ASUU Strike: Reps Invite Finance Minister, Others for Clarification on UTAS/IPPIS Controversy
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has been invited by the House of Representatives along with other agencies of the federal government to clarify the disagreement over the use of a payment platform for university lecturers in the country.
The government had said it would pay the salaries of the teachers via the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) but members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) want the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), arguing that the platform captures the peculiarity of the university system.
The lecturers have been on strike over this issue and others since February 14, 2022. On Tuesday, the leadership of the House of Representatives, led by its Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, had a meeting with the leaders of ASUU led by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke to iron out some issues to resolve the matter.
Mr Gbajabiamila, while addressing journalists after a 4-hour meeting with the leadership of ASUU and the officials of the Ministry of Education led by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opiah, at the National Assembly in Abuja, noted that the Finance Minister is expected to brief the legislature on the issue of the deployment of the payment platform.
He said Mrs Ahmed would be required to appear on Thursday alongside the Accountant General of the Federation, the Auditor General of the Federation, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission.
The Speaker said after the meeting on Thursday, the House would meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on his return from the 77th session of the United National General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to present the agreement reached with the striking workers.
Mr Gbajabiamila described the meeting on Tuesday as encouraging because some resolutions were reached.
The Speaker said as an independent arm of government, the meeting with the leadership of ASUU was meant to find a solution to the lingering labour dispute and the seven areas of their demands with the hope of resolving them, so the striking lecturers to go back to school.
According to him, the meeting enabled the House leadership to present the agreed demands to the President with the hope that the matter would be speedily brought to an end.
While thanking the labour leaders, Mr Gbajabiamila also expressed his conviction that the labour leaders would go back to their members and convince them of the need to buy into the solution with the House leadership to avoid undue delay in the resolution of the issue.
On his part, Prof. Osodeke thanked the Speaker and the leadership of the House for calling the meeting, which he said he hoped an amicable resolution would be reached after the lawmakers meet Mr Buhari later.