Why Our Varsities Will Remain Shut – ASUU, Owerri Zone

Flays state govts for establishing new universities but can’t fund old ones
We can’t be intimidated with IPPIS

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Owerri Zone has maintained that universities across the country would remain under lock and key unless federal and state governments commence immediately the implementation of various aggreements they reached with the union recently and in the past.

Zonal Cordinator ASUU, Owerri Zone, Comrade Uzor Onyebinama stated this last Tuesday at a news conference in Imo State University Owerri. Flanked by the Chairmen of five universities that make up the zone namely: Comrades Okey Aniebo (Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State), Christopher Echereobia (Federal University of Technology Owerri), Luke O. Uzoigwe (IMSU, Owerri), Chinyere A. Echendu (Michael Okpara University of Agric Umudike) and Steve Ufoaroh (Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka), Onyebinama said the 2009 ASUU-FG agreement on the funding of universities in Nigeria must be implemented alongside increment of lecturers’ salaries whose wages have not topped a dime for eleven years now.

Dr. Onyebinama frowned at the level of fraud and controversies surrounding the so called Integrated Personal Payroll Information System – IPPIS which FG had introduced as university official salary payment system and domiciled in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation. ASUU argued that IPPIS remained a confusion in the nation’s university system and its claim that 60,000 ghost workers were detected by IPPIS under the management of a private company System Spec Consortium, a fluke and outright nonsense.

“Consequently, we want to challenge the Accountant General of the Federation to as a matter of urgent national importance release with immediate effect, names and amounts previously paid to each and every one of the over 60,000 “Ghost workers” eliminated as at 2014 and also show evidence of recovery and prosecution of the said “Ghost workers”.

ASUU- Owerri Zone remarked that IPPIS was a conduit pipe, a creation of official fraud and challenged the federal government to make public how much fund spent on running IPPIS which the dons claim run into billions of Naira whilst the nation’s varsities are grossly and inadequately funded.
“There are also various conflicting reports about the funding of IPPIS. As reported earlier in this text, a contract was signed through BPSR with SystemSpecs Consortium, valued at ₦622m for the provision of IPPIS. We also have reports that World Bank paid 55,000 licenses for the pilot seven (7) MDAs. Similarly, former Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun reported approval given by FEC of a memo for the award of ₦550m contract to procure managers and verification consultants to enlist about 200,000 military personnel into IPPIS. There are also reports that the pilot scheme was funded with World Bank loan of 4.9 million dollars and second phase of it from the National budget to the tune of ₦2.1 billion. And these excluded yearly operational cost allocations”.

“A report credited to PENGASSAN Trustee indicated that IPPIS consultant was collecting a migration fee of ₦14,000 per worker. Again we challenge the Accountant General of the Federation to publish as a matter of urgent national importance, a detailed financial expenses incurred on running IPPIS since inception, including expenditures of loans from World Bank and license fees paid by the world bank, etc”.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU- Owerri zone insisted that FG cannot intimidate them with IPPIS as they are not civil servants but scholars in the ivory towers whose services and finances are coordinated by Governing Councils of their various universities. It argued that with IPPIS, Governing Councils are no longer of any effect, as they have been stripped of their responsibilities and roles, thus making caricature of the Acts and Laws establishing all public universities across the country.

The dons lamented that Nigerian Universities are mere glorified secondary schools due to poor funding and so much politics played around them, adding that it was the singular reason “our universities” can’t fly in any global rating. “Our universities are not funded at all, Earned Academic allowances not paid. We lack lecturers and facilities needed to churn out sound and employable graduates are not available. Worst still, more licenses are procured by some state governments to establish new universities when the existing ones are starved of funds. IMSU Owerri for instance is nothing to write home about but we are told that another one, University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is about to take off, what a deceit! Some of our members are owed 4 – 8 month salary arrears yet, they are asking us to open the universities. We simply cannot, until our demands are met”.

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