The current industrial face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may outlast the year 2020, going by the pronouncement of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige on Tuesday.
According to the minister, the integrity test being conducted on the software of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) being proposed by ASUU would take between six and eight weeks to be completed.
Recall that the genesis of the strike was the rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) proposed for the payment of university academic workers by the union. In its stead, the union proposed UTAS as an alternative.
Speaking with State House correspondents after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Ngige said the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was conducting integrity test on the software which, he said, would take between six to eight months to be completed.
The minister however said while the software was available, there was no hardware to back it up.
He claimed that if the software passed the integrity test being conducted by NITDA, the university teachers would still need to cross the hurdle of providing the requisite hardware before it can be put into use.
He explained that the Federal Government did not make provision for the procurement of the UTAS hardware in the budget.
He said the decision to send the UTAS software to NITDA for integrity test was based on the fact that the Federal Government is open to home-grown innovations, adding that “As we speak, ASUU has no hardware and UTAS does not have hardware backing.
“I am waiting for the NITDA’s 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 does not 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 home grown. So, we are really encouraging them.”