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ASUU Strike: Reps Summon Labour Minister, Accountant General And Others

By Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has invited the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Head of Civil Service, Accountant General of the Federation, Director General, Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Director General Budget Office among others to appear before the lawmakers next week Thursday.

The Speaker disclosed this at the resumed fact finding meeting on the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In continuation of the efforts to find solutions to the lingering strike by ASUU, the Speaker of the House of Representatives alongside his deputy Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House, had met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta, among other government officials.

The meeting was a follow up to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday, where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting led the House leadership to invite the Head of Service, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, the Accountant General of the Federation, among others.

Failure of integrity test

At Thursday’s meeting, NITDA told the House leadership that the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) failed its integrity tests regarding the university payroll, which the agency conducted between March and June this year.

A NITDA official at the meeting told the House leadership that the government directed the agency to test UTAS in October, 2020, and that the platform failed the two integrity tests conducted on it.

He said following the first test, ASUU was asked to go back and review, which it did. Yet, the platform did not meet NITDA’s requirements the second time.

For the third time, NITDA was then asked to conduct tests on UTAS, IPPIS and U3PS, which the official said all the three platforms failed its requirements regarding the payroll system of universities.

Not satisfied with the explanation, Speaker Gbajabiamila asked if NITDA advised the government to take action on the lapses found on IPPIS, which has been in operation by government since 2011. But the NITDA official said they were not in a position to do that.

Gbajabiamila also asked if NITDA queried the IPPIS platform, to which the official responded in the negative.

Appropriate action

The Deputy Speaker, Hon Idris Wase also expressed reservations at NITDA’s action, saying it ought to have advised the government on the appropriate action to take in view of its discovery on IPPIS.

However, the Head of Service, in her explanation, said the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy wrote her office following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a committee was empaneled to carry out the assignment.

She also noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, noting that all those directly under her purview have since complied.

Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said that under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday, 29th of September, which the stakeholders subscribed to.

The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to 29th September.

 

 

 

 

Emmanuel Ukoh

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