Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has expressed surprise at the shocking revelations made last Friday by the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, that the payment platforms which the Buhari-led administration deployed for both payment of salaries and receipt of its revenue, were never tested or certified by relevant government agencies before they were put to use. These platforms include the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, and the Treasury Single Account, also known as TSA.
According to Pantami, “At the time they were deployed, the provision of NITDA Act 2006 under section A of the Act setting the standardisation of I.C.T. deployment in Federal public institutions were not followed. Because of this, these three systems were not subjected to government certification and I.T. clearance as specified by the law…” Speaking in Abakaliki, the ASUU Branch Chairperson of Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, Comrade Ogugua Egwu, stressed that it was only an irresponsible and profligate government that can engage in such an absurdity of financial recklessness.
He bemoaned the huge financial losses the present administration has incurred since it came into power in 2015 as a result of the glaring loopholes in these payment platforms, arguing that Nigeria should have had more than enough to cater for all her domestic needs and even lend to other countries, if the numerous leakages in those platforms were not in existence. Comrade Ogugua alleged that the government allowed the seepage to persist, thereby forcing her to run to China and other nations to borrow to sustain the economy of the country. “And this is the same government that has been sending their self assumed spokesmen like those in the Ministry of Labour and (Un)Employment to media houses both at home and abroad, to misinform people that the government is broke!”, the ASUU Chairperson stressed.
According to him, ASUU from day one, had kicked against the IPPIS because of the many weaknesses the experts from the Union detected in the software and which were promptly communicated to the government, maintaining that because many insiders in government were using the platform as cash cow, government never took ASUU’s complaints and protests very seriously. He charged Nigerian parents and students in public universities in the country to hold the Buhari government responsible for the pains they have suffered and the huge academic time they have lost staying at home. He questioned why it took the Federal Government almost an academic year to join ASUU in publicly declaring that IPPIS is a fraudulent payment platform. He also stated that ASUU has finally been vindicated by their adversaries in government that IPPIS has not only created more problems than it came to solve, but has equally impoverished the country.
“Pantami has openly told the world that as at the time of deployment, (IPPIS) did not follow the required NITDA standardisation process, I.T. clearance and certification. But strangely enough however, when government challenged ASUU to develop an alternative payment platform better than IPPIS, the Union did so without wasting time by developing the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which has also been subjected to rigorous test with a cumulative performance score of 99.3%, of which our Union is still contesting the 0.7% the government withheld while testing it. Nigerians are hereby charged once again to ask Ngige and Keyamo why they have been misinforming both the government and the public about the efficacy of UTAS. Let the government be courageous enough to end their blame and waiting games by yielding to the demands of ASUU for our students to return to school. Enough has indeed become more than enough.”