The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it does not trust the Federal Government to keep its promise to university lecturers, owing to the failure of the latter to honour past agreements.
ASUU president Prof Emmanuel Osodeke stated this at the resumed meeting, between the Union, Acting Accountant General of the Federation, Sylva Okolieaboh and the speaker of the House of Representatives, on Monday, in Abuja.
Osodeke, who led other ASUU leaders to the meeting told Gbajabiamila that the union called off its eight-month strike, recently, based on the trust it has in the speaker, giving his commitment to the resolution of the issues between it and the government. He added that no agreement was signed before the strike was called off.
The speaker has been mediating the labour dispute between the federal government and ASUU, which stalled academic activities in the country’s Universities for eight months.
Gbajabiamila, at the resumed parley, had thanked ASUU for calling off its strike, noting that the meeting was convened to discuss issues surrounding the payment platform, which was one of the contentious issues, between the government and the university lecturers.
The Speaker, while responding to the concerns, that government has repeatedly failed to honour previous agreements with ASUU, said that in the past, the National Assembly was not part of any of the negotiations.
“I thank you for ending the strike. I assure you everything will be done to make sure that the issue remains resolved. The best way to move forward is to have the Accountant General tell us the way forward. You called off the strike based on trust and I appreciate that. If we are now asking for a signed document, where’s the place of trust?,” he stated.
“Let’s give it time. I have written to the ministry on the issue of the white paper. We are taking these things one by one. We have 500 billion in the budget and so on and so forth.
“Let bygones be bygones. Let us tarry a while and see. An agreement has been made, we are here to make sure that the agreement is practical and not theoretical.”
Osodeke also appealed to the Federal Government to reconsider its stance on using Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for paying its members’ salaries.
He said that IPPIS would not accommodate peculiarity allowances in university lecturers pay.
Osodeke urged the government to consider the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS)platform for the payment of lecturers salaries.
“There is no way IPPIS can represent the universities, the greatest problem university has is funding. No university can invest again because of Treasury Single Account(TSA),” he said.
He said the union called off its strike based on trust, adding that the country’s education was in dire need of human resources.
“If there is a problem in payment you challenge the university to produce one. We were challenged in 2020 by the minister of Labour and we produced it.
“In a normal country when there is a problem you go to the university to develop and not to go outside,” he said.
Mr Sylva Okolieaboh, the acting, Accountant General of the Federation, commended the speaker for the meeting, promising to explore the possibilities of incorporating the university lecturers peculiarities allowances in IPPIS.
He urged ASUU to allow the issue to be laid to rest in the interest of the students, urging the union to present a comprehensive list of its peculiarity allowances for clearance in the nearest possible time.
“We will sit down with ASUU and look at what could be done and the material peculiarities that ASUU was complaining about.
“For the past 20 years all I do in the AGF is reform. I want the leadership of ASUU to please trust us and with the commitment of the National Assembly and executive IPPIS will live up to expectation.
He said that contrary to speculations, IPPIS was designed locally by Oracle saying it was the best at the moment.
Speaking, Gbajabiamila, expressed optimism that peace would return to Nigerian universities soon.
“Yes, you may have issues on IPPIS and this is what we are trying to address by bringing in UTAS into IPPIS so that we will not have issues. The agreement wasn’t a stop gap measure but to bring UTAs to IPPIS,” he said.
On the issue of funding, the speaker said that the ASUU’s fear had been addressed in the budget, adding that the House has a legwork that about 500billion was included for ASUU in the budget.
“I have written to the Ministry of Finance on the panel report. We are taking this one at a time. I don’t want us to go back.
“A lot has been achieve and you have been committed enough to go back to the classroom and we will continue to work based on trust,” he said.
He called for a timeline that would be acceptable to ASUU to accommodate its peculiarity allowances on the IPPIS.
Gabjabiamila said the House plans to hold a summit on universities to address issues raised by ASUU on funding.