By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) has frowned at the failure of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) to transmit the Conditions of Service for Research and Development Institutes to stakeholder Ministries, Departments and Agencies two years after approving the document.
Speaking at a rally on Friday in Abuja, the Secretary General of ASURI, Dr. Theophilus Ndubuaku, said the Conditions of Service, which was approved by the Head of Service in November 2020 after 15 years of negotiation became effective retroactively from January 2019, noting that after approving the document, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) refused to transmit it.
Dr. Ndubuaku said rather than do the needful, the OHCSF had since been condescending and snobbish, ignoring all appeals by the Union and the directive of the Federal Government committee on the issue of ASURI strike.
He spoke of the urgent need for the Conditions of Service to be transmitted to Research Institutions in Nigeria so that the system can run and for researchers to face their work and responsibility of developing the country.
Secretary General of ASURI, DR Theophilus Ndubuaku stated this on Friday during the rally organised by the Union at the Office of the Head of Service (HOS) in Abuja.
Emphasising that the negotiations for the Conditions of Service took 15 years, he said it would sound unbelievable that in a country of 200 million people that is hungry for development, the research sector has been on strike for almost one year now.
“The government took us through negotiations for 15 years, something that should not have lasted six months, and after 15 years we agreed that we have arrived at what should be the Conditions on Service of research institutions and it was left for the Head of Service to circulate it.”
The ASURI Scribe spoke further: “As I speak to you now, the Presidency is operating with that circular, the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation that has more research institutions than any other ministry is implementing the conditions of service.”
“But the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) said they will not accept that same Conditions of Service, yet they coordinated the negotiation for over 15 years. They say they will not accept it unless the HOS sends it directly to them and not through another medium, even though the document has been approved by the Head of Service. It was the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment that initiated the same Condition of Service and then gave it to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to coordinate.”
Dr. Ndubuaku said in view of this, the Federal Ministry of Labour called a meeting of all stakeholders, including the Presidency and OHCSF last April and they directed the OHCSF to send this document directly to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), adding, “It will beat your imagination that one year after, the Head of Service has not done that.”
He continued: “And that is not all, when the HOS released the Conditions of Service, they was supposed to release the Schemes of Service. So the Ministry of Science and Technology, Presidency and all the research Institutions have been waiting for the Schemes of Service which was also completed at the same time as the Conditions of Service and the Head of Service has not released the Schemes of Service.
“So we now have a situation where we are operating Conditions of Service without the accompanying Schemes of Service.”
The labour leader said he can’t understand the kind of power play that is going on in this country, wondering why the Presidency of a country will be implementing a document and a ministry will choose not to recognize or implement same document.
In his words: “How can the Presidency of a country be implementing a document and a Ministry will not implement the document, and this is a country with population of over 200 million people in a state of distress. It is common knowledge that this country has failed, some say it has failed while others say it is failing.
Whatever it is, if you look at the statistics, this country is designated poverty capital of the world. Today, we have insecurity that has defied any solution by the security agencies. We have insecurity caused by unemployment, poverty, hunger and under-development.”
Dr. Ndubuaku said the only way to resolve the issues of insecurity in the country caused by unemployment, poverty, hunger and under-development is to follow the way other developed countries followed which is research. He stressed that everybody will tell you that everything you see around you is a product of research and that no country develops without research and that research is key to development.
When asked to react to the issues raised by ASURI, the Deputy Director Communication, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mohammed Ahmed Abdullahi said he would not comment unless and until he sees the details of the said correspondences which ASURI promised to make available to him.
Other members of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of ASURI present at the rally were the National Treasurer, Comrade Jessica Effiong, National Auditor Comrade Stephen Badu and a host of other members of the union.