The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday said it had not ruled out the possibility of going on strike despite the Federal Government’s payment of lecturers’ salaries.
The President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, said enrolment for the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System was not the only disagreement between the Federal Government and the union.
The FG had last year directed its employees, including university lecturers, to register for the IPPIS, which is a centralised payment system introduced to check fraud.
But ASUU directed its members to shun the government directive on the grounds that it negated the principle of university autonomy.
The government threatened not to pay January salaries of lecturers, who failed to register for the IPPIS, but on Friday the FG backed down on its threat and paid all lecturers including those who failed to register for the payment system.
Ogunyemi told The PUNCH on Monday the Federal Government in 2019 signed a memorandum of action with the union.
He said the Federal Government had not implemented five major areas of the agreement. The ASUU president, therefore, said he could not be ruled out a strike action by the union.
Ogunyemi stated while the IPPIS issue had not also been addressed, the non-implementation of the 2019 MoA was a fundamental matter, and IPPIS was “just a distraction.”
The ASUU national president added that having paid the January salaries of lecturers, the government could threaten its members with their next salaries.
Ogunyemi said, “We have about five issues that are outstanding. We had issues that we were discussing with the government before the IPPIS came in. That is why we have been calling IPPIS a distraction. We signed this MoA on February 7, 2019, and the issues included revitalisation, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the outstanding earned academic allowances.
“On the issue of earned academic allowances, the government had promised that it would pay in four instalments starting from November 2019, which it has not done anything on.
“So, we thought we were going to engage the government and sort it out, until suddenly they brought out the IPPIS matter. So what we are saying now is that the government cannot tell us that IPPIS is the only issue to engage. I will say that we have started discussion with the Minister of Education and we are hoping that very soon, we will have another meeting.
When asked if the negotiation with the minister meant Nigerians should not expect any strike action, Ogunyemi said, “I cannot tell you that. Discussion does not mean the problem has been solved. It is when the problem has been solved that we can say there is no reason to embark on any action.”
ASUU in the University of Calabar said it had begun to mobilise its members for a strike action.
The Chairman of ASUU in the university, Dr John Edor, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We are mobilising for a strike action because there are quite a number of pressing issues.”
But the Chairman of ASUU at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Dr Adebayo Oni, said the union was not mobilising its members for a strike action.
He stated, “We need to move round the campuses to sensitise our members to the issues surrounding the IPPIS and the implication on the Nigerian universities”.
The Chairman at the University of Port Harcourt Branch, Dr. Austen Sado, said the union would not go back on its decision to reject the IPPIS.
The Chairman of ASUU at the UI, Dr Deji Omole, said the issue before ASUU and the Federal Government was beyond the IPPIS and payment of salaries to lecturers.
Omole said, “The issue at hand is far beyond the IPPIS. As far as we are concerned, IPPIS is just a distraction from the main issue. The main issue is that government has a memorandum of action with us on how to implement our agreement. They are not talking about that.
In a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents, the Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Chapter, Bauchi, Dr. Adamu Babayo, said despite receiving their salaries, the lecturers were still mobilising themselves for a strike action.
He said, “We are mobilising for strike because of numerous issues between us and the Federal Government. We agreed with government to mainstream our academic allowance and they should pay the balance of our academic allowance that has been there since 2018.
By: Chukwudi Akasike, Olaleye Aluko, Daud Olatunji, Armstrong Bakam, Ada Wodu and Wale Oyewale