The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said on Monday that it has asked its members to start cutting their services over its “lingering disagreement with the federal government over the directive on the registration of some of its members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).” Recall that most universities are on strike partly because of IPPIS. PENGASSAN plans to join ASUU, the association of university teachers.
The workers’ association said the strike action was pursuant to the demands concerning their members working in federal government agencies, whose salaries were withheld since May, over alleged non-compliance with the federal government’s directive to all its agencies to enroll on the IPPIS payment platform.
On June 8, PENGASSAN wrote to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to protest the decision by the government to not pay the workers allegedly at the instance of the finance ministry.
In the letter, the association identified the affected agencies to include the Department of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, Petroleum Equalization Fund, Petroleum Trust Development Fund, the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency and Petroleum Training Institute.
Sure – Nigerians are special breeds: we want the government to weed out corruption but we cannot allow simple things to go through. There is no process in this world that delivers all positives. While the government can slow the operations of universities with IPPIS along with any illusive “autonomy”, Nigeria will benefit on average.
Yet, the problem is not the ASUU or PENGASSAN but the fact that Nigeria does not have an identity management system at scale. If every university professor uses a national identification number and is paid salaries by, say, the federal government, during tax, that number could be used to reconcile many things. But because we do not have such a working system, the government is left to stop all problems at the source since it cannot catch anything down the drain. This paralysis should not close our schools for more than a year! Nigerians need to show a new heart.
My call remains: you do not do everything in life just because it helps you. You can do things to help the system. A few years ago, I came into Nigeria, and went for the NIMC number. I got the number. That number has absolutely no value for me: I did it to ensure we can have a working Nigeria. It was in the same spirit that boxing legend, Anthony Joshua, went home, and went to get his NIMC number. Joshua has no need for that number. He lives in the UK and understands how communities band together to make society function.
We are having many confrontations in Nigeria and I think it is time we end them. To end them, the government needs to understand that it needs to re-calibrate. Yes, pausing bank accounts of those involved in peaceful protests may not help in the long-run. With that mindset, it is the government that is protesting for #ENDNigeria which is more dangerous than #ENDSARS or variants.
The Nigerian government is currently deploying different strategies to punish those who played key roles in the nationwide protests against police brutality and poor governance in the country.
The new development, which involves freezing of bank accounts, confiscation of travel documents, and gestapo-like arrests, has been likened by many Nigerians to what happened when the current president, Muhammadu Buhari, was the military head of state between 1984 and 1985.
Simply: If government begins to ban, pause, harass, and victimize peaceful protesters, it could trigger a new problem that would bring Nigeria down. The vendetta could cause a problem it cannot handle. It needs to stop for Nigeria to exist!