The federal government has introduced integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) to improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the storage of personnel records and administration of monthly payroll. However, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has opposed the system, stating that it would pose some challenges to the running of the university system in Nigeria. To make its stand public, ASUU has declared an indefinite strike on 23rd March, 2020 after the expiration of its two-weeks warning strike which started on 9th March, 2020. The national president of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi who announced the strike at a press conference in Abuja, said ASUU’s strike is over the non-payment of salaries of their members who failed to enrol in the federal government’s IPPIS, a payroll software mandated for all public officials.
It could be recalled that the federal government had withheld February, March and April salaries of the lecturers but some of the lecturers were on Friday, May 8th, 2020, paid their February and March wages. Afterwards, Professor Ogunyemi, ASUU National President, disclosed that lecturers at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, and the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, had yet to receive their February and March salaries. It was also alleged that some Vice-Chancellors earned N58,000, while some professors collected paltry N55,000 as February salary from the IPPIS.
To add salt to the injury, many lecturers from different universities were sacked. Professor Ogunyemi, confirmed that contract lecturers had already been disengaged at Bayero University, Kano, and the Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State. He stated that the lecturers were dismissed due to their refusal to enrol in the IPPIS platform. In the same vein, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria had through the Office of the Registrar and Secretary to Council, released a memo on 11th – June, 2020 announcing the termination of the appointments of visiting, contract, and month-to-month appointments.
With this recent development, I can say our tertiary institutions are about to face the challenges our primary and secondary schools have been experiencing for decades, especially in terms of shortage of teachers. The sacking of visiting and contract lecturers by the federal government will surely do more harm than good to the university system. This is because most of our universities depend on the services of these experienced scholars to meet world standard. Sacking them will create a vacuum that would not be filled in the nearest time thereby leading to the partial or total collapse of some courses in the universities.
Another factor is that the move will open the door for graduating half-baked students. This is because there would be no enough lecturers to take all the courses. In case if the president and the federal ministry of education are unaware, our public universities are having over 1000 students in some universities receiving lectures in the same hall by a single lecturer. It is sad to note that our universities that are in dire need of additional lecturers are losing the little they have. I now ask, how baked are our current graduates? Are we really heading to a right direction?
I urge the federal government to improve the moderate reputation that our universities have. Nigerians will not forgive us if our public universities turned like our public primary and secondary schools. Let them continue being universities that every lecturer will enjoy working with, and every secondary leaver would be admiring to join. I, therefore, suggest that the federal government should implement, if not all, at least two of the following. Reinstate the sacked lecturers, review enumeration and recruit more lecturers.
Let IPPIS be a blessing not a calamity to our universities!
Bilyaminu Gambo Kong-kol, Bayero University, Kano.