*URGES PRESIDENT BUHARI TO ACT IMMEDIATELY:
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has declared as deplorable the state of affairs at the National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA) with the management of this badly administered institution not willing to meet the payments obligations to cleaners and security staff working for the agency 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. HURIWA accused the minister of Science and Technology Ogbonnaya Onu and the Permanent Secretary of dereliction of duty by not supervising the agency as much as they should thereby reducing the agency to a waste dump.
“HURIWA is worried 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. There is the urgent need for the agency to be compelled by the President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up from the doldrums of mismanagement and begin to discharge her statutory functions and mandates which are as follows:
The Agency was established under the aegis of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to implement the policy that is aimed at promoting, coordinating, and setting research and development priority in biotechnology for Nigeria.
The mandates areResearch & Development: carry out well-focused research and development in biotechnology in priority areas of food and agriculture, health, industry, environment and other strategic sectors for national development and draw up programmes and policies for biotechnology utilization, research, and development in Nigeria.
Promote:Promote sustenance in development and application of acceptable and profitable technologies through strategic investments in biotechnology research and development to support innovation and economic development; ensure Nigeria becomes self-reliant in the development and application of biotechnology-based products and services.
Training:Initiate and encourage capacity building in all aspects of biotechnology required for the implementation of cutting edge biotechnology research and development activities in Nigeria.
Coordinate:Promote, coordinate and deploy cutting edge biotechnology research and development activities in Nigeria.
Publish: Publish and disseminate research findings and recommendations of the Agency on biotechnology.
Funding: Ensure a sustainable mechanism for adequate funding of biotechnology activities through national and international funding agencies.
Awareness: Create public awareness and participation in biotechnology development activities through strong advocacy programmes, seminars, conference, and workshop.
Collaborate:Collaborate on biotechnology with international research centres, non-governmental organization, industries, and others.
Private Sector: Encourage private sector participation in the biotechnology industry.”
In a media Statement by the 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 the acting Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency 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 alleged thus: “All the acting DG (Akpa) does is to allegedly collect from 30 to 70% of project money and allegedly use it for bribe to ensure he is confirmed as our DG/CEO. He allegedly tells a lot of lies on national TV as achievements of NABDA when in essence nothing is going on.”
HURIWA also asserted that staff had alleged that: “NABDA Biotech centres that collect money every year but no structure there and no staff on ground only bushes.
The recent talk of NABDA developing test kits for COVID19 is a lie, so alleges a staff with considerable experience of the workings of the office.
Disengaged cleaners owed 8 months’ salary by him have not still been paid. The newly employed cleaners have also not been paid since January 2020 to date.
NABDA BOARD meeting will be held today. We learnt members including the PS of FMST who is the Chairman have been allegedly bribed millions of naira to endorse him as DG/CEO. The EFCC should investigate these lines of allegations to verify the authentic or otherwise of these weighty allegations. The staff alleged that Alex Uwadiegwu Cashmire Akpa’s professorship is allegedly questionable. He allegedly has no single publication of any article in any journal. So how was he made a professor? This man allegedly has nothing upstairs. He is allegedly fraudulent and highly corrupt. If this government has any credibility left, Akpa must not be confirmed by the presidency as the DG/CEO of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). The acting DG has however dismissed the allegations of misapplication of the institutional funds but the Rights group said President Muhammadu should investigate the allegations on their merits.”
The Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) confirmed that it has on many occasions reached out to the acting DG with these plethora of complaints but stated that the Acting Director General attacked us on the phone and accused us of HARASSMENT only because we approached him to demand why the entire agency complex is like a waste dump and staff have low morale and the cleaners and security are owed accumulated wages despite the fact that the 2018 budget lines with the file number as 0228001001; and 2019 Appropriation law with number 0228001001 and 2020 Appropriation with same code show that CLEANERS AND SECURITY BUDGETS were serviced”.
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.