By Egena Sunday Ode, Abuja
The Federal Government has declared as shocking and illegal, the two-week warning strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over disagreements on Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Wednesday, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige dismissed the insinuation that the industrial current industrial action by the university lecturers is a warning strike.
According to him, there is nothing like warning strike when services are withdrawn.
The Minister said the strike is illegal especially when the union failed to give the mandatory notice of their action to the Federal Government as stipulated by the ILO laws.
Stating that labour laws do not allow the employee to dictate to the employer, Ngige said it is grand corruption when workers get pay for work not done as a result of strikes.
Ngige explained that government had made it abundantly clear to ASUU that the peculiarities of its members would not be a hindrance to their being captured by the IPPIS, saying that the only thing government wanted to prevent was double salary collecting by any individual.
The Minister said: “This story started two years ago when they first presidential directive was given, for all public servants to be captured on the IPPIS so that the Federal Government to know those they are paying and to block leakages. ASUU agrees with us that the leakages and the corruption needs to be tackled but they are saying that they a special characteristic in that some lecturers teach in more than one university, that some lecturers go on sabbatical and while on sabbatical they teach in other university.
“So government has consistently made it clear that based on peculiarities IPPIS can capture you. The only thing IPPIS does is that it doesn’t allow you to take double salary. It won’t also pay a BVN two times. That is it..
“So these allowances are captured but IPPIS will not capture two salaries for one person.
“So I was shocked on Monday, I read and saw some people coming out of the university that lecturers have gone on strike. I have my children in Nigerian university and I saw them and it is not very cherry news. They didn’t give us the mandatory notice before going on strike. So for a start, this strike is illegal. They said it is a warning striking but there is nothing like warning strike. A strike is withdrawal of services for which you are being paid. Then the question will arise, if you don’t go to work, do you want to be paid? Is it not corruption? So this is the dilemma.
“So to solve the dilemma I have invited them to the meeting for tomorrow (Thursday). I have invited the minister of education, their principal employer, the finance ministry and the accountant general of the federation.
‘So, we hope to solve the problems. ASUU are Nigerians, they are patriotic but tomorrow we hope to engage them.”
Speaking on the outcome of the weekly cabinet meeting, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola, announced the withdrawal of the 15km Ninth Mile-Enugu highway from the contractor presently handling its handing over to Messr RCC at a new contract sum of N29.4 billion, with a completion period of 24 months.
Similarly, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanunu said his ministry presented a memo seeking approval of N13.9billion intervention fund for control of pests, quelea birds and animal diseases which council approved.