In a bid to show their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the leadership of the Director-General of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER) Olororo, Ojoo, Ibadan; Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the three in-house staff unions of the institute on Tuesday staged a peaceful protest.
The Protest by the NISER members was prompted by the allegations of financial recklessness and the poor leadership of Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith.
The unions including the Academic Staff Union of Research Institute (ASURI), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAL), and Non Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) carried placards and sang solidarity songs expressing disappointment the way the institution is being ran.
The trio of; NASU chairman, Tubi Theophilus, Chairman of SSAUTHRIAI, Matthew Olagunju; and Chairman of ASURI, Babatimehin Muyiwa presented a joint statement regarding their action.
When Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith was contacted regarding the allegations, he stated that the accusations against him did not start on Tuesday and that the Minister of State, National Planning had constituted a panel on the matter.
The agitations of the workers were hinged on three main issues including: lack of primacies qualification for the position of Director General and procedural inadequacies in his appointment; academic and administrative incompetence; and financial infractions and embezzlement of public funds, which they said is affecting the performance and output of the research institute.
Some of the inscriptions of the placards read “No to another 4 years for Gbadebo Smith”, “Mr President Save NISER from Folarin Gbadebo Smith” and “Mr. President Save NISER from mismanagement of research funds”, among others.
According to the protesters, the embattled DG is a dentist by profession and possesses no research degree (Ph.D.) that could have qualified him as a socio-economic researcher, adding that his appointment was clearly in contravention of the Conditions of Service for Federal Research and Development Agencies, Institutes and Colleges.
Also, the second allegation was hinged on the grounds that the tenure of Gbadebo-Smith has witnessed what they described as “abysmal low research output, poor. staff welfare, non-promotion of qualified staff, no conference sponsorship and capacity training for staff, no strategic plan document, non-adherence to extant rules as regards staff management and deployment, truancy from duty post, and conflict of interest by the continued running of personal businesses (NGO) to the detriment of NISER.”
The third allegation bordered on financial infractions and embezzlement of public funds. They alleged further that less than 40 per cent of total capital releases were used for research to the advantage of contracts that are never completed and that two research outputs were printed out of over 50 completed research studies.
Chairman of ASURI, Babatimehin Muyiwa, who read the press statement on behalf of the three in-house unions, alleged that there were many spurious research activities that were merely used to siphon public money and “which never passed through NISER’s quality control process.”
He mentioned “N20million purportedly for the monitoring and evaluation of ERGP project, N10million purportedly for payment for DTA and transportation in respect of unspecified official trip, N40, 752,110.15 purportedly for consultancy payment in respect of modeling for NISER, N85million purportedly for N-Power Project for states, and so on.
“It is on the basis of the foregoing that the JAC resolved that the continued retention of Dr. Gbadebo-Smith as the DG-NISER will be a great disservice to the institute and by extension the nation as a whole.”
Reacting, the embattled DG said both the panel and the Supervising Minister had told him not to grant a press interview on the allegations and that the panel’s report would shed light on the matter.
He was however quick to say the whole trouble he is facing is because some people within the institute did not want his appointment renewed for another four-year term.