FG Spends N15.8bn On Hazard Allowances — Ngige
Sen. Chris Ngige

… No Money To Provide Hardware For UTAS

There is every indication that the current strike embarked upon by members of the Acdemic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in March 2020, will linger for much longer.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday said the integrity test being conducted on the software of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) the preferred payment platform by the members ASUU, would take months to be completed.

He also said that even if the software passes the integrity test, government does not have the money to source the hardware to back it up and neither does ASUU.

One of the reasons why ASUU is currently on an indefinite strike, is its objection protest to the Federal Government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

In place of IPPIS, ASUU proposed UTAS.

Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, Ngige said the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency was conducting the integrity test on the software.

He disclosed that while the UTAS software was available, there was no hardware to back it up.

He explained that the Federal Government did not make budgetary provisions for the procurement of the UTAS hardware.

He explained further, “The UTAS, that is the University Transparent System which they brought, is not yet ready.

“It is not fully ready, it is undergoing an integrity test for the software. I am not a computer scientist, but you must also know that you must test the hardware and the integrity test for the software.

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“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.

“By the time we finish with this other software test to look at its capacity, its ability to withstand shock and hacking, etc, the hardware test is in, hacking and security. So, by the time we finish it, we will decide on what to do.

“But do not also forget that we need to have something for us to make payment to them as we speak. For those that have got into the system, they have pointed out some of the deficiencies and they are being corrected. it’s work in progress.”

Ngige stated that since ASUU opted out of physical meetings with the government because of the outbreak of Covid-19, the sessions have just resumed.

“As you know ASUU is on strike which they started on March 9, 2020, to be precise. We have held negotiation meetings, they opted out of the negotiation meetings during the COVID-19 period because they said they don’t want virtual meetings. So, we have just resumed our meeting.

“The major report is the report from the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as per the system developed by ASUU which the government sent to them for integrity test,” he added