Has the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) suddenly realised that its members are being short changed by the use of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) to pay salaries? Since January 2020 when polytechnics lecturers agreed to enrol in the IPPIS based on the directive of ASUP, it has been complains galore with no solution.
Unlike the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which rejected IPPIS, sister unions in the Nigerian University System and others in the Polytechnics System as well as Colleges of Education directed their members to enrol in the new payment platform.
Though ASUU members were enrolled into IPPIS in May 2020, the leadership of the union said the Federal Government did so through the back door as individual members not did register on the new platform as directed by their national body.
Every month when lecturers in the federal polytechnics are paid salaries, it has been lamentation galore. Members of ASUP have continued to inundate their branch chairmen every month with different complaints as soon as salaries are paid via IPPIS.
The Education Report gathered that the complaints range from short changed salaries, to unexplained deductions, non-remittance of union check off dues, non-payment of certain approved allowances and members pursuing academic programmes such as masters and PhD were not paide their salaries.
It was learnt that the payment of February salary generated ripples in the 36 federal polytechnics prompting the ASUP to officially protest to the Federal Government. From Federal Polytechnics, Oko to Federal Polytechnics, Offa; Yaba College of Technology; Kaduna Polytechnics; Federal Polytechnics Ilaro; Federal Polytechnics, Ede; Federal Polytechnics, Nekede; Federal Polytechnics, Bida to Federal Polytechnics, Mubi; it has been the same complaints by lecturers since they registered with IPPIS.
A lecturer at the Federal Polytechnics, Ede, Osun State, said before the IPPIS, the polytechnics experienced short-fall in fund released by government to pay salaries. He alleged that lecturers were not short changed like what is happening currently. He said some of his colleagues were worried because their February salaries were amputated by IPPIS: “Some went home with less than N50,000 while many were not even paid.”
At YABATECH, the situation is the same as some lecturers got half or less of their February salaries and several others were not even paid. The situation at YABATECH is compounded because some lecturers said the ASUP chairman and secretary who would have taken up the case with the national leadership are under indefinite suspension by the college management.
Reports from other federal polytechnics indicate that the workers are disenchanted about the amputated salaries they received since February 2020. They expressed concern about the non-payment of approved allowances, check-off dues and deduction of loans.
As at May 23, 2020, 80 per cent of polytechnic staff nationwide had not received their April salaries. The Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, in a circular on May 4, 2020, to calm the nerves of staff over the discrepancies noticed in the payment of salaries through IPPIS, appealed for understanding.
It stated that allowances like excess workload, hazard and over-time are not affected in the new platform for payment of salary. It explained that peculiar allowance of seven per cent for academic and five per cent for non-academic staff was restored after it was stopped:
“A template has been developed for staff on study leave abroad and are now included in April payroll for payment of February, March and April salaries. Monthly deductions to staff cooperative and bank loans repayments now affected with April salary as a starting month.
“Names and data of staff that are yet to be captured in the previous month payrolls were forwarded for immediately action. They are expected to receive February and/or March salary along with April salary. The four per cent and 3.5 per cent shortfall in March peculiar allowance of academic and non-academic staff was included in the April payroll.’’
The Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State, in its circular on May 6, 2020, by the Registrar, said workers with mixed-up in the salary structure, CONPCASS, used instead of CONTEDISS, the corrections have been effected:
“There are also cases of staff studying abroad who have not been paid February and March salaries, they have been captured and arrears of two months have been payroll for payment. Cases of omission of two staff on IPPIS captured in April trial payroll have been ratified. Annual step increment and its arrears have been restored and reflected in the April trial payroll for payment.
“Non capturing of staff who are to draw shifting allowances have been affected and forwarded to IPPIS for payment. Those with overpayment cases are to see the Assistant Chief Accountant in Bursary Department, where RRR will be generated for refund. Other related complaints such as cut in the peculiar allowances in March salaries have been corrected and reflected in April trial payroll for payment by IPPIS.”
Apparently worried by series of complaints from members, ASUP’s Secretary General, Shammah Kpanja, on May 15, 2020, traced the late payment of salaries to the usurpation of pay-rolling duty of polytechnics by the OGAF through the IPPIS. He observed that the sector has been replete with tales of woes since the takeover of salary payment by IPPIS:
“In February and March, staff in the sector consistently received their salaries in the second week of successive months. The amount released as salaries to staff varied from the unbelievable to the ridiculous. No pay slips were released to the staff to provide details to unable an interpretation of the dance steps in the new macabre dance.
“Payments were greeted with omissions, underpayments, lack of implementation of promotions and annual increments, lack of third party deductions, unacceptable tax rates and mutilations in allowances.”
He disclosed that assurances of improvement by OGAF in the payment system to address the issues raised have, as is now the norm after each month’s debacle, resulted in even fresh challenges. He said as at May 15, 2020, only staff members of one federal polytechnic were paid their April salaries without allowances: “The remaining federal polytechnics have been left to contend with selective payment of April salaries.”
Angered by the woes been experienced by its members with regards to the use of IPPIS to pay salaries, the union explained that in some of the polytechnics, the situation is as bad as 80 per cent of staff have not received their April salaries, adding that various sums deducted as union check off dues since February are yet to be remitted to the unions:
“The usual attempt at explanations of this unusual event by the responsible agency of government has been incoherent and unsatisfactory and as a result, thousands of families and their dependants have been left hungry and even at this difficult period.
“Our union is worried that in the midst of these challenges, the media is awash with reports of billions of naira saved from the deployment of the IPPIS. Thus far, the system has proved a colossal failure in our sector with legitimate earnings of members trapped in an opaque manner.”
ASUP demanded quick response from government as regards a reversal to the former payment system and confirmed that the request was further reinforced at the union’s National Executive Council meeting resolution of March 2020 to withdraw the services of members if the challenges associated with IPPIS are not resolved in a sustainable manner:
“The nation should therefore hold government responsible for any eventual post-pandemic shutdown of the system, as ample time has been given for a rectification of the challenges identified and communicated to the government as contained in the union’s NEC resolution of March 2020.”