ASUU Vows to Continue Strike Beyond a year, Gives Reasons

As a result of the disagreement between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which led to the shutdown of academic activities in tertiary institutions since the past seven months, Nigerians have urged the two parties to be considerate in their positions to aid the possibility of reaching a common ground.

Some of them, including key stakeholders in the education sector, who spoke with BusinessDay, emphasise the need for government and the university lecturers to place the interest of the nation and the young students affected by the impasse, well above any other consideration.

The government had continued to insist on paying salaries to only lecturers that have enrolled into the IPPIS platform, and the lecturers had vowed to resist IPPIS they said was a fraud.

In the place of the IPPIS, ASUU has offered its option – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) – a model it says would tackle the unwholesome issues around wages payment, which government says IPPIS would eliminate.

But Nigerians have urged those concerned to remember the place of education in the growth and development of any nation and make sacrifices so as to reach common grounds that could ensure the re-opening of the universities.

Speaking with BusinessDay on the telephone, Moyosore Ajao, ASUU chairman, University of Ilorin, advises the Federal Government to continue to dialogue with the union to rescue varsity education from further crisis.

“The only way forward is continuous dialogue with the union; if they discuss with us, there will eventually be resolution to all these issues,” Ajao says.

He, however, warns that failure to embark on mutual dialogue would result to “anarchy,” with many casualties.

Adesegun Olagoke, an educationist, also believes there is the need for the government and ASUU to come to a peaceful resolution hinged on the sincerity of purpose and willingness to reach a compromise.

The crisis could be forestalled with both parties sitting at a round table to address all grey areas causing the problem, Olagoke says.

According to Olagoke, the Federal Government must, for instance, recognise the peculiarity of the university system and all its processes based on its constitutionally-backed autonomy as is the case everywhere in the world.

“If the government can recognise and capture on the IPPIS such multifarious peculiarities as the issue of Sabbatical, 70 years retirement age, external examiners and external assessors, earned academic allowances, visiting adjunct and part-time consultancy services, among others, it would have allayed the fears of Nigeria’s university teachers,” he notes.

But the chairman of ASUU at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Adeola Egbedokun, insists that only respect for autonomy for universities would bring peace.

Egbedokun, who notes that the autonomy in the university system is backed by law, adds that the Federal Government is ignoring this aspect of the law, saying until the law of autonomy returned to universities, there would continue to be tension on the campuses.

Olayinka Awopetu, a senior lecturer and chairman of ASUU at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), agrees, saying the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS), which ASUU had already suggested, is a better alternative.

“UTAS is in line with the law as against IPPIS, which is against the law establishing the nation’s universities. ASUU will never support anything that contradicts the law,” Awopetu states.

A parent, Kemisola Owodunni, advises the government to strive to disabuse ASUU’s conception that IPPIS was conceived to undermine autonomy in Federal Universities.

According to Owodunni, ASUU had rejected Federal Government’s IPPIS only on the point of law, while offering an alternative platform the union felt would take care of universities’ peculiarities.

“It is important that the Federal Government first consider putting the cards on the table to look into addressing the concerns of ASUU so as to allay all that is their fears,” she says.

She urges both parties to place the national interest above “this ego clash,” noting that it is the students that are the victims of the clash.

“The interest of the students must be protected by both the Federal Government and the union; both parties must ensure that the educational sector is protected.

“The youths of this country are the leaders of our future and we must do everything possible to make sure they are in school so as to complete their education without any distractions from the union,’’ she advises.

Meanwhile, Salim Abdurrahman, chairperson, Federal University, Dutse (FUD), chapter of ASUU, has said the union was not against enrolling its members into the IPPIS platform.

“What we want is for government to rectify some grey areas so as to have a policy that will stand the test of time,” he informs BusinessDay.


Source: BusinessDay

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