The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in Owerri on Monday rejected the plan by the Federal Government to include university workers in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The union said that it had offered to be given the opportunity to develop an alternative to IPPIS. ASUU did not provide details about the alternative.
The Zonal Coordinator of the union in Owerri Zone, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, said this on Monday at a press conference held at the Imo State University (IMSU) Owerri.
The press conference was at the instance of Chairpersons of five ASUU unions in Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University, Igboaram, Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), IMSU, Owerri, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike.
He said the press conference was called to draw attention to burning issues that might lead to a breach of the industrial harmony in universities and cripple academic and research activities.
According to Onyebinama, IPPIS violates university autonomy and FGN/ASUU agreement and did not address the peculiarity inherent in the nature and structure of universities.
“Specifically, IPPIS violates and erodes university autonomy inherent in the extent provisions of section 2AA of the Universities Miscellaneous Provision (Amendement) Act 2003,” he said.
The ASUU zonal coordinator said that academic activities (teaching, research and community service) in universities had specific milestones with timelines.
“Universities are structured to be independent and free from civil service bureaucracy.
“As a result, university establishment is not only flexible and dynamic but also pragmatic with the primary objectives of rapid response to critical exigencies. IPPIS negates this.
“The Union views the claim by the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) that ASUU’s position against IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption as cheap blackmail.
“ASUU cannot be blackmailed into shirking her sacred responsibility of defending the autonomy of the universities.
“ASUU’s zero tolerance for corruption (individual and institutional) is widely acclaimed.. The union has offered to be given the opportunity to develop an alternative to IPPIS,” he said.
Onyebinama said that the union had been clamouring for constitution of statutory visitation panels to federal universities that was long overdue, adding that visitation panels provided the platform for inquiring into the conduct of affairs of universities.
He said that the failure of the Federal Government to inquire into the the affairs of universities through the instrument of visitation panels was the real endorsement of corruption.
On the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, he said that the attempt at the renegotiation which ought to have been renegotiated in 2012, had failed due to what he called high-handedness of a team formed by government.
He alleged that the team acted out of a script deliberately designed to frustrate the renegotiation exercise.
“For 10 years, the salaries and allowance of staff members have remained constant, double digit inflation and the devaluation of the naira notwithstanding.
“We are therefore, using this opportunity and the medium of the press to call on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the FG to rescind the forceful and compulsory enrolment of universities into IPPIS.
“It should also ensure that the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement is concluded without further delay. A stitch in time clearly saves nine.
“Our universities surely need a break from incessant industrial crisis caused by government insensitivity,” he said.