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ASUU Strike: NITDA Confirms IPPIS Did Not Pass Integrity Test Carried Out

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….. As Speaker Invites AGF, SGF, Minister of Labour, Budget Office, Others

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By Gloria Ikibah

The House of Representatives on Thursday expressed annoyance over the failure of the Federal Government to discontinue use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) which did not pass the integrity test carried out by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila stated this at the resumed fact finding meeting of the lingering strike declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the non-implementation of agreements signed with Federal Government.

Naijablitznews.com reports that this meeting is in continuation of the efforts to find solutions to the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Speaker of the House of Representatives alongside his deputy Rep. Ahmed Idris Wase and other leaders of the House on Thursday met with the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta, NITDA, among other government officials.

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The meeting was a follow up to an earlier one the Speaker held with ASUU officials on Tuesday, where issues related to the strike were discussed.

The Director Information technology and Infrastructure Solution Department of NITDA, Dr. Usman Abdullahi, revealed that the IPPIS adopted as payment platform which was conceptualized in 2006 and put to use since 2011 failed the integrity test conducted as a result of the controversy trailing the UTAS payment platform funded by ASUU in 2022.

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Dr. Abdullahi further stated that the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, had advised his counterparts on the failed IPPIS payment platform.

According to him, the Minister after the audit of various payment platforms directed NITDA to subject the three solutions: IPPIS as well as University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) to the Agency’s integrity tests.

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He said: “On the issue of advising government, NITDA is in a position to advise government. The Honourable Minister has been advising that this solution is payment systems particularly used by government have not gone through NITDA’s due diligence process.

“He (Minister) has been saying that and of course he has been mentioning that to his colleagues. And I’m sure as a result of that government said include IPPIS.

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“Now in response to your second question Honourable Speaker Sir, the IPPIS is what is currently in use by Government, so IPPIS is used by government, and so it is one that is domiciled in the Accountant General’s office”.

Talking about the unique features in all the three solutions, the Director affirmed that IPPIS is good in one, UTAS is good in another, U3PS is good in another, so in terms of rating, you have to look at all the three and then rate them accordingly.

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“So, that is something we felt is not at that point that we want. That would be at the point of advice, the expectation is that we should do all these tests, once they meet the due diligence requirements and then we will advise and say this is good and has passed the requirements however this is the grading.

“So, we feel we are not in a position at the moment because the issues with them are critical across board”.

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In a quick response to his submission, the Speaker who was angered by the recurring cases of corruption in the Accountant General’s office, maintained that NITDA should accept part of the responsibility for the failed IPPIS solution.

He said: “You know where I’m going with that question, okay let me explain to you. It means that the issues we had in the Accountant General’s office, it means that there is a problem with IPPIS itself otherwise we wouldn’t have that quantum and humongous deficiency whereby I’m not about any person, but an office drops the ball on that amount. IPPIS therefore should be queried”.

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On his part, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase, who queried the presentation of the NITDA official, said: “If you tell me that you carried out the test and they all failed and then you do not deem it fit to advise in the immediate to stop it.

“I think there’s no patriotism in that one, there’s no patriotism because if all the systems failed and then you allowed the one that has failed you to be of service to the nation. Are they of good service? And in your grading, exams are simple, you have a criteria to say A, B, C fail and that must be the reason to say this one fails and if you tell me you do not have the scorecard of the three.

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“I would say with all modest, you are not being honest. Your Excellency, going further we have the to put them on oath”.

Also, the chairman of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Mr Ekpo Nta, told the House leadership that in view of the general agitation in the tertiary education sector, the agency advised the government to look at the possibility of increasing the salaries of the staff in the entire sector, comprising universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.

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He however, said that at the end of the day, the government decided to increase the salaries of lecturers in the universities by a certain percentage, while professors were considered for higher percentage.

Nta disclosed that he was not aware of any agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU for salary increment.

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Also speaking at the meeting, the acting Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Sylva Okolieaboh, said under no circumstance should employees dictate to their employers how they should be paid, faulting ASUU’s insistence on UTAS.

The Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Folashade Yemi-Esan, confirmed that ‘Her Office’ received official correspondence from the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy following NITDA’s observations about IPPIS on the need to take a holistic look at the platform and that a Committee was set up to carry out the assignment.

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She noted that IPPIS is not just a payment platform but that it also has a human resource component, which all government agencies have been directed to activate, and that all the workers across MDAs have fully complied with the payment system.

After hours of deliberations, the Speaker suggested that a further follow-up meeting with ASUU officials be held on Thursday next week, which the stakeholders subscribed to. The meeting was, therefore, adjourned to Thursday next week.

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The Minister of Labour and productivity Chris Ngige, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Head of Civil service of the Federation, Accountant General of the Federation, Director General, Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta, Director General Budget Office among others are to appear before the lawmakers next week Thursday.

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Elderly Woman Falls On Her Knees To Pray For Peter Obi In Jos Rally

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As political campaigns for the 2023 general elections commenced on Wednesday, a elderly woman has been captured praying for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, during a solidarity rally held in Jos, Plateau State.

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The Director-General of the Obi-Datti Campaign organization, Doyin Okupe, in a tweet on Wednesday disclosed that the LP candidate and his vice, Datti Baba Ahmed, will attend the Jos rally although the party is yet to commence campaigns officially.

”Today in Jos, HE Peter Obi & his running mate Datti-Ahmed, will honour an invitation from the Middle Belt forum to attend a solidarity rally. We are yet to commence our own campaigns.

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To comfort our students, We urge the FG to quickly resolve the lingering ASSU Crisis,” the tweet read.

Amongst persons seen at the venue to welcome the LP flag bearer was an elderly woman on her knees in the midst of other supporters praying for Peter Obi at the Rwang Pam Stadium Jos, Plateau state.

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UNIBEN releases post-UTME, DE screenings date

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The University of Benin has fixed dates for its Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Direct Entry screenings for 2022/2023 session.

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The university in a notice by its Registrar, Ademola Bobola on Wednesday in Benin, said the exercise would hold between Nov. 14 and 25.

Bobola said the screening would be conducted in designated centres at the Ugbowo main campus of the institution, using the Computer Based Test mode.

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“Only candidates who applied through JAMB for the 2022/2023 UTME and Direct Entry admission and chose the University of Benin as First Choice and scoring 200 and above for UTME candidates are eligible for this screening exercise,” the registrar said.

Bobola, however, referred admission seekers to the institution to the university’s official website.

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Presidency denies authorising Katsina security outfit to carry arms

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The Presidency has denied that any state has been issued authorisation to procure automatic weapons for its security outfit.

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Last week, Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu had accused the Federal Government of bias in refusing to allow the Western Nigeria Security Network Agency, also known as Amotekun Corps, to carry sophisticated firearms, while allegedly granting approval to the Katsina State security outfit to carry sophisticated firearms.

That was as the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba said that quasi-security outfits established by state governments have no legal basis to function during the 2023 general elections.

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In a statement on Tuesday, the Presidency said the possession of automatic weapons and AK-47 remains illegal in the country.

“The Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorized to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits,” the statement reads.

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“Under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them”.

The Presidency however said neither Katsina nor Ondo is allowed to purchase automatic weapons for security outfits.

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“Under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorization, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.

“In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their vigilantes for a five-day period….

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“in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,” emphasising that “the vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them”.

The Presidency added that it “appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities”.

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President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying he has received reports “of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism” by operatives of state security outfits.

“He thanked them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels”, the statement added.

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Furthermore, the Presidency called on leaders at various levels “to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season”.

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