- FG Set to Release N30bn to Break Deadlock on Strike
THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has issued a directive to its members to ignore any attempt to by the federal government to lure them into enrolling into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in order not to endanger its ongoing critical engagement with the federal government.
ASUU said the leadership of the union “is fully aware of the hardship the non-payment of salaries by the Accountant General of the Federation and other forms of intimidation by overzealous Vice-Chancellors has unleashed on our membership. It however assured that the leadership is “leaving no stone unturned to redress the situation.”
The union, in a letter to its Zonal Coordinators and all members of the union, dated 15th October, 2020 and signed by Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, entitled; “Update On Engagement With Government,” said it is in possession of information that IPPIS officials from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation will be visiting campuses as from Monday, 19th October, 2020 for biometric data capture of academics
Prof Ogunyemi said the union also heard that the story in town about ASUU members trooping to be enrolled under the IPPIS is fake, as he went on to outline the state of engagement with the federal government.
Ogunyemi stated in the letter thus: “We have received information that IPPIS officials from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation will be visiting campuses as from Monday, 19th October, 2020 for biometric data capture of academic. All ASUU members should have nothing to do with them. Fact-check by ASUU with the figures from the OAGF has proven the claim that our members are trooping to enroll in the IPPIS in Abuja as false. The enrolled number is inconsequential.
“On Monday, 12th October, 2020, UTAS was presented to the President and other leaders of the Nigerian Senate. Discussions on the withheld salaries, EAA, renegotiation of 2009 Agreement, visitation to federal universities and proliferation of State Universities started at the meeting. On Tuesday, 13th October, 2020, the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, the Senate Leader, Chairman of Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Minister of Education, Minister of Labour and Employment, Accountant General of the Federation, among other government officials, met with the ASUU leadership on UTAS and other matters.
“Yesterday, 14th October, 2020, the UTAS was also demonstrated to the Accountant-General of the Federation, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chairman of Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Executive Secretary of NUC and other stakeholders. Today, 15th October, 2020, we shall meet with representatives of government to have decisive engagement on UTAS/IPPIS and trash out the main demands in the ongoing struggle. All our members would be adequately briefed of the outcomes.
“The first stage of UTAS testing has been completed. What is left is the technical testing which is commencing immediately. All stakeholders applauded the innovation that UTAS represent. IPPIS is a World Bank creation imposed on Nigeria. UTAS is a creation of Nigerian scholars to secure our data, ensure autonomy of Nigerian Universities and reposition our University system for global competitiveness.”
FG Set to Release N30bn
Meanwhile the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has revealed that ASUU has agreed to take federal government’s offer to release N30 billion as part payment for the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) which is one of the contentious issues along with IPPIS acrimony that provoked the ongoing strike by the union.
Dr Ngige stated this at the end of a meeting between the government and ASUU on Friday in Abuja.
“The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) was committed to release N30 billion on or before November 6. The remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022 respectively. The OAGF should quickly conclude the verification of figures of EAA claims so as to clean up the figures from 2014 to 2020.
“To this end, a committee would be constituted by NUC to develop a template that would capture all the agreed allowances in the 2009 Agreement for all the Unions in the Universities.
“Thereafter, the OAGF and the National Universities Commission (NUC) are to quickly conclude the verification of the EAA figures so as to defray the payment from 2014 to 2020. ASUU is to work with the OAGF and NUC to achieve that by the end of December,” the minister said.
According to him, the process of mainstreaming the EAA into the countries annual budget using the agreed formula shall be activated and that the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education are to coordinate the activation process immediately to be concluded in three weeks’ time, by November 6th 2020. He said the National Assembly has agreed to of mainstream the EAA into next year’s budget provided the amount involved is sent in as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education.
Dr Ngige also noted that both ASUU and government have agreed on the issue of funding for the revitalisation of public universities despite prevailing economic challenges.
“In spite of the economic downturn as a result of covid-19 pandemic, government has offerred N20 billion payable by the end of January 2021, ” he said, adding that the union agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration. He said the ASUU promised to revert by Wednesday, October 21, 2020.
“The Minister of Education will follow up with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier Memo to Mr President on sources of alternative funding for revitalisation to facilitate the process of additional funding of the University System.
“This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019,” Dr Ngige said adding that on the issue of salary shortfall, it was agreed that ASUU should further confirm and report back at the next meeting.
On IPPIS, the minister said the meeting was informed that ASUU met its timeline regarding the first stage of the initial demonstration of the efficiency of UTAS to government, saying that if UTAS passes all the integrity tests, which involves the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), it will be adopted for the payment of salaries for staff of universities.