***We are worried that FG will sign agreements it knows are difficult and sometimes impossible to implement, Lawan
*** The Programme will only compound the problem of regular flow of fund and personnel management, ASUU
ABUJA- THE Senate has intervened between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), saying that it would summon the Federal Government to speak on plans to capture the Universities into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Speaking yesterday in Abuja when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) led by its President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi visited him in his office, President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan who noted that it has become imperative to hear from the Federal Government on the IPPIS, said that he was worried that the Federal Government will sign agreements it knows are difficult and sometimes impossible to implement.
Meanwhile, ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi told the Senate that the introduction of IPPIS into Federal Universities will only compound the problem of regular flow of fund and personnel management, just as he said that it would not resolve the problem of regular flow of fund.
Speaking further, the President of the Senate, Senator Lawan said, “We are all in this together and we believe that the Nigerian education sector especially the tertiary needs serious support. We know that you have made some sacrifices and that you have put in your best with the little given to you.
“The legislature is always prepared to take necessary steps to ensure that the tertiary institutions remain open and functional.
“We are part of government and I believe that issues like this should be resolved. My worry has always been why government will sign agreements that know are difficult and sometimes impossible to implement.
“I believe that we should be looking at all the issues and suggestions that have been raised.
“I am happy that you have made your point and I’m also happy that the federal ministry of finance is thinking of addressing the issues as well. I will like to know how they intend to do it. I am meeting with the Minister of finance to tell us what exactly is to be done because we do not want any strike.
“As for funding, the truth is we can only do our best at this stage. We have serious financial challenges in terms of budgetary allocations. This one should be known to everyone. But it is also our duty as the national assembly o ensure that any revenue due to the federal government of Nigeria is captured and remitted properly. so that when we have sufficient revenues, we can fund our educational sector better.
“We’ll work hard on this but I Want to assure you that in the legislature, you have partners. We will work with you to ensure that we resolve these issues.
We’ll start with you today and then we’ll invite the government’s side let them tell us what they are doing.
“When you say government will fund universities, government will have to check how these funds are utilised but then, there have to be a mutual understanding that when they provide funds, the funds are properly channelled and the tertiary institutions can account for the funds.”
Speaking further, Ogunyemi said, “The introduction of IPPIS is not backed by law. The Union’s position is that there are extant legal provisions and negotiated agreements arising from the nature and peculiarities of Nigerian universities, which make IPPIS unnecessary and inapplicable to the universities.”
According to him, the goal of IPPIS as said by the Accountant-General of the Federation was to ensure transparency, accountability and probity with specific objectives.
“The objectives include centralisation of payroll systems of the Federal Government, facilitating easy storage, updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processing.”
Ogunyemi who noted that the proposed forceful enrollment of staff of universities in the IPPIS would amount to subjecting the universities to the direction and control of OAGF with respect to the payment of staff remuneration, salaries and wages, said, “It should be noted that IPPIS is not a home-grown initiative, rather it is a prescription of the World Bank.
” Its ultimate consequence is to create anarchy and therefore, retard the growth and development of Nigeria.”
The ASUU President said if the government was serious in curbing corrupt practices through the payroll and personnel management, the best pathway was to make the Governing Councils work.
He said, “The exercise of the power of the Visitor, in respect of the visitation exercise as explicitly stated in law which ASUU has continued to advocate, should be activated.
“Nigerian universities have capacity to develop their own platform in place of IPPIS with different levels of control which can be accessed periodically to assess compliance with the regulations on transparency and accountability by each university “
“The centralization of payroll is a violation of University Autonomy. It contradicts the principle of the superiority of the Governing Council in the control and management of university funds, and employment and promotion of staff. Universities all over the world have a tradition of independence and complete separation from the structure of the civil service.
“The attempt to bring Nigerian Universities under a general practice that is meant for the civil service will not only undermine University Autonomy; it will also infringe on Academic Freedom, and consequently retard the efforts of our Country to develop the much sought-after knowledge-based economy. In particular, ASUU would like to draw the attention of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to the Principle of University Autonomy as enshrined in section 2AA of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003 which states:
“The powers of the Council shall be exercised, as in the Law and Statutes of each university and to that extent, establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the Laws and Statutes of the university shall not apply to the universities.
