Union Draws Battle line as Succession Tussle Tears NASENI Apart



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   By Special Correspondent, JIM PRESSMAN

 

 

The Anselm Eragbe Aphimia-led Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) at the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) is spoiling for a big fight with the authorities at the research institution over irregular practices, misappropriation of funds and outright illegalities on the watch of Acting Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mohammed Haruna, whose temporary tenure has lapsed and the appointment of a substantive head is being awaited.

The succession tussle at the place for which in part, the local Labour Union chairman says NASENI “has been in the news for quite some time,” is the crux of the matter.

As an agency under the umbrella of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, it used to operate according to the Public Service Rules until the grand norms changed in respect of research institutes. Now, the institutions being quasi-universities, independent and corporate seals, have Boards of their own, can sue and can be sued.

In order to keep Dr Mohammed Haruna in office as Acting Director-General, and eventually attain confirmation in a position for which insiders say he is ab initio not qualified to occupy, Management of NASENI, which comprises essentially himself and the Permanent Secretary with the tacit support of a Minister of Science and Technology, reported to have continually benefitted in cash and in kind from Dr Mohammed, is alleged to have committed gross illegalities and misused the office to siphon public funds in multiple millions.

It all began with the abridging of the lawful duration of the two-term tenure of former Director-General of NASENI Oyeleke Adewoye from the legal 5-years each, making ten, to 4 years each, amounting to only eight years.

By the time Prof. Adewoye discovered the discrepancy, he exploded and was able to extend his second term by only another year, before the compulsory retirement age stipulation of 65, caught up with him and he had no option but to quit.

Four other directors in the research institution were also “dribbled” out of the way by Dr Mohammed to ensure the success of his “scheme.”

The NASENI Labour Union Congress led by its chairman, Anselm Eragbe Aphimia, said it began “the fight against injustice on behalf of the victims and the Nigerian public whose funds were [allegedly] being misappropriated by Dr Mohammed and his cohorts.”

The August 7 and 8 2012 interviews held in Abuja with a view to selecting a substantive successor to the still vacant Director-General/CEO position, with the expiration of the mandatory acting period served by Dr Mohammed, are yet to produce any result, and speculations were rife at the time of this report that the pressure is still on to push Mohammed into the seat.

A press release from the ASURI leadership in NASENI has declared that the battle line is drawn and that if demands they have been making are not met, the institution may boil within two weeks.

Meanwhile, last week Monday (October 22, 2012), the Deputy Director in charge of Finance,DDF  a key member of the NASENI Management, especially with regard to disbursement of funds, was picked up, quizzed all night and returned to his office Tuesday, October 23, to fetch some important documents. Before the Monday


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