By Mike Odiegwu, Port Harcourt
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) has criticised the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), saying it lacks the capacity to curb corruption in the university’s system.
The union explained that the IPPIS was not a legal instrument that could dictate and tackle fraudulent activities of some university administrators insisting that the government’s payment system breached university autonomy.
ASUU’s position was contained in a statement signed by the union’s leaders of universities in Port Harcourt zone.
Those, who endorsed the document are Uzo Onyebinama, Zonal Coordinator, ASUU, Port Harcourt; Emmanuel Akpan, Chairperson, Federal University Otuoke (FUO); Endurance Joseph, Chairperson, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education; Tonbara Kingdom, Chairperson, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island and Austen Sado, Chairperson, University of Port Harcourt.
Reading the statement in Port Harcourt on Thursday, Onyebinama said that the known legally approved instrument to probe corruption in the universities was the visitation panel.
He said: “IPPIS is not the legal instrument for solving the problem of monumental fraud perpetrated by some administrators of the universities.
“IPPIS taxes rent subsidy, allowances for journals, conferences, hazards among others. For instance an Associate Professor pays a tax of about N672,000 per annum.
“IPPIS breaches the due process for enrolment in the national housing scheme. IPPIS deducts pensions from the allowances earlier listed. IPPIS breaches university autonomy. IPPIS breaches the law.
“The legal instrument to probe corruption in the universities is the visitation panel. For almost a decade, ASUU has been clamoring for the constitution of visitation panels in federal universities.
“We are told that they are at the point of gazetting the panels for several weeks now. Maybe they will need like another five years to do the gazetting.
“Even when the panels visit, their reports will remain secret and empty white papers will be released with nothing actually to implement and this will be done in connivance with some unscrupulous officers of the Federal Government.”
Onyebinama called on the federal government to work their talk by showing zero tolerance for corruption, decrying the proliferation of universities by state governors, who could not sustain existing ones.
He said: “Yet this government was elected into office on the mantra of zero tolerance for corruption. State governments are proliferating universities without adequate funding for already established ones.
“Most vice-chancellors of state universities are at the beck and call of their visitors, unable to take any decision without recourse to their visitors.
“This struggle is not just for ASUU members. It belongs to the Nigerian people, the masses of this country. We are already down and he that is down has no reason to fear a fall. Let us all stand up for our public universities.”
Onyebinama also described the minister of Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige as a bad midwife whose babies appeared to be still born following his inability to respect the Memorandum of Actions (MOAs), of 2017 and 2019.
Onyebinama accused the government of gambling with the future of Nigerian youths, saying the handwriting had always been on the wall about the reluctance of the government to take steps to ensure the reopening of universities this year.
He said, “It does appear that he (Ngige) is not a good midwife as those babies appear to be still born. His recent comments are a signal that Universities cannot reopen this 2020 and this government is gambling with the future of Nigerian youths. The handwriting has always been on the wall about the reluctance of this government to take necessary steps to ensure that our universities reopen this year.”