April 18, 2024

Reps warn against sabotage in Nigeria’s nuclear research centres

Igbo group rejects Deputy Speaker zoning to South-East
By Gift ChapiOdekina

The House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Renewable Energy, Hon. Afam Victor Ogene, has called on personnel and nuclear scientists managing Nigeria’s nuclear research centres to avoid any act of sabotage that could lead to adverse incident that would jeopardize the security of the nation, in spite of their grouses over lingering non payment of the approved hazard and high-risk allowance due to them.

He assured them that the parliament is working towards ensuring that the Budget Office of the Federation “grant the two Centres of Excellence Financial Autonomy, by providing them with separate budget lines for Effective and Efficient discharge of their mandate.”

Hon. Ogene made this appeal on Thursday, in Abuja when representatives of the two Centres met with the Committee on Renewable Energy, at the National Assembly, in continuation of the investigation into why the hazard and high-risk allowances, which was approved for the scientists in the two centres were withheld by the Budget Office, but ironically, allegedly, paid to civil servants in the employ of Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Abuja.

The two Centres in question are the Centre for Energy Research and Training, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and Centre for Energy Research and Development, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife.

While the Centre in Zaria, Kaduna state, hosts the nation’s only nuclear reactor, the Centre in Ile-Ife hosts nuclear Tandem Accelerator in addition to nuclear waste and other dreaded sources of radiation that must be handled with care.

The management of the two high-risk centres had raised concerns over the impact of the non-payment of the deserved allowances to the morale of scientists at the two centres, who faced daily risks in managing the nation’s nuclear facilities, through a complaint letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Abass Tajudeen, in January, 2024.

They also raised concerns over the danger of a possible sabotage or avoidable nuclear accident as a result of the disillusionment of staff at the two centres over poor working conditions and lack of institutional support for their programmes.

The Speaker subsequently directed the Committee on Renewable Energy to look into the challenges raised by the Centres.

The representative of the Centres, Prof. Ganiyu I. Balogun, Prof. J.F.K Akinbami, Dr. Bashir M. Umar and Dr. M.B Katif, who spoke in turns, explained the challenges of the centres and how they have been trying to manage the situation in order to avert ugly nuclear incidents that could lead to serious international embarrassment.

But Hon. Ogene, while appealing to them for calm, informed them about the efforts of the House to bring a lasting resolution to the identified challenges.

Speaking further, he told them that the Committee found merit in their petition and have therefore made some recommendations, which include:

“That the Rt. Honourable Speaker, do direct the Budget Office of the Federation, as the well as the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to restore the Allowances under review.

“Also, direct the Budget Office of the Federation to grant the two Centres of Excellence Financial Autonomy, by providing them with separate budget lines for Effective and Efficient discharge of their mandate.

“Also that the various appeals by the Chairman/CEO, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, made on behalf of his staff, should be approved by virtue of the sensitive nature of the jobs they undertake.

“That the National Income Salaries and Wages Commission be queried because of its negative role in the matter.”

Vanguard News