Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City, Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto, James Sowole in Akure, Gideon Arinze in Enugu and Daji Sani in Yola
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that university lecturers must enroll on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will today hold zonal meetings to decide on the next line of action.
ASUU has rejected IPPIS, insisting that it violates university autonomy and proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as an alternative to government’s centralised payroll system of IPPIS.
The union had also threatened to embark on strike if the federal government withheld its members’ December 2019 salaries for refusing to enroll on the IPPIS.
But at a meeting with the union leaders on Thursday at the State House, Abuja, the president urged the university lecturers to enroll on the integrated payroll scheme.
Reacting to the president’s position, the Zonal Branch Chairman of ASUU at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Yola, Dr. Sadiq Umar, told THISDAY in Yola, Adamawa State capital, that the National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, had called for a meeting for today to brief the zonal branches of the union on the outcome of last Thursday’s meeting with Buhari and also decide the next line of action.
He said it was at the zonal meeting that they would take the final decision on IPPIS.
Also confirming today’s meeting during an interview with THISDAY at the weekend, the Chairman of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) chapter of the union, Dr. Christian Opata, said that the leadership of ASUU had submitted the union’s alternative proposal to the president during the meeting, adding that the government only said it would have to study what was presented.
“We cannot allow our members to enroll into the IPPIS even though they have met with the president. In fact, there is no basis for enrolling in the first place,” he stated.
He said the leadership of the union had not even reached out to the various zones as regards the next step to take but that it was hoped that at the end of the meeting of various zonal coordinators today, a decisive decision would be taken.
The Chairman of ASUU, North-west Zone, Dr. Shehu Jamilu, told THISDAY that the union had been having meetings since its leadership met with Buhari.
“As I am talking to you now, I’m in a meeting and the outcome of the meeting will determine the next line of action,” Shehu, who is also a lecturer at Federal University, Dutsinma, Katsina State, said.
Also, the Chairman of ASUU at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Dr. Olayinka Awopetu, said members of the union would only abide by the decision of the national body of the union on enrollment into the IPPIS.
Awopetu in a telephone interview with THISDAY said the information on the meeting of the ASUU national body with the president was clear.
He said: “If you read the information of the meeting of the ASUU national body with the president, it is stated there that ASUU still said they would not register.
“I am referring you back to the report on the meeting of the ASUU with the president. It is stated clearly in the article and I am sure that by next week (this week), a statement would be issued because ASUU does not operate based on social media thing.
“When we take our decision, the ASUU national president will make a pronouncement on it or he will direct different ASUU chapters to hold a press conference and make official statements.”
The Chairman of ASUU, University of Benin, Dr. Monday Omoregie, also told THISDAY that the branch was waiting for a directive from the national officers who visited the president.
He said there would be a communiqué or directive to the chapters from ASUU national secretariat on any new stand or position, which would be communicated to zonal, state and chapters that make up the entire academic staff union of all the universities in Nigeria.
On the claim by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on the number of university staff that had already enrolled into IPPIS, Omoregie said it was still part of the federal government’s campaign to force ASUU to budge on its earlier decision not to embrace IPPIS.
However, the ASUU Zonal Coordinator in Kano, Professor Mahmud Lawal, declined to comment when contacted by THISDAY.a
The University of Uyo branch of ASUU also stated that the union was yet to take a position whether to participate in the IPPIS or not after the meeting with the president.