Academic Staff Union of Universities has convened zonal congresses to deliberate on the outcome of its last week’s meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
At the zonal congresses the union would begin the process of taking the final decision on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System following the meeting with Buhari
Findings indicated that while some ASUU zones met on Monday, others would meet on Tuesday on the outcome of the meeting with the President.
ASUU had met with Buhari on Thursday last week with the intention of persuading the Federal Government to drop the IPPIS for public universities.
But the union’s efforts seemed to be unsuccessful as the President appealed to the lecturers to embrace the IPPIS, which the Federal Government had made mandatory for all its workers.
Following a presidential directive that all Federal Government workers should enrol for the IPPIS, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation dispatched its officials to universities with the aim of registering their workers between October 25 and November 7 last year.
But ASUU directed its members to shun the exercise on the grounds that the IPPIS negated the principle of university autonomy.
The union, which urged the Federal Government to adopt its model – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution – had threatened to go on strike if government insisted on the IPPIS.
It had been reported on Friday that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, at the meeting on Thursday, said 96,090 out of the 137,016 university lecturers in the federal universities across the country had already joined the scheme.
She was said to have stated that only 30 per cent of lecturers were still opposing the policy, but ASUU was reported to have contradicted her.
Chairman of ASUU in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Dr Adebayo Oni, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, said the South-West branch would meet on Tuesday.
He said the zonal congress would hold at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.
Oni further explained that each branch would hold a congress with its members on Thursday to communicate the ASUU position .
He said, “We really don’t normally rely on information from the social media. I can confirm to you that the directive is for the zonal coordinators to convene zonal meetings to brief branches after which the branches will now hold congresses before the end of this week.
“Hopefully, our own zonal meeting will be holding tomorrow,(Tuesday). The implication of what I am saying is that for now I really don’t have detailed information about what actually transpired in that meeting (with Buhari) and what is going to be the position and directive of our union until after the zonal meeting tomorrow.
“The zonal meeting will be holding at the OOU, Ago Iwoye. After the zonal meeting, we are likely going to hold our congress on Thursday to brief all members.”
Also the Nsukka Zone of ASUU will meet on Tuesday. Although the agenda of the meeting could not be immediately ascertained, it was gathered that the zone would review the outcome of the meeting with Buhari.
The Chairman of ASUU in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr Christina Opata, told one of our correspondents in Enugu that the zonal coordinator would brief members on their engagement with the Federal Government.
Opata said, “Our meeting will hold tomorrow (Tuesday) and any briefing on the IPPIS will be after the zonal meeting because the zonal coordinator will brief us on what they were told at Abuja. They will brief the chairperson”.
He disclosed that the zone comprised the UNN, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, the Benue State University, the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi; the Federal University of Lokoja, Kogi State, and the Federal University of Wukari, Taraba State.
Opata stated, “Those attending the meeting are three; two members from each branch of the university and the chairperson of the branch.”
Federal universities in the North-West met on Monday. The universities in the zone include the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano; the Usmanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
A top official of the zone, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “We met today. Whatever you want to get will be communicated in due course.”
But the ASUU Chairman, University of Port Harcourt Branch, Dr Austen Sado, told one of our correspondents that the Port Harcourt Zone of the union had not been briefed on the meeting of national ASUU with Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)
Explaining that a decision would be taken by the zone after being briefed by the national body, Sado stated that the zonal coordinator of the union had not convened a meeting of the union.
Sado said, “We will be briefed. They are the ones that met President Buhari. We didn’t meet Buhari with them. So, apparently, they will need to brief us; we have not been briefed. When they brief us, a decision will be taken on IPPIS.
“Again, we have not met on IPPIS because out zonal coordinator has not convened any meeting yet. If he calls for a meeting, we will meet and discuss.”
The Chairman of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University branch of ASUU, Dr Adamu Babayo, said that the meeting of the North-East zone on the IPPIS was ongoing.
He promised to brief one of our correspondents on the outcome of the meeting as soon as it ended.
But as of 9pm when the correspondent called him back, he replied through a text message that the meeting was still going on.