—Accuse Nimi Briggs Renegotiation C’ttee of bias
—Commend Ngige for his neutrality
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE teaching staff in the universities have called on the Federal Government to make public the results of the integrity tests carried out on the three payment platforms, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, U3PS and the the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System IPPIS.
This is as the Joint Action Committee, JAC, of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Education Institutions, NASU, has accused the Professor Nimi Briggs 2009 Renegotiation Committee of bias against the non teaching staff.
JAC said it was shocking to its members that while the Briggs Committee has not commenced discussions on salary review and other allowances, it received reports that the Committee had gone ahead to submit a report to the Federal Government recommending a ten percent increase for the non-teaching unions.
Recall that public universities in Nigeria have been shut down for about five months now as a result of the strike embarked by the four university-based unions over issues bordering on Renegotiation of 2009 Agreement, controversy on the salary payment platform among others.
The four unions are the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which started a one month warning strike that has continuously been rolled over on February 14, followed by SSANU, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
While ASUU has opted for UTAS as its preferred payment platform, SSANU and NASU proposed the U3PS, all against the federal government current payment platform of IPPIS.
The Federal Government through the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, has subjected the three payment platforms to integrity tests to determine their suitability.
Briefing journalists, weekend in Abuja, on the prolonged strike, the spokesman of JAC and General Secretary of NASU, Prince Peters Adeyemi said that controversy over payment platform was one of the reasons the strike has lingered for too long and advised that the issue has to be resolved especially as the government has carried out integrity tests and other necessary tests on UTAS, U3PS, IPPIS.
JAC at the briefing also commended the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige “for always filling the gap and making efforts to intercept andustrial disputes.”
The prepared text read at the press briefing which was signed by the National President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim and Prince Adeyemi said its findings on the activity of the Briggs Committee in the ongoing renegotiation especially on welfare package was a betrayal of confidence.
It said, “This address is coming on the heels of the recent revelations and development arising from the ongoing national strike embarked upon by the various University based unions.
“The revelations leave a sour taste in the mouth and given the incendiary and combustible excitement and tensions which the developments have generated amongst our members, we feel compelled to make our position known on the status of our negotiations with the Federal Government on the ongoing industrial action.”
It noted that the tripartite plus meeting convened on 12th May by President Muhammadu Buhari had resolutions such as renegotiations of the FGN/2009 Agreements signed with the university based unions and the integrity tests for the proposed payment platforms from ASUU, the JAC of NASU and SSANU and the existing platform of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
While lamenting that the Briggs committee has not carried along the non-teaching staff, JAC said, “Following the inauguration of the Committee, so far the two unions of NASU and SSANU had only two meetings with the committee. After the first meeting, the two unions of NASU and SSANU independently was compelled to create the impression that the Committee appeared not to have had its mandates clearly spelt out by the government.
“It needs being pointed out that at the two meetings held with the Briggs committee by both unions, there were no deliberations on salary increment and allowances.
“While the NASU and SSANU teams had presented Memorandum of Demands that included proposal for salary review along with appropriate salary tables, the committee had pleaded that the two unions should take the issue of review of salaries and allowances last because they were still interfacing with the relevant government agencies to give them appropriate offers to counter our proposals on salary review.
“It is therefore shocking to say the least that while we have not even commenced discussions on salary review and other allowances, we received reports that the committee had gone ahead to submit a report to the Federal Government recommending a ten percent (10%) increase for non-teaching unions.
“This we find to be very unfortunate and a betrayal of confidence by the committee. While it may be easy to dismiss this information asrumore rumor, our belief is confirmed by the fact a report was truly submitted to the Federal Government.
“The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment in his various statements had exposed the fact that a report had been prepared and presented to the Federal Government by the Briggs Committee.
“While we place on record, our appreciation and commendation to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment and his team, for always filling the gap and making efforts to intercept industrial disputes, it should also be placed on record that the Federal Ministry of Education had in the past absented itself from such meetings leading to poor follow-up action on the various Memoranda of Agreements signed.
“These absences of our employers have been a major albatross to all Memoranda of Action or Agreements as the case may be.
“It is to the commendation of the current Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, that since he assumed that office, the Ministry has been markedly more responsive to matters affecting the Unions.
“Let it be stated clearly, that SSANU and NASU reject any salary recommendation that would d cause a further disparity in the University system. There is an already existing disparity in the system which we had always closed our eyes to.
“To further expand that disparity wan ould be invitation to the greatest level of anarchy and industrial unrest ever witnessed in the University system.”
On the payment platform, JAC said, “We commend the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for the painstaking labor in undertaking the assignments so far.
“The deliberations at NITDA on the test cases of the three payment platforms-IPPIS, UTAS, and U3PS have been transparent and open so far.
“We urge NITDA to accelerate the results processing and come up with its indicator to lay to rest the contentious issues of a viable and enduring payment platform best suited for the Nigerian university system.”