By Felix Khanoba
Lecturers in federal-owned universities in the country are now in joyful mood following the directive byPresident Muhammadu Buhari that their withheld February and March 2020 salaries should be paid with immediate effect.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation had withheld the salaries of the affected lecturers following their refusal to enlist into the government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who made the President’s directive known in Abuja on Tuesday, said the move is to cushion the economic effect of coronavirus pandemic’s lockdown on lecturers and their families.
The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have been dagger-drawn on the IPPIS issue, with the Union embarking on an ongoing strike to press home its demand for exclusion from the platform over ‘peculiarity’ in the nation’s university’s system’.
The Labour Minister said all Vice Chancellors of affected universities have been asked to revalidate the lecturers Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) and forward same to the Accountant General of the Federation for the payment of the salaries.
“All Vice Chancellors are to revalidate affected Lecturers BVN and forward to the Accountant General of the Federation for the payments,” Ngige said.
Reacting to the development, ASUU expressed delight over the President’s directive, saying it is a move in the right direction.
“The directive by President Buhari that the February and March 2020 salaries of members of ASUU, withheld because of their refusal to enrol in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System be paid as soon as possible will lead to meaningful dialogue with the government,” the Union said on its twitter handle,@ASUUNGR.
The tweet quoted the President of ASUU, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi, as saying “members worked in February and we were still working in March before this Coronavirus pandemic broke.
“It is expected that a labourer be paid his wages. Even as we are talking, people are supposed to be prepared to get their April salary.”
The Union, however, said its ongoing strike is still on.