University lecturers, whose February and March salaries were withheld, were asked to submit their bank verification numbers (BVNs) to avoid double payment.
The federal government had embargoed the salaries of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members in federal universities for refusing to register on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
However, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week directed that the salaries be paid in view of the economic difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
But one of the conditions given for the payment is that the lecturers should submit their BVNs to their respective vice-chancellors for onward transmission to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
ASUU had since reacted to the president’s gesture, saying it welcomed it as a way of creating room for dialogue but added that its members would not submit their BVNs to the Accountant General’s Office.
The union described the demand as a ploy to enroll them into IPPIS through the “back-door.”
The top official with the Federal Ministry of Finance, however, explained to THISDAY yesterday that the government’s demand was a revalidation to know those lecturers who had earlier received their February and March salaries under the (IPPIS) and also those on sabbatical leave.
According to him, the government is also seeking ways to temporarily accommodate some of the peculiarities involved in the payment of salaries to the lecturers.
“ASUU’s money has been released for payment of the withheld salaries with presidential approval. So, the only thing is for them to put up a temporary agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General’s Office through their vice-chancellors and then the payment will be effected.
“The second condition is for the ASUU members to go and revalidate their records with BVN, so as to assist us in knowing those who have received their pay through the IPPIS platform and those who are not around because they are on sabbatical or something else. This will also enable those doing ad hoc teaching in other universities to present their request for that extra payment. That is simply the basis for that revalidation,” he said.
The official described ASUU’s position that the revalidation is a ploy to bring back IPPIS through the back door as misinformation.
“They are playing politics with the wellbeing of their members and their families. If you remember the president approved the payment of the withheld salaries on compassionate ground, to assist in the main members of their families,” he added.
He said: “There are some who collected February and March salaries and there are those who did not collect. In this category of those who did not collect, most of them are those who are not on IPPIS. Those on IPPIS have received their own salaries. Those who have not received salaries are in various categories; there are those who are not present in their universities and they are on strike.
“Those are the group we want to pay. Some are not in the universities physically; some are overseas or on sabbatical outside the country, while others are on leave of absence overseas.
“Also some of the lecturers are teaching in more than one university as adjuncts. So, we want to compartmentalize them stage by stage, which ASUU has been pointing as peculiarities. Those peculiarities are now what we are taking up to pay temporarily. So, the various vice-chancellors will do the compartmentalisation and send it with a special request.
“ASUU does not want to understand this position of the government, they want the money to be brought in bulk so they would then be sharing as they like. Nobody will do that.”
The official explained that the old platform under which ASUU and the universities received monies in bulk from the federal government for salaries is no longer operational.
“Nobody is being paid salaries on that platform, it is extinguished and dead,” he added.
The official stated that ASUU members stopped teaching with effect from March 9, when they began an indefinite strike, adding that for the president to agree to pay them for the extra 21 days between March 9 and the end of March was out of “compassion and goodwill.”
National President of the union, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, had in a reaction to the Buhari’s directive, said the strike would not be called off.
Ogunyemi said ASUU members would not submit their BVNs to the vice-chancellors or agree to forward it to the Accountant General of the Federation for the payments.
“Our strike is not just about the IPPIS. I am believing the government will agree to pay our members using the old platform because we don’t submit BVN before. Our members will not accept BVN and I believe they will see our point,” he said.