Journalism of Courage

ASUU strike: FG denies introducing different payment platform for varsities, says end of strike in sight

….Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, assured that efforts were on to resolve the ongoing faceoff between government and ASUU and other university based unions over payment platforms soon

The Federal Government has denied planning to create a different payment platform for all the trade unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

This is even as it assured that the end of the strike is in sight because of its commitment to resolve contending issues with the university-based unions.

Persecondnews reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have been on strike for several months.

ASUU went on strike on February 14, 2022, after which SSANU, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, (NAAT), joined the strike over the inability of the government to address their concerns.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had insisted on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) it created, claiming that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was short changing them.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) had also Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (UPPPS), as their own payment platform.

Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, on Wednesday in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, assured that efforts were on to resolve the ongoing faceoff between government and ASUU and other university based unions over payment platforms soon.

Ngige said he was waiting for the report of the Tripartite Plus Committee comprising the Ministry of Education, the Chief of Staff, Salaries and Wages Income Commission, the National University Commission, NUC as well as the striking unions.

He said: “ASUU went on strike by 14th of February. We held a conciliation on the 21st of February with the employers, the Ministry of Education and the National University Commission.

“As the issue is bordered on money, remunerations, welfare, we did another conciliation meeting inviting the Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and again, with their employers on the first of March.

“After that, it became clear that two cardinal things were still keen; the issue of renegotiation of their welfare package, as in the 2009 agreements. That  Agreement says you can review every five years. So that issue stuck out like a sore thumb.

“Then another issue arose in that agreement, the payment platform of University Transparency, Accountability Solution, which they say they have invented.

“They said they don’t want to be on IPPIS, that IPPIS was amputating their salaries and taking off certain allowances. And so that it is not capturing their peculiarities.

“So two agencies are involved. The direct employer and University Council, on one side. Salaries, incomes and Wages Commission and Finance.

“Because the remuneration, the welfare package we’re talking about involves more fund on the side of government, two broad agencies are involved.”

Ngige added:”There is also the payment platform, Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, and there are parastatals, the NIDTA, which approves every new portal or any digital platform we want to use in Nigeria now, especially in public service.

“So NITDA has undertaken to look at that platform, and see if that platform can be useful and beneficial to government. No employee or worker can dictate to his employer how he or she will be paid.

“There are principles at work. But government gave this privilege in consonant with the Executive Orders three and five, for local content development, and I support it.

“So NITDA on their own was doing their test. And when NITDA gave their preliminary results, they said user acceptance was the one that they passed.

“But the whole thing is a total package of vulnerability, and stress test. Vulnerability, whether this platform or this system can be hacked into, without difficulty or stress, how many people can it carry.

“So we now have to ask them to go back to these places, form committees with them. Education took them on the issue of 2009 agreement, which is renegotiation of their condition of service, emolument their remuneration allowances.”

“Therefore, salaries, income and wages Ministry of Finance that produce the money are involved. So they went back.

“So that’s where they are, what we call tripartite plus meeting based on presidential directive that the Chief of Staff, myself, finance, education, find the solution,” the labour minister said.




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