Ngige explains why FG, ASUU yet to settle lingering problem
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has revealed why the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have not been able to settle their lingering problem..
The lecturers had been on strike for about seven months now due to the disagreement with the government over the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS).
The lecturers want their salaries paid through a system they tagged ‘University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS)’.
But speaking on Wednesday, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment to defend his ministry’s 2021 budget, Ngige told the lawmakers that the government was tackling the ASUU issue holistically.
A statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, quoted Ngige to have told the lawmakers that the government had addressed five out of the eight demands of ASUU.
Ngige said, “We have made N50 billion available; N20 billion for the revitalisation of the universities and N30 billion for Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“The union agreed and went back to their members, only to return and say that the money for EAA should be for ASUU members alone, excluding other unions, namely, SSANU, NASU and NAAT.”
But Ngige said there was no way the federal government would ignore the other unions whose services are indispensable for the full functioning of the university.
“If we ignore them, even if ASUU calls off the strike, the other unions will down tool, close the lecture rooms, the libraries, the laboratories- and even the university gate,” he said.
On the major issue which is the IPPIS enrollment, Ngige said that UTAS, which ASUU suggested as an alternative to IPPIS, had been forwarded to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for assessment.
He, meanwhile, disagreed with ASUU on the claim that IPPIS would erode university autonomy.
Nigige said, “They (ASUU) said that university autonomy is being eroded. Autonomy cannot work when the government is paying the lecturers. It can work only when the governing council generates its resources to pay workers.
“IPPIS has blocked all leakages and exposed those who are not paying taxes, as well as those who underpay.
“So, we are meeting again with ASUU soon, so that they can also hear that other unions in the university have developed their payment system against UTAS.”
The minister then asked the lawmakers, “Do you now realise why we are tackling this problem holistically?”