UTAS: Between ASUU And NITDA On Intergrity Of Payment Platform, by Abbas Badmus
Nigerians were alarmed by the latest report that a payment platform created by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has failed three integrity tests.
The ASUU’s preferred payment option known as the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) was created as an alternative to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) that the Federal government uses to pay its workers in various sectors of the economy.
In fact, about 711 ministries, agencies in Nigeria are on the IPPIS platform, but ASUU insists on being the only stand out, not that alone. FGs effort to accommodate ASUU’s rebellion is taken for a peppersouping’ ride by the Academic union.
The intergrity test verdict was announced the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) – the organ with statutory mandate to superintend over technologies and digital advancements in the country.
The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa during a briefing with Journalists after presenting the Agency’s findings at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) Meeting took time to explain vital points relating to the UTAS that should get concerned citizens thinking hard about possible way(s) out to quickly resolve the tangible concerns in order to get university teachers back to the classrooms.
One, NITDA boss explained that users’ acceptance test is key to the functionality of the UTAS, a test which the touted platform failed after people in the Bursary and Finance Departments tried it out.
“Firstly, because when you’re building system, it’s not just about the technology, you need to consider the people that will use this system and the process.
“If you don’t align people, process and technology, you will never get result. No matter how good the technology is, if the people don’t understand how to use it, they won’t use it. And if the process is different from the way the people work, also, they won’t use it,” Kashifu explained.
Frankly speaking, this point is elementary knowledge for basic communication students as propounded by the diffusion of innovation theory.
Secondly, he explained that the UTAS failed to meet requirement standards in testing for vulnerability. The nation’s Chief Technology Officer went as far as projecting the danger the ASUU’s purports, considering that it is a financial system. The fact that the UTAS is vulnerable means an open window for looters and certified kleptos to latch on and swindle Nigeria’s dry.
Furthermore, Mr Kashifu explained that a technology like that need to be durable in order not to collapse on an overload due to stress. In that regards too, the UTAS failed the test.
“You can build a system on your laptop or on a small computer, use it but when you put so many data it will crash, we need to do the stress test to make sure that system can do,” the NITDA boss explained.
To compound the problem, ASUU is yet to reveal the data center where it wants its system installed.
Before releasing its finding, NITDA had submitted its report to the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy who in turn forwarded to relevant institutions, including ASUU itself.
Expectedly as the news trickled in, eyebrows raised and the daggers were drawn along the line of sentiments and myopic deductions – especially by those who only read headlines without the contents in the body.
Sadly, even ASUU itself condescended to this level of pathetic bickering when its president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, at a Sunrise Daily Program on Channel’s Television wholesomely faulted all the statements of Director General of NITDA.
Professor Osodeke did not only stop there he went on to spew derogatory remarks on the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
He also accused NITDA of giving misleading reports to Federal Executive Council on the UTAS platform as they were never present at any of the agreed meetings.
“If you subject this to a test today, we will have 99%, but they went ahead to tell the country a lie and this is why they are creating problems in this country,” the ASUU president claimed.
He further claimed that the UTAS has passed through an integrity test and passed 77% and also passed through an end-user test and it scores 88%.
It is curious that ASUU did not initially raise the alarm when it received the report from the Minister but is now turning around on the defensive after the integrity of their product is publicly questioned.
Since the NITDA and ASUU have made claims and counter claims on the integrity of payment platform and in
order to preserve the sanity of Nigerian populace in the ensuing imbroglio and the integrity of both parties should have the courage to appear on a pubkic debate and trash out contentious issues in public glare. This is a challenge whose gauntlet must be picked up by the truth bearers.
The debate will avail Nigerians the opportunity to know who is playing with their their intelligence and make better and informed judgements.
Badmus is a member of the Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR) and Staff Writer with TechDigest.