-by Charles Chima
On the expiration of her tenure as the Director General (DG), Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) on May 10, 2019, Prof. (Mrs) Gloria Elemo did the needful by handing over the helm of affairs of the institute to the most senior officer as the acting DG as required by extant rules and regulations.
That person happens to be Dr. Chima Igwe. But intrigues and political manipulations set in as soon as Elemo handed over as required by law, leading to one Dr (Mrs) Yemisi Asagbara coming to the scene and allegedly appointed by FIIRO Governing Board as acting DG.
Should that allegation be true, the implication is that FIIRO Governing Board must have usurped the powers of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) and the Presidency, whose responsibilities it is, (and not the Board) to appoint a DG as the supervising Ministry of the institute.
Several months after Elemo left FIIRO, peace appears to have taken a flight from the institute and her achievements fast eroding that appropriate measures now needed to set the institute back on track.
The development is currently taking its tolls on the productivity of the employees as divergent opinion has sprung up amongst staff and Trade Unions as a result of the quagmire.
Moreover, the Unions and the staff of the research institute are all groaning as a once viable Research Institute is fast losing its glory of yester- years due to gross incompetence of the current acting DG.
However, a source who pleaded anonymity noted that the rate of incompetence that graced the once viable research institute due to managerial, technical and administrative incompetence is alarming, adding that financial mismanagement is now the order of the day, while hoping that the government would implement the re-instatement of Dr. Chima Igwe as earlier directed by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
Even the Non Academic Staff Union of Educational & Associated Institutions, FIIRO Branch in a letter dated 22nd April, 2021 addressed to the Ag. DG, FIIRO, titled: “Our Grievance and Un-Resolved Issues,” observed that “the Institute cannot move forward in the right direction until we have a substantive Director General/CEO”! The Union subsequently demanded for the appointment of a substantive DG, who must be appointed following due process and transparency.
The said letter signed by the Branch Secretary, Oyebanji Samuel, and the Branch Chairperson, F.F. Ogunleye, partly reads as follows:
- Appointment of Substantive DG/CEO: The institute cannot move forward in the right direction until we have a substantive DG/CEO which must be appointed following due process and transparency beginning from the process of shortlisting, to interview and recommendation of successful candidates to the Ministry who will then forward the Board’s recommendation to the Presidency for approval of one candidate to be appointed as the DG/CEO. Please note that anything short of transparent selection process may bring the institution back to dark period and some aggrieved people may want to fault the process and write petitions. We cannot afford to waste more time. The management and board should make the appointment of DG/CEO a priority now and divert all available resources at the institute now to ensure the selection is done in accordance with due process.
- Promotion Interview: The management should start putting in motion machinery to conduct hitch free 2021 Senior Staff promotion with input from all the Directors at the Institute and Heads of Departments and invitation of statutory stakeholders including FMST, Head of Service etc.
- Issue of 30%: There is a very strong rumor going around that contractors are paying 30 percent back to the Institute, as a union, we need confirmation about the rumor. We also want to know how the fund is expended especially relating to staff welfare which is almost zero as at today. Our other counterparts in other institutes, even institutes similar to FIIRO were given incentives end of every year, but nothing have been done to our member since2018.
- The agreement reached with our headquarter representative that is yet to be done are:
- Nonpayment of year 2019 and 2020 promotion arrears.
- Nonpayment of 8months salary for some staff.
- Nonpayment of burial rites for deceased staff.
- Payment of repatriation allowance to retirees.
- Conversion/Upgrades of member out of three, you have attended to two members, remaining Mrs. Afolabi Owafunke Olabimpe.
- Omission of 2018 promotion arrears to our members.
- Unauthorized deduction of our member’s salaries refers tour letter dated 15th March, 2021.
FIIRO, who has won countless Awards under the watch of Prof. Gloria Elemo could not make any notable impact in this era of Covid-19 Pandemic, which is a great mark of faulty and incompetent administration.
According to the insider, who wants to remain anonymous, “FIIRO is now grossly unproductive? We are just living on the past glory. How long are we going to continue like this?”
The source stated; “When has the appointment of DG become the duty of the Governing Board? Must we play politics with everything because of vested interest? I have to state categorically that this mischievous act is to deceive the public into believing in the erroneous moves of the board and the conspiracy being carried out which is politically motivated.”
While all these are going on, the federal government appears to be indecisive over the development. However, a competent source at the supervising ministry, (FMST) says the FIIRO issue and those of other agencies under FMST are about to be resolved.
According to the source Federal Government approval is expected for the dissolution and decomposition of all Agencies, Parastatals and government owned companies under various Federal Government ministries which has been long overdue and at which period the confusion caused by the FIIRO Board will be resolved!