Key words: IPPIS Platform, UTAS Platform, Elements of Contract, Consensus ad idem, Contract of Employment, Duty to Pay the Employee the Agreed Ages.
The Federal Government of Nigeria decided in 2020 to introduce and implement the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the emoluments of some sections of its workforce, including those of the universities and the civil service. This was met with resistance by some, especially the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, which contended that the IPPIS platform does not properly fit into the university system because of the universities’ peculiarity, as distinct from the civil service, where the IPPIS platform is appropriately suited or applicable. ASUU designed an alternative platform, the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) which ASUU claims is most suitable or applicable to universities. It is for these that “the Validity or Otherwise of IPPIS and UTAS from the Legal Perspective” is premised against the backdrop of the contract of employment and aspects of industrial law. The IPPIS shall be highlighted and, likewise, UTAS shall be examined and the reasons for or against them canvassed against the backdrop of aspects of the law of contract and industrial law. A conclusion shall be reached as to whether IPPIS and UTAS platforms are valid or otherwise when subjected to the relevant laws that are applicable.
The Reasons for the Introduction and Implementation of the IPPIS by the SS. 
The reasons adduced by the Federal Government are to:
- Improve the effectiveness and efficiency in the storage of personnel records and administration of monthly payroll in such a way as to enhance confidence in staff emolument, cost, and budgeting;
- Improve management reporting;
- Curb corruption such as the payment of salaries to ghost workers;
- Enhance or improve institutional organizational structure management;
- Enhance employees’ recruitment management;
- Enhance employees’ leave and absence management;
- Enhance exit and termination management;
- Improvement of payroll management;
- Enhance employees’ career, training and competences management, and
- Boost information management and reporting.
Those reasons appear genuine on the surface and it is difficult to spot where ASUU interests are maligned or adversely affected.
ASUU’s Rejection of IPPIS and the Genesis of UTAS
ASUU out rightly rejected the imposition and implementation of IPPIS on it and propounded that the IPPIS failed to put into consideration its peculiarity as a union of academics as distinct from the core civil-service workers for whom IPPIS was tailored, and further submitted that issues to deal with earned academic allowances, sabbatical, etc. were ignored in the IPPIS. ASUU had, in protest gone on industrial action over the issue. It submitted an alternative payment platform, which it had designed, to the federal government, which the latter rejected on the ground that the UTAS platform had failed the integrity test it was subjected to. The UTAS put the peculiarity of universities academics into due consideration and/or design .
It follows that the dispute or controversy above could be amicably resolved by dialogue and harmonization between the federal government and ASUU.
Core Aspects of Contract and Labour Laws Related to IPPIS and UTAS
The contract of employment, for certain, imbibes the core elements of the law of contract. Those elements are offer, acceptance, invitation to treat, consideration, intention to enter into legal relationship and consensus ad idem, which is of relevant concern at this instance and which generates a pertinent question as to:
“Does the contract of employment between the parties here include any article or provision that provide for IPPIS or something similar to it to be referred to or to be introduced into the contract at a later date? The clear answer is, simply, no.
Consensus ad idem is: An agreement of parties to a contract; a meeting of minds.
The introduction of IPPIS to the university system and its implementation was unilateral, a contravention of an aspect of the contract employment. There should be compliance with the applicable laws in dealings between employers and employees. Ways should be sought to persuade ASUU about the good intendment and positive effects of IPPIS. Conversely, the introduction of UTAS to the scene breaches consensus ad idem element of contract law, no consensus ad idem before its formulation and consequent introduction. This is to aver, in a simple terminology, that both the IPPIS and the UTAS platforms contravene an essential element of the law of contract and, hence, are both untenable, unenforceable, invalid and, null and void. The apparent solution to the debacle is for the parties to dialogue, reach a consensus and harmonize the platforms, putting the peculiarities of both parties into due consideration.
The duty of an employer to pay the employee the agreed wages is imperative to the discussion of IPPIS. The duties of an employer to an employee are the duty to pay the agreed wages, duty to provide board, lodgings, medicals, holidays, clothing, work (not mandatory) indemnity, safety, insurance where necessary, etc..
