ASUU faults NITDA DG’s comments on UTAS, threatens certificate withdrawal
Following comments by the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa, about the failed integrity and vulnerability test of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Branch, has urged the DG to retracts his statements or the union will be forced to initiate the process of withdrawing his degree certificate as an alumnus of the university.
This was disclosed in a press statement signed by the ASUU ATBU Branch Chairperson, Ibrahim Inuwa, and made available to journalists shortly after a meeting on Thursday.
The statement faulted the DG’s comment on March 9th, 2022, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting with his boss, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, where he implied that the UTAS had failed integrity test, vulnerability test (security integrity), User Acceptance Test (UAT) and stress load test, as well as the hardware requirements.
The union said it is not surprised at the calculated attempt by agents of government, particularly the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy and DG, NITDA to kill UTAS, noting that they both have demonstrated severe nationalism deficiency syndrome in their dealings and handling of critical issues as it concerns their offices and positions in government, revealing how ill-equipped they are with the current status of public universities in Nigeria.
ASUU said: “The Union views the comments of the DG, NITDA as highly misleading, unwarranted and totally unacceptable, it is a deliberate act to frustrate the deployment of UTAS.
“We observe that at the time the DG NITDA was making such statements (i.e. on the 9th March, 2022), he was aware of a joint test of the UTAS application by the ASUU Technical Team and NITDA to iron out discrepancies in the initial NITDA report.
“The current test was arranged at a meeting involving NITDA, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. To put the record straight, we are obliged to enlighten the public that UTAS was applauded and received positive commendations at different levels of government during its presentation to the leadership of the National Assembly, Joint Committee of NITDA, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), Vice Chancellors and Bursars of Federal Universities (end users), to say the least, UTAS has gone through seven different presentations, Reports from the previous test by NITDA scored UTAS 85% in User Acceptance Test.”
“The question as to where UTAS database will be warehoused had already been resolved by the Joint Technical Committee of both the NITDA and ASUU where it was unanimously agreed that UTAS shall be hosted at the National University Commission (NUC) (based on the University miscellaneous provision act on University Autonomy). We therefore, wonder why the unpatriotic DG is misleading the general public by claiming ‘UTAS does not have database centre.”
“It is however, ridiculous for NITDA to observe that it is ASUU’s responsibilities to provide fire extinguishers and man-power to manage the data centre where UTAS will be hosted while there are competent hands at the NUC to handle such.
“It is also important to put it straight to the DG that UTAS could not have been tested on stress load assessment when the software has not yet been deployed, perhaps it is their ill-intentions not to allow UTAS to pass. The attitudes of both the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy and the DG, NITDA negate the FGN Local Content Act of 2010,” the union stated.
According to the Union, UTAS was an alternative to IPPIS home-grown technology (which is one of the mandates of NITDA) while IPPIS is foreign which the FGN paid millions of dollars to obtain and still pay the consultants up to date, adding that “maybe, this is why agents of government do not want anything that will dislodge IPPIS (who knows may be there are hand exchanges behind the scene).”
It further said that NITDA’s Technical Team in a previous assessment, after conducting a comprehensive functionality test, reported that out of 687 test cases, 529 cases were satisfactory, 156 cases queried and 2 cases cautioned representing 77% pass adding that after successful assessment, the NITDA report revealed that the software scored 77%.
“How then can 77% be reported as fail? This is the question that well-meaning Nigerians should demand for answers to. We therefore, challenge NITDA to subject IPPIS (A World Bank recommended application) to the same test it applied on UTAS and make their findings public. That is what is expected of a morally sound public officer.
“ASUU rejected IPPIS because it impinges on University autonomy by not allowing them to operate according to the laws that established them. It particularly does not address the peculiarities of the University system. Moreover, IPPIS has become the capital of corruption in government as evidenced by the 2019 audit report from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation which exposed the monumental fraud in IPPIS amounting to N 4.394 billion (Tony Akowe, The Nation 9 January. 2022).
“Recently, Daily Trust newspaper also reported that over 246 NECO staff had not received their salaries since 2015 (Abubakar Akote, Daily Trust 10 March, 2022). ASUU therefore wondered why agents of government are insisting an IPPIS in spite of its obvious weaknesses, may be this will allow them continue to steal public funds. We will therefore no longer tolerate the delay tactics of NITDA Technical Team and their collaborators for the endless test on UTAS,” it warned.
The union said that: “ASUU ATBU Bauchi is particularly sad that both the Minister of Communications Isa Ali Pantami and DG, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa are products of our prestigious University (ATBU), known for its high standards of learning and discipline.
“The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy should be able to separate his official responsibility from his personal interest. It is our hope that there is no attempt by the Minister and his agents to frustrate UTAS due to ASUU’s principled stand on the failure of his appointment as a Professor by Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) to satisfy the laid down rules and regulations governing such appointments of the University.
“The DG of NITDA is requested to retrace his steps to the path of truth and academic excellence for which the University had awarded him a degree, failure of which the Union will be left with no option but to initiate the process of withdrawal of his degree certificate as an alumnus of ATBU, Bauchi.” The statement added.