University lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have embarked on an indefinite strike following the insistence of Federal Government that its members should enrol in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, described the decision to embark on the strike as a tough one, but noted that the National Executive Council (NEC) had to endorse the action following the expiration of the two weeks warning strike earlier embarked upon by members. He also linked the decision for the industrial action to government’s refusal to “satisfactorily address the outstanding issues raised in the FGN/ASUU 2019 Memorandum of Action (MoA).”
Ogunyemi said the periodic disruption of academic activities in public universities was due to insincerity of the Federal Government, particularly in honouring agreements signed with the union in the past.
“It was difficult for NEC to take some painful decisions at its meeting in Abuja on Monday. Our wish was that government would have satisfactorily addressed issues that gave rise to the warning strike which ended on Monday, but that was unsuccessful.
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“Nigerian government has chosen to use hunger as a weapon of war against its academics, and we are not going to sit and watch. Action and reaction, as they say, are equal but opposite.
“So based on the review of reports from ASUU leadership’s engagement with government, NEC concluded that government has failed to satisfactorily address the outstanding issues raised in the FGN/ASUU 2019 Memorandum of Action (MoA) and ignored the objections of ASUU against IPPIS. We strongly reject any use of force to enrol our members on IPPIS platform which was ‘fraudulently’ imposed on Nigerians by the World Bank with a huge amount of loan facility,” he said.
Last year, the Federal Government gave a directive that all employees be enrolled in IPPIS by December 31 or have their salariese withheld. The directive did not go down well with ASUU and they made their stance known to their employers.
Few days to the December deadline, over 70 per cent of ASUU members were said to have secretly enrolled in the platform, while some others, especially their leaders, refused to join. All efforts to persuade them failed, as they rather opted for a two weeks warning strike.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, told journalists recently in Abuja, that public universities in Nigeria could best be described as epicenter of academic, financial and administrative fraud, and had been responsible for the poor academic record and research breakthrough in the country.
READ ALSO:FG declares ASUU strike illegal
He said government was determined to purge the public universities system of massive fraud which had taken a heavy toll on the system, in spite of the perceived “resistance” from the university ASUU.
Echono said ASUU’s resistance to IPPIS, was a pointer to some fraudulent activities in the system over the years, particularly in the payroll system. He regretted the fact that ASUU had been feeding the public with false claims and information on IPPIS which had been deployed to eliminated payroll fraud in the public service in the country out.
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In 2017, Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, inaugurated a 16-member Federal Government re-negotiation team to interface with all university based labour unions, notably, ASUU, NASU, SSANU, NAAT, as regards the content of the 2009 agreement it reached with the labour unions.
The team was chaired by Dr. Wale Babalakin, whom the government adjudged as most competent to lead its re-negotiation team, having done a similar job in 2009 when the negotiation begun
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