The duty to pay the agreed wages is of utmost import here as some of ASUU complaints include unilateral reduction (shortfall) of ASUU members’ wages and similar effects due to the implementation of IPPIS on ASUU.
It is, essentially, the duty of the employer to pay the employee the agreed wages for the services rendered. Greer, J. in Browning V. Grumling Valley Colleries Ltd  stated that: “Consideration for work is wages and the consideration for wages is work”.
It was observed in Mobil Producing (Nig) Unlimited Anor. v. Udo, per Omokri, J.C.A that: “It is well-settled in the contract of employment that service and wages are the twin pillars upon which a contract rests”.
This is to aver that the employee’s wages must be paid in accordance with what was agreed. The agreed wage under a contract of employment may be modified or influenced by the national minimum wage policy as prescribed by the National Minimum Wage Act, 2011. Section 1(I) of that Act provides that: “It shall be the duty of every employer (except otherwise provided) to pay a wage not less than the national minimum wage of N18, 000.00 per month to every worker…”
- S.1(1) shall not apply to:
- An establishment in which less than fifty workers are employed;
- An establishment in which workers are employed on part-time basis;
- An establishment at which workers are paid on commission on price-rate basis;
- Workers in seasonal employment, such as agriculture.
The employer shall pay the workers at the risk of criminal sanction a wage not less than the national minimum wage clear of all deductions (except any deductions required by law or deductions in respect of contribution to provident or pension funds or schemes agreed to by the workers and approved by the minister. “Wage” for the purposes of the Act is the: “total emolument paid every month to a worker for performing services on the basis of forty-hour week how so ever the emolument may be designated.
The “worker” is any employee, i.e. any member of the civil services of the federation or of a state, or local government, or any individual (other than persons occupying executive, administrative, technical or professional positions in any such civil service) who has entered into or works under a contract with an employer, whether the contract is for manual labour, clerical work or otherwise expressed or implied, oral or in writing, and whether it is contract personally to execute any work or labour .
The employer’s duty to pay the wages does not permit the unilateral reduction in wages how so ever, and this accords with global best practices in labour law and is covered by the ILO Protection of Wages Convention.
In Adebusola Adedayo Omole V. Mainstreet Microfinance Bank Ltd the claim, amongst others, was for a certain sum due to the claimant as a result of her employment, being refund of her salaries deducted by the employer whilst she was employed. The employer justified the reduction by citing recession or economic downturn that warranted reduction in salaries. It also insisted that the employee had acquiesced to the deductions for several months. The court was not convinced by the employer’s argument, as there was no evidence in proof thereof. It was held that the reduction of the salary of the claimant by the defendant violated the spirit of the Labour Act and the ILO Convention of No. 96. The court observed that at the global level, an unilateral reduction in the wages and salaries of workers is unacceptable, observing the need to ensure that the Nigerian labour jurisprudence is in tandem with what is obtainable at the global scene found reflection in the National Industrial Court Act, 2006 which Act, thus, empowers the court to ensure observance of such global best practices in s.7(6).
The labour Act provides in its S.5 (I) that: “Except where it is expressly permitted by this Act or any other law, no employer shall make any deduction or make any agreement or contract with a worker for any deduction from the wages to be paid by the employer to the worker, or to any payment to the employer by the worker, for or in respect of any fines, provided that, with the prior consent in writing of an authorized labour officer, a reasonable deduction may be made in respect of injury or loss caused to the employer by the willful misconduct or neglect of the worker”.
Article 8 of the Protection of Wages Convention similarly and specifically provides that: “Deduction from wages shall be permitted only under conditions and to the extent prescribed by national laws or regulations, or fixed by collective agreement or arbitration award. Workers shall be informed, in the manner deemed appropriate by the competent authority, of the conditions under which and the extent to which such deductions may be made”.
In chemical and Non-Metallic Products Senior Staff Association v. Benue Cement Company Plc. The National Industrial Court Stated that, as regard deductions from salaries: “The law treats the issue of salaries with such sacredness that except expressly permitted by law or the workers, no employer is permitted to make any deductions form a worker’s salary. So, when a deduction is made from workers’ salaries, it must be applied for the intended purpose”.
