The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said, yesterday, that the Federal Government was implementing the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) with a loan of about $140billion.
The National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogumyemi, who discussed this at a meeting with the leadership of the House of Representatives, said the union was opposed to the IPPIS because it will limit universities and reduce them to mere local universities which cannot attract foreign scholars.
He said that since 2013 when the platform was first introduced to members of the union, they made their position clear to government on why the policy cannot work and agreeing with the government to set up a joint committee to come out with a workable platform.
According to him, since the joint committee was set up, the union did not hear from the government until July, 2019, when the government came up with threats because they had made up their mind in what to do.
He said the union has challenged the government to tell them any country in the world where the IPPIS is used in the university system, saying “it is just about us. They have said that our opposition to IPPIS meant we are encouraging corruption. But we are the ones that always told them that they are reneging on their responsibility.”
However, the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), yesterday, frowned at the attempt by the National Assembly to single out lecturers for sexual harassment legislation.
The Zonal Coordinator, Akure Zone of the union, Comrade Olu-Olu Olufayo at a press conference in Akure, also insisted that the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is a scam.
Olufayo was flanked by other university chairpersons, which include, Comrade Adeola Egbedokun of OAU, Comrade Akinyemi Omonijo of FUOYE, Comrade ‘Yinka Awopetu of FUTA, and Comrade Kayode Arogundade of EKSU.
The union said that “ASUU condemns, in totality, all forms of sexual harassment, no matter its origin.
“However, the Union strongly opposes any form of deliberate effort or attempt by the National Assembly to single out lecturers for sexual harassment legislation, as if such does not happen in other sections of the society.
“Such an attempt violates the rule of jurisprudence which says that laws should not be made against specific or targeted individuals or a group”.
On the controversial IPPIS, the union said, “ASUU will not its members to be railroaded into enrolling in this scam called IPPIS because of its apparent deficiencies.
“IPPIS also runs counter of the Universities Miscellaneous Provision Act (as amended).
“It is nothing but a fraud, which allows the enrollment of ghost workers”.
Olutafo, however, noted “with dismay the level of insecurity in the country was becoming alarming and unbearable.
“ASUU is of the opinion that militancy, banditry, herdsmen/farmers clashes, and insurgency are becoming rife and overwhelming on the security apparatus of the nation.
“It, therefore, calls for an urgent overhauling and re-jigging of the security architecture of the country”.
On the state of infrastructure, “ASUU calls for an immediate review of the promises made by the government to address the dilapidated and deplorable infrastructures and the bad state of education in Nigeria and demands that such should be respected.
“As things stand now, students are made to learn under inhumane conditions. This is in spite of all the efforts of ASUU to bring to the fore, all the inherent physical problems being experienced by the students.
“The situation has been made worse by apparent government meddlesomeness in the day to day administration of the universities.
“The attempt to erode universities’ autonomy makes them incapable of performing optimally in teaching, research, and rendering of services.
“This is evident in the forceful introduction on our universities the obnoxious Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS)”.
The union, however, lamented that “the government has rejected the cost-free and effective alternative platform, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), being developed by ASUU.
Olufayo noted that “our union concluded that Nigeria is presently caught in the midst of suffocating socio-economic challenges which must urgently be addressed.
“ASUU is, therefore, calling for the populace to take power back to the real owners of the resources, that is, the working people of Nigeria.
“Having comprehensively reviewed the outstanding issues in the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and the 2017 Memorandum of Action (MoA), as well as the pussy-footing attitude of government on the obnoxious and fraudulent IPPIS programme, which have not been addressed”, we think that this is the best option.
Olufayo added that, “The Akure Zone of ASUU aligns itself with the decision of ASUU NEC to prosecute the two weeks warning strike to force the government to live up to its responsibilities”.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has urged the Federal Government to act immediately to resolve the dispute with the university lecturers to avoid another long disruption in the academic activities in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.
TUC’s concern came just as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has insisted that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) did not notify the Ministry of Labour before embarking on the two-week warning strike, last Tuesday.
