The leading pro-democracy and civil Rights advocacy group – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has expressed shock that university teachers are kicking against a policy that would bring about accountability, transparency and wipe off the phenomenon of ghost workers in the payments of salaries.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said universities as bastions of learning ought to be the first amongst the governmental institutions that should endorse the integrated payroll and personnel information system. The Rights group said the reason for opposition of this 21st century compliant payment system by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) does not add up because to begin with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the official and symbolic visitor to all the Federal universities even as the Federal government of Nigeria is the employer of labour in all Universities at the Federal level since they draw up their funding components from the federation accounts.
“Indeed there are several issues that must not be muddled up and dirtied in the muddy water of politics. One of such things is the Federal government’s integrated payroll and personnel information system which governs the accountable and transparent payment of salaries of workers employed by the Nigerian state. For us in the organised human rights community, in as much as we are not comfortable with the lack of openness in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, we think that all the 36 states of the Federation should be made to adopt that seamless form of payments of salaries known as IPPIS.”
“We are of the belief that if the officials of the office of the accountant general of the Federation are made to comply with best global practices and abide by professional codes of conduct in the discharge of the onerous obligations of administering the secretariat of the integrated payroll and personnel information system, then we think the government would have carried out an aspect of what the constitution stipulates in section 15(5) that government shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office.”
“Since IPPIS department is responsible for payment of salaries and wages directly to Government employee’s bank account with appropriate deductions and remittances of 3rd party payments such as; Federal Inland Revenue Service, State Boards of Internal Revenue, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Housing Fund, Pension Fund Administrator, Cooperative Societies, Trade Unions Dues, Association Dues and Bank Loans, we are finding it very much shocking that University who should be at the forefront of campaign for an accountable and transparent payment system in the Country are those kicking against this noble idea which if implemented faithfully is capable of checking the ghosts workers syndrome which creates corruption on a large scale in the Federal civil service. We urge Academic Staff Unions of Nigerian Universities to enrol in this IPPIS to help the Nigerian nation to wage forensic war against corruption. ”
“HURIWA fully supports this programme especially if the staff of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation would be insritutionally guided and compelled to be committed to efficient and effective service delivery and if indeed in reality the main aim of IPPIS is to pay accurately and on time within statutory and contractual regulations, then we do not think there is any rational basis for kicking against it from all quarters. HURIWA charges the Federal Government to aim to provide a payroll service that is customer focused and that utilizes technology wherever possible as profusely pledged by the Secretariat of IPPIS domiciled within the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
HURIWA has been informed that there are 459 MDAS on IPPIS Platform as at 31st June, 2017. The department is responsible for processing and payment of salary to over Three hundred thousand (300,000) Federal Government Employees across the 459 MDAs. We are told that IPPIS aim is to enroll into the platform, all Federal Government MDAs that draws personnel cost fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. We have been told that since inception of the IPPIS project in April 2007, the departments have saved the Federal Government of Nigeria billions of Naira by eliminating thousands of ghost workers.”
HURIWA recalled that Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had insisted that their members wouldn’t enrol jusas they have given reasons why it rejected the plan by the Federal Government to enroll university workers into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
HURIWA recalled that ASUU said it violated university autonomy even as ASUU’s Coordinator in Lagos zone, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, who stated this during a media briefing at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), said the policy was not acceptable to the union.
HURIWA quoted the ASUU official as stating thus:”In addition to the Act establishing each university, there is the Universities Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Act, 2003. The Act states in Section 2(A) that the power of the council shall be exercised as in the laws and statutes of each university and to that extent, the establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the laws and statutes of the university shall not apply to the university. IPPIS will not recognize nor adequately capture the flexibility and peculiarities of the university system in terms of replacement/recruitment of staff,” he said.
HURIWA however asked ASUU to stop their opposition to the implementation of the new salary payment system which would eliminate traces of malpractice and fraud just as the Rights group wondered how teachers in the Universities are quoting the statute granting autonomy to Universities just so they can be excused from observing transparent and an accountable salaries payment system which IPPIS represents as if to say that the funds that go into the running and development of these institutions are not drawn from the public coffers. “HURIWA thinks that the position of ASUU has no rational, empirical and constitutional basis just as the group asked ASUU to accept the policy or go to court to test the waters.
Relatedly, the Rights group has challenged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to spend enough resources to enlighten the Nigerian youths about the dangers of their involvement in advanced fees fraud or yahooyahoo.
“EFCC should be concerned about motivating the Nigerian youths to reject the criminal tendencies of Advanced Fees fraud instead of spending more money on media trials of youngsters which has adverse consequences to our global image. The media narrative already crafted and been forcefully pushed by EFCC that our youths are all after making quick money through illicit means has seriously harmed the corporate image of Nigeria and has affected the respectability of Nigerians abroad.”