By Chidex Onyemah
The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non Academic Staff Union, Wednesday, joined their national bodies in a peaceful protest over the controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), sharing formula of earned allowances with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), marginalisation of non-teaching staff unions, among others.
The demonstration was held at the university campus, with members in their hundreds, carrying placards of various inscriptions; ‘we say no to inconsistency in IPPIS payment’, ‘we say no to teaching staff usurping headship of non teaching units’, and so on.
The Unizik chairperson of SSANU, Comrade Njideka Nwangwu told newsmen that the peaceful demonstration was just the beginning of the processes to air the unions demands. She disclosed that total shut down would be the last stage, if government doesn’t attend to their needs.
According to her, today’s gathering is a protest embarked by two specific university unions; SSANU and NASU, against the federal government of Nigeria over so many abnormalities which includes the irregularities in the IPPIS system. IPPIS is a platform which is presently used by the federal government to pay university staffers. We were enrolled into this system since February 2020 and up till now IPPIS has not got it right, many staff have not been captured.
The union is currently owed over seven months salary, some of us have not even received any salary since then. There are times when some staff members received lower than their normal payment and some others received higher. The system is characterised with so many irregularities.
“The proposal they presented to us before we agreed to join the system were so enticing, Little did we know that these good looking plans would not be a reality,” she said.
Nwangwu lamented the non payment of earned allowances, non implementation of the approved minimum weigh, which, according to her, has made prices of commodities at the markets to get skyrocketed.
Also speaking, the NASU chairman of the university, Comrade Chukwugozie Ikegulu lamented the difficulty faced by staff members, with regards to correcting financial errors which are inevitable in the university system.
He suggested that the former medium of financial administration in universities known as; Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), be sustained, as it gives each university’s bursary department, the capacity to run the finances of the university.
He said, “IPPIS platform has not only brought confusion to individual staff members, but has reduced the efficiency of our unions. This is because the little sum which should be deducted from our salaries and remitted to these unions are not done. The university co-operative society where most of us get loans are now impoverished, as the system has also failed to remit theirs to them.”
The NASU chairman decried government’s marginalisation of the non teaching staff unions in universities, stating that the union is not a less important union, as it members cover all facet of the university system.
“It is partial on the part of government to give 20 per cent of allocated fund to our unions, while a union in the same university is given 80 per cent. Does it mean that doctors, pharmacists, engineers, technologists, administration staff, departmental and faculty secretaries, accountants, security personnel, etc, which make up our unions are not relevant in the system? This marginalisation must end, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, Ikegulu said.
Furthermore, the two union leaders called for an end in the usurpation of non teaching positions, making reference to a scenario where a professor, who, they said, should be in the classroom, is made the head of transportation at the university’s directorate of works.