Explains why it visited Buhari
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-ACADEMIC Staff Union of Universities, yesterday,insisted that it was pressing ahead with its University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, as a substitute to the federal government’s preferred Integrated Payroll and Personnel System,IPPS.
This came as the university lecturer’s union flayed the media for what it described as misrepresentation of facts in its recent meeting with President Muhammad Buhari,saying contrary to some media reports,the meeting was not called solely to discuss IPPS “which ASUU rejected, and still rejects, for sound reasons.”
A communiqué released by the group, after its meeting held at its national secretariat, located at the Main Campus of the University of Abuja,Tuesday,ASUU,
insisted that there was no going back from its earlier position on IPPS.
In the communiqué tagged:”Meeting with President Buhari Beyond IPPS”,signed by its national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi,ASUU said its recent meeting with President Buhari was not special as it had always done same with past presidents,notably ex Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo,late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan,wondering why the latest was sensationalised.
The communiqué read:”The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has found it necessary to correct the wrong impression created by a section of the media that the meeting of the Union with President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) on Thursday, 9th January, 2020 was called solely to discuss the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which ASUU rejected, and still rejects, for sound reasons.
“Background to the visit
ASUU believes that engagement with the leadership of Nigeria by the academic community should be a seamless process.
“Before the last visit to the State House, ASUU had previously engaged former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Musa Yar, Adua and Goodluck Jonathan at various times respectively.
“Such visits afforded the union opportunities to put across the perspective of Nigerian academics on what role education should play in addressing national challenges.”
On issues discussed at the meeting,ASUU said,”The meeting of ASUU with President Buhari on 9th January 2020 was conceived in the broad context of education and national development within the Triple Helix principles as established in China, Singapore, Malaysia, among other emerging economic powers.”
It explained that,”The meeting was called in response to the union’s request as conveyed in its letter of 21st October 2019″ to the president.
According to it,”The letter specifically outlined three issues for discussion.”
These, it explained, were:”ASUU’s position on the violation of Universities’ Autonomy Law (Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003, Laws of the respective universities and Agreements with ASUU as it relates to the planned forceful enrolment of academics in Federal Universities on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
“The 7th February 2019 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action and implications of its non-implementation.
“ASUU’s Proposal for Sustainable Funding of Education.”
The communiqué read further: “It is perhaps understandable that the media and some section of the public have focused more attention on the IPPIS because it appears “topical” or “trending’.
“However, ASUU has always argued that the IPPIS crisis cannot be resolved without paying due attention to the foundational issues of autonomy and academic freedom, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs), and sustainable funding of education for the transformation of Nigeria.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU made six clear prayers at the meeting with President Buhari:
“The need for the implementation outstanding provisions in the 7th February 2019 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action.
” The need to recommence and conclude the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement based on ILO’s collective bargaining principles within the six-week timeframe originally set for it.
“The need for Mr President, as Visitor to the federal universities, to constitute and activate visitation panel to all universities and direct that the outcome be fully implemented.
” Government should welcome ASUU’s ongoing innovation of a more robust system of human resources management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS,which will address the peculiarities of universities and end inappropriate recruitments in the system.
“The need for Government to declare a five-year state of emergency in the education sector. During this period, at least 6 percent of the GDP of the FGN budget as well as 26 percent of each state government budget should be allocated to education during this period.”
It added:”President Buhari agreed with ASUU that education, particularly university education, holds the key to the future of the country.
“The union, on its part, noted with interest Mr. President’s comment that the ‘Minister of Education has a lot of work to do’ after which he handed over the position paper of ASUU on the issues raised to the minister for follow up.
“As expected, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, spoke spiritedly in defence of IPPIS, including leveling some unfounded allegations against ASUU in order to portray the union in bad light before Mr. President.
“However, some other officials of government (eg Minister of Labour and Employment and Secretary to Government of the Federation) alluded to the possibility of ‘marrying’ ASUU’s UTAS with IPPIS.
“Also, the Minister of (Finance, Budget and National Planning) created the wrong impression that a substantial number of ASUU members had enrolled in IPPIS in defiance of the union. For the avoidance of doubt, however, the minister failed to provide the ratio of academic to non-academic in her questionable data.
“To put the record straight, and contrary to what was reported in the official media, at no point during the meeting did President Buhari put a closure to the ongoing discussion on ASUU’s preference for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) or directed that the salaries of ASUU members be stopped for failure to enroll in IPPIS.
“Any report to the contrary is calculated to mislead not only the public but to weaken the resolve of the academic staff, a large majority of who are standing by the position of our union.
“ASUU remains committed to its tradition of consultation and dialogue, which informed the engagement with President Buhari on Thursday 9, January 2020 with the hope that all the prayers sought would receive the expected prompt attention.”