ASUU Unveils UTAS as Alternative to IPPIS

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* Rejects removal of UNILAG VC

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has revealed that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which it developed as an alternative to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) is ready for integrity tests.

The union further disclosed that the software for UTAS was unveiled and demonstrated to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, and senior management staff of the Ministry of Education, including the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abdulrasheed Abubakar, on Monday.

ASUU has also rejected the removal of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) by the Governing Council of the institution because due process was not followed.

The ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, noted that the governing council’s spirited efforts to defend the indefensible were clear indication that there is more to the story.

Ogunyemi noted that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, including professors from the (UNILAG) Faculty of Law, have stated that the council goofed because the due process as required by the universities’ Miscellaneous Provisions Amendment Act, 2004, was not followed.”

He added: “The ASUU fully supports the UNILAG Senate’s rejection of Dr. Wake Babalakin-led Governing Council’s ill-informed decision to remove the Vice Chancellor.

“We call on Mr. President, as Visitor to the UNILAG, to immediately constitute a Special Visitation Panel to look into the immediate and remote causes of the events that led to the purported removal of Professor Oluwatoyin T. Ogundipe as the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG with a view to bringing all those found culpable to book.”

The union said that it had fulfilled the requirement of the government by successfully developing the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, (UTAS), which was developed by the ASUU as an alternative to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and is ready to test run payment system.

It added that it is now left for the government to keep to its earlier pledge to accept the payroll system once it is ready and insisted that the strike action would continue until the lecturers’ demands are fulfilled.

Speaking on the development of the payroll system, Ogunyemi said that UTAS is far better alternative to the IPPIS, which “does not respect the nature, structure and character of the Nigerian university system.”

He said: “We had always promised that the ASUU would produce a robust software solution that would be sensitive to the uniqueness of the university system in addressing personnel information and payroll system, among other things.

“Following our engagements with the federal government over the issues that eventually led to the declaration of the ongoing strike action on March 17, 2020, the government declared that it ‘accepts in principle the UTAS, which is being developed by the ASUU and its researchers for the financial administration of the university’s staff monthly payroll and accounting processes.”

Ogunyemi said that the federal government had pledged that when fully developed the UTAS would be subjected to various integrity tests in order to verify its efficacy and ascertain that its final product would pass the necessary technical attribute test as specified by NITDA.

“On our part, the ASUU had given a timeframe of eighteen (18) months to government to develop, test and deploy the UTAS.

“In keeping with this promise, the ASUU is pleased to announce that the UTAS is now ready for the ‘integrity tests’ required of it by the government. Indeed, the software was unveiled by way of demonstration to the Minister and Senior Management Staff of the Ministry of Education, including the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), on Monday, August 17, 2020.”

He explained that the new payroll device “is a web-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application deployed for the overall management of university resources in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner.

“It is developed to run on the concept of software as a service (SaaS), which universities will maintain sub-domains as tenants,” he said.

Ogunyemi insisted that the union would not suspend its ongoing strike until the federal government honoured its 2019 agreements with the union.

He lamented that five months salaries of their members at the University of Maiduguru (UNIMAID) and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUAU) are still being withheld by the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) for their not being registered on the IPPIS.

“Thousands of other academics across the universities are suffering the same fate. So, while we counsel that governments at the federal and state levels must meet the taskforce’s specified guidelines for reopening of educational institutions, we insist that all the arrears of the withheld salaries of our members in federal and state universities must be paid immediately to pave for further discussion on the outstanding issues in the Memorandum of Action of February 7, 2019,” he said.