It is apparent that deductions from workers’ salaries for any reason is illegal except there is compliance with the conditions stated above. The IPPIS has engendered deductions from workers’ salaries and, hence, a reduction in the amount of wages that workers were hitherto paid. This is one of the grievances/complaints of ASUU. It is, thus, an area that the federal government should amicably resolve.
IPPIS and UTAS, and their reasons were adduced. Whilst the former was designated to ensure efficiency and improvement in the civil/public service UTAS was an alternative platform propounded by ASUU to the federal government to replace IPPIS. The IPPIS is in modules to achieve its, objectives. It is difficult to discern how ASUU’s interest were adversely affected by the contents and letters of IPPIS. ASUU, probably, requires enlightenment about the IPPIS platform. The IPPIS and the UTAS contravene crucial elements of the contract of employment and industrial law in that, respectively, there is the absence of consensus ad idem between the parties in the introduction of the IPPIS platform and its UTAS counterpart, and that IPPIS tampered with the general accrued wages of workers, with regards to the ASUU counterpart. This is to say, in essence, that the two platforms, IPPIS and UTAS, are actually invalid, null and void, and unenforceable in law. It was surmised that the federal government should dialogue and arrive at a compromise to evolve an acceptable platform to both parties.
The validity or otherwise of IPPIS and UTAS from the legal perspective set-out to ascertain the legal validity of the two platforms. It is consequent upon this that the following observation emanated:
The IPPIS arose to enhance efficiency in the staff recruitment, availability of vacancies, jobs application, leave, exit from service, staff emoluments, etc. in the civil/public service.
ASUU rejected the IPPIS and hinged this on the fact that IPPIS ignored its peculiarities as academics, compared to the ordinary civil/public servants in that issues such as earned academic allowances, sabbatical, etc. were not captured in the IPPIS by the federal government. ASUU brought-in UTAS to make-up but the federal government declined its adoption on the ground that UTAS failed integrity tests it was subjected to.
The introduction and implementation of IPPIS by the federal government essentially breaches a core aspect of the contract of employment, consensus ad idem, likewise the introduction of UTAS by ASUU. The two platforms are, simply put, illegal, invalid, unenforceable, null and void in law, they are unacceptable!
The onerous duty for the employer to pay the contractually agreed wages to the employee is sacrosanct in law and it is an anachronism for an employer to device means like IPPIS, to reduce workers’ wages.
The parties option to the debacle is to seek dialogue, compromise and harmonization so that an agreeable platform that could tackle all the interests of both parties be arrived at.
It is, hence, reasoned that a careful study of this piece and the implementation of the recommendations here, especially, the one on the enlightenment of ASUU as to the contents and letters of IPPIS, would put the disagreement between the federal government and ASUU to rest.
- Introduction to Nigerian Labour Law, Princeton & Associates Co. Ltd, Lagos.
- Garner, B.A. Et. al. Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Ed. West Publishing, Minnesota.
- Sagay, I.E. Nigerian Law of Contract 3rd Ed. Spectrum Books Ltd, Ibadan.
- Labour Act
- ILO Convention
- National Industrial Court Act, 2006
- Protection of Wages Convention, 1949
- National Minimum Wage Act, 2011
 sIPPIS.gov.ng, asssessedfeb.4,2023
 Sagay, I.E Nigerian Law of Contract, 3rd Ed, 2018, Spectrum Books Ltd. Ibadan, 14-139
 Garner, B.A. et. AI. Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th Ed. West Pub.com.Minnesota, 233
 Erugo, S. Introduction to Nigerian Labour Law, 2nd Ed. 2019, Princaton x Ass. Pub.co.Ltd Lagos, 137
 (1926) IVB, 522
(2008) 3 WRN, 53
 S.9, National Minimum Wage Act, 2011
S.9 National Minimum Wage Act, 2011.
 No. 95, 1949
 (Unreported) NICN/LA/341/2012.
 (2005)2 N.L.C.R 446 at 470
The opinion expressed in the article is that of Ohiare, J.A. Faculty of Law, University of Abuja, Abuja.
He can be reached on