Succession crisis: Food and research institute FIIRO on edge
• We Are Not Aware Of The Development-NASU
• No Crisis In FIIRO-PRO
• Allegations Meant To Discredit My Record-Elemo
The Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos, a corporate member of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST) is currently enmeshed with serious succession crisis, which if not well managed could disrupt activities at the institute. Established in 1956 by the World Bank, following recommendation of the economic mission, the institute has over the years recorded over 250 Research and Development (R&D) results, with a minimum of 50 of them, well packaged, tested commercially and technically, and already in market.
In 1986, it started a technology transfer programme, with over 500,000 people that have so far passed through the training programme.But currently, the institute is close to being torn apart based on allegations of corruption and succession tussle leveled against the immediate past Director General, Dr. Gloria Elemo by some staff.
Though the crisis has been kept as top secret, hardly noticed in the day-to-day running of the institute, it was learnt via a petition titled: SAVE FIIRO: Corruption and Succession tussle in FIIRO,” that a list of atrocities have been piling up at FIIRO, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade. It was learnt that FIIRO is one of such Federal Government parastatals quietly going through activities that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be interested in.
“Dr. Gloria Elemo has been the Director General of FIIRO for eight years. Her second term expired on Friday, May 10, 2019. She was reported to be seen with heavily armed policemen on Thursday, May 9, 2019, claiming that her life was threatened by the workers union, which embarked on a peaceful protest.
They had alleged that Elemo sold some of the Institute’s property to herself, diverted monies meant for the Institute’s project and favoured her loyalists with undeserved double promotions. It was said that due to the presence of the Policemen at the Institute’s premises, the union’s peaceful protest could not hold.
Now to the big story. Against the directive of the Governing body of the Institute that the outgoing DG should handover to the next qualified staff, in person of Dr. (Mrs) Agnes Asagbra, she was alleged to have handed over to one Dr. Chima Igwe, who is allegedly being investigated by Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). Elemo was alleged to have done this for obvious reasons, to cover her track.
The same Dr. Chima Igwe is said to be currently taking a lecturing job in India and South Africa, which is against the Civil Service Rule. Also, there are other issue of certificates, which have been cited, but not backed up.An unsigned petition alleged that the Minister of Science and Technology, (who supervises FIIRO), Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu sent an email dated May 11, 2019 that Igwe should resume office as the acting Director General on Monday, May 13, 2019, which is said to be against Civil service rules.
FIIRO’s Chairperson, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational And Associated Institutions (NASU), Mrs. Ogunleye told The Guardian during a visit to the institute that she was not aware of the development. “ I don’t know anything about what you are saying.”
The institute’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Chris Olumuyiwa, who saidthere was no crisis within the institute, noted that the immediate past DG duly handed over to the most Senior Director, according to the circular signed by the Secretary to the Federal Government.
“Since her exit, there has been no vacuum, things have been going on normally, even this morning (Thursday), we received people from Germany, the acting DG attended to them and he has been meeting the Directors too since he resumed his new office. “You can see that the environment is peaceful and there is no crisis. One thing we need to make clear is that the post is in acting capacity. The issue of substantive DG is opened to anyone, both within the institute and outside.”
When contacted, the former DG, Elemo said the institute acted in accordance with the directive of the ministry. “Secondly, he is in acting capacity, we have advertised and we ought to have started the process of shortlisting on Monday, I don’t know how this is causing crisis.”
She described the petition as the handwork of some faceless people who were not able to achieve their hidden agenda when she was at the helm of affairs. “I don’t get involved in unnecessary politics but since the DG crisis started, I followed the rules and regulations, I was not aware it’s going to be a public issue like this because I am not the first DG to leave the office who handed over to the most senior director.”
On the sale of the institute’s property, she said: “If I need air conditioners is it used ones I need to use? This is not the first time we have been auctioning cars and air conditioners and there are rules and regulations guiding disposal of items. We have a board of survey, after which we’ll take approval from Ministry of Science and Technology and we’ll follow due process to the latter. I didn’t buy any air conditioner; even with my salary I cant buy air conditioner. On the issue of promotion, I am the only DG that ensures promotions are done for staff yearly through the administration department.
I can’t unilaterally sit down and say I promote you. The procedures are so clear; I don’t have the power, neither the authority to promote anybody.“If the petitioners are sure of what they are saying, they should come out and put their names on the petition.They should not be faceless. They just want to discredit me; they are enemies, since eight years ago that we have been winning awards, I don’t know what their problem is. Government does not support vacuum and that is the idea of acting, to oversee the institute until another person is appointed as substantive DG by Mr. president, after recommendation of three people by the minister. “