The current peace in Nigeria’s public university system may be ruptured beginning from the end of this month as the Federal Government has directed the Finance Ministry to stop the salary of federal institutions’ workers that are yet to register on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The issue of federal university lecturers registering on IPPIS has been a subject of controversy between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities for some time now.
While the Federal Government has insisted that all workers in public tertiary institutions must be registered on IPPIS, ostensibly as part of efforts to check fraud in the system, ASUU has insisted that its members will not register on the platform, as the policy runs against the spirit of the university autonomy.
The government initially gave an October 31st 2019 ultimatum for all tertiary institutions’ workers to register on the platform. It also deployed teams of the finance ministry staff to institutions to effect the registration, while those who were willing to register but failed to register during the teams’ visits would have to go to Abuja to register.
However, due to logistic reasons, the ultimatum had to be extended till the end of December 2019 so as to be able to capture as many workers as possible.
But a letter from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation dated January 21, 2020 signed on behalf of the accountant-general by the Director, IPPIS, Mr Olufehinti D.J., has now ‘requested’ the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning “not to release the funds for payment of salaries to the tertiary institutions as their salaries will henceforth be paid on the IPPIS platform with effect from January 2020.”
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by Saturday Tribune noted that the preparation of the January 2020 salary payroll and warrants of the federal tertiary institutions are ongoing and will be ready for submission on or before 29th of January 2020.
“This is to give effect to the directive of the Federal Government that all ministries, departments and agencies drawing personnel cost from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) should be enrolled on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System,” it stated.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Friday said it would wait till the end of the month to see if the Federal Government would, indeed, carry out its threat to stop university lecturers’ salaries.
ASUU had vowed to resist attempts to force its members to register on the IPPIS platform, threatening to throw the university system into another indefinite round of nationwide strike.
Meanwhile, university lecturers have threatened a`No Pay, No Work’ action over the Federal Government’s plan.
The lecturers, under aegis of ASUU issued the threat in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
ASUU’s National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi , said a circular by the Federal Government calling for such step was uncalled for, as the union’s engagement with the government on the issue was ongoing.
“ASUU has a resolution, that, should government go ahead to stop the salaries of our workers on the account of the IPPIS, we shall invoke our own resolution of “No Pay, No Work’’. So, that is where we stand.
“We believed that we are engaging them and we believe they will give us the opportunity to demonstrate the aspect of our proposed alternative to IPPIS which we think will address the peculiarities.
“But if that circular is true and they want to go ahead and stop the salaries of our workers, we shall react and respond appropriately.
The ASUU president also said that he felt that the meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari three weeks ago, was to find a common ground to integrate the two platforms.
“We thought our meeting with Mr President as we understood is that we should meet and see where there are common grounds and see how we can integrate the two platforms, ‘’he said.
The union had proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) to address the peculiar cases of lecturers in the payment of salaries and other emoluments.
Also, chairman of a federal university branch of the union told Saturday Tribune that lecturers would wait till the end of the month (January) and see what the Federal Government would do before deciding on the next line of action.
“We saw the circular from the accountant-general’s office purportedly stopping salaries of federal institutions’ workers not registered on IPPIS, but we (ASUU) won’t take them serious yet.
“Normally, we don’t get our salaries until around 30th of the month. It is when the month ends and our salaries are not paid that we will know what to do,” he told Saturday Tribune.