“Also. Section 2AAA of the same Act states: The Governing Council of a University shall be free in the discharge of Its functions and exams of Its responsibilities for the common management, growth and development of the university. The Council of a university m the discharge of its functions shall ensure that disbursement of funds of the university completes with the approved budgetary ratio for: Personnel costs; Overhead costs; Research and development; Library development; and The balance in expenditure between academic vis-à-vis non-academic activities.
“For example, the 1992 Act of the University of Abuja expressly states in Section 6: Functions of the Council and its Finance and General Purposes Committee: Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the Visitor, the Council shall be the governing body of each university and shall be charged with the general control and superintendence of the policy, finance and property of the university including its public relations.
“It is noteworthy that, contrary to the Law expressly backing the Governing Councils of each Federal University to exercise full control over the finances of the universities, IPPIS lacks constitutional backing; neither is it supported by any Act of the National Assembly. The proposed forceful enrollment of staff of Universities in the IPPIS will amount to subjecting the universities to the direction and control of OAGF with respect to the payment of staff remunerations salaries and wages, allowances, etc. The OAGF has no constitutional or legal backing to so direct the affairs of Universities, the latter being creations of Statutes via the Acts establishing the Universities.
“It should be recalled that the powers of the Auditor-General for the Federation to direct Audit of Public Accounts as provided under Section 85 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not extend to Statutory Corporations, Commissions, Authorities, Agencies and Bodies established by an Act of the National Assembly. It is because of this provision that the auditor general does not directly audit the accounts of Federal Universities. This is also the case with the OAGF, with payments made to the staff of the Federal Universities through IPPIS. Neither the constitution nor any Act of the National Assembly confer such powers on the OAGF.
“The OAGF has been very clear about the status of IPPISthat it is a policy of government, backed by a Presidential Directive. This statement reinforces the position of ASUU cm IPPISthat IPPIS is not backed by law and cannot, therefore, be used in whatever guise or circumstance to override laws and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Allowing the Implementation of IPPIS in the University system would be tantamount to the OAGF committing grave illegality, which would lead to anarchy within the system.
“In view of the extant Agreements with the Federal Government, ASUU strongly believes that the best way to review the activities of the Governing Councils and University Administrations is to follow the path laid down in the Law. For instance, Section 14(2) of the University of Abuja Act (1992) states:
“For all intents and purposes, therefore, it cannot be said that ASUU’s opposition to IPPIS is an endorsement of corruption in the Nigerian University System. Rather, it is Government’s inaction or failure to implement the outcomes of visitation exercises that is encouraging corruption. In the recent past, successive governments had set up Visitation Panels whose recommendations were never put to effective use. A clear example is the University of Abuja where a Special Visitation Panel was set up in 2012. ASUU took a special interest in the matter because our Union thought it would send the appropriate warning signals to other universities that were not properly managed. We monitored the processing of the report to the point of the White Paper. Unfortunately, to the chagrin of our Union, nothing came out of the exercise!
“If the Government wants to curb corrupt practices, through the payroll and personnel management, the best pathway is to make the Governing Councils work. The exercise of the power of the Visitor, in respect of the visitation exercise as explicitly stated in law which ASUU has continued to advocate, should be activated.
“Nigerian universities have capacity to develop their own platform in place of IPPIS, with different levels of control, which can be accessed periodically to assess compliance with the regulations on transparency and accountability by each university. We have seen this practicalized in other universities in Africa, including the University of Ghana, Legon. ASUU can coordinate the project if the government gives approval for the development of a separate and unique salary payment system for the universities.
“ASUU strongly believes the introduction of IPPIS in the Federal Universities, which is not backed by law, will only compound the problem of regular flow of fund and personnel management, rather than resolve it. The Union’s position is that there are extant legal provisions and negotiated agreements, arising from the nature and peculiarities of Nigerian universities, which make LPPIS unnecessary and inapplicable to the universities.” Nigeria News
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