By Rabiu Musa
The recent decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to be at longer-head with the Federal Government over inclusion into Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS), is generating a lot of controversy among Nigerians, as to whether the Union is canvassing for a hidden agenda.
According to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmad Idris, the Integrated Payment Personal Information System (IPPIS) is a new technological system and a Unit managed by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
IPPIS policy is binding on all staff of the federal government’s payroll and is aimed at integrating its establishments, hence, ASUU alone has no reason whatsoever to resist it, even when all other federal civil servants have agreed to comply.
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The AGF, therefore, accused the union of trying to denigrate the system, which according to him has enjoyed wide public acceptance as a way of saving leakages to the country.
Fighting a holistic policy that enables the federal government to save the sum of over N230 billion in 2 years is an endorsement of corruption. The action of the Union defies public interest and hence, risks losing credibility and public sympathy it enjoyed over the years.
The reason for the integration according to Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmad, Is to monitor finance and ensure transparency and accountability particularly in detecting ghost workers.
For this reason, President Muhammadu Buhari, during the 2020 budget presentation at National Assembly directed all federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies to enrol into the system. He ordered salary payment stoppage of any agency that fails to comply with the directive by the end of October.
This directive seemingly does not augur well with ASUU. The Union kicked against it, arguing that it is an attempt to violate the Universities’ autonomy as enshrined in the (Universities Miscellaneous Provision Amendment Act 2003) for Universities to be free to deliver their mandates.
It’s actually surprising that this is coming from the academics. I am sure the system will undoubtedly curtail corruption, surface transparency and accountability. But the Union is trying by hook or crook to discredit and resist it. This actually puts suspicion on public believe that the Union is simply at war with the anti-corruption crusade.
Its clear that if the Union is subsumed into the system, it will detect many visiting lecturers to various universities and institutions beyond the approved limit by the National Universities Commission (NUC). Because lecturers are allowed to attend only one university or Institutions of their choice and are entitled to 50 per cent of their salary as recommended by NUC. The fear that the integration into IPPIS may expose violators of this provision as the reason for the resistance is obvious.
If the integration into the system is not targeted at reducing their salary, then why the rift? This tell us that the Union may have a hidden agenda beyond the so-called universities’ autonomy. ASUU should reconsider its stand on this issue and comply with the FG’s directive for a better Nigeria.
Rabiu Musa is a student of the Department of Information and Media Studies, Bayero University, Kano. and can be reached at email@example.com