As the battle between Federal Government and ASUU on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) rages on, UJI ABDULLAHI ILIYASU reports that the battle is turning personal and must be checked for good of democracy.
The federal government, through its Accountant general of the federation (AGF) insists that the Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members be enrolled on the IPPIS platform as all federal government workers.
But the lecturers argue that the scheme will erode the university autonomy they had fought hard to achieve and reject the idea. Since then the battle between government and ASUU has been raging. But the laters attack on AGF by ASUU is commonplace devoid of intellectualism.
Probity, accountability, transparency in governance
Not long ago, the federal government concluded arrangements to enroll all federal universities in Nigeria on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to promote probity, transparency and Accountability in government expenditure and to achieve the desired objectives of governance in centralizing payroll system.
The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, stated this at the meeting of vice chancellors, registrars and bursars of federal universities with the office of the Accountant General of the Federation held at the National Universities Commission Auditorium, Abuja. He said that the centralised payroll would be prepared by individual universities but co-ordinated by IPPIS while the total management of the human resources rests squarely with the universities.
AGF said the IPPIS scheme is one of the federal government’s reform initiative which is designed to achieve among others, a centralised payroll system of the federal government to facilitate easy storage, updating and retrieval of personal record for administrative and pension processing to aid manpower planning and budgeting as well as to comply with the global best practice.
He stated that prior to 2015, the total number of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on IPPIS was 288 with total staff strength of 235,858, adding that as at today the total MDAs on IPPIS platform is 561 with a total staff count of over 755,422. The AGF further stated that the cumulative savings achieved on IPPIS platform between 2017 and 2018 was N273, 809,842,071.99, which he said, would have been lost but now available for government spending.
Mr. Idris also assured them that if they comply with the Presidential directive on IPPIS platform enrolment, the IPPIS will accommodate all peculiarities such as sabbatical, visitation, honorarium and earned allowances, etc, of lecturers.
He stated that the Universities should be the best ground for entrenching reforms towards transparency and good governance, urging them to embrace the scheme as government will not change its position on IPPIS enrolment. The AGF further explained that the Nigerian Police and Para- Military Agencies are already being paid on IPPIS platform while the enrolment of the Nigeria Military – Army, Navy and Airforce have just been concluded and a trial payroll is ongoing. In the same vein the enrolment of Federal Polytechnics is scheduled for early July, 2019.
the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed described the IPPIS scheme as one of the best thing that has happened to Public Finance Management. That IPPIS is the best way to overcome some of the challenges affecting the Universities.
Also speaking, the Director IPPIS (OAGF), Mr Olusegun Olufehinti, noted that every University will be involved in the enrollment process, and assured the university administrators of continuous engagement throughout the process.
Over N230bn in three years
In October, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris
Mr. Ahmed Idris, said that the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System had saved the country over N230bn in three years.
Idris made the disclosure at the budget defence before the Senate Committee on Finance.
Idris also said that the government stood the chance of raking more money once workers in public universities and polytechnics were enrolled on the IPPIS scheme.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in his 2020 budget speech directed that all Federal Government workers must be enlisted on the scheme.
Senate chairman finance committee
On his part, chairman of Senate Committee on finance, Senator Adeola Olamilekan commended the office of the AGF its many reform initiatives in public finance.
He said that there was the need for the committee to meet with the office of the accountant-general, revenue generating agencies and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission to fine-tune further revenue generating methods.
Olamilekan promised that the committee would make all efforts to make the fiscal responsibility commission more responsible to its statutory functions.
Unbefitting ranting of an academic
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, as a frustrated ‘account clerk’.
This is coming as ASUU members have refused to enroll into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU condemned the AGF for threatening to sanction vice chancellors who have refused to enroll on what it called ‘fraud platform’.
A lecturer who prefers anonymity told Blueprint that AGF, Mr Idris, had in a letter dated December 2nd, 2019, advised some vice chancellors who are yet to enroll on IPPIS to do so on or before December 6, failure of which will attract appropriate sanctions.
However, ASUU chairman at the University of Ibadan (UI), Professor Deji Omole, stated that it was unfortunate that vice chancellors had become errand boys that will now be threatened by “an account clerk”.
Omole said the threat against VCs was an indication of government’s frustration due to overwhelming refusal of ASUU chapters across the nation not to enroll on IPPIS platform.
Omole in a statement on Wednesday in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, pointed out that it was unfortunate that the likes of Mr Idris whose office have continued to extort public university bursars via unlawful kickbacks, was the one claiming he wants to use IPPIS to ensure transparency and accountability.
Omole, therefore hailed some vice chancellors for refusing to be enslaved. He said it was woes to a nation where intellectuals become errand boys to those who cannot pass ICAN exam.
“It is a very sad development for any nation having the likes of Idris as the chief accountant of the nation.
“It takes someone with scholarship to appreciate scholars,” Omole said.
Omole maintained that the union despite charting a template for the federal government on the matter would not be turned to “errand boys of corrupt civil servants.”
National duty vs personal pursuit
The university community which holds the nation’s supposed intellectuals should differentiate between national duty and personal aspirations and pursuits. For a university lecturer to call the nation’s accountant general a failure in an elementary accounting (ICAN) is an act of the garage, which is not expected of an intellectual. Omole should be sanctioned or disowned by ASUU for talking like a motor park tout, and appealing to marketplace language to rubbish an Account-General of the federation. Mr Idris is running errand for the federal government and Nigerians, not fot himself or his family. Lectuers enrollment on IPPIS would neither increase the AGF’s salaries and allowances nor decrease it.
Buhari leads professors
If intelligent quotient or higher degrees are the criteria for leadership position in a democracy, President Muhammadu Buhari, wouldn’t lead a nation blessed with intellectuals of international professorial standing; Professor Elias Suleiman Bogoro, the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), or Professor Rasheed of the National Universities Commission (NUC) would not run errand for the minister of education, Malam Adamu Professor Mahmood Yakub, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), wouldn’t want to run errand for President Muhammadu Buhari.
School dropouts rule the world
Mr Ahmed Idris, might be an accounting failure, but he might make a better Accountant-General of the Federation than a first class accounting graduate or a professor of Accountancy in the university.
What is education?
Philosophers say education is what remains after we have forgotten all we learned in school. It is simply a change in behaviour.
Omole, I dare say, is not learned enough to note that most inventions humanity is enjoying today were made possible by men and women who dropped out of school or who had never seen the four walls of formal school. He should study the lives of Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest inventors humanity knows, who made it possible for Mr Omole to watch football matches played in the night with his invention of electric bulb; Henry Ford, of Henry Motors, a humble American motor mechanic; Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation, whose financial status as the richest man on earth is still in place; Steven Jobs of Apple Computers and a whose of others whose intellectual prowess or visions have shaped the world and are still shaping it. All of them did not add to the joy of humanity because they are the most intelligent of God’s creations as Edison aptly puts it: “Genius is 1 per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration”.
Nigeria’s cognitive perspective
Omole should not judge a person’s intellect by the nation’s cognitive examinations, which in most cases, leave out the affective and psychomotor aspects.
An individual might go to a university and come out with first class, but he might not know the name of the vice chancellor of his university or his department head or the motto of his alma.
Omole fail to know that in life everybody is right, more so in an academic community.
An advice to ASUU
Omole should be punished by ASUU for cheapening their struggle. Lecturers are advised to base their arguments on issues rather than on pettiness that reduces their scholarship.