By Emeka Arinze
Dr. Olusola Odusanya resumed duty as Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM) (arguably) on the 1st of May, 2023 and since then, he has run the Agency like his personal business, jettisoning virtually all extant rules guiding the operations of public sector organisations in Nigeria. Dr. Odusanya repeatedly commits administrative blunders, financial impropriety and procurement recklessness which portend grave danger for the research institute and its teeming workforce.
Odusanya’s appointment was bedevilled by a widely publicized and elongated antagonism from the then-Governing Board as well as the non-academic staff union of the Agency. This rejection was allegedly premised on the failure of the erstwhile Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikoh, to follow due process in carrying out the appointment of Directors General/CEO for some Agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation including NACETEM. It was generally believed that the then Honourable Minister of Science and Technology sold the DG seats to the highest bidders and his cronies and to be able to achieve that, had to hijack the recruitment process from the Governing Boards of the concerned agencies under the Ministry.
It is still largely believed in some quarters that Olusola Odusanya’s appointment as DG/CEO of NACETEM was shrouded in unholy secrecy between the office of the Chief of Staff to the President and the top hierarchies of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The news of his appointment went public on Friday, 26th of May 2023 at the very twilight of the immediate past administration. This was the first red flag about the veracity of his appointment process. Meanwhile, there was confusion about the effective date of his appointment as various dates were reported on different news platforms, even by his own media team. One other notable inconsistency in Odusanya’s appointment uncovered by our investigation is that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had no records of his appointment at the time he resumed duty at NACETEM.
Upon his resumption at NACETEM and amidst the protests by the non-academic staff, Dr Olusola Odusanya forced his entry into the North Central office of the Agency in Abuja, breaking locks and forcing doors open. He later visited the Agency’s headquarters at Ile-Ife and South West office in Lagos, where he addressed members of staff. He has since returned to the Abuja office where he operates, abandoning his office at the Headquarters. Management meetings and other engagements between members of staff and the DG/CEO have mostly been done via Zoom since June 2023.
One of Sola Odusanya’s first administrative pronouncements was the dissolution of the Public Relations Unit of the Agency and the removal of a designated Information Officer who functioned as the Public Relations/Information Officer, Mr Isaac Oluyi, a qualified linguist and certified PR professional only to appoint one Dr Babalola, a Research Officer with a background in Agriculture, as the new Communications Officer for the Agency. This has not only been dysfunctional and counter-productive for the Agency but also contravenes Section 6 Clause 020601(ii) of the Federal Public Service Rules 2021 which states that posting of officers to posts outside their professional cadres is prohibited.
During his initial address to members of staff of NACETEM, Dr Odusanya made it known that he would be working with Special and Personal Assistants whom he might source from outside NACETEM. While it is widely known that he is at liberty to pick members of his working team which may include secondment of officers from other MDAs, the process of appointing officers on secondment should not be a one-man show but must follow a laid down procedure as stipulated in Clause 020503 of the Federal Public Service Rules 2021. Dr Sola Odusanya single-handedly requested the secondment of officers from various MDAs, accepted their approvals and offered them appointment letters with placements significantly higher than their last ranks where they were seconded. For instance, an officer who was on CONRAISS 9 Step 2 (Senior Administrative Officer) at his original duty post was appointed by Dr. Odusanya and placed on CONRAISS 13 Step 8 (Assistant Director, Administration). Another officer whose original rank was CONRAISS 12 Step 11 was appointed on secondment by Dr Odusanya and arbitrarily placed on CONRAISS 14 Step 6. Our investigation revealed that none of these decisions was discussed by the Management of the Agency but were taken exclusively by the DG/CEO. In all, Sola Odusanya presently works with up to five personal staff some of whom never had any previous public service experience and some of whom he has cunningly put in charge of the Agency’s procurement, payment and personnel management systems for reasons that are not far-fetched.
