Home Opinion A research institute and its professorial hiccup

A research institute and its professorial hiccup

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By Ememcheme Eboforomgiri

For more than 10 years, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) has been awarding Associate Professorship and Professorship to its Deputy Directors of Research and Directors of Research respectively.

Some of the beneficiaries of these professorships are Karniyus Gamaniel, Yemisi Kunle, Martins Emeje, Kunle Olobayo, Oby Obodozie-Ofoegbu and Philip Builders, while the Associate Professors include Bola Mustapha and Okhale Samuel. The others are Henry Egharevba, Bulus Adzu, Jemilat Ibrahim and Peters Oladosu.

There are a good number of others waiting in the wings to become Associate and full Professors in the forthcoming promotion exercise at the NIPRD.

The practice of awarding professorships at the Institute was instituted by the immediate past Director General/CEO, Gamaliel through his “Revised Scheme and Conditions of Service” policy.

The problem, however, is that the Act establishing NIPRD does not empower either the DG or the Institute itself to award the rank of professor to its Research Fellows.

Gamaliel did not obtain a ratification from relevant authorities for his reform of changing the designations of Deputy Directors of Research and Directors of Research to Associate and full professors.

Going by the NIPRD Act No 33 of 11 June 1987, the ranks approved for the Institute under the Federal Ministry of Health are Junior Research Fellow, Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, Deputy Director of Research and Director of Research. Gamaniel however altered the last two ranks to Associate Professor and Professor respectively.

A sister agency to NIPRD, the National Institute for Medical Research still operates with the approved rankings as contained in its enabling Act.

Gamaniel ‘s move might have been empathic. NIPRD Research Fellows are all PhD holders drawn from the academia. They would therefore have become Professors in the years it took them to climb the rung at the Institute, teaching, doing research works and publishing same in reputable academic journals; all prerequisites for earning a Professorship in the universities.

But not obtaining a ratification, at least, or a change of the portions of the Act to include Research Professor in its rank structure, portends a smear of illegality on the Professorships awarded by NIPRD to its Directors – past and present.

This is unfortunate because all NIPRD academics have put in sufficient post-doctoral years, research, teaching, publications to merit the rank of Professorship were they to be in the university.

The current DG/CEO, Dr Obi Peter Adigwe, whose second and terminal tenure begins on 10 August, has the task of regularising the Institute’s Professorship cut out for him.

It’s important that he liaises with the National Universities Commission, the Federal Ministry of Health (NIPRD’s parent ministry), and the Office of the Head of Service to urge the National Assembly to revisit the Act establishing the Institute with a view of ratifying and legalising Associate Professor and Professor as ranks in the institute without stripping those already so designated of those titles.

Option 1 is the most appropriate route to pursue in resolving this impasse. Sources say that the DG had been advised to approach the NUC. Adigwe is however believed to be scared of getting the NUC involved for reasons best known to him. This could be because this corps of the Institute’s professors is not accredited by the NUC, as our findings revealed.

On the other hand, Adigwe may wish to pursue the option of entering NIPRD into partnerships with universities willing and able to ratify existing NIPRD Professorship, and confer such ranks on duly qualified and deserving NIPRD Deputy Directors and Directors of Research

Ememcheme Eboforomgiri is a Lagos-based public affairs analyst

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