Senate deplores friction between governing boards, chief executives
– Queries ministry for alleged reckless spending by its agencies
The Senate Committee on Science and Technology has condemned the frosty relationships between governing boards of some Federal Government agencies and their chief executives.
The panel chairman, Senator Uche Lilian Iyom Ekwunife (Anambra Central), who spoke at the weekend in Abuja during an oversight function, specifically flayed the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Lagos and the Production Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu for generating too much negative press.
She expressed worry that the development was adversely affecting their operations.
“We observed that FIIRO was shut down for a while due to staff unrest. This action casts the agency and the ministry in a very bad light,” Ekwunife said.
The chair, therefore, requested the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, to brief the committee on the step being taken to contain the ugly situation, adding that the lawmakers would address the issue in due course.
Ekwunife also observed the frequency and cost of foreign trips embarked upon by some of the agencies without the proper briefing of the National Assembly on their necessity and benefits.
She said: “We want to remind the ministry that the constitutional oversight function of the National Assembly also includes oversight of these foreign trips in order to ensure that they are indeed adding value to the economy.
“Going forward, the committee expects the ministry to give it advance notice of any planned overseas trip as well as ensure that it is regularly briefed on the activities of the ministry which we are not getting now.
“The committee has become aware of the non-inclusion of the 2020 overhead for phased analogue in the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI).”
The chairman canvassed the augmentation of the salary shortfall in the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) to enable it to carry out its operations effectively in the current fiscal year.
She added: “We urge the Minister to liaise with his counterpart in the Finance Ministry to seek an immediate resolution of these issues which can hamper the operations of these agencies under consideration.
“Finally the committee frowns on the increasing neglect of its resolutions and the failure of the ministry to carry it along.”
Ekwunife queried the ministry for “some noticeable irregularities in the way and manner some of the agencies spend their annual budgetary provisions with utmost recklessness.”
“The helicopter purchase by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and the pencil project by PRODA are examples of projects that leave much to be desired,” she added.
Responding, the minister said in the four and half years that he has held sway, he had always extended invitations to the committee.
“They will say invite us when we invite them, nobody shows up,” he clarified.