The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, on Friday, called on the Federal Government to stop foot-dragging on the adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solutions, UTAS, as a reliable payment system for the Union.
ASUU equally said that it is worried over Federal Government’s, FG, delay tactics in releasing funds for the revitalisation of public universities, and the May 2021 tranche of Earned Academic Allowances, EAA, adding that the Union is warming up to continue its suspended industrial action should FG continue with its present body language.
The Coordinator of Nsukka Zone of ASUU, Comrade Raphael Amokaha, disclosed these issues at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, during a press briefing at the end of the zonal meeting of the Union where it also deliberated on proliferation of universities by state governments without requisite funding power and renegotiation of 2009 agreement with the FG.
Comrade Amokaha, explained that ASUU rejected the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, from inception because of its failure to cater for the peculiarities of the Nigerian University System, and called on FG to adopt UTAS, which he said, has been subjected to series of tests, including demonstration to the “End-Users,” drawn from the bursary and registry units of federal universities and proven to be suitable for Nigerian University System.
He also said “ASUU, therefore, cannot understand the continued delay by government in adopting and deploying UTAS as an alternative to IPPIS which has failed in all ramifications. It is to be noted that this government has advocated for local content in our development efforts. UTAS is a home grown programme that has been shown to be a viable solution to a Nigerian problem. There is no rational consideration why government should be foot-dragging instead of adopting and deploying UTAS with excitement that its own academic industry has come up with a cutting-edge solution.
“On the issues of funding for revitalisation of public universities and earned academic allowances, ASUU-Nsukka Zone is aware that letters were to be written by 3rd August, 2021 from the Ministry of Education to CBN to transfer funds for the revitalisation of public universities to the NEEDS Assessment account; and same Ministry of Education was to write another letter to the Ministry of Finance to release the May 2021 tranche of Earned Academic Allowances and copy the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Actions are still being awaited on these issues. Efforts were also to be made by the Ministry of Finance to release 10.9% of N203 billion (22.127 billion) already appropriated in the budget of 2021, this too is yet to be done.
“The Zone is worried that the urgency in writing inter ministerial letters only comes to play when there are meetings between Government and our Union. It then becomes a heavy task for us to give government the benefit of doubt that it is not engaging in delay tactics by using patronising phraseology.”
The Union also said that its national officers are working with the NUC to submit to the National Assembly, a bill to amend the NUC Act which would empower it to reduce the level of proliferation of universities by state governments.
On the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement, the Union said ” The Zone is concerned about the intentions of government because, the draft Agreement was ready as at May, 2021, and by 2nd August, 2021 ( two months later), the Minister of Labour and Employment is merely hoping that the Inter-Ministerial Committee would have concluded work on the draft agreement for submission to government by the end of August, 2021. Alas! We are already in the second week of September and no actions have been taken yet.”
The Union also said that the speedy conclusion and signing of the draft agreement would enhance industrial harmony in the Nigerian University System, and create an enabling environment for improved academic activities and competitive research.
The Union equally called on the FG to expedite action on the resolution of the pending/contentious issues in the December 2020 Memorandum of Action, MoA.
The ASUU-Nsukka Zone comprises the Union branches at Benue State University, Makurdi; Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Enugu; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; Federal University, Lokoja.
Others are: Federal University, Wukari; Kogi State University, Anyigba; and University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN.