Dr. Theophilus Chinyere Nkasiobi Ndubuaku is, without any doubt, Nigeria's No. 1 advocate of institutionalized mechanism for funding research. The Convener of the first-ever Roundtable on Research Funding sees the neglect of research and Nigerian researchers by successive administrations as being the root cause of the nation's socio-economic woes, namely high unemployment rate, mass poverty and hunger, resulting in insecurity, insurgency, assassinations, ritual killings, cybercrime, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking and slavery, emigration, as well as maternal and child mortality.
The Roundtable, which took place at the Abuja International Conference Centre on April 18, 2018, was a one-day commendation talk shop for the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration for midwifing institutionalized funding mechanism for research in Nigeria.
In active trade unionism, he started out in 1989 as Vice Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria Branch, holding this position for four years, that is, till 1993. He became the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), CRIN Branch in 1994 and held the position for seven years, until the year 2001.
He was the South West Zonal Coordinator, ASURI from 1994 through 2001. That same year, 2001, he became the National Secretary General, Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI), a position in which he has excelled in running the Secretariat of the great Union, taking ASURI to great heights. Along the line, he was a Member of the Central Working Committee/National Executive Council, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) between 2009 and 2016. He was the National Trustee of the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) between 2016 and 2020.
As National Secretary General of ASURI, he has proven to be a worthy general and veteran of many labour battles, losing none. Having taken ASURI to national limelight, he features in many labour issues. He victoriously championed several landmark ASURI Arbitration and Court cases, among which are the ASURI versus ASUU case at the Industrial Arbitration Panel; ASURI versus SSAUTHRIAI case; and ASURI versus FGN NIC case on the inclusion of ASURI demands in the Conditions of Service (2002 – 2004).
He took a leading role in the Federal Government/Labour talks on palliative measures when the Federal Government removed subsidy on petroleum in January 2016 and was a signatory to the Report of the 16-Man Technical Committee on Minimum Wage and Palliatives. Only recently, he took active part in the Government/Labour talks that raised National Minimum Wage to N30,000.
NRIC BILL - He is the most vocal, most articulate and sometimes the only voice in the advocacy for the National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill, 2019, altruistically clamouring for its passage by the National Assembly and Presidential assent. In the process, he volunteered technical support to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters whose chairman, Senator David Umaru, sponsored the Bill, and the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, serving on the Ministerial Committee on the Rectification of the National Research and Innovation Council Bill, which was set up at his instance. As a token of appreciation for his efforts on the NRIC, the FCT Zone of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on June 14, 2019, honoured him with a surprise Exemplary Leadership Award.
Prior to this, in 2017, he received a letter from the then Senate President, Senator Busola Saraki, commending his doggedness and personal commitment to the actualization of the National Research and Innovation Council Bill. In the same vein, the Hon. Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, also wrote a letter to him, commending his personal efforts on the NRIC Bill, especially in seeing to its rectification after it was returned to the National Assembly by Mr. President, who cited some grey areas after it was first passed.
Not one to ever throw in the towel, Sec Gen, using the platform of ASURI, personally led the Research and Development Institutes (RDI) sector in prosecuting the struggle for the new Conditions of Service for 15 years. Fighting altruistically and as self-sacrificing as candle, the fact of his imminent retirement from active service did not deter him in leading this battle, even after many compatriots had given up. Even though the struggle is a sectoral one, at the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), he is known as the face and voice of the struggle, which was finally won in November 2020. However, rather than beat his chest and start jubilating, he told fellow researchers through a memo on November 28, 2020: “Although ASURI has finally won the battle of getting the COS 19 approved, it is not yet celebration time until implementation commences in earnest all over.”
In the early days of the lockdown occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic when everyone ran for cover, he was on his feet as he spoke for the RDI sector by calling on the Federal Government through to letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF)/Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirus not to neglect the sector in its search for solution to the crisis. He specifically tasked the government to devote at least 20 per cent of funds received as donations for funding local research. The Federal Government responded positively the following day by announcing that relevant Research Institutes would be carried along and involved. And in recognition of his relevance as the voice of Nigerian researchers, he was appointed into the Covid-19 Herbal Cure Committee by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.
A time-tested Researcher with 38 years of experience, Dr. Ndubuaku trained at the University of Ibadan for a cumulative period of eight years, first from 1978 through 1981 for a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) honours degree in Zoology, then from 1981 through 1983 for a Master of Science (M.Sc) degree in Agricultural Biology, before capping it with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Zoology, specializing in Agricultural Entymology. Prior to these, he had trained as a teacher at the Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, where he took a Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) in 1977. Today, he stands out as one of the nation's longest serving full time research officers in Nigeria. He is acknowledged by colleagues as an unwavering trainer, thinker, master strategist and pro-active researcher.
The national Secretary General of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) represents the interest of research institutes as a member of the Governing Board of the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI), which is the largest Research Institute in Nigeria with National Incubation Centres (NICs) in all the 36 states in Nigeria. On this Board, he is the chairman of the Committee on Stakeholders Linkages and Collaboration.
Never known to fold his arms where ever he finds himself, he was a Council Member, Projects and Conference Committee of the Science Association of Nigeria between 2005 and 2007; Secretary, Local Organizing Committee, Annual Conference of the Nigerian Society for Plant Protection in the year 2000; Deputy Editor, Bulletin of Science, Science Association of Nigeria (2005 - 2007); and Business Manager, Science Association of Nigeria since 2006.
An ever resourceful person, he has participated in many national assignments. For instance, he was a Guest Lecturer, In-service Training Course of the Plant Quarantine Services, Federal Department of Agriculture, Ibadan (1989–1991); member, Government Implementation Committee for Community Banks, Oluyole Local Government, Oyo State (1990–1992); Honorary National Enlistment Coordinator, National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corps (NAVC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), (2007 - 2012); and State Coordinator, Oyo State, National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corps (NAVC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) (2007 - 2012).
As of the last count – and in spite of his tight schedule running the ASURI Secretariat - from his academic resourcefulness, he has produced four theses/dissertations; 18 publications in CRIN Published Annual Reports; 12 papers presented at conferences and seminars; 16 Technical Reports; five publications in Workshop manuals; 11 books and 37 Journal Articles, all totaling 103.