Flaws and dysfunction of the federal government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) are breeding anger and discontent among staff of tertiary institutions of learning, two years after the payment system was introduced to cut payroll fraud.
Workers complain of irregularities in payment of salaries; inaccurate capturing; lack of implementation of allowances; remittance of loans to cooperative organisations; non-implementation of responsibility and hazard allowances; third party deductions, such as tax, pension, union, bank loans; non-use of pay slip; lack of motivation, poor productivity and other challenges.
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Leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) particularly opposed the system and called for its replacement with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) introduced by the union.
The IPPIS is a department under the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and responsible for payment of salaries and wages directly to federal government employees’ bank accounts after appropriate deductions and remittances.
It was introduced with five basic functions – management of staff records, timely and accurate payment of salaries and wages of federal employees, deduction of taxes and other third party dues, remittance of payroll deductions to third parties, enrolment of employees into the system.
It is implemented in ministries, departments, agencies and local governments after their pay rolls had been moved into the system following a directive from President Mahammadu Buhari to reform various human resource functions.
Daily Trust gathered that when the federal government first introduced the IPPIS in 2013/2014, it was rejected because of what some workers considered as pitfalls.
A lecturer in the University of Maiduguri, who preferred anonymity, said the IPPIS had been infested with numerous challenges, especially delay in the payment of salaries. He said lecturers who did not enroll in the system but were indirectly registered hardly received salaries on time.
“Lecturers who were unable to enroll in the system always experience delay in payment of their salaries. For instance, most of us are yet to receive our September salaries, a week after payment. All these have adversely affected productivity in the university system because those affected lack motivation,” he said.
He added that unnecessary deductions of salaries were effected without cogent reasons and explanation, even as pay slips are not issued.
“The only way out is for the system to harmonise with the UTAS as agreed with the unions,” he said.
Also, a non-teaching staff in the university said the IPPIS had been fraught with some anomalies and must give way to UTAS.
Meanwhile, chairman of the ASUU, University of Maiduguri branch, Dr Abubakar Saidu, who said the anomalies had been a gradual occurrence and had forced the union to reject it, recommended UTAS as its replacement.
“We totally reject IPPIS because it is against the welfare of our people,” he said.
Saidu also alleged that lecturers who had been promoted still received salaries of their previous job positions for two years. He added that all efforts to correct and improve the system had proved abortive.
He also said productivity had dropped because of delayed salaries. He noted that deductions and other inconsistencies associated with the IPPIS called for its replacement.
Lecturers at Moddibo Adama University, Yola, also complained of poor implementation of the IPPIS.
A former chairman of the ASUU, Dr. Sadiq Abubakar Umar, who also upbraided the implementation of the system in payment of staff salaries and allowances, said he refused to get enrolled because the platform was not flexible enough to cater for some staff entitlements.
“There is a good number of us that have not enrolled because it is not good for us. It is not flexible. If you are promoted you cannot get promotion arrears. All those that enrolled have not got any arrears.
“From March, N83,000 has been deducted monthly from my salary for no reason. I wrote several letters through my bursar for rectification, but to no avail. Even if you are not on the platform, they have your details,” Umar said.
Another lecturer, Umar Yobe, said those who participated in strike to protest implementation expressed hoped that the system would be integrated into an alternative platform presented to the federal government by the ASUU for more effective management of staff salaries and other payments.
“I am not on the IPPIS because ASUU rejected it and went on strike to stop its implementation, but some of our staff were enrolled.
“Part of the condition for calling off the strike was that we must not be enrolled. We have some peculiarities the IPPIS has not addressed,” Yobe stated.
However, Muhammad Aliyu Sulaiman said he was comfortable with the platform despite its shortcomings.
“The problem with the IPPIS is that there is no specific date for salary payment. For instance, September salary was paid on October 5.
“I have not received promotion salary arrears since the COVID-19 lockdown and I do not know where to lodge my complaint. However, I am comfortable with the system so far,” he stated.
Meanwhile, members of staff of the Federal University, Gashua (FUGA), Yobe State, have described payment of their salaries through the IPPIS as doing more harm than good.
One of the affected lecturers who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity alleged that lecturers were shortchanged under the system.
“Another implication is that those of us not enrolled in the system are not receiving our salaries on time. I can confidently tell you that there is more difficulty in the system, compared to our previous payment arrangement, which is simple and transparent,” he said.
A source confided in Daily Trust that the system is tricky because there were instances he received salary twice in a month.
“Surprisingly, after the alerts, I received a call from someone who claimed to be an IPPIS official, asking me to send the second payment to another account. You can see how corrupt it is,” he said.
The chairman of the university’s branch of ASUU, Dr Abatcha Malami, said only 110 academic staff were enrolled on the IPPIS, while about 246 were yet to be captured.
