Integrated Payroll Personnel Information system IPPIS is one of the major reasons why Asuu goes on strike in recent years.
Asuu often claims that the payroll system is not efficient and wants university lecturers to be excluded from it, while the FGN on its part claim that IPPIS is helping it reduce salary fraud and detect ghost workers.
But the crisis between the FGN and Asuu over IPPIS goes deeper. If the impasse is to be resolved, the entire process through which Nigerian Universities are funded would have to be restructured.
What is IPPIS
IPPIS is a computerized payroll Department under the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation responsible for payment of salaries and wages directly to Government employees’ bank account with appropriate deductions and remittances of 3rd party payments such as; Federal Inland Revenue Service, State Boards of Internal Revenue, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Housing Fund, Pension Fund Administrator, Cooperative Societies, Trade Unions Dues, Association Dues and Bank Loans.
The payroll system has been in existence since at least 2006, it helps to reduce salary fraud and ghost workers since it captures the biometric details of each worker – with your fingerprint and picture, you only get paid one salary if you are in the system.
University lecturers are not the only ones paid through the IPPIS, every federal employee in Nigeria has their details captured and receives their salary under this payroll system.
Why is Asuu against the IPPIS?
If every other federal employee in Nigeria is receiving their salaries from the IPPIS, then why would ASuu members be requesting an exception to the rule so much so that they routinely shut down academic activities nationwide over this request? The reason is simply explained; University lecturers often visit other universities for a specific period of time as visiting lecturers where they will teach and conduct research during their stay. The problem here is that the lecturers cannot get paid for such visits as the IPPIS would have their biometrics already registered to another university.
Asuu claims that the IPPIS is not flexible enough to reflect changes as most visiting lectures often end up without pay for the months they are away from their original university.
Another criticism of the IPPIS by Asuu is that the deductibles from their salaries are often not the correct amounts. Most lecturers, for example, complain that they receive deductibles from the National Housing Fund when they don’t live in government subsidised housing.
The way forward?
To understand a possible solution to the IPPIS problem, it is important to understand the entire structure of Nigerian universities and how they are funded. Restructuring how these universities are funded will also solve majority of other Asuu demands, thereby bringing an end to recurring Asuu strikes.
Nigerian universities rely on the government to fund almost their entire budgets. The government does this to provide subsidized education to thousands of Nigerians who pass through public universities yearly. Students in public universities go to school almost for free only paying a small processing fee and other small charges. This starves the universities of much-needed funds and most of them end up producing students with poor quality of education.
Nigeria is a poor country, which means that the government simply does not have enough resources to provide free quality higher education as it has been attempting to. Public universities must be allowed to generate funds on their own as other universities around the world do.
Free/subsidized higher education must be ended in Nigeria and replaced with a merit-based scholarship system for qualified students. Between 80-90% of students who graduate from Nigerian public universities don’t get to use their certificates in their field of study because the education they have received is substandard. A merit-based scholarship system will ensure that university students are well thought by reducing over crowding.
Nigerian public universities having an endowment fund will also ensure their financial independence. An endowment is a donation of money or property to a nonprofit organization, which uses the resulting investment income for a specific purpose.
Most American universities generate billions of dollars in endowment funds yearly which makes up a large chunk of their budget. This makes them less reliant on government grants and can therefore fund research and hire lecturers without relying on the government. But endowment funds have one catch, the receiving institution must be trust worthy and always spend the funds according to instruction. Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world where public trust is low, and this might affect donation.
In conclusion, IPPIS is a problem because Nigerian universities are not financially independent. The only way forward is for the universities to figure out how to survive without relying on the government to fund almost their entire budget.