ASUU’s refusal to Enrol into IPPIS: Whose Game are they playing? By Habib Kogus

It is no longer news that the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is the platform for payment of salaries of all workers that draw their salary from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). The IPPIS is one of the public finance reform initiatives designed for the management of personnel payroll system to aid manpower planning, budgeting and to achieve transparency.
As at August 2019, the enrollment stood at 768,496 personnel across 569 MDAs; this has led to over N273 billion savings in personnel cost recorded between 2017 and 2018. These savings could have been lost, but are now available for government to deploy to other uses.
In a move obviously aimed at consolidating the gains of the IPPIS policy, President Muhammadu Buhari recently directed that after 31st October 2019, employees of government who draw salary from the Consolidate Revenue Fund (CRF), should no longer be paid salaries until they are enrolled into the IPPIS. 
The military has just completed enrolment; other paramilitary agencies have also been enrolled into IPPIS.
The President’s directive seemed to have unsettled the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The Association has gone to great lengths to establish their displeasure and has vowed never to be enrolled in the IPPIS platform. 
The ASUU has been unequivocal in describing federal government’s insistence on their enrollment into IPPIS as a plan to undermine public universities. It has described individuals that have expressed contrary opinion to the stance of ASUU as being on a campaign of calumny against the Association.
Recently, the Port Harcourt zone of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), opined that the IPPIS is incapable of checking cases of ghost workers. The Coordinator of the Port Harcourt Zone of ASUU, Uzo Onyebinama, was quoted in the media as saying that the IPPIS is a fictitious claim by the federal government against corruption. 
He is reported to have challenged the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Finance to publish the names of the said ghost workers and their organizations from where the alleged savings have been made as well as the actions taken as proof of a government fighting against corruption.
The insistence of the ASUU not to be part of the IPPIS portrays an open endorsement of corruption that thrives in universities. With the almost daily reports of scandals and rot in the ivory towers, the fight by ASUU against the move by the government to bring efficiency into the remuneration system, can only be viewed as being supportive of corruption. 
Many lecturers are on the payroll of up to five universities, they shuttle between these institutions and with their energy greatly dissipated in the process; they end up churning out half-baked graduates.
It is really surprising, to say the least, that the ASUU described the federal government’s insistence on their enrollment into IPPIS as an infringement on their autonomy. It stands to reason that what ASUU calls their peculiarities like sabbatical, visitation and other jumbo peculiarities is what it is afraid of losing and which is not so. 
 The university teachers do not want the public to know what they earn. They do not want any search light beamed into the alleged irregular employment in the universities, which do not follow due process.
Maybe, the worst fear of ASUU is that the public will know their humongous Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). Many universities have business centres, consultancy services, hotels, schools, water factories, poultry and other services hidden from the public glare. With the introduction of IPPIS, the revenues from their investments will now go into the TSA and will no longer be available to them directly.
The claim by the ASUU that the IPPIS is incapable of checking cases of ghost workers and their challenge to the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Finance to publish the names of the ghost workers and their organizations from where the alleged savings have been made through the IPPISI; is indeed laughable. 
 ASUU has only succeeded in telling the world that it has been at a distant with reality for a length of time. In this instance, the ASUU deflated the tyres of its propaganda machinery in their desperation to wipe up sentiments and get public sympathy for their very unpopular stance on the IPPIS policy. 
The IPPIS initiative, which ASUU has made effort to discredit, albeit without success, has received commendations from within and outside the country. Countless facts and figures on the positive impact of the IPPIS policy have been in public domain. 
The IPPIS under the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation(OAGF) has ensured prompt and timely payment of salaries and remittance of third-party payments, enforced compliance with due process in employment of staff in MDAs, reduced the ghost workers syndrome. It has become assured source of revenue through PAYEE to States and Federal Government.
 The resolve by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) to continue to discharge its responsibilities within the ambit of the law is very commendable; the weak resistance of university lecturers notwithstanding.
It is absurd, preposterous and naïve for ASUU to malign the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) for encouraging them to enroll into IPPIS for the betterment of Nigeria. 
ASUU should listen to voice of reason from various quarters and tow the path of honour by getting enrolled into IPPIS like members of the non-academic unions in the universities that have agreed to join IPPIS. It is time ASUU faced reality and stop living on presumptions. 
*Kogus is a Public Commentator

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