FG To ASUU: Your UTAS Failed Integrity Test

The Federal Government on Wednesday said that it was still waiting for the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to upgrade and return to it the Universities Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS, which was said to have failed the integrity test.

The Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Inuwa, disclosed this to State House correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

ASUU had presented the UTAS to the Federal Government as its preferred alternative to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.

The Federal Government had insisted that UTAS, having failed the required tests, was unfit to be used as a payment platform. ASUU, however, is accusing the government of being unwilling to accept its alternative to the IPPIS.

Fielding questions on the government’s position on UTAS, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, revealed that when he received a letter from the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, requesting a review of the submission and the technical ability of the system, he forwarded the request to NITDA.

“They (NITDA) conducted their analyses, their own testing and sent same back to me, and I drafted a cover letter, which I forwarded to the Minister of Labour and Employment and I copied the two Ministers of Education and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and also the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and even the National Universities Commission,” he stated.

Pantami, thereafter, directed the DG of NITDA sitting next to him to explain the current state of affairs between the Federal Government and ASUU.

Inuwa said, “When we received the request to review UTAS, you know, building complex system like UTAS that involves employees’ data and also payment system, we had to subject it to do best practice tests before approving. Normally, when we are reviewing that kind of system, we perform three tests.

“Firstly, because when you’re building a 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, processes and technology, you will never get results. No matter how good the technology is, if 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, they won’t use it. So, that is a process of building technology.

“First, you need to get the business requirement. What do you want to achieve? So, it’s not the technology that will come first, it is the business requirement; what do you want to achieve, then you need to identify the capabilities you need to achieve that your business objective.”

Inuwa argued that the agency gauged capability based on the technology ASUU wanted to introduce and the calibre of personnel who would operate the technology.

He said since a piece of technology was only a means to an end, it made no sense to acquire it before knowing what to do with it, else “it will be useless.”

According to him, NITDA also ran stress tests.

Inuwa said the stress test was necessary to ensure that the system could do what it was designed for, adding that the test encompassed a data centre to which the system would be connected for effective operation.

The NITDA boss added, “So, we did all these three tests with them and the system couldn’t pass. We wrote the reports and submitted them back to the honourable minister, which he forwarded to all relevant institutions, including ASUU. As we speak now, ASUU is working on trying to fix all the issues we highlighted with the system and we will review it again, but that is just one half of the story.

“The second half of the story is that we need to find where to put that system. For the IPPIS, we have a data centre built for it. ASUU, where are we going to put UTAS? That means we need to have the data centre and also check to ensure that it meets the minimum requirement. Because if you put people’s information and the system crashes, how can you pay them salaries?

“You need to build redundancy. There are a lot of things to do. But as we speak, they’re trying to fix all the issues we highlighted with the system. Then when we finish that, we need to look at the second half of the story, getting where to install it.”

In its reaction, ASUU accused Pantami of trying to seek vengeance over the issue of the professorship, which he was awarded by the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, which the union opposed.

The ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said, “What the minister said, if true, can best be regarded as vengeance against ASUU for the FUTO ‘fraudfessorship’. The report by the NITDA showed that UTAS scored more than 80 per cent on technical assessment and more than 85 per cent on end user assessment. Can we say that 80 per cent and 85 per cent are failures?

The union had after its National Executive Council meeting in Lagos declared the minister’s promotion to the professorship cadre as “illegal.”

The minister’s elevation has generated controversies, with many faulting FUTO on the promotion of the minister, who was not teaching in the university and whose highest academic attainment was reportedly a lecturer before he ventured into politics.

Punch

(Visited 130 times, 1 visits today)