He said all outstanding salaries had been paid, hence none of his members is complaining about salary, except that of September.
Malami, however, admitted that there were a lot of challenges with the IPPIS because it is not consistent with the lecturers’ entitlements, based on the university’s peculiarities.
“There is more corruption in the system because some of my members have told me that they were overpaid and someone asked them to send the money to another account. But I advised them not to send money to any person, but refund it to the government, and I believe most of them have complied,” he said.
The secretary of the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Mr Abubakar Abdulkarim, said there was no stability in payment as salaries are delayed until the first or second week of another month.
Professor Haruna Musa, a lecturer in Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and the chairman of ASUU said, “Since this payment system was introduced, our members have been demoralised due to underpayment and non-payment of salaries, as well as other problems. For instance, there was a professor who was paid N8,000 as his salary.
“There are lots of peculiarities with Nigerian universities, which the IPPIS has failed to address.
“Our members are now faced with the problem of unexplained deductions. Voluntary dues are now made compulsory and staff are not even sure of getting their salaries when due. The system has a lot of shortcomings.
“Alternatively, the UTAS was developed by ASUU researchers to take care of all those shortcomings. Its implementation is even part of the memorandum of understanding we signed with the federal government, yet, there is nothing on ground,” Professor Musa said.
A non-academic staffer in the university who pleaded anonymity said the introduction of the payment system had made him lose almost N26,000 from his monthly salary.
Also, a lecturer in the Kano University of Science and Technology (KUST), Wudil, Dr Murtala Muhammad, accused the federal government of imposing the system on them based on World Bank’s recommendation as a means of getting loans.
Muhammad, who is also the ASUU secretary in the institution said, “This system is emasculating education entirely. That is why we are fighting it. You are not supposed to enforce policies on universities because they are supposed to be autonomous. You don’t just sit down in Abuja and make policies, just to get loans from World Bank,” he said.
A lecturer in the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “There is inconsistency in the IPPIS payment, as well as deduction of salaries from one month to another. We don’t know why our salaries are being cut. There are allowances that a lecturer is supposed to collect. For example, our voucher contains all our allowances, but the IPPIS does not include them in our salaries. They are not paying us the allowances we are entitled to.
Also, a lecturer in the University of Jos, who did not want his name mentioned, said many lecturers had continued to witness salary reductions since the introduction of the IPPIS.
He said, “It is very painful, in the sense that inflation is very high now. One is expecting a certain amount for expenditure, and then, all of a sudden you see a different thing. It affects you seriously.
“When you complain, you may stay for a month or two without your salary because you will be told that they are working to effect the correction. These issues affect us psychologically and our attitude to our duties.”
A non-academic staff of the university said, “During the signing of the memo, they didn’t tell us about this kind of tax deduction. Initially, they told us that they wanted to detect those collecting double salaries, but it is not like that. We no longer receive our allowances like before.”
The chairman of the university’s ASUU, Lazarus Maigoro, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the problem had persisted. “For associate professors, by our agreement with the federal government, retirement age is 70, but the IPPIS is retiring them at 65. This is one of the reasons we created the UTAS payment platform, but the government is dragging its feet in accepting it and spending billions of naira on the IPPIS that is not an efficient but a fraudulent platform,” he added.
The ASUU chairman of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Professor Gbolahn Bolarin, told our correspondent that aside from underpayment of salaries, majority of the academic staff in the institution had not received their promotion allowances.
“The recent experience that three academic staff in my own institution had was that they were above 65 years of age and already on professorial cadre. So, in July 2021, they did not pay them. They stopped their salaries. But later, they reinstated them and they were paid their July and August salaries.
“They refused to pay people that did not enroll their promotion arrears. It is more or less like a divisive tactics so that people would be forced to join the IPPIS,” he said.
A senior academic staff who did not want his name mentioned confirmed the anomalies and malpractices in the IPPIS.
He said, “For our staff in the cooperative, some people’s money would just go to another university. We had one of our members whose money was not paid in full for one particular month. When we checked, we found out that part of his money was deducted and taken to one Bisi in Kano State. He had to write before it was rectified.”
However, the chairman the SSANU, FUT Minna chapter, Comrade Abubakar Aliyu, told our correspondent that aside the non-implementation of responsibility and hazard allowances of the union and members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), there was the issue of no-remittance of loans taken by staff to the cooperative society.
“Cooperative societies have been shortchanged. I know this because I am an official of one of them. You will give loans and it cannot be removed from a lot of people. We have this problem intermittently,” he said.
He said that when the non-teaching staff accepted to join the IPPIS, it was with the understanding that their allowances would be implemented alongside salaries, but this is a case they are still battling with.
