Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government said on Wednesday, that public universities in Nigeria could best be described as the epicentre of academic, financial and administrative fraud, and have been responsible for poor record of academic excellence and amazing research breakthrough.
The government, however, vowed to purge the public universities system of massive fraud which has taken a heavy toll on the system, in spite of perceived “resistance” from the university-based labour unions, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, told journalists in Abuja, that ASUU’s resistance to the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), was a pointer that some fraudulent activities have been happening in the system over the years, particularly the payroll system.
He regretted the fact that ASUU has been feeding the public with false claims and information about IPPIS that has tremendously checked payroll fraud in the public service in the country.
He disclosed that about 70 per cent of workforce in the 37 federal universities had fully enrolled in the IPPIS platform leaving 30 percent of the workers, mostly the ASUU members who had refused to enroll.
Echono said: “The fraud in the universities is amazing and you will be shocked to know that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) did a system check recently and the discoveries were shocking. The worst two organisations mentioned were the teaching hospitals and public universities.
“As the accounting officer of the Ministry of Education, I can tell you that there is massive fraud going on there. No university is an exception. We may not have the records in state universities but you can imagine what the case would be there. It’s not peculiar to universities. We had similar problems in the public service before IPPIS was introduced but that has been significantly minimised.
“Agencies would claim they have 1,000 staff but checks would show otherwise. In fact, when we migrated to IPPIS, there were so many secret recruitments just to see how to close the gap.
“If you recruit somebody today, you cannot put him or her on the nominal roll of two years ago. So, if you ask them for the nominal roll of three years ago, there are two things they would do. They would either give the correct thing which will show that they never had them or they would put fake names there and claim that those people were there before but they left. However, there are ways to verify.”
He debunked claims by ASUU that their salaries were stopped because of non-enrolment on the IPPIS platform, saying many other agencies of government who are on IPPIS were not paid February salaries because of financial challenges.
Efforts to reach ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, was unsuccessful. He didn’t pick calls placed on his two phone numbers, neither did he reply to a text message sent to his two phone numbers.