The Government Integrated Finance Management and Information System (GIFMIS) platform is an automated online system through which the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation monitors and manages all payments made by federal MDAs. It was designed and operated such that all payments can be traced to designated officers who play identifiable roles in each organisation’s payment processes. For an Agency like NACETEM, the DG/CEO in agreement with the Director/Head of Finance and Accounts selects these role players and furnishes the Accountant General of the Federation’s office with all necessary information showing that they are qualified and confirmed employees of the organisation. Dr. Olusola Odusanya, in connivance with corrupt officials at the Account General’s office, surreptitiously nominated and placed officers on secondment, whose employment status is not yet confirmed in NACETEM, as role players on the NACETEM GIFMIS user end. He went further on this ignominious path to register himself as the final/ultimate approver of all payment transactions on the platform. This simply means once Odusanya wants any payment made, he only needs to approve all documents supporting the payment, instruct his minions to initiate and approve all preliminary steps towards payment on the GIFMIS and finalize the payment. All ingredients of fraud and misappropriation are, literarily, complete. To have his way in all this, Dr. Olusola Odusanya has sidelined the Agency’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Dr. John Omimakinde, a man whom he could not co-opt into his ignoble team.
At the moment, Dr. Odusanya operating from the Abuja zonal office, positions his men as de facto Heads of Finance, Human Resource Management, Procurement and ICT. All of them are officers on secondment at NACETEM. He refers to them as his Special Assistants/Advisers and he instructed the substantive Heads of these Departments/Units at the NACETEM Headquarters to report and/or liaise with them and not with him directly unless otherwise instructed. These men issue memoranda, give instructions and carry out official assignments on behalf of NACETEM, even when they are not on the Agency’s nominal or payroll. None of the offices they occupy or roles they play lacked competent personnel in NACETEM before Odusanya emerged as DG/CEO of NACETEM. Yet, he chose to ignore the institutional repository and history that these long-serving and experienced very senior officers represent. Maybe it is safe to just conclude that he needed to go all out to ‘secure the bag’ at NACETEM for himself and his cronies.
Between June and November 2023, Dr Olusola Odusanya initiated, approved and finalized the disbursement of millions upon millions of naira without consultations with members of the NACETEM Management, most especially the Director/Head of Finance and Accounts. At the moment, he is working with his Special Adviser on Procurement and the Agency’s Head of Procurement, Mr Onome Otite, to finalize payments for capital projects supposedly undertaken in this year 2023, most of which were not done at all or shoddily done. Our findings revealed that about One Hundred Million Naira of Nigeria’s taxpayers’ money is about to find its way into the pockets of Dr Sola Odusanya, DG/CEO NACETEM, his SA (Procurement), the Head of Procurement in NACETEM and several make shift contractors and consultants, who were hurriedly selected in a completely non-transparent and non-compliant procurement process. Relevant documents are being hastily and dubiously put together to beat the newly introduced cash planning/management system of the Federal Government. A quick and thorough scrutiny of NACETEM’s 2023 procurement activities will glaringly reveal all the atrocities jointly committed by Sola Odusanya and his partners in corruption. Failure to promptly carry out this investigation may give them enough time to cover their tracks and get the funds out of government coffers.
We, therefore, call on the Bureau of Public Procurement and other relevant agencies of government to beam their searchlights on NACETEM’s 2023 procurement activities and if necessary, the previous years too.
Considering all the inordinate actions of Dr. Olusola Odusanya in the last six months he has been in charge at NACETEM; his vindictiveness, illegal appointments and placement, financial indiscipline and contract racketeering, it goes without saying that his mission at NACETEM is purely that of self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. It will, however, be quite unfortunate to jeopardize the continuous existence and relevance of this all-important Agency due to non-performance which may likely come with the lack of vision and negative influence of a Chief Executive like Dr. Olusola Odusanya.
Emeka George Arinze, a stakeholder in the Nigeria tech sector, writes from Abuja