Comrade Aliyu advised the federal government to ensure that salary computation is done in the universities. “What the federal government should do is to crosscheck and pay. It will serve everybody better if salaries are prepared from the university or any tertiary institution; then take it to the IPPIS to effect payment,” he said.
A non-academic staffer at the vice chancellor’s office described the situation as pathetic.
“I don’t know if the issue is deliberate or not. Sometimes, between N5,000 and N8,000 is deducted. There was a case where a staffer who was supposed to receive about N300,000 was paid less by over N100,000. The deductions are not uniform and do not accommodate payment of allowances at all,” he said.
The ASUU chairman of the University of Ilorin, Professor Moyosore Saliu, told Daily Trust on Sunday that complaints about the IPPIS had shown that the union’s opposition to the system was not sentimental.
“We have maintained that the platform is a fraud. That is why we provided the UTAS, which is a more credible platform that exposes all the corrupt practices of government. Now, even the IPPIS staffers have come over to complain about it. It is not flexible to accommodate university peculiarities,” he said.
The NASU chairman of the university, Ibrahim Suberu said, “We are not satisfied with the service. Every month, the anomalies continue without corrections, yet, they keep making promises. Promotions are not effected, and when the promotion is late, no arrears is paid. Most of our allowances were stopped. There was a circular in May approving two allowances for us from the wages commission, which have not been implemented up till now.”
Some members of the teaching and non-teaching staff of the University of Lagos also said they were not comfortable with the payment platform, saying it has ended up shortchanging them.
Comrade Ajibade Kehinde described the payment platform as a scam, alleging that workers of the university are being shortchanged on a monthly basis.
He alleged that the payment platform had been characterised by arbitrary deductions from members’ salaries.
He said over 400 non-teaching staff who enrolled on the IPPIS were yet to get their August salaries.
“The IPPIS is a failure. When we get our salaries they over charge us on tax, which is deducted from gross instead of basic. Also, when deductions are made for third parties, they are not remitted on time. This has also made it difficult for us to access loans from the cooperative society because they always complained of not getting their money from the IPPIS,” he said.
He also said the federal government had failed to pay some allowances, which it promised to pay them via the platform.
“Also, the federal government has failed to pay some allowances we expect from them, such as earned allowances. It deceived Nigerian workers to enroll on the IPPIS. Before now, the federal government paid university workers through a platform called GIFMIX, but since we were migrated to the IPPIS, my allowances have not been regular.”
A senior lecturer in the school also said, “Before the IPPIS, there were some allowances peculiar to our job, like the rent allowance and others, which we get upfront to enable us pay our house rents, but with the IPPIS, it is no longer so.”
He noted that the SSANU, which supported the initiative initially, is now regretting because it doesn’t recognise the allowances that workers enjoy.
“We have been shortchanged while some don’t even get their salaries. The union check-off dues are not duly remitted and there is no one to complain to,” he added.
Findings from some academic staff of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, also disclosed that the IPPIS payment system is replete with corruption as people under the system are made to part with a large chunk of their salaries as taxes.
An associate professor in the Faculty of Business Administration in the University of Uyo said, “The federal government uses the IPPIs to pay us, and is taxing us so high. The tax is too much, and it is dependent on individual grade level. The tax is eating deep into our pay. They now deduct up to N20,000, N25,000 and N30,000, where the deductions used to be about N10,000 before now. There are also other inconsistencies,” he said.
He said they were waiting on the ASUU to convince the government to use the UTAS created by the union instead of the IPPIS.
The immediate past chairman of the ASUU in the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Austin Sado, who spoke with our correspondent in Port Harcourt, said the IPPIS was not designed for universities. He said the implementation of the system is in violation of extant law and not satisfying the needs of those it was meant for.
Dr Sado said some lecturers in the university had their salaries stopped since the implementation of the programme, without any cogent reason.
But the federal government has threatened to prosecute civil servants who are sabotaging the implementation of the IPPIS, according to the laws.
AGF keeps mum
The Accountant General of the Federation Mr. Ahmed Idris did not comment on the IPPIS crises.
Our correspondent called his mobile line but he didn’t take his call and he did not return it as at press time. Also text messages sent to his mobile phone were not returned as at press time.
Also the Director information, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Henshaw Ogubike, did not reply to messages sent to his mobile phone as at press time.
The AGF had in the past insisted that there will be no going back on the use of IPPIS on university workers, like all other employees of the federal government.
By: Clement Adeyi Chris (Abuja); Misbahu Bashir (Maiduguri); Kabiru R. Anwar (Yola); Ibrahim Baba Saleh (Damaturu); Sani Ibrahim Paki (Kano); Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos); Abubakar Akote (Minna); Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin); Abdulkadir Shehu (Kaduna); Christiana T. Alabi (Lagos); Iniabasi Umo (Uyo) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)