Federal Govt reinstates 91 sacked cocoa research institute staff

GBENRO ADESINA/IBADAN

Chief Aud Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture.

Chief Aud Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture.

The Federal Government has reinstated 91 staff of the Cocoa Research Institute, CRIN, unjustifiably sacked in 2004 by the immediate past administration led by Professor Malachi Akoroda.

The reinstated workers who resumed work today at the institute were clad in Ankara attires accompanied by a mobile musical band singing, dancing and praising God for bringing them back to work after almost three years layoff.

Welcoming them back to work, the Acting Executive Director of the institute, Dr. (Mrs.),‎ Feyisara Okelana congratulated the workers for being alive to witness the occasion of their reinstatement.

She disclosed that the Federal Government decided to reinstate them after finding out that they were wrongly sacked by the past administration.

She charged them to put behind the ugly experience and rededicate themselves to their work, stressing that the mandate of the institute as a frontline research centre on cocoa and some other cash crops could not have been more relevant than now when agriculture was becoming the focal point of the current administration in the country.

The institute boss ‎disclosed the readiness of the institute to rise up to the current challenge of returning Cocoa and Cashew to their rightful place in the agricultural economy of the country through raising of high yield breed of the two crops.

She appealed to the government to ensure timely release of fund to undertake the necessary research to meet the demand of government from the institute stressing that “everybody is ‎conscious of the focus of the FG to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture and we are all ready to contribute our quota to the laudable move”.

The Director also assured the workers on the various needs put before the government through the institute’s supervising Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which she said were being attended to.

“The issue of sacked workers was one of our demands and with this one resolved, I can assure all of us that others will also be resolved and we will all have cause to rejoice”.

Reacting, the Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institute (ASURI), Dr. Semiu Olalekan Ogunwolu recalled that the workers were unjustifiably sacked as far back as 24th January, 2014 and that their reinstatement was as a result of concerted efforts of both the current and the various workers’ unions in the institute.

He praised the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh for his patience in getting to the root of the matter which led to the reversal of the obnoxious sack order by the immediate past ED of the institute.

Another union leader, Tessy Otuoye who is the Chairperson of the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the institute, said the reinstatement of the workers was a vindication of the unions that the past administration erred by its action.

“We are very much happy that our cries and agitation of over two years have at last bore the desired result and we cannot thank the government and our management enough. You can see us singing and dancing. We are highly grateful to God Almighty for sparing the lives of all of us who saw the beginning of the crisis‎ to now witness its end on a joyous note”.

Meanwhile, ‎the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights, (CDWR), Oyo State Chapter, Mr. Abiodun Bamgboye has felicitated with the reinstated workers ‎and demanded that FG must set up a panel to investigate and probe all allegations of corruptions and misappropriation of the fund of the institute which were leveled against the past Prof. Akoroda-led administration of the institute.

According to a statement from CDWR, Bamgboye recalled that ‎for almost three years the plight of the sacked workers lasted, members of the CDWR, within and outside the State, played leading roles in organising the affected workers around different forms of actions like protests, rallies, and press conferences among others in a struggle to force government and management to reinstate them.

He maintained that the struggle had not been easy, saying, “Both members of CDWR and the sacked workers suffered a lot of persecution, intimidation and even arrest in the hands of official state security agencies like Police, Civil Defence Corps and Department of State Security, DSS at different occasions.

Despite the illegal intimidation and harassments we suffered in the course of this struggle, we of the CDWR are happy today that the consistent struggle and campaign for almost three years has successfully won the reinstatement of the 91 sacked workers”, he added.