ASUU has revealed that UTAS is undergoing a fresh test.
Newsonline reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) is undergoing another round of tests by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
The President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke gave the update on a Human Right Radio in Abuja yesterday, clarifying several issues surrounding the ongoing strike and why the strike has lingered.
This is the third test being carried out on the UTAS accounting software by the government agency.
Osodeke said UTAS passed over 90 per cent in the first and second tests carried out on it, but that NITDA concluded that the payment platform failed some tests.
“On UTAS, we are going for a third test. Like I told you, the second one, we scored 99 per cent. The test is ongoing,” he said.
ASUU had embarked on the current strike on February 14 for an initial four-week period. But following the government’s failure to heed the union’s requests, it has continued to roll it over, and it is now more than 140 days.
ASUU has previously told that the deployment of UTAS, which is dependent on NITDA’s approval, is one of the two core demands of the union. The other is the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement that contains the welfare of the lecturers.
ASUU’s other demands include the release of white papers on reports of the presidential visitation panels to universities and the proliferation of universities especially by the state governments.
Speaking on the accounting application, Osodeke accused NITDA “of already showing signs of bias because the ministry is already interfering.”
He suggested that the tests are being frustrated due to his union’s opposition to the professorship awarded to the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami.
NITDA is an agency under Pantami’s ministry and ASUU has consistently suggested that its opposition to his professorship is stalling the approval certification of UTAS.
NITDA had earlier denied the allegation and said the software was only undergoing due tests.
Meanwhile, ASUU said it has met the Nimi Briggs-led committee on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and is hoping that it will not be stalled like that of the Munzali Jibril-led committee.
The ASUU president, who said the suspension of the strike depends on the outcome of the meetings with the government, however, refused to elaborate on the ongoing negotiations.
The FGN-ASUU 2009 Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation committee had concluded renegotiation with ASUU and came up with a draft document in May 2021. But the government said the recommendations in the draft were not feasible for implementation.
Speaking on autonomy for universities, Mr Osodeke faulted a situation where universities need permission from the head of service before they can employ.
He also condemned the use of federal character in staff employment saying the process should be solely by merit.
“A vice chancellor cannot employ a professor without getting permission from the head of civil service, which is against all the rules in the world. Who is a head of civil service compared to a vice-chancellor,” he said.
He added: “You employ a professor and federal character commission will run after you saying you did not follow federal character principle. In which country do you use federal character to employ a professor? You employ a professor by merit.”
On the incessant industrial actions by the union, ASUU said the government’s insincerity has always been the main driver of its actions.
He recalled how the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan had promised to pay N220 billion yearly for six years, “but failed woefully in implementing the agreement.”
According to Osodeke, only N50 billion of that amount has been paid since 2014.