A nationwide strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is imminent in January with the failure of the Federal Government and the union to settle their disagreement on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The Tide’s source yesterday gathered that the two sides had not resolved their differences over the payroll system.
While ASUU said it was still waiting for the National Assembly’s invitation as part of efforts to resolve the disagreement, a top officer of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said the regime’s decision on the IPPIS remained the same.
Following a directive by the President Muhammadu Buhari, at the 2020 budget presentation at the National Assembly on October 8, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation deployed the IPPIS officers to universities between October 25 and November 7.
The AGF office said that based on Buhari’s directive that all federal employees must enroll for the IPPIS, universities workers must make themselves available for the enrolment during the period.
But ASUU faulted the payroll system, saying it negated the principle of universities’ autonomy. It also directed its members to shun the registration for the IPPIS.
But the top officer, who said the position of the regime on the IPPIS had not changed, stated that those who failed to register for the payroll system would not receive their December salaries.
He said: “The government has been very clear that everyone must be on the IPPIS to be able to get salaries. So if you are not enrolled, how do you get paid?”
He, however, said the Presidency would take the final decision on the fate of those that had not been enrolled for the IPPIS.
The officer said about 90,000 workers in about 43 universities had registered for the IPPIS, adding that 8,000 out of the 90,000 universities’ workers were lecturers.
“The IPPIS officials have done the enrollment across the universities based on the window given for the exercise to be conducted and they are back to the office.
“So, we are reviewing the data and whatever action that is going to be taken will be from there. But what I can tell you is that we have over 90,000 university workers on the IPPIS.
“So, if we have over 90,000 that enrolled, it shows that it is good enough. And out of this figure, we have quite a number of academic staff. We have over 8,000 from academic staff that have enrolled.
“So, definitely, we had a very good outing because over 90,000 were enrolled during the period and people are still calling to be enrolled.
“If they want to enroll, they should come here (Abuja) and we will enroll them. If you give people opportunity to enroll and they wasted it, we can’t go to their houses to enroll them.
“The IPPIS is a presidential directive and for now, it is the Presidency that will determine what will be their (ASUU’s) fate”, he said.
When asked what it would do if the Federal Government failed to pay the December salaries of lecturers that failed to register, the President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union still stood by the decision of its National Executive Committee meeting in Minna, Niger State.
After meeting in Minna on Wednesday last week, ASUU had threatened that its members would go on strike if the Federal Government stopped their salaries.
Ogunyemi had said, “As resolved at the ASUU-NEC meeting at FUT Minna, should the Accountant-General make bold his threat of stopping the salaries of our members, the union shall activate its standing resolution of ‘No Pay, No Work’.
“NEC did not only reiterate its unequivocal rejection of IPPIS as an ill-wind that will blow the Nigerian University system no good, it also resolved that no amount of blackmail, intimidation and outright misinformation of the Nigerian public will make ASUU lose focus on its historic role as the conscience of the university system.”
ASUU had earlier said it was waiting for an invitation from the National Assembly, especially the Senate, so that it could demonstrate the alternative model it developed to the IPPIS.
The ASUU said the alternative model, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), was ready and its team of experts would display it to the government once the National Assembly invited the union.
Ogunyemi, who said this in an interview with one of The Tide’s source in Abuja, stated that the UTAS was ready but the union needed the support of the government which would in turn give a directive to the authorities of universities.
He said, “Well, we are expecting to hear from the National Assembly but we have not heard from them. The last time we met them, we told them about that proposal and we said that our team had started working on it. So, we went back to meet representatives of the National Assembly after that and we told them that we were 33 per cent ready as of that time. But we have gone beyond that.
“Now we are moving towards a stage where we will need the consent of the universities and that is why what we have been saying is that the government should agree with us that we would go further with that alternative.”
The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, had at the meeting with ASUU on October 28 appealed to the union not to go on strike over the IPPIS, but the union had told Lawan that it was developing an alternative model to the IPPIS.
The union, after the NEC meeting on Wednesday last week, had said the UTAS was designed by a team of crack software engineers, who are based in the Nigerian universities.
The union argued that unlike IPPIS, UTAS would address the uniqueness of the university system, particularly the flexibility of the payroll and personnel management.
The IPPIS platform is an integral part of the Federal Government’s public finance reform initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of government payroll.
Meanwhile, the Senate has kept mum on the claims by ASUU that the Red Chamber had not invited its leadership for another meeting after their first engagement some weeks ago.
COVID-19: We Must Provide Relief Before Lockdown -Lawan
As the Federal Government considered total lockdown to combat the spread of the pandemic, Coronavirus, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has called on the Federal Government to immediately put in place measures to guarantee relief for poor Nigerians whose daily livelihood would be affected as a result of the restriction on movement.
Lawan made the appeal at the end of a meeting between the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly and some Ministers and Heads of Government Agencies in Abuja.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, yesterday, at a media briefing said the Federal Government would soon announce restriction of interstate movement of vehicles except those on essential services.
The President of the Senate suggested that the restriction of movement would be counterproductive unless the government has a dedicated fund for the purpose of purchasing food and pharmaceutical supplies to mitigate the challenge of the dearth of access to money for the ordinary Nigerians.
“Our prayer is that we are able to overcome this menace of COVID-19 in good time because it is really taking a toll on our lives.
“If we have to eventually shut down our country, then as a government we must be prepared to have some relief for the most ordinary people.
“As a government, we must find our own money to fund something for our people.
