Posted by News Express | 13 August 2020 | 931 times
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has declared as deplorable the state of affairs at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), accusing its management of willingness to meet the payment obligations to its clerical staff. HURIWA lamented this is despite the continuous servicing by the Federal Government of the budget lines meant to be used to pay the wage bills of this category of low level but critical staff. It accused the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, and the Permanent Secretary of dereliction of duty by not supervising the agency as much as they should thereby reducing it to a waste dump.
HURIWA expressed worry that the refusal of the management to also provide the practical frameworks for the advancement of biotechnology in Nigeria will harm the country's vision of joining the rest of the world to achieve remarkable success in the fields of science and technology.
Said the rights group: “There is the urgent need for the agency to be compelled by President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up from the doldrums of mismanagement and begin to discharge her statutory functions and mandates.”
In a media statement on Wednesday by her National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the rights group said it has been inundated by calls from within the agency that if emergency actions are not adopted, the staff and members of the public stand the risks of infections from Covid-19 disease in Nigeria because of the dirty environment caused by “the failure of its acting Director General, Prof Alex Uwadiegwu Cashmire Akpa, to provide visionary and pragmatic leadership to pilot the affairs of the critical scientific institution with efficiency and effectiveness.”
HURIWA affirmed that it has received a written petition in which many of the staff accused the acting DG of allegedly collecting between 30 and 70% of project money and use it for bribe to ensure he is confirmed as the DG/CEO, adding that “he tells a lot of lies on national TV as achievements of NABDA when in essence nothing is going on.”
HURIWA also alleged that: “NABDA Biotech centres collect money every year without building any structures there and do not even have any staff on ground only bushes.
“The recent talk of NABDA developing test kits for COVID-19 is a lie, disengaged cleaners owed are owed eight months salaries. The newly employed cleaners have also not been paid since January this year.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should investigate all these allegations to verify the authenticity or otherwise of these weighty allegations.”
The staff, according to HURIWA, alleged that the DG’s professorship questionable, alleging that he has no single publication of any article in any journal, “so how was he made a professor?”
The acting DG has however dismissed the allegations of misapplication of the institutional funds but the rights group said President Buhari should investigate the allegations on their merits.
HURIWA confirmed that it has on many occasions reached out to the acting DG with these plethora of complaints but he attacked them on the phone and accused them of harassment.
HURIWA, in the media release, also included photographic evidence of how the agency complex in Abuja has become unhealthy for the staff and the public as refuse dumps are littered all over the place thereby constituting terrible nuisance “which must be abetted before it is too late.”
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