Mr Ogunyemi, in an interview with Punch, explained that the Nigerian government’s insistence that all its agencies and institutions must be on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, was an attempt to return universities to the civil service. He stressed that the union was against the move.
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the presentation of the 2020 budget proposal to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja directed that any Federal Government worker not captured on the IPPIS platform by October 31 would no longer receive salary. He said it was part of government’s efforts to manage personnel costs in line with the fight against corruption.
The President said, “Accordingly, I have directed the stoppage of the salary of any Federal Government staff member not captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System platform by the end of October 2019. All agencies must receive approvals before embarking on any fresh recruitment and any contraventions of these directives shall attract severe sanctions.”
While ASUU kicked against the directive, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said on Thursday that no government agency must resist being enrolled on the IPPIS platform.
But ASUU chief insisted that, “Universities are peculiar; the senate has the overall power over admission, examination, certification and so on, while the issue of discipline, financing, personnel and so on are handled by the governing council.
“The government has the resources to monitor what comes in and goes out of the university system (account) and there could also be a mechanism in place such that anytime there is recruitment and there is an addition to the salary, there would be an alert in Abuja.
“Why do you want vice-chancellors to queue at the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to beg to get new staff? It is ridiculous. They have turned our vice-chancellors to errand boys. Now, Assistant Directors can summon a vice-chancellor by a telephone call to Abuja, and some of the people doing these things were undergraduates when these VCs became professors.
“We cannot allow that to continue; we are denigrating the system and suddenly we would find that the rest of the world has left us behind. It took a long time for us to detach universities from the civil service, in terms of employment and salaries. What IPPIS wants to do is to take us back to the civil service, to which universities do not belong.
“They should tell us any part of the world where universities are part of the civil service. We should allow our institutions to run according to their laws and that is our argument.”
On ASUU’s decision to reject the IPPIS, Ogunyemi said the law governing institutions had given the governing council power over personnel and finances, but that “government now use the council membership for political patronage”.
He said if government accused the union of trying to support corruption for opposing the IPPIS, government should show what it had done with the cases of corruption that the union raised and were documented with government’s visitation panels.
“If councils had been held accountable, we would not be talking of corruption in the universities, because by law, the governing councils are the employers of academics but because of government’s patronage.”