The National Assembly yesterday waded into the dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as well as other outstanding issues, calling on both parties to sheathe their swords.
ASUU had declared that it will not shift ground regarding the federal government’s directive to enroll University teachers on the IPPIS.
The lingering crisis has made it impossible for some Universities to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown.
But president of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, who met with a delegation from ASUU led by its president, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, at the National Assembly said the meeting was to explore further options on how the Senate and the National Assembly could intervene to resolve the outstanding issues.
LEADERSHIP reports that ASUU leadership had paid a similar visit to the Senate president in October 2019 to find a way out of the crisis.
Lawan said, “We really don’t need this kind of situation where our Universities are shut. Our children are the victims of this.
“Therefore, the government and ASUU ought to find a common ground for our institutions, particularly our Universities to open and of course, offer the kind of services that are expected of our Universities.
“We cannot afford, as a country, to continue to have this kind of crisis. So I receive you on behalf of my colleagues at the Senate and indeed the National Assembly. The idea is to find out how we can resolve this issue”.
The Senate president said even though there were many outstanding issues, the parties in the dispute should imbibe the spirit of give- and-take in resolving the dispute.
“Government cannot expect to have it all its way and I believe that ASUU shouldn’t expect it to be that everything it asked for must be given,” Lawan added.
Earlier, ASUU President, Prof Ogunyemi, had said the visit was in furtherance of previous interaction with the Senate president.
He noted: “Today we hope to share with you as you requested the last time we were here, the product of our invention in the area of alternative to IPPIS.
“We are also here to solicit your support on the need for the government to urgently address the outstanding issues on our demand list. We are here for those two main reasons and we hope we will have the supportive weight that we expect from your office”.
At that point, the Senate president asked journalists to take their leave to allow for a behind-closed-door deliberation.
But after the meeting which held behind-closed-door, ASUU insisted that it will not enroll on the IPPIS platform since it has gotten an alternative.
The national president of ASUU, Prof Ogunyemi, told journalists that on “University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS)” they stand.
While fielding questions from journalists after the parley, the ASUU president said, “As patriotic, innovative and creative Nigerians, ASUU developed an home-grown platform that should be used by the Federal Government to effect transparency and accountability in the process of payments of lecturers’ emoluments.”
The alternative platform, according to him, has been explained to government as a mechanism, which is far better than imported IPPIS.
“As promoters of local content and firm believer in concepts and ideas directly responsive to prevailing peculiarities, on UTAS we stand and not ready to move an inch towards the direction of IPPIS which is imported and not responsive to the peculiarities involved in lecturers’ emoluments,” Ogunyemi added.
BY BODE GBADEBO and EMAMEH GABRIEL,