Ngige, who spoke when the TUC leadership paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja, yesterday, cautioned the lecturers that they may risk losing salary for the two weeks of the warning strike for embarking on an illegal exercise.
The TUC President, Quadiri Olaleye, who led members of the union’s national executive committee to a meeting with Ngige, said they came to express concern on various issues affecting workers and Nigerians.
He said that the union is worried about the current state of the economy, particularly with the recent plunge in the international oil price.
He advised that the federal government should do everything necessary to resolve the dispute with ASUU so as not to allow it to degenerate and further create more crisis in the country.
ASUU and the Federal Government team yesterday commence deliberation on their dispute.
North Can Live Without VAT Accruals, NEF Boasts …Backs Wike, Southern Govs On Fiscal Federalism, Restructuring
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has boasted that the North was a rich region, and can survive on its resources without the “billions” accruing to Southern states.
The NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, made this known, yesterday, when he featured on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ breakfast programme.
He was reacting to the tussle between states and the Federal Government on the collection of Value Added Tax (VAT).
VAT is a consumption tax paid when goods are purchased and services are rendered, and charged at a rate of 7.5 per cent.
Although Rivers and Lagos states have started the process of collecting VAT within their territories, the Court of Appeal, in a ruling on September 10, ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of an appeal filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt.
Apart from Lagos and Rivers states, Ogun State has also started the process of passing a bill on VAT in its House of Assembly.
At the Southern Governors’ Forum meeting in Enugu, last Thursday, the 17 governors insisted that they have the constitutional mandate to collect VAT, and vowed to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the matter.
While some northern governors like Aminu Masari (Katsina), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), amongst others, had kicked against the move, the 17 Southern Governors led by Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) had unanimously supported the position that “the collection of VAT falls within the powers of the states.”
Speaking, yesterday, during the television programme, Baba-Ahmed said, “I will advise that we wait to hear what the court says. However, even the fact that it has become an issue suggests that we really do need to address the fundamentals and the manner in which the federation works.
“We have always supported restructuring. We have always asked that a major and genuine shift initiative either by groups or the National Assembly so that matters like this be addressed properly.
“If we don’t do that now, then, we should get a leader that would do that in 2023. This administration appears not to understand the importance of restructuring; we do in the North, we recognise the fact that we need to change the manner in which we generate wealth and allocate (it).
“The thing is: the North wants restructuring; the North wants fiscal federalism. We are a rich region, and we can live on what we have, even if we don’t have the billions that accrue to others states. Our poverty is not a kind of problem that we would break this country over.”
According to him, the VAT war is a wake-up call to northern governors who need to recognise the fact that VAT or no VAT, they need to develop their resources and develop the human capital of the North.
The NEF spokesman added, “North, you said you have many people but you are under-developing your own people – the biggest liability of the North is that we have a huge population that is under-developed. You need to develop the human capital that you have.
“We need leaders; the current governors don’t recognise this. Otherwise, they won’t be involved in this argument; allow the court to decide.
“But for goodness sake, (they should) begin to think — what else can we do if the court decides now that Rivers State is right, Lagos State is right, and the Southern states are right, and they won’t be getting all these billions coming in from VAT? What happens?”
Baba-Ahmed said the Northern governors at this stage should not be sleeping, noting that the North is “sitting on wealth, we have massive resources in this country, we have to fight insecurity first, and the Federal Government has to help us, we need to clear the bushes, the forests and all the criminals that are there, and we need to go back to farming.
“Agriculture is a major asset; we have land, we have water, we have livestock, we have minerals that are literally begging to be picked from the ground but our governors are too focused on the pittance that they are getting. This is wrong”, he argued.
Boxing: Joshua Facing Toughest Test In Usyk?
Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua could face his toughest test yet when he fights Oleksandr Usyk in London on Saturday, says ex-world champion George Groves.
Joshua, 31, puts his WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight titles on the line against Usyk, a former undisputed cruiserweight world champion.
The 34-year-old Ukrainian has won all 18 professional fights, beating Tony Bellew and Derek Chisora on that run.
