ASUU STRIKE: Colleges Of Education Academic Staff Union Asks FG To Drop Its Ego Over UTAS.

The intractable challenge created by the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) has been a great source of worry and constituted one of the major issues prone to industrial crisis in the College of Education (COE) system.

Dr. Smart Olugbeko, COEASU National president in a statement said IPPIS breaches the establishment integrity of the tertiary institutions system, undermines the statutory functions of the Governing Councils, and opens the payroll up to unilateral manipulations.

Within a short time after its unilateral imposition on tertiary institutions by the FG in February 2020, academic Unions’ opposition to it was vindicated as the IPPIS pay platform engendered several irregularities, such as salary omission, accommodation of ghost workers, mutilated salary, and inconsistency in payment of salary of staff on sabbatical and study leaves. The payment system also enables the FG to impose baseless deductions under the guise of a new tax regime shrouded in calculative mysteries at the detriment of our members.

All over the world, research is the fulcrum of the academic community where academics proffer solutions to problems and evolve template for development. Thus, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) commends the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for living up to its pedigree as a Union of intellectuals and eggheads as it came up with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as an alternative to the controversial IPPIS. UTAS, being a home-grown and hack-proof payment system, addresses our concerns on payroll security and the peculiarities of the tertiary education system in general.

After due considerations, our Union, COEASU, does not only welcome UTAS, but also posits that UTAS should, indeed, be adopted for the entire tertiary education sector as it takes care of the peculiarities of the institutions including financial autonomy, sabbatical service, and the administration of discipline.

We are therefore thrown aback by the latest game of sheer ego resorted to by the FG through the lazy and mischievous blackmail of UTAS because of unsubstantiated claims of inadequacy.

The National Information Technology Development Agency’s (NITDA) assessment of UTAS done between 8th and 16th of March 2022 which subjected it to 698 cases gave UTAS 97.4% and 99.3% before and after remediation respectively.

This great feat is enough for FG to give kudos to ASUU for providing a home-grown solution to the problem of payment system in the country and quickly adopt it for payment, rather the FG resorted to blackmailing of ASUU and UTAS. Who is afraid of UTAS? The answer is simple, the beneficiaries who do not want UTAS, not because it is inadequate, but because it will reveal the holes in the operationalisation of IPPIS.

Details of the audit findings submitted to the National Assembly in September 2021 by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) revealed how operators of the IPPIS connived with the consulting vendors and operators to defraud the government.

The report further revealed that despite the huge amount expended by government in developing the platform, it has not yet fully been developed thereby robbing FG of billions and yet FG is comfortable with.

It is against this backdrop that we hereby call on the Federal Government to drop its ego, accept UTAS as a payment solution in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria whose functions and structure are different from the mainstream ministries.