY said: “I am not aware of ASUU’s threat to go on strike. I also don’t think it is a labour issue now, they are still discussing with their employers.
“But I don’t think that it is proper that an employee should dictate to his employer how he is to be paid. What is important is that he should be paid”.
ASUU had rejected the plan by the federal government to include university workers in IPPIS, describing it as a scam and threat to the university system.
President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a directive for the implementation of the IPPIS for the payment of salaries of all federal government workers.
The president said any worker not on the platform would not receive salary with effect from October 31.
But ASUU had argued that the attempt by the federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only illegal, but a violation of university autonomy.
According to the union, IPPIS not only violates university autonomy but FG/ASUU agreement and did not tackle the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.
For instance, the union said IPPIS did not capture the renumeration of staff on sabbatical, external examiners and assessors, earned academics allowances part time and consultancy services being rendered by lecturers across universities.
It also viewed the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail and calculated attempt to sabotage university autonomy.
The national body of ASUU and the zonal branches, including Benin, Sokoto and Ilorin zonal branches, had threatened that their members would resort to their “no pay, no work” policy if the federal government carried out its threat to stop their salaries.
The Benin Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Fred Esumen had said at an enlarged meeting of the Benin Zone of the union, held at the Ugbowo campus of University of Benin, in Benin City, that if the federal government sanctioned its members who did not enroll for the IPPIS on the October 31, 2019 deadline, ASUU would embark on “no pay, no work”.
The ASUU membership in the zone comprises University of Benin, Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma both in Edo State; Adekunle Ajasin University (Akungba, Akoko), University of Science and Technology (Okitipupa) both in Ondo State; Delta State University (Abraka) and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE) both in Delta State.
On his part, the Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of the union, Jamilu Shehu, had said at a press conference held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina, that the attempt by federal government to “forcefully” enroll staff of universities in the IPPIS was not only an illegality, but total violation of the university autonomy.
Also, the University of Ilorin chapter of ASUU had also directed its members to disregard the order to enroll on the IPPIS.
The UNILORIN ASUU, which is under the Ibadan Zone of the union, had also called on the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to stop wasting tax payer’s money in placing propaganda and misinformation in the public domain.