The federal government has declared the two-week warning strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as illegal.
ASUU had announced the industrial action, on Monday, saying it is meant to compel the federal government to implement its 2019 agreement and resolution with the union.
The union also said its demand includes the implementation of the 2013 and 2017 memoranda of understanding (MOU) that are yet to be implemented.
The union has also been at loggerheads with the government over the directive to enroll its members into the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Speaking with reporters at the end of the federal executive council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, Chris Ngige, minister of labour, said employees cannot dictate to their employers.
“They didn’t give us the mandatory notice before going on strike. So, for a start, this strike is illegal. They said it is a warning striking but there is nothing like warning strike. A strike is withdrawal of services for which you are being paid,” Ngige said.
“Then the question will arise; if you don’t go to work, do you want to be paid? Is it not corruption? So this is the dilemma.”
The minister said the bone of contention was the IPPIS which the federal government introduced in 2018 to “curb corruption as well as fish out ghost workers in the system”.
He said the government had agreed to merge both IPPIS and University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), the platform suggested by ASUU, but the union did not show interest in it.
“This is an old story. This story started two years ago when the first presidential directive was given, for all public servants to be captured on the IPPIS so that the federal government will know those that they are paying and to block leakages, ” Ngige said.
“So if you go on sabbatical, this is government’s position. What you should receive in that other place is an allowance. And allowance has a different portal; that is the portal that doctors are using. So, these allowances are captured but IPPIS will not capture two salaries for one person.
“I was shocked on Monday, when I read and saw some people coming out of the university that lecturers have gone on strike. I have my children in Nigerian universities and I saw them.
“So, to solve the dilemma, I have invited them to the meeting for tomorrow (Thursday). I have invited the minister of education, their principal employer, the finance ministry and the accountant general of the federation.
“So we will meet and discuss the way forward because no employee is empowered to dictate his employer on how he or she should be paid. There is an ILO convention on it.”
Ngige said the government would invoke the “no work, no pay” policy if the lecturers do not return to their duty post.