Chemists battle half baked, reel out score card

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The role of chemists in evolving a holistic development of any nation cannot be over-emphasized. Hence, the institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria in their recent fellowship Award and induction of almost 60 members, seek among others to address the challenges of half baked chemists churned out every year from the nation’s universities. CHARLES ADINGUPU looks at the task that lies ahead of the institute and it tortuous journey thus far.

Life for Johnson Adelabu, a chemistry graduate from one of the nation’s universities has become unbearable.

For almost three years after graduation as a chemist, Johnson was jobless. But reprieve  came his way when an uncle of his assisted him to secure a job in a lab in one of the multinational firms

“Thank God,” he exclaimed. “I can now begin to plan my life all over again,” he told his friends.

Zuru and Oghifo

But his joy was cut short when, Johnson found out that most of the equipment in the lab were not the same with those in his school. However, after much training, Johnson made one mistake repeatedly, in his analysis and report thus, causing the company fortune. Eventually, he was sacked for gross incompetence and has remained jobless since then.

This ugly development may have prompted the institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria (ICCON) to liaise with other stakeholders in the country’s education sector to fashion a chemistry curricula that will be more practical-oriented besides being responsive to the needs of the day.

The institute’s president, Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru who made this disclosure at this year’s fellowship award and induction ceremony of members held recently in Lagos, said the ultimate aim of the project was to produce self-reliant chemistry graduates who will meet the demands of the 21st century.

Against this backdrop, Prof. Zuru said that the ICCON raised a curriculum review committee in October 12, 2012, chaired by renowned Chemist and former Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOCF), Professor Oladapo Afolabi with acclaimed natural products chemists, Professor Joseph Okogun as Adviser charged with the responsibility to review the university chemistry curricula with a view to enhancing delivery and impact.

According to him, the committee will also review the duration of the Bachelors of Chemistry programme, particularly as regards professionalising chemistry graduates besides attaining minimum standards for chemistry laboratory practice in Nigerian universities.

Prof. Zuru also said that the committee is saddled with the responsibility of giving advice on standards for accreditation of chemistry programmes in Nigerian universities as well as on the appropriateness and modalities on joint accreditation exercise with relevant regulatory bodies.

The president, however, explained that the urgency to reposition the institute was aimed at making it a major stakeholder in President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda,” as chemists, he declared, are the empirical prerequisites for the attainment of the said Agenda.

Prof. Zuru who observed that the job of a chemist goes beyond identifying and quantifying atoms and molecules, reiterated the  institute’s commitment in the enhancement of the best practice of the chemistry profession inNigeria.

While congratulating the inductees, the President disclosed that their admission was based on two premises.

The first group, he said were those who were successful in the 2012 ICCON membership qualifying examination held in August this year in three centres across the nation.

 

The second group, according to him, were those who, having satisfied the institute’s conditions for exemption from exams, based on number of years of relevant practice and experience were admitted as Direct Entry candidates.

He, however, warned that certificate will be withdrawn from members when proven cases of professional misconduct is established against them, failure to meet up with financial obligations and refusal to participate in ICCON Mandatory Continuing Professional Development workshop (MCPD) as enshrined in Section 6 (6c) of the ICCON Act.

Earlier, the institute’s Registrar, Prince Jay Oritsejolone Oghifo who gave his stewardship said that the 60 inductees were drawn from both the academia and industry.

The Registrar said that the staff strength of the group has tripple from it’s initial staff of 25 to 76 workers.

Prince Oghifo announced that the institute has tackled its accommodation problem following its relocation from its six rooms which included the Registrar’s office and a library to the acquisition of the entire 3rd floor of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja made up of 17 large offices, a gigantic council chamber with two stores and a library with conveniences.

He said the quest to have its own personal corporate office complex has remained number one in the agenda of the institute as it has perfected plans to vigorously source for funds towards this regard.

As a way of making the institute more accessible to members and save cost hitherto expended on rent, Prince Oghifo disclosed that a more spacious and befitting new Liaison office was acquired at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Garki, Abuja.

Also, the institute within the year under review has fashioned out a corporate policy and scheme of service guide as well as a well defined administrative structure consisting of divisions, departments, sections and units in order to enhance proficiency among workers.

The Registrar who thanked corporate bodies for the sponsorship of ‘The Chartered Chemist’ the Institute’s Magazine, said the publication is now being produced at almost 50% less than its original production cost and no lost to it. As part of the on-going projects, Prince Oghito disclosed that the institute has embarked on a full scale digitalisation of its membership database and a design of membership portal which is almost near completion.

He announced that e-library services, rich reservoir of knowledge with useful literature in areas as science, health environment among others is currently available for financial up-to-date members for use.

As part of the institute’s efforts in creating awareness, advocacy and synergy with other organisations, Prince Oghifo said a courtesy visits were made by management to media houses, industries and academic institutions in the year under review.

The Registrar disclosed that as a fall out of the last AGBM, the ICCON multi-purpose cooperative society was launched and has started giving out loans to members and has equally opened a tuck shop at its corporate headquarters.

Some challenges

Just like in other notable organisations, the Registrar noted in dismay that the government budgetary allocation to the institute is dwindling in every passing day.

He warned that except urgent measure are taken by members to increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) through prompt payment of annual dues, attendance at Mandatory Workshops, corporate sponsorship among others, it would be difficult for ICCON to fully actualise its objectives moreso now that the Federal Government is contemplating agencies and parastatal mergers and complete hands off in their affairs.

Prince Oghifo however observed that members’ attendance at the institute’s programmes was at its lowest ebb despite the huge amount of money expended in organising them.

Notwithstanding those challenges, the Registrar reiterated management’s resolve to reposition the institute and the chemistry profession inNigeriain order to shore-up confidence in its members.

Prince Oghifo who disclosed that the institute is currently under the threat of being sealed by the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) over alleged arrears of unremitted staff PAYE between 2006 and 2010 which amounted to the sum of N29 million, warned against staff indiscipline.

He disclosed that some recalcitrant staff attempted to frustrate the disciplinary procedure, particularly erring ones who instigated the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) against management.

This development, he said, has led to constant picketing and unlawful invasion of the institute by the union’s Federal Area Council led by the executive members of ICCON branch of the union.

The Registrar, however, expressed his profound appropriation to the entire Exco team led by the President, Prof. Zuru, Mr. Harry Okolo and Prof. Felix Okieimen for tolerating his idiosyncrasies.

 

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