House Invites Minister of Labour, DG Budget Office, AGF, SGF, Others over ASUU Strike
* FG: Union not accountable, in violation of Trade Union Act
*NANS vows to continue protest until strike is called off
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Director General, Salaries, Income and Wages’ Commission, the Director General, Budget Office, among others to appear before the lawmakers next week Thursday.
The Speaker disclosed this yesterday, at the resumed fact-finding meeting on strike embarked upon by ASUU.
The Director General of National Information Development Agency (NITDA) and his counterpart in National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and Budget Office are also expected at the meeting.
The lawmakers recently met with ASUU and the Minister of State for Education, with a view to resolve the ongoing strike.
The Director of Information Infrastructure at NITDA, Dr. Usman Abdulahi revealed that the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) also failed the integrity on three occasions, while IPPIS failed the only test it was subjected to.
“In the first test, the system UTAS failed. The system could not meet the requirement of NITDA’s criteria of assessing network,” he said.
Abdulahi further said, “It was communicated to ASUU, a full report was submitted directly to ASUU. The second report was submitted through the office of the Minister. ASUU went back, did the review that NITDA recommended.
“In the assessment, we did in March this year, we spent two weeks carrying out the assessment in the presence of observers.
“At the end of the exercise, UTAS failed the due diligence test. Of course, ASUU agreed to work on the solution and resubmit for assessment,’’ he said.
Not satisfied with the explanation, Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.
Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.
The Deputy Speaker Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.
Furthermore, the Head of Service, Mrs. Folashade Esan, said IPPIS is not just a payment platform, but also a human resources platform.
She noted that the only reason the system failed the platform was because NITDA only tested the payment component without the human resources component.
The acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Okolieaboh Sylva, said if UTAS is better than IPPIS, government would copy some things from UTAS to IPPIS.
He, added that though government was interested in local content, it would not hand over its payroll system to any university.
After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.
FG: ASUU Not Accountable, in Violation of Trade Union Act
In the meantime, the federal government has accused the leadership of ASUU of failing to submit the annual audited account of its finances as required by law for the past five years.
Owing to this, he said the union was in violation of the relevant section of the Trade Union Act requiring unions to submit their audited account to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment at the office of the Registrar of Trade Unions.
Ngige who disclosed this in Abuja, during a meeting with the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), a new group seeking registration, said ASUU risks losing its certificate of registration.
He said the law requires that the union and other registered trade unions to audit their account at least once every year and to indicate how they utilise the funds accruing from check off dues paid by their members.
However, he said: “ASUU has not responded to the relevant section of Trade Union Creation for submission of audited accounts.
“How do they utilise their money? The money they collect as check off dues, should be accounted for. So, the Trade Union Act says that in June of any given year, unions should produce audited account at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment for the Registrar of Trade Unions,” he said.
Ngige said that the ministry had written to ASUU to show cause, why it should not withdraw their certificate of registration.
“They have not responded to the letter. Rather, I learn that they came last Friday with bundles of papers and said they are their audited account. Of course, he rightly told them that ‘I didn’t ask you for your audited accounts anymore. I need you to respond to my query on why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.’ If disciplinary action is taken against ASUU now, although I am restraining him, they will say that it is because we are in court.”
The minister said the reason no action had been taken against ASUU was because they would claim that the federal government was victimising them due to strike.
“They will say that we are being victimised because we are on strike. We are being punished. Whereas, they have been running afoul of the law. Five good years, they have not tendered an audited account of their activities, at least, for the benefit of their members. For now, you are their members. They should give you account of how they spent your money. They have not done so, said Ngige.
While clarifying issues on the ASUU strike, Ngige said there was no reason for the prolonged industrial strike by the universities’ lecturers since almost all their demands have been addressed by government.
He said only two issues – demand for deployment of the ASUU preferred salary payment platform, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and negotiation of their conditions of service – were left to be addressed as at February when the union pulled out to commence indefinite strike.
Meanwhile, following the over seven-month industrial dispute between the federal government and ASUU, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has vowed that its members would continue to occupy strategic points across the country until the strike action is called off and students return to the classrooms.
This was made by the Assistant Secretary General of NANS Zone E, Amtai Ali Saidu and Mallam Ibrahim Ibrahim the Chairman Gombe State NANS Stakeholders while addressing a press conference yesterday Bauchi.
According to the zonal leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Student NANS Zone E (North-East), NANS has taken the bull by the horns by deciding to halt operations at all international airports in the country
“The four-day closure of highways and expressways was a success, which is why we decided to stop international travel beginning on Monday, September 19, 2022, so that the bourgeois and the government would experience the suffering that students had gone through for the previous seven months.
“The airports would be occupied and remain closed until the strike is called off. We want to let the world know about the pains and anguish students are going through.
“Nigerian students whose parents create the commonwealth cannot continue to be suffering at home while the few who gain from our sweats and blood have their kids abroad jollying and flexing”
“We will, by this statement, not beg again. As we were directed by the National President of NANS, Umar Usman Barambu to mobilise all students to shut down the country. No Education! No Movement!” It said
The Zonal leadership then appreciated the Governor of Gombe State, Alh Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya for his contributions to the development of Education in Gombe State in the past three years.