IPPIS: ASUU fighting for the soul of University education in Nigeria By Inyali Peter

Comrade Inyali Peter

The crisis brewing between the federal government and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over government's insistence that they (ASUU members) must register in the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as well as other sundry issues is no longer news.

To better understand the issue and the truth especially as it concerns IPPIS, one needs to critically x-ray the consistency level of the two giants-ASUU and government. This is so because consistency is a virtue that's very scarce in people who are full of lies, blackmail, black propaganda and deceits.

From when this battle for the soul of University education in Nigeria started, one giant (ASUU) has remained very consistent in its position that the system will have negative effects on the overall growth of Universities, government in the other hand has been highly and proudly inconsistent throwing contradictory figures all in a bid to blackmail ASUU into doing what's obviously against the growth of the University system.

Recall that around January this year, the federal government claimed that 96,090 out of 130,000 Lecturers working in federal Universities in the country enrolled in the controversial IPPIS. The fictitious figure represents 70% compliance of academic staff.

However, the number is as unrealistic as everything the government has said about IPPIS. The entire about 40 or 43 federal Universities in Nigeria don't have up to 90,000 Lecturers not to even talk of 130,000.

According to National University Commission (NUC) statics,  the staff strength of federal Universities in Nigeria is 119,202. 83, 239 are non-teaching while 35, 963 are academic. Yet FG said over 90,000 Lecturers out of 130,000 enrolled in IPPIS. Where did they get the 95,000 extra Lecturers from?

Such imagination and falsehood wasn't enough. Having failed with the propaganda, one would have expected the government to know that it's a body of intellectuals they're dealing with but oh no; they didn't as they came out with yet another lie few weeks later. This time, they claimed 39,000 Lecturers registered which is still 3037 higher than the actual number of academic staff in federal Universities. Remember, they did not apologize or explain to Nigerians how they arrived at the first figure which has excess of 90,000 academic staff.

The conflicting figures should tell Nigerians including the Apostles of the IPPIS who see it as octopus with a messiac effect that will automatically stop corruption in Universities that the system is more corrupt than corruption itself. I refuse to believe that their claims are mere rhetorics. These people owe Nigerians alot of explanations.

Like a child that never learns, the same government came out last month again through the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed to claim that 55% academic staff have enrolled in the system. Going by her claim, this means that only 45% which represents the minority have not enrolled. That's to say that, only 45% of academic staff are on strike yet University education has been totally shutdown since the strike commenced.

The Minister was so careful this time not to throw another fictitious figure out but in her smartness, she still lied to Nigerians. If by any way majority academic staff complied with the anti-university education IPPIS policy, there's no way this government that doesn't appreciate the value of listening to the voice of reason
would have entered any form of  negotiation with the minority.

So, the claims and counter claims by government that should know better is a clear indication that there's more going on with the IPPIS than meets the eye. It should be very visible to the blinds and audible to the deaf that government is not being sincere with the claim of using IPPIS to fight corruption. Instead, it's institutionalizing corruption with the Accountant General as the Commander-in-Chief and his office as the headquarters.

Nobody is saying that there's no corruption in the system especially with the personnel budget. But ASUU has suggested and even reached agreement with government on how to tackle the issue systematically using the Presidential visitation panel but government has refused to implement it.

A platform they claimed was introduced to fight corruption has astronomically increased the number of academic staff from 35,000 to 130,000 which is still higher than the entire workforce of federal Universities in Nigeria. Is this not a clear sign that those in the office of the Accountant General are even registering their ancestors as Lecturers?

A report by the former Auditor General of the Federation exposed IPPIS as a fraudulent platform but since it was released, this same government that want to kill the University system in the name of fighting corruption has remained absolutely silenct about the issue.

In one of the revelations, the report revealed that as a result of deficiencies in IPPIS controls, there were series of potential overpayments. In the first case, it discovered that nearly 300,000 payments totaling N330 million where the gross pay differed from approved salary scale, with double payments of nearly N30 million in September – December, 2011.

This report of course is not of importance to the government since those manipulating the system to steal humungous amount of money are not Lecturers. Even when Senate indicted the account clerk (Account General) who is doing the hatchet job for the conservative few who want to destroy the system for failing to explain how his office spent N2.9b IPPIS funds, the government activated silence mood.

How about the billions the federal government is paying to some allies of some people in government from America who own this controversial platform? A government that says it's promoting patronage of made in Nigeria products left all our indigenous designers and computer scientists here to spend about N5b annually on a platform that would have been developed here in Nigeria. Isn't this shameful and indictment on the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for double standard?

A lot is wrong with this system and Nigerians need to understand that ASUU is fighting for the soul of University education in this country. If these people are allowed to carry on with their evil onslaught against tertiary education in the country, the system which is not even properly funded would be perpetually killed and buried. God forbid that this happens under the Buhari administration that many Nigerians including me believe was coming to do things differently.

The lamentations by SSANU, COEASU, NASU and residents Doctors over the fraud in salary payment by IPPIS has not only further justified the position of ASUU but has better exposed the danger the platform pose to the survival of University education in Nigeria.

ASUU is committed and ready to support any genuine measures by government to curb corruption in Nigeria at all sectors but won't allow the country to be destroyed by people who seem not to appreciate the value of education under the guise of fighting corruption.
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