SSANU Joins ASUU, Withdraws Support for IPPIS Implementation

Good afternoon esteemed Comrades. 

I start by sympathizing with NEC members and Branch Executives on the recent developments coming on the heels of the second salary payment made through the IPPIS. It is clearly evident that the February and March salaries were fraught with too many anomalies and irregularities such that it has become difficult or almost impossible for NEC members to give any explanation to branch members on the development. But for the Corona pandemic and the fact that some universities are virtually under lock and key, I can imagine that some Branch excos would have been lynched over the development. As a Branch member myself, I have personally received calls and various messages complaining of short payments and other awkwardness in the salaries and as such, I can only imagine what Branch leaders will be going through at the moment.

On a personal note, I have also observed a seeming short payment in my own salary which runs into tens of thousands. I am also personally affected and as such, I can imagine what our members feel. This is further compounded by the fact that I cannot access my payslip to determine the actual details of the payments made to me. To that extent therefore, I cannot blame you when you vent your frustrations and anger and insult NAC. Your attacks on NAC goes to show your sensitivity to the plight of our members.

Let me however remind us, as painful as it is, that the decision to join IPPIS was a decision of all of us at NEC. Granted that NAC gave recommendation, it was an overwhelming decision of NEC and this was also reiterated and reinforced at the Joint JAC NEC meeting of NASU and SSANU at Labour House on 12th July 2019. The point being made is that blame games and buck passing has never and will never solve our problem at this point. We have a challenge at hand and rather than trading blames, our priority should be more on how to overcome the challenge in the interest of our helpless members who do not have any other salaries apart from this one which IPPIS has amputated and amputated.

Recall that we had keyed into the IPPIS proposal because we had been assured that the peculiarities of our demands as non-teaching staff in the University system would be addressed. We had keyed in because we were also assured that Earned Allowances and other financial benefits that had eluded our members would be captured under IPPIS. It was also contemplated that with IPPIS, the pervasive corruption and other malfeasances that had led to conflicts on double deductions on pensions among others by University Managements would be a thing of the past. Through the Technical Committee set up by the union, they met with the IPPIS officials and simulations of the application were made and having satisfied the thinking of the Committee, it was recommended to NAC and subsequently to NEC and here we are!

As things stand, every choice we make must come with a price. As at the time we accepted IPPIS, we did not have a reason not to. For emphasis, we had no reason to reject it then. If we had rejected it, would our members have been prepared to pay the price of salary denials going into the second month now? Would it not have been these same members that would have condemned us by asking what the basis was to reject the IPPIS? I can only imagine with the one week delay we had in payment of March salaries, what if the salaries were not paid at all, what would our members have said? Would they have agreed to go on rejecting IPPIS especially now that many of us are at home under COVID 19 lockdown with its additional expenses on feeding? We are not cowards but the truth be told, would our members have supported us?

There has been this allegation flying around that the union leaders joined IPPIS because of a purported increase in check off dues. While I would not want to go into the technicality of the check off dues issue, it may be necessary to point out that since January, we have practically not received any check off dues from Federal Universities because the GIFMIS application was virtually locked down and January union check off was not paid in most universities.  February and March union check off has not been released to the union because of the obvious tardiness of the IPPIS office. If individuals are suffering from IPPIS, even the unions that consented on behalf of the individuals are equally suffering it! The request has been made to NEC members to submit their branch membership lists so that the monies can be released and the earlier that is done, the better for the union. Let’s work on this please.

What is the way forward? Let me start by informing that the National leadership has commenced consultation with the leadership of other Tertiary Institutions based unions, NASU, NAAT, SSUCOEN, COEASU etc, with a view to having a joint decision on how to address the challenges and decide whether to stay with the IPPIS or not. Realizing that the problems seem to be the same across board, we shall be making a common front on all the issues. This is however not losing sight of the prevailing situation in the country and the lockdown with the consequence that the relevant Government offices are also affected. We shall however take action immediately by giving directions appropriately, communicating the IPPIS office to demand proper service and also make public/press statements on the issue. While the IPPIS office had explained that the Earned Allowances cannot be captured without a directive from the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission, the Commission has been communicated and we are expecting that they shall give the required directives to the IPPIS office sooner than later.

We shall also be requiring Branch leaders to collate and aggregate the complaints of members for onward transmission to individual University Bursary units who will in turn submit the complaints to the IPPIS office for correction. Working closely with the Bursaries would also help resolve the issues. It is our position that no case of wrong payment will be left unresolved and that nobody should be shortchanged on account of IPPIS. Lets also build the confidence of our members to bear with us. The decision to join IPPIS was taken in their best interests and we shall overcome whatever challenge it has presented to us. Let’s build the faith of our members in the union. When we run down organs of the union, individuals, NAC  and NEC, we are indirectly running down the union and prompting members to lose faith. That is not the way to go!

In the meantime however, I am impelled to plead that we be patient with ourselves and realize that more than ever, this is no time to throw tantrums and attacks at each other. At the level of NEC, we should be more pragmatic in addressing issues rather than just attacking ourselves and ultimately derailing most especially when most of the exchanges from the various divides are laced with political undertones and innuendos. Personally, I note that this is not good enough. We dissipate so much energy playing politics and attacking ourselves than really addressing issues that affect us and personally I feel sad. We are seriously derailing as a union because of this and we are gradually sinking the boat unknown to us all, myself inclusive! If we search our consciences and are truthful  to ourselves, we will realize that I have said nothing but the truth, no matter how bitter it may seem!

Like I had always admonished in times past, the role of information dissemination and propaganda is not the exclusive preserve of a National Officer. I would take liberty to cite the example of our sister union, ASUU. Despite world attention on the COVID 19 pandemic, their members are always writing articles in newspapers to draw attention to their ongoing struggles. The articles are usually not from NEC members alone but from even ordinary members in the Branches. Kindly recall that I had encouraged this issue of talking to the world through NEC members and Branch members in the past? Sadly, we seem to be a union that enjoys talking to itself and attacking itself rather than talking to the world and letting those in Government know our plight. I have often pointed out many skilled and intelligent writers who can take up such tasks. Despite my prodding and encouragement, they are more interested in blowing fabulous grammar and brilliant ideas on NEC platform than letting Nigerians know what SSANU members are going through.

Dear Colleagues, we need to change the narrative starting from now. We need to have our members (beyond the NPRO), writing articles, commentaries, letters to the editors, on our challenges and generally creating awareness of our experiences. The social media has even made it easier through Facebook, Twitter and blogs. There is a struggle ahead and we need to realise it. The earlier we so, the better for us!

Enough of in-fighting. IPPIS has thrown a new challenge and we need to overcome it!

Conclusively, the platform shall be reopened today. It is however not being reopened to continue our attacks on each other. It is being reopened in the belief and confidence that NEC members are matured enough to know that a heavy burden of salvaging the situation lies on them. Our members do not want to see how much attacks we give ourselves but the solutions to the problem on ground. This platform is therefore going to be reopened so that we can all find solutions to the problem devoid of sentimentality, emotions, name calling, blame trading and our yeye politics that has no bearing on the welfare of our members! I expect contributions to be tailored towards progress for the union and anybody who does not follow this train of thought shall be sanctioned.

I plead most humbly that we heed to this call. It’s a legal and moral obligation we owe our members and we should not fail. We shall not fail and SSANU shall not fail!

God will help us! God will help SSANU!


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