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We’re not stooges for VCs, ASUU classifies themselves Says FG’s allegation attempt to give us bad name

ABUJA–THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU said Wednesday that it was not a stooge for vice-chancellors in its opposition to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS.

The union insisted that it was independent in its position regarding the implementation of the scheme in the universities, faulting the allegation by the federal government that it was fronting for the vice-chancellors.

In a statement on Wednesday by the president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said government’s allegation against ASUU was “a simplistic attempt to call ASUU’s dog a bad name to hang it”, adding that, “The accusation is laughable, fraudulent, provocative, irritating and illogical.”


Ogunyemi’s statement was a reaction to Vanguard’s earlier exclusive story that the government accused the union of being pushed by the vice-chancellors to oppose the IPPIS scheme in universities.

“It is just unimaginable that anyone in his or her right senses would accuse ASUU of being the stooge of some avaricious vice-chancellors!

“Surreptitious moves had previously been made by malignant government officials to smear the union with fetid cover-up allegations on account of alleged monumental corruption in the universities and teaching hospitals.

“The latest move appears the most audacious and baseless attempt by civil servants to present ASUU as a pawn in the corruption chessboard of vice-chancellors. To say the least, however, nothing can be farther from the truth!,” it insisted in the statement.

ASUU said the philosophy underlying its “opposition to IPPIS is the overriding interest of the Nigerian University System and the Nigerian nation.”

“Every argument we canvas against IPPIS revolves around that philosophy. When we say IPPIS violates the University Autonomy Law (2003, 2007), we are saying the government should empower Governing Councils to manage university finances, including personnel information and payroll system, in the interest of its law,” it said.

It added:” When we argue that IPPIS will shut the door against our colleagues, particularly those on short visits or contract appointments from abroad, it is because the platform only relates with workers on pensionable appointment as against what obtains in other parts of the world.”

Noting that the government’s claim “is a red herring fallacy”, the union challenged the government to release previous reports of investigations it launched against various alleged corruption allegations in the universities.

The statement read thus: “Our initial reaction was to ignore the said Vanguard’s report because ASUU has made the basis of its opposition to IPPIS so clear that it may now sound trite.

“However, irked by the damaging report, our members have justifiably clamoured for correcting the wrong impression the malicious allegation might have created in the minds ofofnsuspecting members of the public.

” It is just unimaginable that anyone in his or her right senses would accuse ASUU of being the stooge of some avaricious vice-chancellors!

“Surreptitious moves had previously been made by malignant government officials to smear the union with fetid cover-up allegations on account of alleged monumental corruption in the universities and teaching hospitals.

“The latest move appears the most audacious and baseless attempt by civil servants to present ASUU as a pawn in the corruption chessboard of vice-chancellors. To say the least, however, nothing can be farther from the truth!

“Put succinctly, the philosophy underlying ASUU’s opposition to IPPIS is the overriding interest of the Nigerian University System and the Nigerian nation.

“Every argument we canvas against IPPIS revolves around that philosophy. When we say IPPIS violates the University Autonomy Law (2003, 2007), we are saying the government should empower Governing Councils to manage university finances, including personnel information and payroll system, in the interest of its law.

” When we argue that IPPIS will shut the door against our colleagues, particularly those on short visits or contract appointments from abroad, it is because the platform only relates with workers on pensionable appointment as against what obtains in other parts of the world.

“And, when we insist that the payroll of Nigerian universities must be flexible and not tied to the bureaucratic cord of the civil service, it is to make our universities universal centres of learning and research and in line with “best global practices” which
dictate the easy flow of staff and students from different parts of our planet.

“Out of conviction of the soundness of these and related arguments, we proposed an alternative platform called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

“We did not stop there. We have also demonstrated our belief that UTAS is more amenable to the nature of universities by committing funds pooled from the meagre contributions our of members into developing the platform from early this year.

“So, it is bewildering that a government which claims to have accepted ASUU’s proposal on UTAS – a proposal that was flatly turned down in 2013/2014 – is at the same time portraying the union as unpatriotic and a willing tool in the hands of “corrupt” vice-chancellors!

“The patriotic credentials of ASUU, dating back to the military era, are there for all to see. Nigerians should ask the so-called top government officials what they did with the petitions on allegations of financial impropriety written by ASUU branches against erstwhile or sitting vice-chancellors in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Federal University, Lokoja (FULOKOJA), among others.

“What has the government done about ASUU’s demand for visitation to federal universities, as a way of curbing financial impropriety and poor university governance, which has been on its table for more than three years?

“And to what extent do these government officials push for full implementation of government’s White Papers on Visitation Panels as exemplified by the report of the last Special Visitation Panel (2012) to the University of Abuja?

“ASUU has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubts that its interest in Project Nigeria is not flippant as common with “mere employees”, and whosoever perceives members of the union in that closet must be suffering from the cognitive deficit.

“ASUU’s interest in the university system is driven by a sense of mission and history. ASUU members, like other public intellectuals, are patriots who see beyond their immediate horizon; their call for new pathways is to transform our universities and reposition them as game-changers in the 21st century knowledge-driven economy.

“The typical policymakers and civil servants cannot depart from the tracks of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank whose agents are responsible for the arrested growth and underdevelopment in all facets of our national life, including university education.

“There is nothing new about “exposing vice-chancellors”, “employment racket” or “age-long fraud” now being advertised by the bureaucrats in Abuja.

“What did they do with the past reports that came from ASUU? Has ASUU ever debarred government from dealing with cases of corruption in the universities other than insisting on due process and fairness?

“For this government or any of its agents to accuse ASUU of playing the frontrunner or doing the bidding of vice-chancellors to frustrate the implementation of IPPIS is to stand logic on its head.

” It is a red herring fallacy. It is a simplistic attempt to call ASUU’s dog a bad name to hang it. The accusation is laughable, fraudulent, provocative, irritating and illogical.

“We think it is time the Nigerian government started to operate with an open mind, and this is only possible with a new mindset by those who occupy positions in government.

“IPPIS is a platform originally designed by World Bank for the civil service, not for the universities. The government should, therefore, toe the path of honour by vacating the conditionality of initial migration to IPPIS by Nigerian academics attached to its final adoption of UTAS.

” It serves no useful purpose to insist on over-domesticating Nigerian universities at a time internationalisation is the order of the day.

“The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic speaks to diversifying our community of scholars and opening the Nigerian environment to global scholarship. IPPIS will not make this happen.”

Source: vanguardngr

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