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Strike: ASUU Slams NITDA DG over Report on UTAS

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday accused the Director General of the National Information Technology and Development Agency (NITDA), Inuwa Abdullahi, of deliberately  misinforming the federal government and members of the public, on the result of the integrity test conducted  on University Transparency  and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

UTAS, is a payment platform, developed by ASUU to replace the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), allegedly imposed by the World Bank and which is one of the issues, that necessitated the ongoing strike by lecturers of public universities in Nigeria.

 The Lagos Zone of ASUU, at a news conference held at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAB), on the lingering strike, said the deliberate misinformation by  Abdullahi, was capable of elongating the strike

Addressing journalists, the Coordinator of the Lagos Zone of ASUU, Comrade Adelaja Odukoya, said if government allows itself to be misinformed and misdirected through the managerial incompetence of the NITDA officers, the union has it as a duty to properly inform the public on the true state of things regarding UTAS.

Odukoya said that the IPPIS was imposed on the universities, despite its demonstrated shortcomings.

He said: “Governments forceful migration of our members unto the platform, even when our union has clearly demonstrated that the system does not accommodate the peculiarities of the university system should not just worry Nigerians but should equally raise the curiosity of lovers of Nigerians on the main reasons for imposing IPPIS.

“IPPIS is a bastion of fraud that permits the enrolment of ghost workers and constitute financial drain on the scarce resource of the Nigerian State.

“IPPIS, as a payment platform is yet to be subjected to any Integrity Test by the government. Our union challenged government to similarly subject IPPIS to Integrity Test as done to UTAS by independent technical teams.”

“NITDA was directed to conduct Integrity Test on the UTAS platform before deployment by government. However, in a report of the first test sent to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami on December 3rd, 2021, NITDA indicated that the UTAS platform failed some fundamental test cases, despite a summary score of 97.4% and therefore, declined issuance of Certificate of Compliance. ASUU however, disagreed with the NITDA report and wondered how 97.4% could have amounted to failure.

“Consequent upon this disagreement, it was agreed at a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment that joint re-assessment tests between the technical teams of ASUU and NITDA be conducted and these were done on Tuesday March 8th  Friday 18th, 2022. Expectedly, the assessment of all the 698 tests conducted was successful with an overall score of 99.3 per cent. The few exceptions are five (5) cases requiring modifications.

“However, while the re-assessment tests were ongoing, the DG, NITDA released misleading information to the public from the discredited report of the first test that UTAS failed again, leaving out the result of the jointly conducted second test of 99.3 per cent. Our Union then wonders how and where 99.3 per cent test score would be adjudged as fail”.

“We are aware that the position of the DG, NITDA,  Abdullahi, is not consistent with the enthusiasm of the Technical Team from the agency he superintends over and the DG is unduly politicizing the entire process to the disadvantage of the country, possibly in the interest of the Minister for Communication and Digital Economy.”

“Their dispositions amount to passing a vote of no confidence on the Nigerian intelligentsia and our union would not allow this to fly. Good enough, we are convinced that the Technical Team from NITDA, are quite abreast of the process and the responsibilities around their certified qualifications.

“ASUU therefore, wants the Nigerian public to call the DG, NITDA to order on the point of integrity not to play politics and vendetta with the future of Nigeria and that of our public Universities as National treasures and collective patrimony of all Nigerian citizens”.

“We are convinced that the DG of NITDA is only out to carry out the hatchet job of a Minister whose Professorial fraud was challenged by our Union. 

“After the second re-assessment tests that ended on March 18, 2022, ASUU and NITDA technical teams agreed to reconvene on Monday March 28, 2022 to conclude on the outstanding five test cases, demonstration of the payment gateway and implementation of other recommendations on the UTAS Platform. Surprisingly, NITDA on Wednesday March 23rd, 2022 unilaterally cancelled the scheduled meeting of Monday March 28th 2022 which was intended to conclude the report for onward submission to the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment.

“It has become very clear to our union that the unilateral cancellation of the meeting of Monday March 28th was a proof that NITDA has come to the final stop and admitted failure in all the orchestrated unpatriotic attempts to sabotage and discredit UTAS which an otherwise forward looking government would be finding ways of deploying beyond the Nigerian public universities for which it was designed. It can therefore not be over-emphasised that government has ran out of reasons and lies not to accept, approve and adopt UTAS.

The Union therefore declared that the strike would not be suspended until government addresses the adoption of UTAS, implement the renegotiated agreement, pay all outstanding allowances and fulfil all other issues contained in the Memorandum of Action signed with our Union.

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