Seye Ojo, Ibadan and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja 

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has warned the Federal Government that its members would embark on industrial action as soon as universities reopen if their conditions were not met.

National Vice President of SSANU, Mr. Alfred Jimoh, made the disclosure when he addressed journalists in Ibadan over the looming strike, saying the hope of having a peaceful post-COVID-19 industrial harmony in federal varsities would only be a mirage except issues such as unpaid arrears of earned allowances, inadequacies of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), and double deduction of pension were addressed.

On why the association is opposing IPPIS, Jimoh stated that the platform did not accommodate all the peculiarities of the university system, adding that just as the Academic Staff Union of of Universities (ASUU)  developed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as alternative to IPPIS, SSANU has also developed an alternative platform, University General Purpose Payment Platform (UG3P).

Meanwhile, 39 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have described the decision by federal lawmakers to go on vacation at a time the country was severely impacted by COVID-19 as ill-advised, ill-timed and unhelpful as it fuels all forms of conspiracy theories and attempt to cover up fraud.

In a statement, the CSOs, noted that the National Assembly sat for only 149 days instead of 181 days prescribed by the constitution, adding that they expected the lawmakers to have devised means of extending their plenary sittings to meet  the constitutionally-mandated 181 sitting days in a legislative year given the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CSOs said they had expected the lawmakers to bring to conclusions the high profile public hearings and investigations of mismanagement of public funds by various Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

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They said given that the National Assembly was already plagued by  lack of credibility or public trust, the lawmakers could have avoided  another bad press by concluding their probes.

Part of the  statement read:  “Many had thought that owing to the intermittent closure of the parliament in the wake of the pandemic and given the critical issues requiring legislative attention, that the lawmakers could have devised means of extending its plenary sittings and meeting the constitutionally-mandated 181 sitting days in a legislative year given the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Furthermore, prior to and during the ongoing vacation, the lawmakers were conducting very important investigative hearings into the mismanagement of public funds by various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government as well as into the huge Chinese loans and their terms, among others.

“Citizens who were rattled by the revelations coming out of those hearings were waiting with keen interest for their logical conclusions and outcomes. Hence, it was good to see these activities continue even into the vacation of the lawmakers.

“It was therefore shocking to wake up to the August directive by the leadership of the House of Representatives suspending all legislative activities including those investigative hearings that had captivated the nation. The House leadership relied on established global practice of suspending legislative activities while the institution of the legislature is on break.

“However, given the importance of the hearings and the limited time available for the National Assembly to conduct reforms in nation’s electoral laws, review the Constitution, consider the 2021 Appropriation Bill, and attend to numerous other pending legislative assignments, there was no justification or reason given for the illogical step taken by the House of Representatives to suspend committee activities.”