By Adesina Wahab
The use of the Integrated Per-sonnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, as the payment software in the university sector has been a major area of disagreement between the Federal Government and university workers, especially members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
ASUU’s position has been that it is not configured to take into consideration the peculiarities of the university system, especially the place of adjunct or visiting lecturers.
An adjunct lecturer is one who works full-time in one one university and works part-time in another university. Most of the time, they are engaged to help set up or beef up a new department or a programme that has just been introduced.
A number of people outside the university system see ASUU’s position as trying to protect its members who earn wages in more than one place.
However, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, in a write up, threw his weight behind the union’s position.
His article is titled: Attempt to criminalise adjunct lectureship in Nigerian universities, he noted that sometimes people speak out of ignorance.
“People speak at times either out of ignorance or mischief and there is often the temptation to over-generalise. I am amused when I read some comments which suggest an attempt to criminalize the matter of Adjunct or Visiting Lectureship in our universities. A fundamental question to ask is: how many academics are engaged in this.
“The truth is that when an academic department is first established, it is not likely to have the full compliments of academic staff. It is natural for such a new department to rely on outstanding scholars from sister universities for assistance. The department can then start to gradually build up her own crop of full-time faculty. Over time the need for Adjunct/Visiting Faculty would decrease gradually. Even at that, there may still be need to invite reknown scholars from other reputable sister institutions to spend some time as Visiting Scholars.
“For example, the New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates has just appointed Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, as Arts Professor of Theatre. The Laureate is expected to play a key role in building the university’s deep strength within the arts and its growth as a preeminent research and teaching university and a world-class leader in global higher education.
“I have a personal experience of assisting a sister federal university in the early 1990s. I was approached to serve as a Visiting Lecturer and I accepted the offer. I did that to the best of my ability for about three years. I used to drive my old Datsun Blue Bird saloon car although the roads were in a much better condition then.
“As we speak, that Department can boast of at least seven full professors most of whom I had the privilege to teach during the period under reference. They are happily now established academics in their own rights. Reality is that the department doesn’t need me as a Visiting Lecturer again.
“We can also learn from other jurisdictions. I pursued my MSc. Geophysics at the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London in the early 1980s soon after the completion of my BSc. from the highly regarded University of Ibadan. As of that time, the Geophysics programme at Imperial College was considered to be the largest of its type in Western Europe in terms of academic staffing and students’ enrolment. Yet, among the faculty that taught my class some highly specialised courses were about four drawn from some other University of London colleges and oil companies. That is the best of academic traditions.
“We do not have to throw the baby out with the bath water. This sad phase shall soon pass. In spite of our problems, we should not take the universe out of our iniversities.”
Also, a former VC of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, recently said the payment platform is unsuitable for universities.
He spoke while delivering a lecture to mark the 71st birthday of Emeritus Professor Peter Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, which held via Zoom.
The lecture was titled: Synchronising cacophony: Interrogating some issues of concepts and perception in the Nigerian higher education topology.
“I am not a fan of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, but they have a point here. IPPIS is unsuitable for the university system. Let me cite an instance, when I was the VC at the University of Ilorin, I went to Australia on an official assignment and there, I met a Nigerian with PhD in an area of Botany where we lacked the manpower.
“I spoke with the man and convinced him of the need to work with us and he agreed. Immediately, I put a call to the Dean of the Faculty of Science and told him about the development and that was how we secured the services of the man. He is now a professor in one of the nation’s universities.” New universities are being set up by the government and private concerns, it is quite difficult for their programmes to take off without help from sister institutions regarding manpower needs, and the usefulness of adjunct lecturers comes in here, payment software that would take care of such a peculiarity has to be adopted.