Indications have emerged that the current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, may continue despite the Federal government’s acceptance of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as proposed by them.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the government has no money to procure the necessary hardware for the immediate implementation of the UTAS
Ngige had while speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja the hurdles remain even if the government accepts the payment mode for lecturers who have rejected being placed on Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS), ASUU
He said the federal government did not make any budgetary provision for the procurement of the UTAS hardware.
Ngige, however, said the government has already forwarded the UTAS software to the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for integrity test, saying that government will not want to discourage any Nigerian from providing homegrown solutions to issues.
Ngige who revealed that the government has not shifted grounds on its negotiations with ASUU, added ” the University Transparent System which they brought is not yet ready. It is not fully ready, it is undergoing an integrity test for the software. I am not a computer scientist, but you must also know that you must test the hardware in the integrity test for the software.
Ngige also revealed that there are some grey areas to clear adding that the meeting scheduled for sometime this week was called to tackle those areas. ” I am waiting for one or two reports before I communicate a date to them.
“As we speak, ASUU has no hardware and UTAS does not have hardware backing.
“I am waiting for the NITDA full report but the preliminary report they gave me, the software integrity test will take them about six to eight weeks, and thereafter, we go to the hardware. But the big issue is, who will provide the hardware?
“ASUU doesn’t have the finances to do so. Has the government budgeted for it now as we speak? So, that one is a major problem. But we don’t have to dissuade anybody, we don’t have to tell anybody not to carry on, we like local content development, we need our things to be homegrown. So, we are really encouraging them.
“By the time we finish with this other software test to look at its capacity, its ability to withstand shock and hacking, etc, the hardware test is in, hacking and security. So, by the time we finish it, we will decide on what to do.
“But do not also forget that we need to have something for us to make payment to them as we speak. For those that have got into the system, they have pointed out some of the deficiencies and they are being corrected. it’s work in progress.”
Ngige noted that since ASUU opted out of physical meetings with the government because of the outbreak of Covid-19, the sessions are just about to resume.
He added: “As you know ASUU is on strike which they started on March 9, 2020, to be precise. We have held negotiation meetings, they opted out of the negotiation meetings during the COVID-19 period because they said they don’t want virtual meetings. So, we have just resumed our meeting.
“The major report is the report from the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as per the system developed by ASUU which the government sent to them for integrity test.”