Recruitment: Reps queries institute over alleged violation of federal character



 The House of Representatives Committee on Healthcare Services has queried the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) for allegedly neglecting provisions of the Federal Character Principle in its recruitment process.

The committee expressed the dissatisfaction when the management of the institute appeared on Thursday in Abuja to defend its 2022 budget.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the federal character principle as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, seeks to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country.

Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Tanko Sununu (APC-Kebbi) said that of the over 300 members of staff in the institute, about 10 states were completely left out.

“There are a lot of states that are not represented completely, you have over 300 members of staff; how many of them are from Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano? This is not acceptable.

“What happened that about 6 to 10 states are completely left out in your institution? The name starts with Nigeria and almost 1/3 of the states are excluded; this is gross injustice, how do you think you can correct this,’’ he asked.

Sununu said that the committee would engage relevant stakeholders to correct the injustice in the institute and ensure that all states were represented.

The lawmaker also warned that the committee would not take the matter lightly if the alleged injustice was not corrected.

“This is really embarrassing and something needs to be done, please furnish us with all the existing vacancies, we will liaise with Federal Character Commission, Office of the Head of Service and Budget Office so that we can secure a waiver.

“This is to correct the injustice that is currently existing; the committee will not take it lightly if waiver is not granted and the injustice is not corrected,’’ he warned.

Responding, the Director-General of the institute, Prof. Babatunde Lawal, acknowledged that the Federal Character Principle had not been considered over time in the institute’s recruitment process.

He said that no recruitment had been done since 2019, saying that if given the opportunity, the institute would correct all the abnormally.

“You did note this point during the last oversight visit and we noted it, but we have not recruited since then and so we have not had the opportunity to correct it; when we do have, we are going to correct it sir,’’ he said.

Earlier, Lawal said that in 2021, N3.58 billion was appropriated to the institute and that N2.3 billion had been so far released and N733 million utilised, leaving a balance of N1.1 billion yet to be released.

He explained that the institute was waiting for the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval to spend some of the monies released in line with government principles.

For 2022, Lawal said that N948.5 million was earmarked for personnel cost, N56.24 million for overhead and N878.5 million for capital expenditure.

He said that the amount allocated to research in the capital expenditure was small and that there was need to recruit new researchers for the institute to replace those retiring and to reduce the workload on those still in service.

The committee, however, commended the institute for its achievements over the years and charged the management to improve on its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

The committee said that the institute should liaise with other relevant agencies of government to ensure research products such as testing kits were commercialised to generate revenue for the government. (NAN)