The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has remarked that the integrity test being conducted on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s proposed payment software would last between six and eight months.
The union had embarked on strike for over eight months to protest among other things, the Federal Government’s preferred Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and suggested the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as an alternative for its members.
While speaking on Tuesday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Ngige stated that the integrity test is being conducted by the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The minister maintained that even if the software passes the integrity test, the lecturers don’t have the money to procure the necessary hardware for its implementation, adding that the Federal Government did not make provision for the procurement of the UTAS hardware in the budget.
Meanwhile, ASUU has blamed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over the prolonged strike, accusing him of showing what it called “disdain for Nigerian academics.”
The union said it was obvious that Ngige, through his recent utterances, had clearly shown his disdain for the lecturers and had failed to play the role of an unbiased umpire in resolving the issue.
There is heightened disagreement between the Federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as both parties is yet to fix a date for the resumption of negotiations that will bring about a peaceful resolution of the over eight months old strike.
While addressing the issue in Abuja, Permanent Secretary to the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Sonny Echonu maintained that the lingering strike is uncalled for and unnecessary, as there is shared acceptance of so many of the issues. He further said that all the contending issues have been resolved except one.
The Permanent Secretary who stated that work is ongoing stressed that reason is expected to prevail. Mr. Echonu reiterated the fact that the overall national interest will be the guiding principle to bring about a quick resolution of the industrial dispute.
However, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi faulted the claims made by the permanent secretary. He revealed that pending issues such as withheld salaries of members, presentation of the visitation panel, the announcement of negotiating teams, among others, have not been resolved.
He called on the federal government to handle the union’s agitation with all the seriousness required, stressing that poor handling of the industrial crisis could lead to another wave of brain drain which will have a crippling effect on academia and the entire nation.
According to him, members will not return to the classroom until the promises made by the government are clearly and satisfactorily delivered, stressing that there is a difference between addressing issues and delivering on all of the issues.
UTAS Can Be Ready in Three Weeks if FG is Sincere
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that if the Federal Government is sincere and committed to ending the ongoing strike, the union’s proposed payment platform, the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) can be ready in three weeks.
ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi maintained that there was no need to use the IPPIS since the UTAS process is at its final stage. He maintained that the union has submitted documents to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to finalize the integrity test of the payment platform.