FG Didn’t Exempt ASUU From IPPIS —Labour Minister

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The Federal Government has not exempted the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), a platform being adopted to pay its workforce, as widely reported by few national dailies on Saturday, Sunday Tribune can authoritatively report.

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It was widely reported by some national dailies (Tribune not included) on Saturday that the Federal Government has bowed to pressures from ASUU and exempted members of the union from the IPPIS, after a marathon meeting held between the government and ASUU leadership, on Friday.

Rather, what was agreed at the end of the meeting was for the money owed ASUU members between February and June, which was referred to as the transition period, be paid under the platform that was earlier used to pay the president’s compassionate COVID-19 payment within that period.

When contacted for clarification on Saturday night, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, told Sunday Tribune that there was nothing like exemption of ASUU members from IPPIS in the agreement reached at the Friday meeting.

“There is nothing like exemption from IPPIS. What we said in the meeting and what we agreed was that, in the interim, for the transition period that UTAS is being tested by NITDA and the Office of National Security Adviser for cyber security, or that transition period, ASUU members that are not yet on IPPIS will be paid through the platform with which they were paid the president’s compassionate COVID-19 payment between the months of February and June,” the Minister’s Media Office confirmed on Saturday night.

However, the Federal Government offered to pay the ASUU a cumulative sum of N65 billion for both the Earned Allowances for all the unions in the university system and the Revitalisation Fund.

ASUU has to choose between two proposed splits of the money, which is N40 billion for Earned Allowances and N25 billion for Revitalisation Fund; and N35 billion for Earned Allowances and N30 billion for Revitalisation Fund.

Dr Ngige said this at the end of a meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of ASUU which was a follow-up of meetings on resolving the dispute that led to the ongoing industrial action by ASUU.

On the Earned Allowances, Ngige said that “the Federal Government’s offer of N40 billion or N35 billion, whichever is accepted by ASUU, is for all university unions.”

He explained that the ASUU leadership would consult the union’s various organs on that offer and get back to government with a decision next week when the meeting would reconvene.

On the outcome of the meeting, he said: “On the government side, we regard this meeting as a conclusive meeting, the final of finals. We discussed passionately and touched on all the issues.”

The minister noted that government had to reconsider its former position on a number of issues in order to accommodate the yearnings of ASUU, especially on the mode of payment of salaries/allowances during the transition period while the UTAS is undergoing integrity tests.

According to him, “Government has shifted position on the issues of Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, Payment of Withheld Salaries, and Mode of payment for the transition period whilst ASUU’s platform, UTAS, is being tested by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).”

On the mode of payment, Ngige disclosed that government has rethought its position and has agreed with ASUU that “the mode of payment applied for the payment of those not on the IPPIS platform between the months of February and June 2020 be adopted for the purpose of payment during this transition period.”

Furthermore, the meeting agreed that “a suitable template that will address all the anomalies identified in the previous processes should be handled by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Accounting Officers (Vice-Chancellors).”

The meeting also agreed that the ministers of Education and Labour and Employment would continue working to get approval for the payment of the withheld salaries of ASUU.

The issue arose from the “No Work, No Pay” stipulation in “Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004.”

The meeting acknowledged that the integrity tests on UTAS and other protocols were progressing satisfactorily, with ASUU requesting that the process be accelerated.

Ngige stated that the visitation panels earlier approved by President Buhari would be inaugurated in the coming week, adding that they would end their work on 31st December 2020, a date earlier agreed on in previous meetings.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, President, ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, acknowledged that the government had given the union new offers.

He said they would get back to the government with a response from their organs.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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