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The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, will on Monday (today) meet with the leadership of the National Assembly as part of its battle against the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

A source disclosed that the meeting would be held behind closed doors today (Monday). “It has been confirmed that the ASUU leadership will meet the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday. The meeting will centre on the ongoing face-off between ASUU and the Federal Government over the IPPIS saga.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, had during the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, ordered that all public sector workers must register for the IPPIS to save cost and fight corruption by blocking leakages in the Federal Government’s salary payment structure.

But ASUU had last week opposed the President’s directive, saying the IPPIS negated the law on university autonomy.

The Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who faulted ASUU, said the union’s position was an open endorsement of corruption.

Also the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had on Thursday said no government agency must resist the payment system.

When contacted, the ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, also confirmed the meeting, but declined to provide details of demands the union would table before the Senate President.

“The most important thing is that we are meeting tomorrow (Monday). We want to discuss the Nigerian education generally. All issues (including the IPPIS) will be touched. I think that is enough,” the ASUU president noted.

The South-West branch of the union on Sunday reiterated its opposition to the Federal Government’s move to enrol university lecturers in the IPPIS.

The ASUU leaders from the South-West during a press conference held at the University of Ibadan, described the IPPIS as “a one-size-fits-all approach tainted with corrupt tendencies.”

The ASUU position was made known by the Coordinator of the South-West, Prof. Ade Adejumo, who led the Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter, Prof Deji Omole, and its Investment Secretary, Prof. Ayo Akinwole, to address journalists at the ASUU Secretariat on the UI campus.

Adejumo was asked what would be the reaction of the union to the Federal Government’s statement that anyone who failed to register for the IPPIS by October 31 would not be paid, he said, “ASUU’s position has always remained no pay, no work.”

Adejumo berated the Accountant-General of the Federation for alleging that ASUU was encouraging corruption by its opposition to the IPPIS.

He said the IPPIS was rather capable of encouraging corruption, more so that its civil service nature negated the legal administration of universities.

Adejumo said, “Sequel to this fact of the peculiar nature of universities from the civil service, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, government had agreed to the autonomy of public universities in Nigeria and had signed into law the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act in 2003.

“The IPPIS clearly violates the law. The Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003, provides in Section 2AA unequivocally, as follows: ‘the power of the council shall be exercised, as in the laws and statutes of each university and to that extent, establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the laws and statutes of the university shall not apply to the universities.

“Inter alia, the 1992 Act establishing, for example, the Federal Universities of Agriculture Section 8 (1 and 4) provides; ‘Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the visitor, the council shall be the governing body of each university and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finance and property of the university. The council shall ensure that proper accounts of the university are kept and that the accounts of the university are audited annually by an independent firm of auditors approved by the council.’

“Our union has no reason to believe that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will flagrantly act against the law, which he vowed to uphold in his oath of office.”

While declaring that ASUU had aversion for corruption, Adejumo asked the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to name Nigeria’s corrupt public officials it recovered about N273bn from. “Who were the culprits that have been sanctioned for such infractions?” he asked.

On the retirement schedule of academics which is 70 years for professors, the union stated that the IPPIS only recognised 60 years of age.

He stated, “The IPPIS is too rigid a platform that it discountenances the peculiarities of the university system in the sacred areas of replacement or recruitment of academics, mobility of academic staff for visiting, adjunct, part-time and sabbatical offers.

“Not only these, academics are chopped off the platform at the age of 60 thereby creating bottlenecks in the collection of salaries and emoluments because once the name of a worker is removed, such a victim will continue to frequent Abuja until it is rectified. The victim not only abandons his duty post, but faces the hazards on the Nigerian roads. The platform also does not capture the earned academic allowances and remunerations due to academics who retire before the age of 65.”

Adejumo also berated the Federal Government for failing to implement the 2009 agreement, stressing that the government had not released its report on the presidential audit visitation panel to universities.

He said vice-chancellors had been turned to “errand boys” of some assistant directors who summoned them to Abuja at will through text messages.

He said, “Our members are poised to pursue another patriotic struggle that will assert sanity in the university system and in the country at large. The tools of the struggle are now being primed and oiled, the union will have no blame when they begin to grind.”

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