The meeting between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) which lasted for about 5 hours behind closed door on Wednesday 28 October, 2020 ended in a stalemate.
In an interview with Channels TV on Thursday, 29 October, 2020 during “Politics Today” ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi said, they still stand not to enroll in the government Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) as against the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) that was established before the meeting.
The strike started in March, 2020 as a result of the government’s inability to take the necessary actions during the two weeks warning strike which started March 9, 2020. Prior to that, there was a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Enugu where the government was given two weeks to address outstanding issues, he mentioned.
The issues which led to the strike are; the revitalization fund of all universities as agreed in February 7, 2019.The Reconstitution of negotiating team in order to conclude the negotiation of the agreements.Payment of back-load earned academic allowances to ASUU, which was promised to be paid in two tranches, November, 2019 and July, 2020.Visitation panel to Federal Universities which was agreed that it will be done between April and May, 2019. And, Proliferation of Universities precisely by State governments and the issue of Governance in Universities.
According to Prof. Biodun, the two week periods elapses as government was not interested in any negation, which led to the commencement of indefinite strike before the lockdown. But as the lockdown was eased gradually, the federal government were reasonable to come to the negotiation table, but with condition that ASSU members must join the IPPIS.
ASUU, made it clear that the IPPIS was not designed to deal with some issues within the university system such as negotiated agreement, like earned allowances, research journal allowances, taxations among others. Therefore, UTAS was created to address those issues and serve as an alternative of IPPIS. Also, the IPPIS is to put the university under the armpit of the federal government.
The ASUU President, debunk the claim made by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige that all university lecturers have received their salaries. He said, “there are 3 scenarios playing out. First, there are those not paid since February. Second, those not paid since June, 2020, and third, those not paid since July, 2020 as this cut across all categories mentioned”.
He further said, “I do not know the modalities the government is using to pay, for instance last month in Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, twenty lecturers where selectively picked and paid despite them not on the IPPIS”.
Base on his report, the reason why meeting on Wednesday 28, 2020 staled was the fact that, they were very close of getting UTAS finally approved by National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and all it takes is to have the integrity test done, but the government insisted that despite the alternative, they must first enrol on the IPPIS before coming back to UTAS.
Regarding re-opening of Universities, the ASSU President said, “I believe our students and parents will understand. If lecturers are not paid for eight to nine months, how can we have somebody putting in his or her best in the system”. This means ASUU is not going to reopen universities until government accept and meet her demands.