The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has extended its ongoing industrial action by another eight weeks, accusing the Nigerian government of insensitivity and peddling lies.
ASUU made the decision at a prolonged meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) which started on Sunday and ended early Monday morning.
The NEC meeting was held at the union’s national secretariat at the University of Abuja.
A member of the NEC who does not want to be quoted to avoid sanctions by the union, said a statement is currently being drafted by the leadership of ASUU and that as soon as it is ready, it will be distributed.
The source said: “Yes, we have extended the strike by eight weeks pending when the Nigerian government would find the university system worthy of the desired attention. A statement is currently being drafted to that effect. We will make it available soon.”
Earlier on Sunday, ASUU had issued a statement on the controversy surrounding the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) that its technical team developed to replace the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) which is currently being used to pay its members’ salaries.
It was angered by the claim of the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, who on Wednesday at the State House said UTAS failed three integrity tests of user acceptance, vulnerability and stress, that were conducted by his agency.
“We did all these three tests with them and the system couldn’t pass. We wrote the reports and submitted it back to the honourable minister, which he forwarded to all relevant institutions, including ASUU. As we speak now, ASUU is working, trying to fix all the issues we highlighted with the system and we will review it again. But that is just one half of the story,” Mr Inuwa said.
But ASUU insisted that UTAS scored both 85 and 77 per cent, which it noted are “high class grades in any known evaluation system”.
ASUU also threatened that it would demand that the initial NITDA Technical Report on UTAS, where it scored 85 per cent in User Acceptance Test (UAT) be made public if it (NITDA) continues to insist that UTAS failed the integrity tests.
ASUU said that NITDA carried out the first integrity test on August 10, 2021, at the NUC headquarters, noting that relevant government agencies and all the end-users in the university system were present.
The union added that all accepted UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in Nigerian universities.
ASUU also said; “However, in a curious twist of submission, the NITDA Technical Team, after conducting a comprehensive functionality test came out to say that out of 687 test cases, 529 cases were satisfactory, 156 cases queried, and 2 cases were cautioned.
“Taking this report on its face value, the percentage score is 77%. The question that arises from this is, can 77% in any known fair evaluation system be categorised as failure?”
Speaking further, he said NITDA “in their desperation to justify their false assertions, threw up issues such as Data centre and hosting of UTAS software which are clearly outside the rubrics of ASUU’s responsibilities in the deployment of UTAS.”
VYBEZ TV had reported that the two most important demands for ASUU had included the renegotiation of the ASUU-FG 2009 agreement and the deployment UTAS for payment of its members salaries.
However, both have remained unresolved as the government only recently inaugurated another committee to be led by a former vice-chancellor and emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Nimi Briggs.
Mr Briggs-led committee was given three months to complete the renegotiation of the agreement with all university-based unions including ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions.
But ASUU has said it has nothing more to discuss on the agreement but the implementation. It said the three months given the committee to address the issues are not meant for the union.
ASUU had embarked on a four-week warning strike to press home its demands, with the prominent ones being the renegotiation of the ASUU/FG 2009 agreement and the sustainability of the university autonomy by deploying UTAS to replace the government’s “imposed” (IPPIS).
Other demands include the release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities, distortions in salary payment challenges, funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowance, poor funding of state universities and promotion arrears.
The Minister of Education Adamu Adamu had days after the commencement of the strike constituted the white paper panel of the visitation panels.
But four weeks later, the government is yet to inaugurate the team to commence work.