- Demands sack of governing board
The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has reacted to the appointment of Dr Olushola Odusanya as the new Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM).
The Secretary General of ASURI, Prof Theophilus Ndubuaku commended the federal government for following due process in the appointment.
In a letter to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the union affirmed that the appointment was “strictly in compliance with the extant regulations as stipulated in the Conditions of Service for Federal Research and Development Agencies, Institutes and Colleges (COS 2019),” adding that it also complied with the provisions of the Administrative Guidelines Regulating the Relationship Between Parastatals/Government-owned Companies and the Government.
The letter, dated 2nd June 2023 and signed by the Secretary General of the union, Professor Theophilus Ndubuaku, says: “Since ASURI can attest to the transparency of the process and the qualifications, competence and capacity of the appointee we are rest assured that NACETEM is on the path of fulfilling its mandate.”
ASURI punched holes in the activities of the Chairman of the Governing Board of NACETEM, Sir Haastrup Adewale Olatunji, who it accused of “sponsoring media campaigns, illegal strike action, lockout and picketing by a few members of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) at NACETEM.”
The union condemned the dimension of the strike whereby fetish objects, charms and amulets have been placed on the padlocked gate of NACETEM headquarters at Ile Ife to intimidate, scare and deter other members of staff who are not members of the union from gaining access into the premises and from preventing the appointed DG from resuming.
It also decried the activities of the Governing Board, which it says has constituted itself into a trade union and has been waging a media war on the Federal Government.
“It is absolutely flippant and irresponsible of the Governing Board members, appointees of Mr President, to turn themselves to a trade union and start picketing the institution they were appointed to superintend over and challenging an appointment made by President on the pages of newspapers, electronic and social media.”
Relying on “Administrative Guidelines Regulating the Relationship Between Parastatals/Government-owned Companies and the Government,” the union claimed that Governing Boards do not have absolute powers and can be overruled by the supervising ministry when they err or are about to take actions that can embarrass the Federal Government.
Section 9 of the document, according to the union, vests final responsibility in the President, through the Minister of the supervising Ministry, and not the Board. In the same vein, section 14 of the Guidelines says:
“The Board and Management of a Parastatal shall not, without reference to the minister, take any action involving a change of policy or one which is likely to lead to public controversy.”
According to ASURI, which represents the interests of Research Fellows in Federal Research and Development Institutes (RDIs), Inter-University Centres, Colleges and Allied Agencies, the Governing Board of NACETEM went off track when it screened fully qualified candidates for the position of Chief Executive for the Centre.
In its letter, the union said its fears that the process was compromised were confirmed by a well-publicized press statement of the Governing Board on this matter Sir Olatunji, who signed on behalf of his colleagues, that Dr Odusanya, “like 10 others, did not get past the screening process.”
ASURI, which had earlier accused the Board of plotting to hoist the Overseeing Director General (ODG) of NACETEM, Dr Omimakinde John, on the Centre, wondered how a non-Researcher, “an Accountant whose PhD and promotion to the post of Director are both barely one year can be more qualified than Dr Odusanya, an accomplished Researcher who earned his Ph. D in 1999 – 24 years ago – and became a Director eight years ago, that is, since 2015.”
The union noted that contrary to the stories being peddled in the media by the Chairman of the Governing Board, the ministry followed due process to the letter, adding: “It is noteworthy that in exercising its authority in line with the Administrative Guidelines over a recalcitrant Board, the Hon. Minister of State wrote to SGF and obtained the consent of Mr President to take over the process and save the face of the administration.”
Relying on the Conditions of Service (COS 2019), the union argued that the ODG should not have been appointed to that position in an acting capacity in the first instance because he is not an academic staff.
Section 2.1.2(d)(ii) of COS 2019 says: “In the event of the exit or temporary absence of the substantive Executive Director/Director General/Provost, the most senior Research Fellow/Lecturer shall oversee the affairs of the Institute/College pending the appointment of a substance Head or return of the substantive Executive Director/Director General/Provost.”
According to the union, the Overseeing DG, who is enjoying the recalcitrance of the Governing Board, has refused to hand over to the substantive DG, Dr Odusanya, in spite of a directive from the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations to do so on or before the 31st of May 2023.
In view of the confusion, which ASURI claims have been generated by the Governing Board, the union has called on the Federal Government to sack it.
Says the union: “In the light of the irredeemable ignorance, misuse of power, insubordination, maligning of constituted authority, peddling of falsehood and inciting actions, all of which are capable of disturbing public peace, ASURI hereby calls on the Federal Government to sack the Governing Board of NACETEM with immediate effect.”