Staff of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) have shut down the national office complex in Abuja for over a week demanding the immediate vacation from office of its Acting Executive Secretary, Prof. Ambrose Voh Jnr over what they described as abuse of office, gross incompetence, completion of approved one year secondment from (1st April, 2016 to 31st March, 2017), and being above retirement age of 60 or 35 years of service.
The staff under the three unions in the Council, Non Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU), Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), Senior Staff Association of Technical Hospital, Research Institutes (ASURI), Senior Staff Association of Teaching Hospital, Research Institutes and Allied Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), also accused the Executive Secretary of running the Council underground since assumption of office.
The protesting staff accused the Executive Secretary of paying attention to frivolous trips that are not beneficial to the Council adding that, he has failed to chart a road map to drive the economic diversification of the nation from oil to agriculture.
The office gate had placards on it with inscriptions such as, “Pro. Voh is above 60 years of age and must go, Prof. Voh is corrupt and illegally occupying the office of Executive Secretary, Chief Audu Ogbeh is fuelling corruption in ARCN by allowing Prof. Voh staying beyond his tenure” among others.
The ARCN has amongst its mandate to provide master plans for agricultural research, training and extension and advise the Federal Government on the financial requirement for the implementation of such plans. Promote collaboration between scientists engaged in research in the agricultural sciences in Nigeria and their counterpart in other countries or international bodies.
The union under the aegis of Joint Action Committee in a communiqué signed Com. Ademola Oloyede, chairman ASURI-ARCN, Com. Jibrin Umar Rufai, chairman, SSAUTHRIAN-ARCN and Com. Abdullateef Aliu, chairman, NASU-ARCN and their secretaries respectively after a meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Bukar Hassan, insists that until the Executive Secretary is compelled by the authorities to comply with the lay down rules, the Council will remain short.
In the communiqué, the unions accused the Ag. Executive Secretary of demonstrating ignorance about the mandate of the Council throughout his tenure as the Council.
According to an acknowledged copy of the Communique submitted to the Permanent Secretary and obtained by this medium, the unions also accused the Executive Secretary of treat to lives of the staff.
“That, the Ag. Executive Secretary, Prof. Ambrose Voh Jnr and Dr. Celestine Ikuenobe should be compelled by the authorities of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development being the mother and supervisory ministry of ARCN to write and sign an undertaken guaranteeing the safety of lives of staff in the ARCN. This is following the recent harassment of staff by armed policemen”.
The ARCN has 15 research institutes spread around the country, 11 Federal Colleges of Agriculture it supervises.