*Begs ASUU to return to negotiating table
By Victor Young
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, weekend, said unremitted N800 billion tax, among other anomalies, was why the Federal Government is insisting on Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS.
According to Senator Ngige, the N800 billion unremitted tax deductions accumulated over time.
He said there were also factors such as salary fraud, ghost workers, among other anomalies, that IPPIS would address, and pleaded with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to return to the negotiating table instead of the ongoing strike by members.
Ngige, in a statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, warned that if ASUU refused to return to the negotiating table, the Federal Government might be forced to resort to the nation’s labour laws to seek a way forward.
Ngige said: “The law permits the Federal Government to take ASUU to the National Arbitration Panel and even the National Industrial Court, NIC.”
According to the Labour Minister, the ongoing strike by ASUU members was all about the IPPIS, “any other reason given by ASUU is an alibi.
“I invited ASUU for a zoom meeting in compliance with the World Health Organisation, WHO, and National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, COVID-19 guidelines, but ASUU insisted of meeting me face-to-face.
“We have labour laws. On what can be done, we have a hierarchy of arbitration. There is the National Arbitration Panel. If I am tired, I can refer it to the National Industrial Court.
“The better thing for them is to come and negotiate on a firsthand basis, where we are not bringing an external arbitrator.”
Nigige described the position of ASUU in the dispute with Federal Government as laughable, contending that “as an employee, you lack the right to dictate for your employers how to receive wages. It is even in the International Labour Organisation, ILO, convention on wages.
“You cannot dictate for your employers how to pay you. But the important thing is for your salaries and wages to come to you. As a workman, you receive your payment as compensation for services rendered.
“The Federal Government is paying them and the Federal Government says, ‘we are losing a lot of money paying you from the Government Integrated Financial Management Information, GFMIS, platform which only transmits money for your salaries to the university system— specifically the bursar’s office, from where they pay you.
“The anomalies are that some of the people are ghost workers. They don’t exist at all, but their names exist and they draw money from the Federal Government.
“Some people receive more than their due because, after the salaries, some who are teaching in other universities are supposed to take 50 percent as extra pay for teaching in that other universities.
“The maximum universities they should teach is two. But some teach in three, or four universities.”
On the unremitted N800 billion tax, Ngige explained: “Again, the taxes that are being deducted by your bursar are not reflective of the taxes of PAYE (Pay As You Earn). Because of this, there is a shortfall of the taxes that are deducted, the various state governments where the universities are domiciled have petitioned the Joint Tax Board, JTB, to demand this shortfall.
“Over time, the shortfalls in tax deduction accumulated to over N800 billion. And JTB penalised the Federal Government for these monies not paid to the states.
“The Federal Government, from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, paid over N800 billion to states,” Ngige added.