Uless the Federal Government handles the current face-off with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with caution, the scheme might do more damage to the university system than good.
One of the 2019 recipients of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award, Professor Is-haq Olanrewaju Oloyede, who is also Registrar/Chief Executive of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), in an exclusive interview with The Guardian dated 7th December 2019, said rather than forcing IPPIS on university lecturers, the in-built mechanisms for addressing the issue of corruption in the university system should be activated.
Oloyede, a former vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, stated: “The government should be cautious, because IPPIS might do more damage to the university system than good. My own position, not as JAMB Registrar, but as a professor from a university and as somebody who had managed the university and had also been president of Association of African Universities (AAU) and so has a fair view of what goes on in the university all over the world, is that we are swinging between one extreme to the other.
“Prior to 2005, no university got direct allocation from the government; we used to defend our budget with the National Universities Commission (NUC), which regulates, controls, supervises and monitors everything.
“Now, because our colleagues were saying that NUC was too overbearing, they decided to have direct interface with the National Assembly and the national purse. This is one of the consequences of such complaints about NUC being accused of being overbearing.”
According to Oloyede, the analysis of government expenditure on universities prior to 2005 and after 2005 indicated lawlessness in the management of resources allocated the institutions, adding: “Go and compare, there has been lawlessness since 2005, because what you get into the university is no longer a product of what you need, but a product of lobbying and so many dirty things that go along with lobbying.
“The process is no longer regulated. When NUC was regulating, we had parameters, size of the university, age of the university, science-arts parameter and the growth rate. Then, there was the University System Annual Review Meeting (USARM), where every vice chancellor accounted for every kobo given to it to the NUC, which would harvest this review to serve as basis for its recommendation for budget allocation for all the federal universities.
“Now, we have dismantled that structure and every university handles matters individually, independent of NUC, which is not even cost- effective. If you analyse how much every vice chancellor spends in coming to and from Abuja on the issue of contacting National Assembly or contacting IPPIS, they are not only spending money, they are also learning new tricks about corruption.
“This is because, yes, many people may say universities are corrupt, yet, no sane person will assert that the universities are more corrupt than the public service. Civil service is stinking about corruption and the universities are still sane. But by the time we allow the undue and unregulated intermingling, you are going to transfer this poisonous dose into the university system and they are going to be the worse for it, as they (universities) have the intellectual capacity to package the corruption. It is something that we need to look into.
“Many people raised the issue that some vice chancellors were prosecuted. What was the outcome of the prosecutions? I did not find any one of them that was not set free. The court said that by the rules of the university, they have not done anything wrong.
“All the noise in the media is when they are being tried, but when the court sets them free, nobody hears about it.”
Oloyede, in reference to the case of a serving President of the AAU, who was also vice chancellor of a university in Nigeria, said: “You know the impact of the trial of such a person on the nation. We were really shocked and after the man went through all the horror, only for the court to say nothing was found against him after the name of the country and the university was almost permanently damaged.
“So, what we are saying is that there are in-built mechanisms for addressing the issue of corruption in the university system. Let us activate those mechanisms; let us make sure that NUC is made to play both supervisory and regulatory roles on federal universities. They have regulatory roles over all universities, but they have both supervisory and regulatory roles on federal universities and that is what we are saying they should activate.”