Research Institutes strike underscore FG’s lip service to agric
• Activities At 15 Agric Institutes Grounded As Strike Enters Fifth Week
• Govt’s Inaction Portends Threat To Food Security, Says Adewumi
• We Are Waiting For Govt’s Promised Approval-FIIRO Chapter
As the indefinite strike action of Joint Unions of Research Institutes and Allied Institutions in the country enters its fifth week, there is no hope in sight of early resolution, as the parties are yet to reach a common ground.
The action of the unions, which commenced on November 14, has grounded activities at agriculture institutions across the country.
Chairman of Joint Research and Allied Institutions Sector Unions (JORAISU), and General Secretary of NASU, Comrade Peters Adeyemi, who briefed Journalist on behalf of the unions, said the action was taken after the Federal Government ignored a 15-day strike ultimatum, issued on October 30, 2017.
Of the 26 institutions, 15 are Agric-based establishments, a situation seen by stakeholders as a setback to government’s much-hyped diversification of the economy to agriculture.
A visit to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) on Thursday, shows the negative impact of the strike, as the gate of the lively institute was locked, with the presence of the branch union officials, manning the entrance to ensure compliance. Vehicles were also not allowed in, as offices remained under lock and key.
Reports from National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State indicates that the institute is also shut and research activities grounded.
Feelers from Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER); and Institute of Agricultural Research & Training and Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, all in Ibadan, Oyo State, showed that the same scenario is playing out there.
A fortnight ago, leadership of the unions insisted they would sustain their indefinite strike, if the Federal Government fails to accede to their demands. They maintained that the strike would continue until their demands, which include adequate funding of research institutes, were met. They accused government of paying lip service to research for development.
With just two weeks to the end of 2017, there appears to be no respite, as no meaningful agreement has been reached.
Chairman, FIIRO Branch, SSAUTHRIAI, for JORAISU, Comrade Engr. John Odoh, who spoke to The Guardian on phone, said their agitations are- payment of 12 months arrears of 53.37 per cent salary increase; withdrawal of circular on non-skipping of grade level 10; retirement age of 65 years for non-research staff, obtainable in the university; and peculiar allowance/earned allowances.
Others are; establishment of a central body to be known as National Research Institutes Commission (NARICON); adequate funding of research institutes; and release of condition of scheme of service.
Odoh disclosed that the unions are waiting for government’s promised memo of approval for the payment of arrears, noting that the issue has been discussed and resolved at the National Assembly. “About three meetings had been held since the strike started. There is urgent need for government to keep to its promise and also increase the fund of research institutes.”
National President of Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA), Prof Segun Adewumi, who condemned government’s handling of the strike, said the situation is not good for agriculture research institutes, as it portends threat to food security and innovations.
He said the agric institutes, based on their mandates should be ahead of innovations that can add value to the sector, “but for them to be on strike, it doesn’t portend good thing for the country. I want government to quickly address their agitations.”