Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari did not put a closure to the ongoing discussion on the union’s preference for the University Transparency and Accountability System (UTAS) against the government-backed Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Speaking on the outcome of a recent meeting between President Buhari and ASUU, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said in a statement yesterday that Buhari did not also direct that the salaries of ASUU members be stopped for failure to enroll in IPPIS.
He stated that the report on the official media on the outcome of the meeting was calculated to mislead the public and weaken the resolve of the academic staff, who are standing by the position of the union.
Ogunyemi added that President Buhari agreed with ASUU that the university education holds the key to the future of the country, adding that the president noted with interest that the Minister of Education has a lot of work to do and handed over the union’s position paper to the minister.
He further alleged that one of the ministers at the meeting spoke spiritedly in defence of IPPIS and made allegations against ASUU to portray the union in bad light before the President.
Ogunyemi debunked reports that the meeting was all about IPPIS, adding that the meeting was conceived on the broad context of education and national development with the Triple Helix principles as established in China, Singapore, Malaysia and other emerging economic powers.
ASUU has consistently kicked against enrollment in IPPIS, saying the central payroll system violates university autonomy.
But at a meeting with President Buhari, the president urged the university lecturers to enroll in the scheme and support his efforts to fight corruption.
The federal government also stated at the meeting that up to 70 per cent of university lecturers had already enrolled in the system, stressing that it was an indication of its acceptance by the majority of the teachers.
A government team which had the Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu; Minister of Finance/Budget/National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, participated at the meeting.