The Punch correspondent in a recent interview with Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, spoke on issues surrounding the ongoing strike by university lecturers and others According to Osodeke, he said; “None of the issues ranging from revitalisation fund, earned academic allowance, deployment of UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution), release of visitation panel reports, proliferation of universities and reforms has been fully addressed; so, nothing has happened. He further made it known that there isn’t another way for the union to pressure the federal government into fulfilling its demands than embarking on strike. “Which other ways do Nigerians or the press want us to use? We have used all the ways; we issued warnings, we had meetings, we had MoA (Memorandum of Action), we had Memorandum of Understanding, all the visible methods we could talk through with, and then nothing happened. So, what do we do? Strike is the last option remaining, and they (government) are not even responding, so what do we do?” On why UTAS is better than IPPIS, he replied saying; “We keep saying that the IPPIS is a fraud being managed by the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, whose head is also charged with fraud. We have been vindicated… The IPPIS is a platform they use to siphon money. UTAS is a platform that has been tested but they refused to deploy it. UTAS will take care of all the sectors in the university, which is not in the IPPIS. Issue of sabbatical, issue of visiting lecturers, all will be taken care of by UTAS, which is not accommodated by the IPPIS.
“The IPPIS cannot take care of the peculiarities of universities and UTAS is designed in such a way that it can accommodate everything. As I’m talking to you, a large number of people are being owed eight, nine and 10 months’ salaries because they cannot be paid by the IPPIS. What you’re paid today, you’re not sure of what you will get next on the IPPIS. It cannot cater for all peculiarities of universities. UTAS was designed for the Nigerian university system at no cost to the government. But with the IPPIS, we pay to the people taking care of it, like the World Bank, on a monthly basis.” he added. On the issue of SSANU’s U3PS, Osodeke said; “Ordinarily, they should have joined us just like the polytechnics and colleges of education have done. But if at all, they want to do theirs, it should be subjected to a test by the NITDA. What we are saying is let the NITDA subject the three systems to a test and we will take the best one.” When The Punch journalist asked him how soon will the universities be opened so that students can return back to school? He said “We don’t know. That’s left for the government…. If the government refuses to attend to ASUU demands throughout this year, we will stay at home.” he said.