…Strike not about IPPIS alone, union insists
The federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will resume talks on Friday, according to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The spokesman of the ministry, Mr. Charles Akpan, confirmed last night that the talks with the ASUU leaders would hold at the minister’s conference hall.
This is coming as ASUU has said it would not call off its eight-month strike even if the federal government withdraws the Integrated Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) as a means of paying them.
The Benin Zone of the union also yesterday expressed doubt over the capability and commitment of Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to midwife any peaceful resolution of the issues that led to the ongoing strike in the country’s public universities.
The Coordinator, ASUU Owerri zone, Mr. Uzo Onyibinama stated the union’s position on IPPIS in a press briefing held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
He said federal government was feeding the public with lies about the strike, stating that the main reason for the strike was the government’s inability to keep previous agreements and not about IPPIS as being propagated by the government.
He said the union would not call off the strike until all its demands were met by the federal government.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the issues in contention remain revitalisation fund for public universities, arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), visitation to universities, proliferation of state universities and issues of governance in them, and conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement.
“The later issue of IPPIS was a new introduction and a diversion as no university in the world runs such a system.
“Instead of apologising to the Nigerians and hiding their heads in shame on the serial failures of Governments particularly the present Government which came on the mantra of ‘change’, the duo of Ministers Chris Ngige and Emeka Nwajiuba have been feeding Nigerians with lies and half-truth.
“Ministers Ngige and Nwajiuba have on many occasions on various media organisations said that agreement have been reached on virtually all the issues that necessitated the seven months old strike
“They should please tell Nigerians, who are their masters, those agreements that have been reached and implemented. As far as our Union is concerned, no agreement has been reached on any of the demands.
“So, instead of constantly running to the press, Ngige and Nwajiuba should sit down and painstakingly do the work that they are paid to do. It is on record that the date given by the Minister Ngige to reach our Union with Government improved position has elapsed without any communication.
“The proposed new timelines for implementation of some proposals such as the appointment of a new team for renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, gazetting of visitation panels among others have elapsed without any implementation. This shows the insincerity on the part of the Government.
“On IPPIS, our Union has been consistent in rejecting the platform as it compromises the autonomy of the University system and a threat to national security considering that the software is hosted in Washington, the USA with a sub-platform at Gombe State”
Meanwhile, the Benin Zone of the union also yesterday expressed doubt over the capability and commitment of Ngige, to midwife any peaceful resolution of the issues that led to the ongoing strike in the country’s public universities.
The union hinged its doubt on Ngige’s approach in the handling of the ongoing strike, which it said may probably not midwife a resolution of the crisis in the country’s public universities.
The zone is made up of University of Benin(UNIBEN), Benin City; Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma; Adekunle Ajasin University(AAUA), Akungba Akoko Ondo State; Olusegu Agagu University of Science and Technology(OAUSTEC), Okitikpukpa, Ondo State; Delta State University, Abraka; and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Efurun, Delta State.
In a statement issued in Benin City yesterday and signed by the Union’s Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Fred Esumeh, ASUU observed that since the development of UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution), which ASUU is recommending as against the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which the federal government what them to adopt, the minister has been making remarks characteristic of a “spoiler, confusionist and anti-ASUU, rather than a conciliator.”
Esumeh said that by the provisions of the law, Ngige, as the Minister of Labour and Employment is saddled with the conciliatory role during industrial disharmony, “to calm an already tensed situation and bring about a peaceful resolution, but he has chosen to be the mouthpiece of other unions that were not part of the 2019 MoA (Memorandum of Agreement)”.
He accused the government of introducing IPPIS to divert the public attention to the lack of sincerity, and will to faithfully implement agreement reached with ASUU, insisting on the union’s rejection of IPPIS, given its violation of the University Autonomy Act and its inadequacies to carter for the peculiarities in the university system.
The union accused the government through the Minister of Finance, her Labour and Employment counterpart as well as the Accountant General of the Federation of “deploying the weapon of hunger to compel and coarse ASUU members to enroll on the IPPIS platform. This move of government smacks of impunity and it is undemocratic in a democratic setting.”