By Felix Khanoba
A Professor of Economics and lecturer at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Hassan Oaikhenan, says the forceful introduction of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) into the nation’s university system has inflicted severe pain on lecturers.
He called on the Federal Government to reconsider its stance on the centralised payment scheme in universities to save the nation from regular rituals of industrial actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The don’s position was contained in a statement issued in Benin.
He said, “On this issue of IPPIS, I think there is a need for greater understanding of our position as lecturers, under the aegis of our Union. To state our position clearly, please note that ASUU is not against IPPIS per se. The contention is that it does not take into account some peculiarities of the University system.”
According to him, the peculiarities range from retirement age of lecturers to payment of delayed promotion arrears, among several others.
His words: “IPPIS is blind to the age long tradition of lecturers going on sabbatical leave. Under IPPIS, a lecturer in UNIBEN who goes on sabbatical in, let’s say UNILAG will be seen as a ghost worker in one of the two places. ASUU is asking that the platform be modified to accommodate this.
“Some colleagues lecture in the University (under the Federal Ministry of Education) while at the same time doubling as Consultants in the teaching hospitals (under the Federal Ministry of Health). Under IPPIS, such colleagues will be seen as ghost workers in one of the two places. This is a peculiarity that our Union argues be captured in the platform.
“The retirement age of those on the professorial cadre is 70years. But IPPIS recognizes only up to 65 years.”
While saying the failure of the government to address the peculiarities has resulted in the ongoing strike by ASUU, Prof. Oaikhenan said the Federal Government should come down from its high horse and genuinely dialogue with the academic union.
“We are in a country where we stand on issues instead of talking and listening to each other that we keep finding ourselves in the undesirable path of embarking on strike every now and then. Surely, it is undesirable. And I think it is avoidable if the government, which is occupying the exalted role of the big father can be more understanding and genuinely taking pains to think through issues as they are raised, not only by ASUU but every other stakeholder in the Nigerian project,” he said.