The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities has said that it has been having engagements with the Federal Government on contending issues that necessitated the declaration of the one-month warning strike on 14th February 2022.
The Union has also described as misleading, statement credited to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, to the effect that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) has failed the integrity test.
ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke while reacting to the Minister’s alleged comments, said UTAS testing was still ongoing and that the Union was miffed by the misleading information by Pantami and the Director-General of National National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The statement Osodeke personally signed read in part: “The one-month roll-over strike declared by our Union on 14th February 2022, has entered the fourth week. During this period, we have been having engagements with the government over the contending issues that necessitated the action.
“One of the contending issues is the deployment of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which is a robust software created by ASUU Technical group to manage personnel and payroll in the university system.
“The Federal Government had referred UTAS to NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) to conduct user Acceptance Test (UAT) and Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Test (VAPT) prior to the final deployment.
“The process, which commenced on Thursday, March 3, 2022, is still ongoing.
“This press statement is necessitated by the need for ASUU to put the records straight on the grounds already covered in our patriotic struggle to get the government to deploy UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in our university system.
Of particular concern to us is the statement credited to both the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy and Director General, NITDA to the effect that UTAS has failed the integrity test,” he said.
He added that there was not to put it on record that an integrity test was carried out by NITDA on August 10, 2021, in National Universities Commission (NUC) where relevant government agencies and all the end-users in the University system were present.
According to him, at the end of the exercise, all, without exception, expressed satisfaction with UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in our universities, saying this was attested to by the report coming from NITDA then to the effect that UTAS scored 85 per cent in User Acceptance Test (UAT).
“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 per cent. The question that arises from this is can 77 per cent in any known fair evaluation system be categorised as failure? Suffice it to say here that some observations and questions were raised by NITDA to which UTAS technical team has to provide clarification.
“As we speak, our engagement with NITDA over the second round of testing continues. The Union is worried that while this exercise is going on, the Minister and the DG, NITDA went to press after the FEC meeting of Wednesday, March 9 2022, to mislead the nation that UTAS has failed the integrity test.
“We wish to draw your attention to the fact that NITDA gave a report to the fact that NITDA gave the report that UTAS did well in both the integrity test and user acceptability verification.
Clearly, 85 per cent and 77 per cent are high-class grades in any known evaluation system. In their desperation to justify their false assertions, they 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.
“ASUU and NITDA are still engaged in the testing process. It is pertinent to note that one of the core mandates of NITDA is to encourage local content development.
“Therefore, NITDA has to discharge its responsibility to ensure that this solution developed by Nigerian academics is deployed. In doing so, the principles of transparency should be adhered to by making available to the public the set of criteria or benchmark for certification of information technology application in Nigeria
“The DG, NITDA should stop making comments that are capable of jeopardizing the joint on-going testing of UTAS between the NITDA Technical Team and its counterpart in our Union.
“However, if this behaviour continues, we will have no choice but to demand that the NITDA Technical Report on UTAS and our Union’s response be made public in order to shed more light on the ongoing controversies without further waste of time.
“The DG, NITDA and the Minister superintending the agency are challenged to a public discussion on any national media to put all matters to rest for the benefit of our students, union members, and the Nigerian public in general,” he said.