In the past 24 hours, the media has been abuzz with reports of the removal of tertiary institutions from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, made the announcement on Wednesday to State House correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting at the State House, Abuja.
On the rationale, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said, “the president and the Council are just concerned about the efficiency of management of the universities, and so it has nothing to do with integrity or platform options.”
What is IPPIS?
In October 2006, the Federal Government of Nigeria implemented the IPPIS as part of its reform initiatives. The aim was to enhance the storage of personnel records and streamline the administration of monthly payroll.
The IPPIS aims to include all federal government ministries, departments, and agencies that receive personnel cost funding from the consolidated revenue fund. This payment system seeks to enrol these entities on its platform. Since its establishment in April 2007, the IPPIS project has reportedly saved the Federal Government billions of naira by effectively eradicating numerous ghost workers, according to government officials.
Additionally, IPPIS correctly deducts and remits payments to third parties from the paychecks of federal government employees.
Federal Inland Revenue Service, State Boards of Internal Revenue, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Housing Fund, Pension Fund Administrator, Cooperative Societies, Trade Union Dues, Association Dues, and Bank Loans are a few of these third-party deduction channels.
In other words, if you are a federal employee who is registered in the IPPIS, your housing fund or tax is deducted from your pay before it reaches your account.
President Buhari promised that starting in October 2019, any federal employee not listed on the IPPIS would no longer be eligible to receive a monthly salary when he submitted the 2021 budget proposal to lawmakers.
Why ASUU rejected it?
Concerns over the independence of Nigerian institutions were voiced by ASUU. The union contended that the implementation of IPPIS might erode university autonomy and meddle in internal matters. The Union claims that the enforcement of IPPIS violates the autonomy of colleges. In 2019, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, who was the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities at the time, informed the Senate that the IPPIS’s current structure violated the university autonomy as stated in Section 2AA of the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act 2003.
He said, “It is noteworthy that, contrary to the law expressly backing the governing councils of each federal university to exercise full control over the finances of the universities, IPPIS lacks constitutional backing.
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“The proposed forceful enrolment of staff of universities in the IPPIS will amount to subjecting the universities to the direction and control of Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
2. Inadequate Consultation
ASUU alleged that prior to implementing IPPIS, the government did not sufficiently consult with the union. They contended that the Nigerian university system’s unique characteristics were overlooked when imposing the system.
In 2019, an ASUU chairman told The PUNCH that the union had offered to assist the federal government in creating a template that would take into account the unique needs of lecturers in the IPPIS, but the government was adamant about sticking with the template created by the World Bank.
3. Inconsistency with University Laws
ASUU claimed that there may be a legal inconsistency between the IPPIS implementation and the rules governing universities in Nigeria. The union felt that the system failed to consider the distinctive policies and procedures of universities.
“The current state of IPPIS cannot accommodate the peculiarities of our job as scholars. Members should equally recall that the union has been engaging the Federal Government with a view to making relevant authorities to appreciate the implications and position of ASUU on the matter since 2014,” former ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, said in a letter.
4. Salary arrears and promotions
An ASUU boss said that because the government template did not include provisions for payment of arrears of promotion, study leave allowance, responsibility allowance, and other benefits, it would enslave intellectuals.
5. Retirement Age
The standard retirement age for regular civil personnel is 65, but professors in the professorial cadre have been granted a special dispensation to retire at 70. ASUU has raised concern that the IPPIS will affect that.
They added that, in contrast to the new policy, which calls for professors to retire at age 70, the Federal Government template was created to gradually remove university lecturers who were older than 60.
However, ASUU has put up a different plan known as the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which they feel more effectively handles the quirks of the university system, like adjunct engagements, sabbatical leave, and part-time contracts. To ASUU, the IPPIS is a foreign policy.