THE AWKWARD DISPARITY IN THE RETIREMENT AGE OF CHIEF RESEARCH FELLOWS, RESEARCH DIRECTORS/RESEARCH PROFESSORS IN THE R&D SECTOR AND UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS
Research Directors retire at 65 years while their counterparts in the universities, Research Professors retire at 70 years. This is a breach of extant government policy. The result is research staff instability, confusion and anarchy because most researchers, who usually have more research publications than their counterparts in the universities, exit the institutes for the universities by the time they are in their 50s to continue as University Professors and retire at 70 years.
While a strike embarked upon by the Union was still in progress, ASURI, through a letter of 8 March 2021, titled “NOTICE OF NATIONWIDE PICKETING OF RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS AND SUPERVISING MINISTRIES AND RALLIES TO ADVOCATE THE UNENDING NEGLECT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTIONS BY GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONARIES,” and addressed to the Federal Government, notably the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Minister, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FMLE), the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF), as well as Chief Executives of Research Institutes and the security agencies, served a notice of more stringent industrial action to back up its demands. To apprehend this, FMLE called a roundtable of stakeholders, including the Union.
The first sitting of the roundtable came up on Thursday 22nd April 2021 in the Office of the Permanent Secretary, FMLE, with representatives from the Office of the SGF, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development; Science and Technology; Education; Environment; Finance, Budget and National Planning; as well as Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), National Wages, Incomes and Salaries Commission (NWISC) and the Department of State Services.
The main issues for deliberation, as listed on the agenda, were the issues of concern to the Union as contained in its letter, viz:
- Refusal of Supervising Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to direct Chief Executives of Research Institutions to Implement the Conditions of Service (COS) of Federal Research Institutions that was approved by the Head of Service of the Federation (HCSF) since 2019;
- Refusal of MDAs to Facilitate the Payment of Arrears of 53% on CONRAISS Despite the Agreement Between JORAISU and Federal Government since 7th March 2018;
- Refusal by the Relevant Government Agencies to Facilitate the Retirement Age of Staff in Research Institutions to 65 Years; and
- The Alleged Sabotage by Government Functionaries in the Establishment of National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC) at the 8th National Assembly.