President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has directed that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including universities drawing their personnel cost from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) must enroll in the  Integrated Personnel and Payroll  Information System (IPPIS).

This was made known by the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF); Alhaji Ahmed Idris, during  a meeting with university-based unions convened by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) in the Boardroom of the Commission last week.

The AGF explained that the meeting was continuation of previous meetings including the meeting with Vice Chancellors, Registrars and Bursars of Federal universities on Tuesday 18th June, 2019, with the purpose of complying with the directive of the President.

Alhaji Ahmed Idris revealed that the presidential directive had been duly complied with by Nigeria Police, Para-military and Military while that of Federal Polytechnics was in progress.

He said that they were not unaware of the fears of the university community on the policy in relation to the university   autonomy and their peculiarity in such payments as sabbatical leave, part-time programmes, staffing of new programmes, visitation, payment of out-sourced services and earned allowances and others.

He assured that though the fears were genuine, they were unnecessary as the system was flexible enough to accommodate all those peculiarities. 

The AGF stated that the centralised payroll would be prepared by individual universities but coordinated by IPPIS, while the total management of the human, resources rested squarely on the universities.

He reassured that it would not in any way compromise the autonomy of universities, adding that all deductions such as  National Housing Fund (NHF), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Check-off and other dues deducted from staff salaries would be remitted to the appropriate accounts as at when due, insisting that “overall, the unions stand to gain more as the system is being run  transparently.”

He pointed out that the grey areas had been duly considered during the previous meeting in June and  six resolutions were reached including the need for interaction with other stakeholders particularly the four staff unions. (ASUU, SSANU, NASU, and NAAT); setting up of a Committee to look into issues of funding of out-sourced services through the Federal Ministry of Education, IPPIS to accommodate all peculiarities relating to universities.

Others are training of operators in consultation with stakeholders and acceptance of IPPIS in all federal universities.

He noted that IPPIS had the capability to accommodate over two million federal government employees and also flexible enough to accommodate all peculiarities as the case might be in universities.           

“It is a known fact that as at today IPPIS has a current staff count of 755, 422 from 561 MDAs as against 235,858 in 2015. This tremendous increase in enrolment has created a cumulative savings of over Two Hundred and Seventy-three billion, eight hundred and nine Million, eight hundred and forty-two thousand, seventy one  naira, ninety-nine kobo (N273,80S,-842,071.99.) on IPPIS platform between 2017 and 2018.

“This fund would have been lost but now available for government to deploy for other uses”. He declared.

Alhaji Idris said that the university community being the bedrock of knowledge and centre of reforms that always strove for probity, transparency and accountability for good governance, would contribute tremendously in bringing to bear all such rare qualities in the implementation of IPPIS.

In his remarks, Executive Secretary, NUC and Chairman of the meeting, Professor Abubakar Rasheed  further clarified that the objectives of the presidential directive were to engender transparency, accountability and probity in government expenditure as well as centralise the payroll systems of the federal government.

The Executive Secretary explained that enrolling in IPPIS would be beneficial to both the government and the unions.

He enumerated some of the advantages to include facilitating easy storage, updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processing; ascertaining the actual personnel emoluments of the federal government; aiding manpower planning and budgeting as well as complying with global best practices.

He solicited the cooperation of the unions towards achieving seamless enrolment in compliance with the presidential directive.

However, the ASUU President Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, expressed the fear that if implemented, IPPIS could erode university autonomy and the powers of University Councils.

Also in their contributions, the Presidents of SSANU, NASU and NAAT called for wider consultations and enlightenment on the policy as they advised that a sub-committee should be set up to articulate and deliberate on the issues raised.

At end of the meeting, the chairman constituted a committee made up of two members each from the respective unions, the AGF Office and its Consultants and a Director to be nominated from NUC to serve as observer. The sub-committee is expected to submit its report on 25th July, 2019.