“Technically, Usyk is brilliant,” said Groves . “He showed that in unifying the cruiserweight division in great fights and I believe he could be Joshua’s toughest test to date. This is the first fight when I wouldn’t be surprised if Joshua got beaten.
“Joshua has fought [Wladimir] Klitschko and been in with Joseph Parker and also been beaten [by Andy Ruiz] and the only question mark for Usyk Is he big enough to compete with AJ?
“If Usyk keeps a high pace and makes Joshua miss with a lot of shots, that will work to Usyk’s advantage as he has probably got a better engine.
“Joshua is a phenomenal athlete with tremendous punching power and strength but has a tendency to tire out if the pace is uncomfortable for him.”
A crowd of more than 60,000 is expected and it will be the largest attendance Joshua has fought in front of since his win over Alexander Povetkin with 80,000 at Wembley Stadium in September, 2018.
Since then, Joshua has lost to Ruiz in New York before winning the rematch in Saudi Arabia and gained a ninth-round victory over Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena last December, with only 1,000 fans attending because of Coronavirus restrictions.
Both Joshua and Usyk won gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, at super-heavyweight and heavyweight respectively, with the Briton going on to win 24 of his 25 professional fights, including 22 inside the distance.
Meanwhile, Dillian Whyte, who lost to Joshua in 2015 and is pushing for a rematch with him or a shot at WBC champion, Tyson Fury, believes the key to beating Usyk on Saturday is to adopt an attacking strategy.
“I think it’s a great fight and Joshua will stop him in the first six or seven rounds,” Whyte told Tidesports source.
“Usyk will start fast and Joshua should be cagey as Usyk is a bit lighter. Joshua can sometimes lack confidence but hopefully he goes back to the old him, starts pressing, being the bigger, stronger guy and gets the job done early.
“If Joshua sets the pace, he can get an early knockout and if he is strong, confident and walks him down, then I don’t see Usyk’s punches troubling Joshua.”
Groves, who held the WBA Super-Middleweight belt in 2017 and 2018, added: “If I was Joshua, I would take control of the ring and try to dominate and bully off the front foot.
“Usyk will want to be off the back foot for the first couple of rounds, then try to pepper Joshua.
“If I was in the Joshua camp, I would say: You want to keep this guy in his box. You don’t want Usyk having any confidence, so hit him hard and early.
“In the first three rounds, you want to land something big on him.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn also suggested Joshua could get an early victory.
Hearn said: “I’m always nervous for an Anthony Joshua fight, especially when you’re fighting someone that really believes he is going to win”.
2022 AFCON: ‘Cameroon On Track’
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Patrice Motsepe, has said that Cameroon is “on track” to successfully host the Africa Cup of Nations early next year after visiting Olembe Stadium in Yaounde last weekend.
The venue will host the opening match and final of the AFCON in January and February of 2022.
A CAF delegation, including President Motsepe and General Secretary, Veron Mosengo-Omba, were joined by Cameroon’s Sports Minister, Professor Narcisse Mouelle Kombi in inspecting progress made at the Olembe Stadium and various other facilities in the capital city.
“I’m very satisfied with the briefing I got and what I saw. I saw the Olembe Stadium and it is world class; we should all be proud as people of Cameroon and as Africans,” said Motsepe, as quoted by CAF’s website.
“We must applaud Cameroon [for] building such infrastructure. In partnership with the Government, the Minister of Sports, LOC, FECAFOOT President and CAF administration under Veron [Mosengo-Omba], I’m certain that in January next year, the rest of the world will be impressed. I’m very satisfied with what I have seen. We are on track.”
Motsepe continued: “The quality of football that will be played here will once again show the world that Africa has the quality to one day win the FIFA World Cup, that is the ultimate goal. The AFCON is special and I think it is important for us to set the tone in Cameroon.”
Mosengo-Omba also heaped praises on Olembe Stadium: “The infrastructure and architecture of the stadium is world class and can be compared to many other famous stadiums globally. In Cameroon, we have six beautiful match venues. Our job now is to ensure that we are ready with everything else.”
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