The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has expressed surprise at the shocking revelations made on Friday, August 13, 2022, by the minister for communication and digital economy, Isa Pantami, that the payment platforms that this administration deployed for both payments of salaries and receipt of its revenue, were never tested or certified by relevant government agencies before they were put deployed.
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 the NITDA Act 2006 under section A of the Act setting the standardization of I.C.T. deployment in Federal public institutions was 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, Comrade Ogugua Egwu, stated that it is only an irresponsible and profligate government like the present government in Nigeria that can engage in the such absurdity of financial recklessness.
Comrade Ogugua bemoaned the huge financial loss the government has incurred since it came into power in 2015 as a result of the loopholes and horrifying weaknesses of these payment platforms.
He argued that Nigeria should have had more than enough to cater to all her domestic needs and even lend to other countries if the numerous leakages in those platforms were not in existence.
In a publication by ASUU AE-FUNAI media team dated August 15th, 2022,
Comrade Ogugua lamented that the government allowed the seepage to persist throughout its tenure, thereby forcing her to run to China and other nations to borrow just for the looters in government, like the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, to syphon into their private pockets through these unsecured platforms.
“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.
He wondered why it took the Federal Government this long to come to this belated realization, stressing that 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 a cash cow, the 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 and that IPPIS has not only created more problems than it came to solve but has equally impoverished the country, thereby turning our dear nation into a rag-tag beggar. Pantami has openly told the world that “… at the time of deployment, (IPPIS) did not follow the required NITDA standardization process, I.T. clearance ,and certification”.
But strangely enough, however, when the 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 tests 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.