As a result of the disagreement between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which led to the shutdown of academic activities in tertiary institutions since the past seven months, Nigerians have urged the two parties to be considerate in their positions to aid the possibility of reaching a common ground.
Some of them, including key stakeholders in the education sector, emphasise the need for government and the university lecturers to place the interest of the nation and the young students affected by the impasse, well above any other consideration.
The government had continued to insist on paying salaries to only lecturers that have enrolled into the IPPIS platform, and the lecturers had vowed to resist IPPIS they said was a fraud.
In the place of the IPPIS, ASUU has offered its option – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) – a model it says would tackle the unwholesome issues around wages payment, which government says IPPIS would eliminate.
But Nigerians have urged those concerned to remember the place of education in the growth and development of any nation and make sacrifices so as to reach common grounds that could ensure the re-opening of the universities.
Speaking with Businessday on the telephone, Moyosore Ajao, ASUU chairman, University of Ilorin, advises the Federal Government to continue to dialogue with the union to rescue varsity education from further crisis.
“The only way forward is continuous dialogue with the union; if they discuss with us, there will eventually be resolution to all these issues,” Ajao says.
He, however, warns that failure to embark on mutual dialogue would result to “anarchy,” with many casualties.
Adesegun Olagoke, an educationist, also believes there is the need for the government and ASUU to come to a peaceful resolution hinged on the sincerity of purpose and willingness to reach a compromise.
The crisis could be forestalled with both parties sitting at a round table to address all grey areas causing the problem, Olagoke says.
According to Olagoke, the Federal Government must, for instance, recognise the peculiarity of the university system and all its processes based on its constitutionally-backed autonomy as is the case everywhere in the world.
“If the government can recognise and capture on the IPPIS such multifarious peculiarities as the issue of Sabbatical, 70 years retirement age, external examiners and external assessors, earned academic allowances, visiting adjunct and part-time consultancy services, among others, it would have allayed the fears of Nigeria’s university teachers,” he notes.