The federal government yesterday accused universities of deliberately accommodating dead members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the payroll forwarded to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).
The OAGF said the inclusion of ghost workers on the list forwarded to it for the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) might have been orchestrated to get more personnel funds from the federal government.
It noted that the quest by staff unions to formalise tax evasion through IPPIS was "not only untenable but unpatriotic request to violate extant laws on tax."
OAGF, in a statement, said it had conducted a Biometric Verification Number (BVN) test on the list of personnel forwarded to it by the tertiary institutions only to discover some were dead members who were still on the payroll of the government.
It accused the tertiary institutions of misapplication of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax prior to migration to IPPIS, thereby resulting in underpayment of personnel tax.
It explained that the federal government had borne the cost of such underpayments as the state governments had "made claims on the federal government to pay the differential arising from underpayment of tax by these institutions."
"The federal government has paid several billion on behalf of these institutions because of their underpayment of PAYE tax," it added.
The OAGF was reacting to reports on claims by tertiary institutions unions, led by ASUU, that IPPIS was deducting their salaries and allowances resulting in their take-home being reduced to about 50 per cent.
But, in the statement issued by OAGF Director, Information, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Henshaw Ogubike, the federal government noted that the BVN as a means of confirming all account numbers of the tertiary institutions' personnel that was sent to IPPIS, was forwarded to the relevant agencies for validation and confirmation.
The government added that about 1,180 staff failed the BVN test and details had been forwarded to the universities for correction and update.
The OAGF accused ASUU of arm-twisting universities to pay them allowances, which are not approved by the Salaries Income and Wages Commission (SIWC).
Addressing a wide range of issues allegedly in contention between ASUU and the federal government, the latter, however, stated that IPPIS had made a great effort to ensure that placement of tertiary institutions' staff on IPPIS is complete and correct in terms of their particulars and salary structure, grade levels and steps, indicating their IPPIS number as a unique identification for every staff on the platform.
It said: "This office is not unaware that there are bound to be teething challenges arising from migration of tertiary institutions onto the IPPIS platform and this requires the cooperation and understanding of all the tertiary institutions to enable us to effect the necessary corrections as quickly as possible.
"On the completion of this process, the issue of payment of consequential arrears can be meaningful and realistic to ensure that there is no overpayment or underpayment arising from payment consequential arrears."
The statement alleged that ASUU is seeking that National Housing Fund (NHF) law, which stipulates deduction of 2.5 per cent of basic salary should not be applicable to them or be made optional for them.
"The request for breach of Act of Parliament is not within the ambit of the IPPIS or the (OAGF). They have been advised to approach the National Assembly for amendment of the Act," it noted.
On sabbatical - visiting and adjunct lecturers, the federal government said the payment of sabbatical aid or visiting lecturers is duly recognised by IPPIS, though it is dependent on furnishing the IPPIS with the particulars of such lecturers, including IPPIS number, primary institution, the start date of the sabbatical or the visiting and the end date.
"Government recognises the fact that all staff on sabbatical are entitled to 100 per cent of their salaries as sabbatical allowances, while visiting and adjunct lecturers will enjoy 50 per cent of their salaries as visiting allowance.
"The government will no longer incur unnecessary expenditure on pension, NHIS or such allowances that are not part of universities pensionable salaries," it stated.
The statement explained that some university staff may have been denied salaries due to lack of uniformity in their names on the payroll and those with their banks.
"Employees are expected to update their bank details in conformity with names on the payroll as efforts to change payroll names in the banks is not allowed, except where there is a change of name as a result of marriage," it stated.
The statement added: "On the alleged payment to dead university staff, it means the institutions deliberately forwarded to IPPIS the list containing dead ASUU members as being part of their personnel, to get more personnel funds.
"When the President (Muhammadu Buhari) directed that ASUU be paid, the OAGF sent a letter, through NUC Executive Secretary, requesting for the list of ASUU members through their VCs. We run a BVN test on the list forwarded to us as we are aware that we cannot use the old nominal roll because of changes that might have likely taken place.
"It is the responsibility of the institutions or agencies to inform the IPPIS office about death, resignation, or exit from service before the due date. We sent payroll analysis to the tertiary institution bursars for review of any omission or names to be excluded.
"This issue is cheap propaganda by ASUU to denigrate IPPIS for obvious reasons.
"Mention must be made here that good-spirited members of the union personally wrote to inform this office of their not being entitled to February salary payment, and requested for an account to refund the salary.
"The OAGF wishes to assure all the tertiary institution staff that we are always willing and ready to serve them as best as possible, but we plead for their understanding and cooperation."