Minister of Science and Technoogy, Ogbonnaya Onu
A civil society group, the Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI) has called on the Federal Government to restrain the Governing Board of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), led by Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo from further acts of mismanagement and alleged misappropriation of funds.
This is informed by the fact that the governing council has derailed in the responsibilities to drive the mandate of the institute since the present board was inaugurated. It is alleged that the chairman has taken over the day-to-day running of the institute from the supervising Ministry-the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in recalling and reinstating Dr Chima Igwe, the Acting Director-General of FIIRO, who has since been cleared of allegations of unethical practices as well as absolved from all allegations bordering mostly on presenting a phantom certificate.
In a press statement by the organization’s Executive Secretary, Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele, CWAI wondered why the delay in reinstating Dr Igwe after several months that the Minister had given orders to the Chairman of the Governing Council of FIIRO, Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo.
CWAI recalls that Dr Igwe was investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices (and Other Related Offences) Commission (ICPC) on the allegations of forging his certificate. However, the ICPC investigations found his certificate to be authentic. Thereafter, his re-instatement was ordered, but not complied with. This delay in the reinstatement of Dr Igwe as the Ag. Director-General of FIIRO in the past few months, has given room for a lot of insider dealings and other atrocities within the institute.
Accordingly, CWAI still ponders on what must have kept the governing board of FIIRO from reinstating the Director-General after the Minister had given the directive to the Chairman of the board as well as why it has taken this long for a most senior staff to be reinstated to office after the orchestrated investigations carried out had declared him innocent of all the allegations.
In the course of its investigations, CWAI discovered to its dismay that Alhaji Gwarzo keeps bragging to the ears of anyone that cares to listen, that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, is his godfather and mentor, and as such, nothing can happen to him (Gwarzo). CWAI further learns that Gwarzo also brags that as far as the present SGF remains in office, his alleged sins are covered at the institute as he remains untouchable.
CWAI gathered that this lacuna of not reinstating the Ag. Director-General has, indeed, given the board chairman unfettered access to the FIIRO treasury and other alleged infractions at the institute.
The organization recalls that Nigerians are aware that it was the office of the SGF that brought about a stop to the arbitrary sacking of Directors-General of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by Ministers of the Federal Republic through the enactment and description of extant laws and rules as such should apply prevail on Gwarzo and call on him to order. CWAI investigations also reveal that Gwarzo’s strong grip on power and accumulation of wealth at FIIRO is not unconnected with his desire to fulfill his alleged senatorial ambition in Kano State.
CWAI is of the view that the function of the governing board is clear and insists on the application of such, that: “Among the many functions as listed therein, none empowers the council to even oversee the daily running of the affairs of the institute, as being witnessed under a current board headed by Gwarzo.”In view of the foregoing, CWAI therefore describes the orchestrated suspension of Dr Igwe by the board as an act of witch-hunt, gross abuse of power and a carefully calculated attempt by desperate members of the board to hijack the administration of the institute for selfish interest and gains.
CWAI emphasised that a forensic financial audit should be commissioned by the Federal Government immediately to unravel the extent of financial impropriety that have taken place since the governing board took over the affairs of the institute and to also unravel the level of infractions that must have taken place.
Corereporters report that CWAI called on the Presidency, the Minister of Science and Technology and Board of Science and Technology to look into the issue dispassionately, thoroughly and call the Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo led governing board to order and prevail on the cabal to reinstate Dr Chima Igwe as Acting Director-General as soon as possible. Also, the forensic financial audit should be carried out by anti-graft agencies forthwith as to serve as deterrence to other governmental agencies.