The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) of National Centre for Technology (NACETEM), Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, on Tuesday embarked on a protest against alleged imposition of a Director General/Chief Executive Officer on their agency.
The workers, who carried placards with different inscriptions like: Illegitimate DG/CEO not welcome in NACETEM, We say No to arrangee DG/CEO, Mr President rescue NACETEM from Chief Henry Ikoh, among others, blocked the entrance of the Centre.
Speaking at the protest ground, Mr Olumide Fadakinte, Spokesperson of NACETEM-NASU, said they resulted to the protest after exploring all provisional avenues to stop the imposition.
Fadakinte explained that they have it on good authority that the Federal Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikoh, plan to impose a DG on them without recourse to the NACETEM governing board.
He said the governing board had kicked started a process , since 2022, to nominate, through screening and selection from applicants, a substantive DG for the agency, but the minister halted the process.
‘The standard and established law is that a governing board would screen and nominate a candidate and forward the name to the supervising Minister, who in turn would forward same to Mr President for approval.
“It is only when a governing board is not in place that the supervising Minister assumes the role of screening and selecting a nominee for the position of the DG.
“It is, however, abbritrary for the minister to nominate a candidate for NACETEM, when the agency have a governing board in place.” he said
Fadakinte called on the President to call the minister to order and instruct him to follow due process, even if he has a candidate of choice for the DG position.
Addressing the protesters, Mr Haasrop Olatunji, the Chairman, NACETEM Governing Board, commended the workers for holding their protest without resulting to violence.
Olatunji commended the union leaders for taking active interest in the well being of NACETEM staff, promising that the board would do its best, under existing protocol, to get their message across to the president.
Later speaking at a news conference with newsmen, Olatunji corroborated what the protesting workers said, adding that the minister, that came on board in July 2022, halted the DG nomination process they started on April 19, 2022.
“We have past the screening stage and was on the oral interview stage before the minister gave us a directive in November to stop the process altogether that a petition had been written against the process (from another agency outside NACETEM)” he said
The chairman said the minister instructed them (the board) to re-constitute a new eight member committtee (which will include his own team) to rescreen nominees within two weeks.
He said when they rejected the directive, the minister constituted his own screening committee and nominated his preferred person to become the DG of NACETEM.
He said the minister is equally threatening to dissolve the governing board for standing their ground and insisting that due process must be followed for the DG nomination.
He said at it stands, the nomination of the Minister is being challenged at the Federal High Court in Osogbo, urging the protesting union to exercise restrain and allow the board continue to dialogue with the minister