Oyo, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, and Cross Rivers state governments have said lecturers of their state universities cannot join the planned strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System.
State governments, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Monday, said the IPPIS issue was purely a matter between the Federal Government and lecturers in its universities.
They said state university lecturers should not subject their students to hardship by dabbling in an issue between the Federal Government and its employees.
It was reported on Monday that ASUU had directed its members to begin a strike action immediately the Federal Government failed to pay their January salaries.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Hammed Idris, had in a letter last week, asked the Ministry of Finance not to release January salaries to universities. He said payment of the salaries would be made through the IPPIS platform.
Following a directive by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), Idris between October 25 and November 7 last year, deployed the IPPIS officials to federal universities and directed all workers in the institutions to enroll for the IPPIS.
But ASUU opposed the directive on the grounds that the IPPIS negated autonomy of the universities.
Both the FG and ASUU failed to resolve their differences when the union met the President three weeks ago, as Buhari advised the lecturers to enroll for the IPPIS.
ASUU, in some universities, including the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, and the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, on Sunday said that they would obey the directive of their headquarters on the IPPIS strike.
But the Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology, Professor Dahud Sangodoyin, said there was no basis for state university lecturers to join the ASUU strike on the IPPIS. The commissioner said state and the federal university lecturers were under different employers.
He asked, “If you say somebody wants to do something that would be the grounds for doing it? In some climes, you don’t go on strike without going to an arbitration court, but in Nigeria, you don’t have that style. If you want to go on strike you must have a purpose for doing that.
“I am not of the school of thought that you just go on strike without any reason, just because you want to do it. The federal universities have their own grounds. Are they the same as state universities? Of course, not. We have many variables that are not comparable. They don’t have the same salary scale to start with; they are not on the same allowances and not in the same category of salaries and emoluments.”
The commissioner disclosed that the state paid the salaries of its higher institutions’ staff on Friday. He stated, “We should really be reasonable in this country. It is not everything that you embark on strike for. By going on strike you are destroying other people’s lives. By going on strike, you are destroying our future generation.”
On his part, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Education, Prof Nse Essien, said that the plan by lecturers in state universities to join ASUU on the IPPIS strike was not the right thing to do.
He said, “I am not aware of the plan by the lecturers to join the IPPIS strike. I also don’t think that it is the right thing to do.”
Also, the Cross River State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Asu Okang, advised ASUU in the Cross River University of Technology not to join the IPPIS strike.
He stated, “They should also know that they are (CRUTECH ASUU) a state-owned university and our children must not be allowed to suffer. The issue of IPPIS is not part of our problems right now. It is not a state problem.”
Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government expressed confidence that ASUU members in TASUED and the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, would not join the strike in solidarity over IPPIS.
The Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Kunle Somorin, in an interview, said the cordial relationship between the government and the workers in the universities would not make them join the strike.
But ASUU in the OOU said it was ready to join other branches in other universities on the IPPIS strike. The Chairman ASUU OOU, Dr. Joel Okewale, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “We don’t have Federal Government ASUU. We have only one ASUU. We have not been operating in isolation.