ASUU vows to protect varsity autonomy at all cost

The National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, on Friday, said scholars in public universities were ready to prevent incessant attacks on the autonomy of universities by the Federal Government with the last drop of their blood, reports The Punch.
This ASUU president, in a statement titled ‘On President Buhari’s no IPPIS, no salary,’ said the presidential directive was “meant for civil servants and university lecturers are not civil servants.”
It further stated that President Muhammadu Buhari and the union on January 9 had an understanding to develop University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which would be sensitive to the operations of the university system, respect autonomy and accommodate peculiarities.
According to the union, the President could not have directed his comment to it since he agreed to the development of system sensitive software to management personnel and payroll.
It further added that the union had expended millions of naira to develop UTAS, which had been presented to the Federal Ministry of Education, while awaiting its presentation before the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The statement read, “The idea of seeking clearance from the Head of Service or the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation is alien to university operations because it will halt its flexibility. Mr. President did not say government will not pay ASUU members for not enrolling in IPPIS. The directive on IPPIS was meant for civil servants and university academics are not civil servants.
“The government and ASUU have an understanding to develop an alternative platform, which would be sensitive to the operations of the university, accommodate the peculiarities of the university system and respect the autonomy of our universities as obtained globally.
“The University Miscellaneous (Provisions) (Amendment) Act (2003), which the government gazetted as the University Autonomy Act (2007), has vested the powers of managing personnel and payroll system issues in the hands of each university’s governing council. ASUU has gone beyond the debate on this matter.”
Ogunyemi noted that, when ASUU visited Buhari, who is Visitor to all federal universities, on January 9, 2019, they reached an understanding that the union would develop its proposed UTAS for testing and adoption for managing personnel information and payroll system in the universities.
“We have since done that and presented it to the Federal Ministry of Education. What is left is to present it to other major stakeholders, particularly in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. The development of UTAS was done at no cost to government.
“We used contributions from the check-off deductions of ASUU members to finance the project and this cost us millions of naira. IPPIS was designed by the World Bank for the civil service. We are aware of the antics of bureaucrats, especially in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, aimed at bringing universities under their control.
“ASUU will not fold its arms and watch the gains we made on the autonomy of Nigerian universities slip by. It took us several years of continuous struggle during the military regime to get here. So, let nobody hide under the name of President Muhammadu Buhari to attack the autonomy of public universities because Nigerian scholars are prepared to resist it to the last drop of their blood.”

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