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ABUJA—THE Federal Government yesterday lamented that the continuous closure of Nigerian Universities as a result of the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS has contributed to the ongoing #EndSARS protest.
The Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige stated this at a meeting with the leadership of ASUU over the union’s stiff opposition to the IPPIS payment platform.
Senator Ngige also debunked insinuation that the Federal Government was contemplating to replace the IPPIS platform with University Transparency Account System (UTAS), the platform that the university teachers have come up with against IPPIS.
The Minister decried the prolonged strike that has paralysed academic activities in tertiary institutions across the country.
According to him, “For the past one week, we have all been on our toes, we have been meeting and we pray that this meeting will yield some good fruits. We don’t take very great pleasure, to the fact that the children who are supposed to be in school are being recruited into the #EndSARS, #EndStrike, #EndSWAT and all the kind of situations.
“As much as possible, we will try to see how we can meet ourselves halfway, so that we can resolve this crisis to the benefits of all and the country at large.”
Ngige said that government has commenced the process of testing UTAS which ASUU members claimed it accommodates the peculiarities of university systems, adding that all the three stages of test will be concluded within the time frame the union gave government.
He said, “We have had the preliminary report and testrun on the UTAS, which is the University Transparency Accountability Solution. We believe that with that, we will be able to get it right.
“Let me make it clear to members of the press, we never said UTAS will replace IPPIS as some of you are reporting, No! The UTAS developed by them is for the University systems and they feel that it captures the peculiarities that are configured to accommodate all the peculiarities of the University systems especially as it affects the Professors and other teaching staff, and even the Non-Academic Staff. That is the situation.
“We, as government feel we are going to put it up for tests – three stages of test. We have done the first stage of test which is within the timeline of six months that ASUU promised. We are going to do other integrity test, Alpha test, Beta test and the one they call roll-over and other whatever test. It is the technologists that know all those tests. But this is the round we are going on now.”
While reacting, ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, who led the union’s delegation to the meeting said Nigerians including members of the union expect so much from its leadership, insisting that it would not do anything that will jeopardize rights of its members, students and the country as whole.
Present at the meeting included the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris; Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Education, Senator Ahmed Baba-Kaita; Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Adamu Rasheed and Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN,
Meanwhile the non teaching staff in the universities have warned that they will not be part of the arrangement to replace IPPIS with the proposed UTAS by ASUU.
The University non teaching staff threatened that if the Federal Government goes ahead to recognize UTAS, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Union and Associated Institutions, NASU will come up with their own new payment platform.
A highly placed member of Joint Action Committee, JAC of the two unions said that an employee cannot dictate to his employers the payment platform to be used, adding that what should be the concern of an employee was to receive his salary as at and when due.

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Education

ASUU: Why we haven’t called off strike

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said it has yet to call off its ongoing strike because it is waiting for the government to conduct an integrity test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.

The UTAS is the payment platform created by ASUU in place of government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

ASSU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the government needed to give the clearance to National Information Technology Development Agency to conduct integrity test on UTAS, according to The Punch.

“The integrity test will be handled by NITDA, it is government that will facilitate it because NITDA is a government, agency and unless you get clearance from the government that test cannot be conducted.”

While speaking on whether the government had accepted UTAS, Ogunyemi said, “We are still talking, we have given them the position of our members, we are thinking we should be able to hold a meeting this week if they have not changed plans. The meeting for Monday was postponed. In principal, they have accepted UTAS and told us to go for the test, and on our part, we have started the process. We had presented UTAS at three levels, starting with the Ministry of Education, Senate President and members of his team, officials of Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, where all other stakeholders were present, including NITDA, all stakeholders have witnessed the presentation and the next stage of integrity test is what we are moving in to. If government facilitates it, it is not something that should drag for too long at all. We don’t foresee any problem with UTAS; it also depends on how early the government makes it possible for the integrity test to be conducted.”

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Ogunyemi also explained that ASUU was ready to resume academic activities if the government was ready to play its part.

“Our members are ready to resume work as early as government is ready to play its part. I’m sure you are not suggesting that our members should resume an empty stomach or the strike should be suspended without any concrete action on the side of the government. We don’t like to stay away from our work because we like our students, they are also our children.

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As far as we are concerned, we don’t have issue with going back to work, but we want more sincerity on the side of the government.

“We have not seen enough reasons to believe that they don’t mean what they are telling us but as soon as we see any sign to that effect. we will tell Nigerians.”

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Education

#EndSARS Fallout: JAMB scared of masses’ reaction over N7.3bn contract fraud report

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ABUJA—THE Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has appealed to the media not to report the alleged N7.3 billion contract scam involving it at this time, saying such action could pitch the masses against it considering the current situation in the country.
It flayed some media reports on the issue, which arose from the report of the Auditor-General of the Federation, currently being considered by the Senate Public Account Committee.
Some media reports had claimed that the Senate indicted JAMB in the said contract, which was allegedly awarded between 2012 and 2013 allegedly without recourse to due process.
Reacting Monday in a statement by through its Head, Media and Information, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, tagged: “Re: Ex-JAMB Registrar Awarded N7.3bn Contract without Due Process”, the board said it was worried at the timing of the report, given the current mood of the country.
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Recalling that the issue transpired over a decade ago, JAMB said that it was “surprised that the media is resuscitating a matter that happened years back at a time that everybody is conscious of further inciting the restive masses.”
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Board has been drawn to a sensational report in some sections of the media on an issue that transpired over a decade ago as if it had just happened.
“We are surprised that the media is resuscitating a matter that happened years back at a time that everybody is conscious of further inciting the restive masses.
“At the moment, such sensational news, if it should feature at this point in time at all, should, of necessity, be appropriately spiced with ample explanations and headers, to the effect that such issues had happened in the past and adequate measures had also been taken since then to prevent a recurrence.
“The mood of the nation should guide us all in whatever we do, as doing contrary would only compound the already fragile security situation in the polity.
“The media, as a critical stakeholder in the nation’s quest for peace and harmony, should always be alive to its responsibilities so as not to be seen as unnecessarily aggravating a tense political atmosphere.”

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