HEDA petitions ICPC, lists reasons why FIIRO DG must be probed over Ph.D row

Posted by News Express | 9 November 2019 | 682 times

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•FIIRO DG Chima Igwe

The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has been asked to probe the certificate scandal raised against the Director General, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, (FIIRO), Oshodi in Lagos, Mr Chima Igwe.

In a petition sent to the ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), said the position of the FIIRO is too sensitive to be held by someone whose credentials are subjects of doubts. HEDA said industrial and intellectual property products from Nigeria are at the risk of global ridicule if the country’s leading research institution is led by someone suspected to hold dubious academic records.

The group said research institutions must never be subjected to the peril of politics and favoritism adding that it should represent one of the country’s finest outposts of probity and transparency since the institute connects with several products that affect the livelihood of Nigerians and the country’s industrial and technological growth.

FIIRO, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is Nigeria’s leading research institution and the country’s oldest having been mooted in 1953 after the World Bank sent an economic mission to visit Nigeria. The institute was later established in 1956 to coordinate research driven scientific activities in Nigeria.

Chime, the 57 year old Acting DG who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka but claimed he bagged a Ph.D at the Universite Nationale du Benin (now Universite d’Abomey-Calavi) in Benin Republic. Barely two decades after he claimed to have bagged the Ph.D, recent reports indicated he was yet to produce the certificate even after he had been serially promoted based on the same unproven academic records.

The petition signed by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju stated: “It was reported that the only evidence of the purported Ph.D. is an attestation letter. HEDA was informed that the issue became contentious when the tenure of the immediate past Director-General of FIIRO, Prof. Gloria Elemo, ended and there was the need for a new head for the institute.”

The rights group said the governing board of the institute, while shopping for a replacement, called for the files of senior officers of the agency and Mr. Igwe, being the most senior was to be next in line. HEDA said the controversy then resurfaced and he could not produce the Ph.D. certificate in his file to support his claim.

According to HEDA, “This matter is within the public space as reported by Nigerian mainstream media. We do not want to deduce that the Commission is in the know on this matter. We hereby call on the ICPC to investigate the matter immediately.”

HEDA said the public is not aware that any investigation has commenced and therefore demanded for speedy conclusion if at all any investigation is on-going. Suraju said his group is disturbed that the accused Acting DG is still performing office functions and allegedly using resources of the Institute to cover his tracks.

“The nature of the above allegation against the Acting Director-General is within the purview of the powers vested in the ICPC. We hereby recommend the immediate investigation of this matter to put the controversy at rest.”

HEDA said FIIRO reputation is at stake adding that doubts over the academic records of the Acting DG will affect the credibility of academic and non-academic research output from the institution in the community of material and product research institutions across the world.

“Research institutions are the bedrocks of a country’s industrial and technological growth. It relates to the status of Nigeria in the commercial and innovation technology realm. If the Director of the institute holds dubious credentials, the Nigeria’s scientific and industrial outputs will not command local and international respect to the peril of the country’s future,” Suraju stated.

Source: News Express

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