By Appolos Christian
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has called on the Federal Government to take responsibility for igniting the ongoing crisis which led to a nationwide strike.
The lecturers have been on strike over an ongoing contention with the federal government over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi who made this known before proceeding on a technical session summoned at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige on Tuesday in Abuja, said government’s directive to stop payment of salaries to university lecturers fueled the union’s resolve to down tools.
According to him, the various complaints on the several lapses attached to the payment of February salaries to sister unions, was proof that the IPPIS incapable of accommodating academic staff salary structure of Tertiary institutions.
In his words: “We had a Memorandum of Action we were tracking and what that means to us is that government actually ignited the ongoing crisis. Not when government introduced IPPIS and tried to sell it through dialogue, but when it resorted to the use of force.
“Government officials ignited the crisis by stopping the payment of salaries of our members citing Mr. President before their speech as a directive and they insisted that universities must enroll on IPPIS platform at a time we thought we were engaging ourselves.
“Well we have responded positively but we rescind and resist descent to the logic of force.
“It should be recalled that during our meeting with Mr. President on 9th January 2020,Mr. President did promised to set up a high powered enquiry to look into how much would be allowed in terms of management of resources and personnel of the universities.
“Within the limits of the constitution, ASUU was still expecting the fulfilment of this promise, when the union was confronted with the unilateral stoppage of salaries by government.
“IPPIS is simply incapable of accommodating academic staff salary structure at the tertiary level and government should take full responsibility for the consequences of the ongoing action.
“It was never mentioned in any of our memoranda that bursars of Universities will be the ones to generate budgets for the national assembly or address the main streaming of our allowances.”
In his response, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige who had earlier assured the union of government’s resolve to address the bone of contention, however noted that it was not a time to start apportioning blames.
“I am assuming my role as a conciliator here. This meeting is not for us to apportion blames and say who is right or who is not right, we will go into our technical session and continue from where we stopped,” Ngige said.
At the time of report, both parties were still engaged in a closed door meeting.