The National Universities Commission (NUC) has warned that the hatred between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on one hand and the other non-academic unions – Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and other Associated Institutions (NASU), will destroy the university and lead to the collapsed of the system, if not resolved on time.
The NUC Executive Secretary, Abubakar Rasheed, gave the warning on Monday at the Second Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of SSANU, held in Abuja, even as the SSANU President, Comrade Samson Ugwoke, warned that it was only a matter of days before the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU will take decision on a full-blown, total and indefinite strike in the university system.
To this end, Abubakar, tasked the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba who was also at the event to intervene and ensure there is a cordial relationship between ASUU, and the other non-academic unions since they were all affiliated of the congress.
The President of SSANU, Comrade Samson Ugwoke, had declared in his speech that SSANU and NASU will not accept the adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and vowed to resist any attempt by the government to use UTAS, developed by ASUU for the payment of their members.
Ugwoke said the Joint Action Committee of SSANU and NASU has developed their own payment platform – University General and Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (UG3PS) – to be used in place of the IPPIS; adding that the development of UTAS by ASUU, was another move by the lecturers to usurp the functions and responsibilities of the non-teaching staff who are in charge of payment of salaries and such related activities in the university system.
The SSANU President said: “We need to note that all the issues listed above are not new and have been on the front burner of our various negotiations, agreements and memoranda of understandings of 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2018. The only newly introduced issue is the problem of inconsistencies in salary payments arising from the implementation of the IPPIS in the university system.
“This was a payment platform enrolled into by SSANU and NASU on the understanding that the seeming anomalies of shortfalls in salaries previously experienced would be resolved. Unfortunately, our experience has been a case of from frying pan to fire. Never in the history of the university system, have salary payments been so disorganized, distorted and mangled.
It is a shame that despite our outcry, having supported the government through collective bargaining by enlisting our members into the platform on the understanding that our peculiarities would be captured on the system, we wrote several letters and communication to both the Ministries of Education and Labour and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, highlighting all the distortions to salary payments experienced under IPPIS to no avail.
“Forced to embark on a warning strike which ended last week, we seized the opportunity of this National Delegates Conference to inform that the last has not been heard on the issue and it is only a matter of days before the JAC of NASU and SSANU will take a decision on a full-blown, total and indefinite strike in the university system. It is sad that we have to go through this route but we are left with no choice given the insensitivity and neglect which our previous agreements have received.
“It is also pertinent to inform the public that the JAC of NASU and SSANU has developed an alternative salary payment platform solution to IPPIS, which is the University General and Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (UG3PS), with all the characteristics of ensuring probity and efficiency in salary payments in the university system, while capturing the peculiarities of all categories of staff, teaching and non-teaching, a strength which IPPIS does not have and which has been its bane all along.
“We wish to inform that the UG3PS is ready and awaiting presentation and test run to the Federal Government with the conviction that IPPIS or any alternative being suggested by any group either within or outside the system, cannot be as efficient as that being presented by the two non-teaching staff unions members of whose primary functions include personnel issues and salary payments.
“We say confidently and without prejudice, that no group can understand the intricacies, challenges and manoeuvrings of salary payments as much as SSANU and NASU in the University system and we have applied this knowledge which is a function of our primary duties in the development of the UG3PS solution.”
While reacting to the crisis, the NUC Executive Secretary stated further: “My advice to the NLC President, Comrade Wabba, if we like our universities, if we like our future, we should have a concern about the university education in Nigeria. Whether we like it or not, we cannot continue this path of dangerous exclusivity. ASUU opposes anything that is not ASUU; SSANU opposes anything that is ASUU. NASU aligns with SSANU, NAAT will be independent today but tomorrow, align. Now NAAT is an independent body, today it is non-aligned movement. They are the leader of the non-aligned movement in the university.
“In all honesty, I have discussed with NLC, NUC and NLC must try and bring these unions together in our own interest, not in the individual interest of members but in the interest of this country and the university system.
“There is no way universities in Nigeria can thrive, can take their rightful position in the world if we continue to quarrel. It also the kind of things in the health sector, doctors fighting the nurses, the nurses opposing the doctors.”
He regretted that because of theses crises created by SSANU, NASU and ASUU, the medical students who are supposed to spend six years n universities ended up spending 11 years.
He added: “In all honesty, let us tell ourselves the truth, this over confrontation among ourselves, among the four unions in the Nigeria university system is the biggest threat to the future of Nigeria university today. That is the biggest threat, I am not blaming SSANU, I’m not blaming anyone. Let me whisper in the ears of all of us, it is high time we realize that we needed one another, nobody can live independent of one another. ASUU cannot run university alone, and without ASUU there can be no university. So, whether we like it or not ASUU, SSANU, NASU and NAAT must agree to come together in the interest of the system.”