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ASUU vows to protect university autonomy with their blood

ASUU and the federal government are yet to find a middle ground to call off a seven months strike action

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday says scholars in the nation’s public universities are ready to protect incessant attacks on University autonomy by the federal government with the last drop of their blood.

National President of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi, a Professor in a press release made available to newsmen in Ibadan entitled “On President Buhari’s No IPPIS, No Salary”, stated that the presidential directive was “meant for civil servants and university lecturers are not civil servants”

The ASUU boss who disclosed that the Union had an understanding with President Muhammadu Buhari on January 9, 2020, to develop a University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which will be sensitive to the operations of the university system, respect autonomy, and accommodate peculiarities.

Ogunyemi, therefore, stated that the President could not have directed his comment to the Union since he was agreed to the development of system sensitive software to management personnel and payroll.

The ASUU boss who noted that the Union has spent millions of naira to develop UTAS which has been presented to the Federal Ministry of Education while awaiting its presentation before the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.

The president said this is why the reported NO IPPIS, NO Salary cannot be directed to lecturers since the issue has been settled with the President to develop university system sensitive UTAS.

He said the union will not fold her arms and allow the gains it made during several years of struggle slip through the antics of government agencies who want to subsume the University system under their control

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He maintained that “the idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is alien to university operations because it will halt its flexibility.”

According to him, Mr. President did not say the government will not pay ASUU members for not enrolling in IPPIS. The directive on IPPIS was meant for civil servants and university academics are not civil servants. We have an understanding with the government to develop an alternative platform that would be sensitive to the operations of the university, accommodate the peculiarities of the university system and respect the autonomy of our universities as obtained globally.

Ogunyemi said the idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is alien to university operations saying it would halt its flexibility.

“The University Miscellaneous (Provisions) (Amendment)Act (2003), which government gazetted as University Autonomy Act (2007), has vested the powers of managing personnel and payroll system issues in the hands of each university’s governing council. ASUU has gone beyond the debate on this matter. On 9th January 2019 when we visited Mr. President who is Visitor to all federal universities, we reached an understanding that ASUU would develop its proposed University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS for testing and adoption for managing personnel information and payroll system in the universities.

“We have since done that and presented to the Federal Ministry of Education. What is left is to present to other major stakeholders, particularly in the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning. The development of UTAS was done at no cost to the government. We used contributions from the check-off deductions of ASUU members to finance the project and this cost us millions of naira. IPPIS was designed by the World Bank for the civil service. We are aware of the antics of bureaucrats, especially in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, aimed at bringing universities under their control.

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The union, he pointed out, would not fold its arms and watch the gains made on the autonomy of Nigerian universities slip by stressing that It took several years of continuous struggle during the military to get here.

The ASUU boss however said, “so, let nobody hide under the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to attack the autonomy of public universities because Nigerian scholars are prepared to resist it to the last drop of their blood.”

SOURCE: BUSINESS DAY

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