The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says its members will embark on strike action if the federal government fails to pay their salaries by the end of January.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered all government workers to enroll in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) — including university lecturers.
The union had kicked against the directive over what it described as grey areas. It also accused the federal government of designing IPPIS to suppress the masses in the guise of fighting corruption.
Earlier this month, ASUU had also met with Buhari, as well as Adamu Adamu, the minister of education, while proposing an alternative payroll software to address the union’s concerns.
Last Wednesday, TheCable had obtained a letter in which the FG ordered the stoppage of salaries of lecturers and tertiary institution workers not enrolled on the platform.
The accountant-general of the federation (AGF) had, in the letter, directed the finance minister not to release funds meant for January salaries to tertiary institutions. According to him, payments would be made through the IPPIS platform.
“l am directed to inform you that the preparation of 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,” the letter read.
“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 Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
“In order to actualize this directive, you are please requested 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.”
Speaking with TheCable Lifestyle on Monday, Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU’s president, reaffirmed the union’s resolution of resorting to strike if other workers in the system are paid — and its members are not.
“We hope reason will prevail and our salaries wouldn’t be stopped. But if FG stops salaries, then our union will respond. We have a long-standing resolution and we have been saying it: ‘no pay, no work’,” he said.
“Once they pay others in the system and they don’t pay us, our members will withdraw their services. It’s as simple as that. It’s not about ordering. It’s about a resolution that we’ve taken.
“ASUU’s national executive council decided that long ago. Once FG fails to pay salaries and it’s confirmed that it was their decision, then our members reserve the right to withdraw their services.
“It’s the standing resolution of the union. What we did last month during our national executive council meeting in Minna was to reaffirm that resolution. We don’t need to meet again.”
Ogunyemi also charged students to weigh in on the controversy and make the government see reason in the union’s stance on the matter.
According to him, ASUU’s battle against IPPIS is in the best interest of students and their parents alike, as they would be levied if a category of workers isn’t recognized.
“We’ve engaged at every level of governance. We thought reason will prevail and that the solution we’ve proposed would be given adequate consideration,” Ogunyemi added.
“We hope that nobody will sabotage the discussions that are going on and create an unnecessary crisis. Our students too need to be attentive and monitor what’s going on.
“FG is saying that it will no longer pay the salaries of contract officers, adjunct lecturers, and visiting lecturers and that individual universities should source the funds for themselves.
“What the government is saying indirectly is that we should go and levy students to pay this category of workers. Our case against IPPIS is in their interest and the interest of their parents.
“Once the students are levied, the burden of such fees would be passed to the parents. So, this battle isn’t just for ASUU’s interest. It’s for the interest of the students as well as their parents.”
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