“I’m not seeing anything at the moment targeted at providing some relief. If we lock up Nigeria today, then we will wake-up trouble, because the majority of our citizens go to markets every day before they can get something to eat.
“So, you lock them up in their houses with a threat of disease and without food. We need to have something, a plan of some sorts, in addition to making sure we don’t lock up the farmers market for example, where people can easily go and buy something and of course pharmacies.
“We need to have some kind of supplies to people, I don’t know how we can achieve this, but we have to be ingenious.
“This is a time to think deep and wide, to provide for our people, in order for us at least to deal with this challenge at the moment.”
The President of the Senate pleaded with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to establish more testing and isolation centres as soon as more funds were released to it by the Federal Government.”
He added that the Senate Committees on Appropriation, Finance and National Planning would oversight the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control on the strict application of the N6.5billion to be released for the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
“I believe that our Committees on Health, in the Senate and in the House, must be alert to this, when funds are released, so that they (NCDC) don’t just go on jamboree spending the money elsewhere, where we may not achieve this kind of spread that is extremely necessary.”
2019 Polls: S’Court To Rule On Zamfara APC’s Request, Today
The Supreme Court has scheduled ruling for today in an application by the Abdulaziz Yari faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a review of its May 24, 2019 judgment in the intra-party dispute in the Zamfara APC.
The Supreme Court had, in the judgment, held among others, that the APC did not hold valid primaries preparatory to the 2019 general election, voided its (the party’s) victory in the elections and made a consequential order, directing the party with the second highest scores in the election to claim the victory.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara State benefited from the effect of the consequential order, with its candidate taking over all the elective positions in both the Executive and Legislative arms of government in the state.
While arguing the application on March 17, 2020, lawyer to the Yari faction of the Zamfara APC, Robert Clarke (SAN), prayed the court to review the consequential order on the grounds that it was wrongly made.
Clarke argued that the order the Supreme Court ought to make was that directing the APC and INEC to conduct fresh primaries and elections in Zamfara State, instead of voiding the party’s victory.
He argued that, by the consequential order, the Supreme Court made it possible for the PDP, which was not a party in the Zamfara APC’s intra-party dispute, to benefit from the outcome of the dispute.
Clarke argued that when the Supreme Court sat on the date it gave the judgment, the case was purely a pre-election matter, not an appeal from the lower court, flowing from the tribunal.
“There was no tribunal in place to hear post-election matters, because election had not been held. The Supreme Court was sitting, at that time, as a court of first instance.
“We are saying that the consequential order was made out of jurisdiction. The consequential order that would have been made was to order INEC to conduct fresh primaries and elections.
“Section 235 of the Constitution, says only the tribunal that can decide electoral dispute, in this case, there was no appeal on election dispute.
“The consequential order allowed non-parties to benefit from the outcome of the intra-party dispute between members of the APC.
“The other party that benefited from the consequential order (the PDP) was never a party to the Zamfara APC’s intra-party pre-election dispute. The court should grant the application in the interest of justice,” Clarke said.
In a counter-argument, lawyer to the Senator Kabir Marafa faction of the APC in Zamfara, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the application with punitive cost.
Ozekhome argued that, not only is the application without merit, it constitutes an abuse of the process of the court.
He added that with the recent two decisions of the Supreme Court, in the governorship disputes in Bayelsa and Imo states, the applicant ought to have quietly withdrawn the application.
Ozakhome said; “On June 17, 2019 the same applicant made similar application that was struck out by this court on July 22, 2019, the two main reasons given by the court included that ‘because the applicant did not comply with Order 8 Rule 16 of the Court of Appeal Rules.”
He added that the court rejected the current appellants’ application because the matter complained about was a pre-election matter which had been overtaken by Section 285(12) of the Constitution, which prescribed 60 days from the day of filing of notice of appeal.
Ozekhome noted that “Nothing has changed since the last ruling of the court for them to come back with the same application.”
He urged the court to dismiss the application with punitive cost, and noted that the application constitutes a gross abuse of the process of the court of the land.
Ozekhome added: “This pre-election matter died on the 4th of June, 2019, because the notice of appeal was filed on March 4, 2019, and the court said so in its judgment of May 24, 2019.”
Lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Tanimu Inuwa (SAN) said his client did not file any brief and has nothing to urge the court.
COVID-19: Jonathan Tasks Nigerians On Faith, Patriotism
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, urged Nigerians not to give in to fear occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic but to demonstrate faith and courage in the ability of government to win the war against the scourge.
Jonathan in a post on his Facebook page asked Nigerians not to forget how the nation successfully battled the Ebola virus a few years ago, and implored Nigerians to support the government’s initiatives aimed at checking the spread of the pandemic.
He said: “Today, our world faces a global crisis that threatens our peace, hope, and freedoms.
“Across the globe is the climate of fear, havoc, and consequences of a new enemy, Coronavirus disease.
“Dear compatriot, this is not a time to fear or despair; it is a moment of responsibility, courage, and faith. It is time to demonstrate good citizenship by yielding to relevant policies and guidelines put in place by government and its agencies to combat the challenge of COVID- 19.
“As a country, ours is a history of many triumphs in times of global and national challenges.
“In 2014, through solidarity and unity of purpose, we combated the dreaded Ebola virus.
“More than ever before now is the time for action, solidarity, and patriotism.
“Let’s all brace up and work together to combat this new scourge”, the former president added.
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