A Coalition of Civil Society groups have accused some staff union of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi Lagos FIIRO, of pushing an ethnic agenda in their demand for the sack of the acting Direfor General of the Institute, Dr Chima Igwe. Recall the staff Union of the institute have been at logger head with Igwe for several months, over allegations that the acting DG purportedly presented a fake doctorate degree, which qualified for appointment into his present position.
Igwe was said to have been investigated and given a clean bill of health by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offenses Commission ICPC and the Federal Ministry of Science and technology following series of protests and petitions by the staff unions of the institute. Not satisfied, the Unions have since embarked on industrial action and protests thereby paralyzing activities at the institute.
Reacting to these developments, a coalition of Civil Society groups today in Lagos rose in defence of the acting DG, describing him as a victim of an orchestrated campaign of calumny by those it described as ethnic Champions, who are opposed to the emergence of Igwe as the institute’s head, because he is not from the southwestern part of the country, where FIIRO is located.
The group also accused the union leaders of being used by some over ambitions politicians to destabilise the institution.
Read full Statement below:
BEING THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE COALITION OF CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS AGAINST CORRUPTION IN NIGERIA, ON THURSDAY 23RD JANUARY 2020 IN LAGOS.
FIIRO and THE ATTENDING CRISIS
We are gathered here today,as a coalition of civil society groups as undersigned to address the issue raging at Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi FIIRO and the desperate attempt to bring into disrepute the institure and the name, personality and integrity of Dr. Chima Cartney Igwe, the Acting Director General of FIIRO.
It will be recalled that Nigeria and particular the media space has been saturated with the happenings and events going on at FIIRO all geared towards forcefully removing the DG of the institute and rubbishing him from office based on grounds unknown to the law and common sense of nationhood amidst picketing and protests.
We can’t afford to continually sacrifice our best on the altar of regional sensationalism, tribalism and blackmail and hence our intervention.
We belief in the sanctity of institutions in Nigeria and the need for decorum when issues arises.
Here are our findings from interactions and interventions.
1 The plot to remove the DG is allegedly being hatched by top notch staffs of the institute with covert support from some individuals outside of the institute who hopes to benefit from the imbroglios by becoming the substantive DG of the institute.
They attempt to frame up the acting DG with the intention of bringing him to public opprobrium and remove him from office. The kernel of this revelation is a plot to discredit his qualifications that qualifies him for the position he occupies.
You will recall that this is not the first time attempts has been made to remove him from office especially after his emergence as the Acting DG.
Soon after his appointment as the Acting DG and following petitions as regards the genuiness of the certificates in his possession, the honourable minister ordered investigation into the matter and subsequently asked that the ICPC, an agency of government saddled with such issue to take it up, investigate and make public their findings.
The acting DG was eventually discharged of all the charges and his certificate authenticated and proven original. However, following sustained agitations, investigation has been reopened and ongoing and one will expect that all parties involved will allow decorum to reign pending the outcome. How do supposed researchers carry out intellectual national responsibility in the midst of crisis?
2. It has also been discovered that the ethnic card is been played in this matter as several text messages and personal conversations with some petsons in the heart of the crisis points to the plot and are often quick to say that the slot belongs to a particular tribe and should not be taken away from them as if it is a traditional title. Nigeria remains one undivided nation where ethnicity does not come before qualification. No one should further divide the people by playing ethnic card as the DG of FIIRO should be devoid of tribe or regionalism as a federal institute.
With the intent of framing him up and bringing him to national and international disrepute, We wish to point out that throughout his public service career till date, Dr Igwe has distinguished himself as a beacon of excellence, hope, accountability, probity and transparency in Nigeria and beyond; as well as a role model for millions of Nigerians irrespective of affiliations, religion or tribe. Since his emergence as a scholar and head of an institute, Dr Igwe has never been indicted publicly or privately for financial malfeasance or any form of ill conduct.
we wish to warn, in the strongest terms possible, that as a coalition of civil society organisation, we will not sit idly by and watch any Nigerian being maligned; oppressed or ridiculed by a group of people for personal gains and vindictiveness.
In the event of this plot being put into action and since the civil service rule prevents the man in the eye of the storm to speak for himself, we shall resist such barefaced blackmail. We are not unmindful of the fact that this plot gained currency with the resolve of Dr. Igwe not to allow business as usual but to sanitise the institute in alignment with the vision of the presidency and the Honourable minister of science and technology.
It would also be recalled that the institute attracted the sum of 1 billion naira in the last year due to about over 30 patents been secured out of which Igwe alone owns 9. How do we then give the dog a bad name just to hang it?
1. That the media trial, blackmail and ridicule of the personality of Dr. Chima Cartney Igwe be stopped immediately. The rule of law should be allowed to take it’s cause and all swords should be shealth as we await outcome of investigations been ordered.
2. That all players in the game and particularly the leadership of the staff union be probed for their involvement in bringing the name and integrity of the institute to disrepute and for breaking the civil service rule in engagements without exhausting the internal mechanism of government and her agencies.
3. That the civil service rule be applied to anyone found guilty or culpable in the trouble that has bedeviled the institute.
4. That the ICPC again make known and public their finding as regards the issue surrounding the certificates of the acting DG.
5. That the honourable minster of science and technology allow the acting DG to perform the duties assigned to him by giving him the necessary supports to so make the institute what it is supposed to be.
6. That the office of the head of service open books of records and investigate all heads of departments and directors in the institute to determining their culpability or otherwise in the crisis that befell the institute.
COMRADE EMMANUEL AYODEJI
COMRADE USMAN BABALE
COMRADE JOHN ATANI