The peace in Nigeria’s public universities may be shattered soon as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has rejected a move by the federal government to use the 2019 personnel verification exercise to incorporate lecturers into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU’s position, it was gathered, is that its members were employed by their respective governing councils, and not centrally by the federal government, stressing that it is strange to the world university system for their salaries to be paid from Abuja.
The union has, therefore, directed its members not to fill the 2019 Personnel Data Verification form being distributed by the Budget Office of the Federation.
The President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in a letter written to chapter chairmen of the union, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Ibadan yesterday by the Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter, Prof. Deji Omole, directed members not to fill the personnel verification form, describing the verification form as dubious.
According to him, while the union is not against any verification exercise, the form of the exercise being distributed requires the supply of “IPPIS number” implying a dubious trap to forcefully migrate the union members into the IPPIS.
He said, “The attention of the leadership of the ASUU has been drawn to a circular from the budget office of the federation directing members of our union to participate in a Personnel Verification Exercise designed for selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
An item on the FORM requires the supply of “IPPIS no.” This suggests that the so-called exercise is a disguised way of bringing back the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which our union rejected in the past with informed arguments.
“All chairpersons are advised against falling into the trap of forceful migration to the IPPIS. All chairpersons are strongly advised to discourage their members from completing the FORM under reference until the union review its position on the IPPIS.”
Omole said the current IPPIS programme does not accommodate the peculiarities of the job of university lecturers, noting that while government has promised to revisit the design of the IPPIS, it has refused to do anything since the union made its position known in 2014.
According to Omole, “The current state of IPPIS cannot accommodate the peculiarities of our job as scholar. Members should equally recall that the union has been engaging the federal government with a view to making relevant authorities to appreciate the implications and position of ASUU on the matter since 2014. Pending the resolution of the matter, evidence of which shall be communicated to all members, no member of the union is allowed to enlist in the IPPIS.”
The issue of IPPIS first came up in February 2014, barely two months after ASUU called off its nearly six-month strike when the union directed its members not to fill IPPIS forms, being distributed then by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
The union had also warned the federal government that it might lead to an industrial action.
The NUC had given out the forms for the new method of payment.
However, the directive not to fill the forms was given by the University of Ibadan branch of ASUU, which had claimed that the method of payment had been roundly condemned in the health sector after noticeable flaws in the system.
The lecturers had cautioned the NUC not to distract them, as they were trying to cover lost grounds occasioned by the six-month strike, insisting that the method of payment negated the principle of university autonomy agreed upon since 1992.
ASUU had argued that its position on IPPIS had not changed, adding that the integrated payment system did not take into consideration the peculiarity of the work of academic staff, and it negates the principle of autonomy, which ASUU won since 1992.
“IPPIS negates the principle of university autonomy that ASUU fought for. We are employed by our respective governing councils, and not centrally by NUC. For salaries to be paid from Abuja is strange to the world university system, apart from the dangers inherent in it,” ASUU reportedly said.