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“ When you take on powerful and corrupt vested interests, sometimes they seek to push back. As the saying goes, if you fight corruption, corruption will fight back"

A recent example is the ongoing narratives and counter narratives between ASUU and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).

The thing is, Teachers whether in primary, secondary or tertiary institutions deserves an enhanced remuneration and a good compensation package. I think so because their services and contribution towards the well-being of the society is immeasurable. However, it is my respectful opinion that Lecturers should subscribe to government reforms.

I will begin with a preamble.

Nigeria began Public Finance Management (PFM) Reforms to address the challenges of transparency, accountability, corruption, and poor service delivery in 2004. There was a recognition that Nigeria had not made significant progress in its economic development efforts in spite of her revenue inflow due to these challenges. 

In 2004, the country embarked on Economic Reforms and Governance Project (ERGP) sponsored by the World Bank to address the challenges. This reforms led to the introduction of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), Treasury Single Account (TSA), E-Payment, and International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The implementation of these reforms is beginning to yield results. It will however require continuous political will, commitments, capacity enhancement, and cooperation for the country to reap the full benefits of these policies.

In reacting to yesterday press release from the OAGF, members of ASUU came up with several rejoinders.

I have read a few of the replies. I think the views of ASUU members are evasive and misleading as well. However, I took note of a few issues therein, hence I'm obliged to provide an alternative narrative. 

The issues are: National Housing Fund, Ghost workers, Promotion arrears, Auditor General unanswered questions to OAGF and Tax.

Before I proceed, allow me to establish a few FACT.

IPPIS is a centralised payroll system that was set up to help the Government in planning and managing employees salaries and wages by ensuring proper budget and control of personnel cost.

IPPIS department at the OAGF does not generate data for Universities or any other MDA. That is to say that employees records farmed on the IPPIS platform are the ones presented by the Universities through their employees designated as role players on the IPPIS platform.

Every University have a minimum of 6 role players on the IPPIS platform who are drawn from relevant department within the University to perform the Human Resource role, Accounts and Finance role and the Audit functions.

The point I am making is; IPPIS is designed and structured in such a manner that any alteration from the back end i.e OAGF automatically triggers a red flag to alarm authorised users who are role players in the University.

Lest I forget, in planning the economy, the IPPIS platform can be used to determine the composition of the workforce in a given organisation. It has the ability to sort employees record according to age, sex, marital status, pension administrators, entry point and due retirement date just by a click of the computer.

Let's move on to the issues that were raised by ASUU in their rejoinders.

* NHF:- on National Housing Fund (NHF) the assertion by ASUU is not in accordance with fact. There are 2 things to note. First, what the President declined assent is an amendment bill. That's to say that there is an existing NHF legislation. That existing law was not repeal therefore I find it very difficult to understand ASUU excitement that a few proposed addition to an existing law was not approved by the President. The second and most important part is, NHF deductions from employees salaries is a form of savings. Is it like keeping your money in the bank. In fact, call it fixed deposit. The primary reason for the deductions is; it serves as a form of collateral qualifying FG employees for a home mortgage. But, in the case that you did not benefit from the mortgage arrangement while in active service, upon exit or retirement, your total contributions is workout and refunded with a reasonable amount of interest. Isn't that a fair deal? But, ASUU must complain. It is their right anyways.

* Promotion Arrears: the assertion that IPPIS does not cover payment of arrears and other personnel entitlement is not true. In fact, IPPIS can pay any kind of backlogs so far as it  is within statutory and contractual obligations which are captured and provided for under personnel budget.

* Ghost Workers: for this to happen, there must be collusion between the role players on the IPPIS platform in a given Organisation with a few dishonest officials at the IPPIS department in OAGF. In fact, simply put, Ghost workers is a product of negligence and poor supervision of role players by superior officers. If the Management of Universities effectively monitors their nominal roll against pay roll information, it will be impossible for anyone to smuggle in ghost workers. Impossible! Instead of blaming IPPIS, the author should rather blame the inefficient management style in some Universities which have created room for dishonest officials to manipulate the system.

* Auditor General querying OAGF: I don't know how to explain this without making too much citation but I'll try to be brief. It is almost impracticable for the OAGF to have answers to those questions. The only trick to use in order to get answers to the query by the Auditor General is for a directive to be issued that every MDA should publish her pay roll record while employees are randomly selected to identify the names on their organization Nominal roll. That's the only way that query can ever be answered satisfactorily. The OAGF is not aware of some of this fraudulent activities made possible by connivance.

* Tax: what ASUU does not know or might be pretending not to know is that the Bursars of some of these universities are thanking their stars for raising ASUU to act in error. This is what used to happened before the introduction of IPPIS; most MDAs were not deducting the correct PAYE but were busy remitting incorrect tax returns against the prescribed standard by the Tax authority, FIRS. Truth is, officials of the Tax office are culpable somehow because during their routine inspection of books, they turned a blind eye. After all nothing goes for nothing. Hope you understand.

Finally, permit me to give ASUU just one upper cut. We complain that former States governors have turned the Nigerian Senate into their exit package but do you also know that some very senior ASUU members including former VCs are no longer in the Lecture Halls; they now prefer their sabbaticals in NCCE, NUC and other educational regulatory bodies. Some even keep multiple jobs. As a matter of fact, there's one Agency in the Aviation sector where the number of Professors and P.hD holders in their pay roll is in competition and might soon over take the Professors in the University of Ibadan which was adjudged to have the highest number of Professors sometime 2018.

That said, ASUU is blaming everybody including the World Bank. Blaming everybody else is great until you have got nobody left around to blame but yourself.

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