Wednesday, 11 September 2019

We Will Make FIIRO DG's PhD Scandal Report Public - ICPC

A week after The PUNCH’s investigation into the non-existent doctorate of the acting Director General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Chima Igwe, the government has refused to take action.

The Ministry of Science and Technology had stated that it could not do anything because Igwe’s academic records were with FIIRO.

The ministry had also shifted responsibility to the institute’s governing board and a former director general, Prof. Gloria Elemo.

It also claimed not to be aware of any investigation into the matter.

However, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has promised to make public its findings on the matter.

Our correspondent had reported that Igwe joined FIIRO in 1991 and rose through the ranks.

However, a policy in the institution made it impossible for anyone without a PhD to be promoted to the senior cadre.

Igwe then claimed that he completed his doctorate at the Abomey-Calavi University, Benin Republic, in 2001.

He was reportedly promoted several times based on the claim, despite having only an attestation letter as evidence.

The matter became contentious when there was a need to appoint a new head for the agency earlier this year.

The board of governors checked the files of senior officers and discovered that 57-year-old Igwe, who was the most senior, did not have a certificate to back his PhD claim.

After several failed ultimatums for the officer to bring the certificate, the board recommended to the ministry that the next most senior officer be appointed into the position.

The PhD case was said to have been taken up by the ICPC.

The Dr Ogbonnaya Onu-led Ministry of Science and Technology, however, rejected the recommendation of the board and insisted that Igwe be appointed.

The FIIRO spokesperson, Chris Olumuyiwa, while acknowledging that PhD was a basis for promotion to senior positions in the institute, maintained that Igwe’s doctorate was not in doubt.

The conundrum around the PhD remained unresolved until The PUNCH visited Benin Republic, where Igwe claimed to have bagged the degree.

The Deputy Director, School of Postgraduate Studies, Abomey-Calavi University, Prof. Valentin Wotto, told our correspondent that Igwe had yet to complete the degree.

Wotto added that Igwe must re-register to continue his studies and complete his academic programme before getting his PhD.

The ICPC, which has been investigating the case for many months, promised to reveal its findings to the public.

The spokesperson for the agency, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, said in a text message, “I learnt that our investigation into the matter is ongoing. The outcome will be made public when the processes are concluded.”

Nigerians, who read the report, commended The PUNCH for the good job, adding that what took the ICPC a long time to do, the newspaper did within a short while.

Many also called for Igwe’s prosecution.

“Too many people out there occupying high positions of authority, while there are millions of eligible Nigerians in various fields looking for jobs. No wonder, nothing is working. It is not only the man that should be prosecuted, but many that have been incompetent should also give way as collateral – let the right people in,” a reader, de_Wale, wrote.

Another reader, with the alias, government, said Igwe should be made to refund the salary he took with the supposed certificate.

“The man should be asked to refund all the salaries he used his adulterated PhD to obtain. He should also be demoted,” he wrote.

“The PUNCH did a good job here; professional journalism despite the language barrier. No one can accuse this newspaper of shoddy journalism. Excellent! Let’s have Igwe’s reaction when confronted with the facts from the Republic of Benin,” Daoud Akano stated.

Some readers on Twitter also queried the reaction of the Ministry of Science and Technology that it could not do anything about the scandal.

“This is wrong; so many out there who strive just to get this certificate and deserve better after all the suffering they went through just to get a better life. And now, someone who doesn’t deserve it is enjoying it all,” @EverythingisF1 tweeted.

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