The Federal Government has been introducing the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System to people in general as though it is the fundamental explanation the Academic Staff Union of Universities set out protesting on March 23, 2020. That isn’t correct. ASUU is protesting to cause government to get capable and infuse assets for the revitalization of public varsities, establish appearance boards to colleges, take care of unfulfilled obligations of procured scholastic recompenses from 2012 to 2020, and finish up renegotiation of the 2009 understanding which is to birth another compensation and government assistance bundle for teachers who are at present the most un-paid when contrasted and profit of speakers in polytechnics and universities of schooling! In this piece, I historicize the IPPIS, and arrange it inside the FG’s most recent proposal to help the general population value ASUU’s position and divulge the public authority’s elusive offer and untrustworthiness. General society ought to comprehend that the most recent tricky proposals from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari system are things which they should have executed as of December 2019 however neglected to do as such. It is these unfulfilled guarantees that are currently being wielded as new proposal before general society by this “change starts with me” system that blossoms with the ‘hushpuppism’ philosophy.
On March 19, 2014, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (IPPIS Division) wrote the President of ASUU referring to the decision of a meeting held with representatives of the Nigerian University System concerning enrolment of federal university staff into the IPPIS. The letter, written by Mrs Fatima Nana Mede (DFA/IPPIS) on behalf of the Accountant-General of the Federation reads: “One of the joint decisions reached is the need to set up tripartite committee of the Labour Unions in the universities (ASUU, NASU, SSANU & NAAT), the representative of the Pro-chancellors and Federal Government (OAGF, FMF/BOF, OHCSF, FCSC) to develop alternative solution that will achieve the noble objectives of the IPPIS and at the same time accommodate the peculiarities of the Nigerian universities. Following from the above, you are kindly requested to nominate your representative for the committee to consider the development, implementation and workability of a solution in the university system. The committee inauguration would be communicated to you as soon as we receive nominations from all concerned”.
ASUU thereafter nominated Prof Sulaiman D. Abdul, Dr A.B. Baffa and Prof D.T. Gungula to represent it but the Federal Government did not say anything about the committee inauguration again until the issue appeared in 2019 to forcefully enrol academic staff into the IPPIS despite agreeing that it fails to accommodate the peculiarities of the university system.
As indicated in the letter, what government is interested in is the development of an alternative solution that will serve the purpose for which the IPPIS was set up – anti-corruption and accountability. While the IPPIS is a product of a foreign agency with yearly charges of about $12 per enrolee and mindful of the risk of releasing Nigeria’s data to foreign organisation, ASUU developed a multi-million naira University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) using her members’ contributions without demanding repayment from government. Why should it then take eternity for the FG to direct the National Information Technology Development Agency to carry out integrity test and deploy UTAS after it has already been demonstrated to three government teams? Does it make economic sense for government to ask ASUU members to enrol on the IPPIS in order to be paid their salaries and later migrate them to UTAS after full deployment and then be bamboozled?
In 2012, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration conducted a needs assessment on public universities and found that universities would need the sum of N1.3tn spread over six years to revitalise it. Sadly, only the Jonathan administration released N200bn in 2013 towards revitalisation. Since that token, nothing substantial has come to public varsities. Nothing has changed even with this regime of CHANGE. The current leadership prefers Nigerian children to learn in poorly equipped laboratories, overcrowded lecture halls, and live in dilapidated hostels and be taught by underpaid lecturers. It is indeed terrible to have people with no stake in education preside at our national and sub-national levels.
What the Buhari regime is now promising ASUU to suspend the ongoing strike was what his regime ought to have done since 2019 that he did not do! In the Memorandum of Action which contained timelines for implementation signed with ASUU on February 2019, the FG promised to release N25bn by April/May 2019 “as a sign of good faith” but the government acted in bad faith by not resuming full implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on sustainable funding of education. The government also promised to release N25bn earned academic allowances as the first tranche before February 28, 2019. It failed to meet this timeline. It then promised to pay the outstanding balance (N80bn) in four equal instalments for 36 months (November 2019; August 2020; May 2021 and February 2022). After failing to pay the N40bn owed lecturers which were due as of August 2020, the ASUU team asked the FG to pay this debt to move forward. Instead, the FG brought a ridiculous and shameful offer to release N30bn by November 6, 2020 while the balance of N10bn will be paid in two tranches (N5bn in May 2021 and N5bn in 2022). Note that in the MoA of 2019, the FG ought to pay N20bn by May 2021 and another N20bn by February 2022.
With this present offer, the Buhari regime is tyrannically acting in bad faith and aims to run away implementing nothing knowing election campaigns would be in the air by 2022 and everyone would be begging ASUU to consider national interest!
Worse still, a regime that failed to mainstream the payment of EAA into the 2019 budget as promised is now promising again that it has secured the commitment of the National Assembly to include the amount in the 2021 budget provided it is sent “in quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education”. On setting up visitation panels to visit universities, it is sad that a regime that mouths anti-corruption would wait to be forced to set up her panel to look into the books of universities. In 2019 MoA, the regime promised to commence visitation by March 11, 2019 but it has yet to do so till date! The same regime is now promising to inaugurate the visitation panels by the end of November 2020 and shall have finished their work by December, 31, 2020. The “panels are expected to submit two reports per university covering five-year periods of 2011-2015 and 2016-2020”. ASUU deserves commendation for exposing government as not truly committed to transparency in university administration for failing to check their books for close to a decade as required! On renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, it was agreed in the 2019 MoA that the renegotiation “shall commence not later than Monday, February 18, 2019 and be concluded by Friday, March 29, 2019”. Since then, government has frustrated every move to renegotiate the agreement and conclude it. We are now in 2020 and the FG is asking to “be given one week to reconstitute the renegotiating committee” and this committee “would be expected to conclude its work on or before December 2020”.
Buhari also offered to release N20bn by January 2021 for the revitalisation of over 70 public varsities! When shared, each university may not get up to what is budgeted for Aso Rock feeding and cutleries! A sensible leadership will learn from the counsel of the Yoruba proverb: Omo tí a bí tí a kò tó, ni yíò gbélé tí a kó tà (an untrained child will sell the built castle). The practical tragedy of having untrained children was unveiled through the manifest difference between the non-destructive approach of educated and highly coordinated #EndSARS youth protesters and the ‘sponsored’ infiltrators of largely unschooled arsonists who razed assets within hours. There is no sense investing in physical structures mainly to extract kick-backs without investing in positively shaping people’s mind through consistent education funding.
I have chronicled the evasive dealings of non-committed FG with ASUU to better appreciate the altruism underlying the lecturers’ struggle. The option you choose comes with attendant consequences: support government to destroy Nigeria’s future by nurturing uneducated arsonists or support ASUU’s struggle to get quality education for our children.