By Joan Nwagwu/Abuja
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has denied alleged failure of its proposed University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
ASUU President, Mr Emmauel Osodeke, said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja.
Osodeke was reacting to recent statements credited to both the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy and Director-General, NITDA that UTAS had failed the integrity test.
“This press statement is necessitated by the need for ASUU to put the records straight on the grounds already covered in our patriotic struggle to get the government to deploy UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in our university system.
“Let us put it on record that an integrity test was carried out by NITDA on Aug. 10, 2021 in NUC where relevant government agencies and all the end-users in the University system were present.
“At the end of the exercise, all, without exception, expressed satisfaction with UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in our universities.
“This was attested to by the report coming from NITDA then to the effect that UTAS scored 85 per cent in User Acceptance Test (UAT), ‘’he said.
According to him, in a curious twist of submission, the NITDA Technical Team, after conducting a comprehensive functionality test came out to say that out of 687 test cases, 529 cases were satisfactory, 156 cases queried and two cases cautioned.
He added that taking this report on its face value, the percentage score was 77 per cent.
“The question that arises from this is: Can 77 per cent in any known fair evaluation system be categorized as failure?
“Suffice it to say here that some observations and questions were raised by NITDA to which UTAS technical team has to provide clarification. As we speak, our engagement with NITDA over the second round of testing continues.
“The union is worried that while this exercise is going on, the Minister and the DG, NITDA went to press after FEC meeting of Wednesday, 9 March, 2022, to mislead the nation that UTAS has failed the integrity test.
“We wish to draw your attention to the fact that NITDA gave a report to the fact that NITDA gave the report that UTAS did well in both the integrity test and user acceptability verification.
“Clearly, 85 per cent and 77 per cent are high class grades in any known evaluation system.
“In their desperation to justify their false assertions, they threw up issues such as Data centre and hosting of UTAS software which are clearly outside the rubrics of ASUU’s responsibilities in the deployment of UTAS, ’’he said.
Osodeke said that ASUU and NITDA were still engaged in the testing process and that it was pertinent to note that one of the core mandates of NITDA is to encourage local content development.
He, therefore, said that NITDA had to discharge its responsibility to ensure that the solution developed by Nigerian academics was deployed
He added that, in doing so, the principles of transparency should be adhered to by making available to the public the set of criteria or benchmarks for certification of information technology application in the country.
He also appealed to the DG, NITDA to stop making comments capable of jeopardising the joint on-going testing of UTAS between the NITDA Technical Team and its counterparts.
“However, if this behaviour continues, we will have no choice but to demand that the NITDA Technical Report on UTAS and our Union’s response be made public in order to shed more light on the ongoing controversies without further waste of time.
“The DG, NITDA and the minister superintending the agency are challenged to a public discussion on any national media to put all matters to rest for the benefit of our students, union members, and the Nigerian public in general,’’he said.
On the ongoing strike, he said the union had been having engagements with the government over the issues that necessitated it in the first place.
The union embarked on a nationwide warning strike to press home its members’ demands beginning from Feb.14 .
The lecturers’ demands include funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are: the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).