•AGF awaits final report
Onyebuchi Ezigbo and James Emejo in Abuja
Amidst speculations that the federal government will withhold the December salary of the academic staff of federal universities who failed to enroll on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) after the expiration of the December 7 enrollment deadline, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said there is no specific instruction yet to that effect.
Also, the Director of IPPIS in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Olufehinti Olusegun, told THISDAY that a decision had not yet been taken on whether or not to give more time to ASUU members to enroll on the IPPIS payment platform.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told THISDAY that the union was not aware of any order of the government directing the stoppage of university workers’ salaries.
The federal government and ASUU had disagreed over the enrollment of university lecturers on IPPIS, with the union asking its members not to enroll into the scheme.
ASUU had said the application of IPPIS would go against the autonomy the universities had fought hard to achieve and also harm the professional interest of its members.
On its part, the federal government described IPPIS as a well-thought out scheme, which will make salary payment a seamless exercise while ending all ambiguities that is associated with the old system.
As the federal government’s enrolment deadline elapsed, there was heightened fears that the face-off might turn to a full-blown industrial action, which might disrupt academic calendars of the country’s tertiary institutions.
When THISDAY asked the ASUU president if the union had received any hint that the December salaries of the defiant university lecturers would not be paid, he said: “We have not seen a stop-salary order by government; if we do, we already have a response.”
Ogunyemi was apparently referring to the resolution reached by ASUU at its last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Minna, Niger State capital, in which the university lecturers vowed to immediately embark on a nationwide strike if the government should stop their salaries for not enrolling into IPPIS.
Ogunyemi added that the union was awaiting a fresh invitation by the leadership of the National Assembly which had earlier indicated interest to intervene in the dispute.
Also, Olusegun said yesterday a decision had not yet been taken on whether or not to give more time to members of the ASUU to enroll on the IPPIS payment platform.
He, however, declined to state categorically if lecturers who were not yet captured would be denied December salaries as earlier directed by the federal government.
He told THISDAY that following the expiration of the December 7 deadline given to ASUU to enroll, some IPPIS officers who conducted the field operations were just returning to the office to collate the data.
According to him, the exercise may have further been delayed beyond the initial two weeks to allow for more enrolment.
Nonetheless, he said until the collation was finalised, no decision could be made on any possible extension or otherwise.
His clarification came against the backdrop of suspense and speculations that the federal government might stop the salaries of those not captured by December.
However, Olusegun, who is the National Coordinator of the IPPIS scheme, said: “I cannot say precisely because people (IPPIS staff) are still coming from the field. It was extended and so people are just coming from the field. Some arrived yesterday and so, we are still waiting for the final report.
“There was a week extension. They (IPPIS officials) were in various states…people are just coming back and this is just after the end of the exercise.
“So, it is after the collation of the whole thing that we would be able to say this is what we can do and this is the position of things. But for now, I can’t provide this kind of answer.”