By Adesina Wahab
The negotiation between the Federal Government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to end the ongoing industrial action by the lecturers is currently stalled because of the refusal of the government to pay the withheld salaries of the workers through other means than the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, our correspondent has gathered.
ASUU is strongly opposed to the use of IPPIS as the payment platform in the university system.
University lecturers across the country, especially, those owned by the FG, are owed between four and eight months salaries.
It was gathered that last Wednesday when the team from ASUU met with the government delegation led by the Minister of Labour,
Dr Chris Ngige, the parties could not make any headway on how to pay the outstanding salaries.
Speaking in a chat with our correspondent on Sunday, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said there was no way workers whose salaries were withheld could be convinced to go back to work.
“The first step to resolving the impasse is for the government to pay the withheld salaries of our members. It is between four and eight months.
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“You cannot tell a person whose salaries have been seized unjustifiably to go back to work. Moreover, the salaries must be paid through the normal channel,” he said.
When asked what the normal channel is, the ASUU boss said the government knows the means with which it pays its workers not enrolled on IPPIS.
“Doing that would help in resolving other issues and make things return to normal. But for the government to insist on IPPIS, there may be trouble still.
“They are yet to enrol over 70 per cent of our members on IPPIS. It will take them between three to six months to do so.
“They are setting a booby trap saying we should enrol on IPPIS first and then they will migrate us to our own University Transparency and Accountability System, UTAS, that is even uneconomical when UTAS can be used to enrol us in a very short time,” he explained.
When prodded that IPPIS issue was not one of the initial demands of the union, Ogunyemi noted that as far back as 2013, ASUU felt IPPIS matter had been laid to rest.
“We rejected it then and nothing was said about it up until late last year when they brought it up and insisted on us being part of it. We saw that as a distraction since other more important issues were at stake, but now they have thrown it into the front burner,” he stated.
ASUU has been on strike since late March this year over some issues such as the payment of Earned Academic Allowances, revitalisation of the university system, setting up of Visitation Panels to universities, fulfilling conditions included in the 2004 agreement reached between the two sides among others.