A Nigerian research institute, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD, is caught up in a recruitment scam.
The institute is saddled with the responsibility of undertaking research and development work on drugs and biological products, and serves as a reference centre for research work on biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, stability of imported and locally manufactured drugs and biological products among many others.
Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES show that the NIPRD under the leadership of Karniyus Gamaliel, the director general, and his senior special assistant, Adeola Jegede, have taken laws into their hands and are recruiting illegally in violation of civil service rules.
A mandatory requirement of all government employment is that vacant positions be advertised to allow all qualified candidates compete for available slots.
However, this rule is frequently violated by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as government officials embark upon secret employment of relatives, friends and cronies while millions of unemployed Nigerians are walled off the process.
Often, respective offices work out a false cover by pretending to advertise in the media, whereas the selection had indeed been finalised.
The pharmaceutical institute is the latest offender. Except there is a last minute change of order, by Wednesday, August 19, (today) 35 illegally recruited staff, are expected to attend a sham interview for jobs at the NIPRD in Abuja.
The institute adopts a brazen model of not even advertising, even as a decoy. Instead, it shares vacant slots with its mother department, the Ministry of Health, and office of the Head of Service, to receive their blessings.
The 35 candidates are expected to resume work immediately after the interview, PREMIUM TIMES can confirm.
The plot is for the institute to produce 15 candidates, while the office of the Head of Service and the health ministry (through the permanent secretary Linus Awute) fill 10 slots each.
Initially, Mr. Gamaliel planned to recommend all 15 names, but when the plan backfired with the institute’s seven directors threatening to undermine the process, he conceded seven slots to the departments – Administration and supplies, pharmacology and toxicology, medicinal chemistry and quality control, pharmaceutical technology and raw materials development, human virology and biotechnology, medicinal plant research and traditional medicine, and the Finance and accounts departments.
The finance and accounts office received three extra slots for facilitating the inclusion of the salaries of the new recruits in the 2015 budget.
A source said the process is hastened because the office of the head of service advised that the recruitment be completed before end of August.
“It is obvious that what the DG wants to do now is select these candidates that they already have – their own candidates, so to say – organize a cover up interview; because they are the only ones going to be there,” said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation.
To get the process underway, the head of service has issued an approval for the replacement of 35 research and non-research staff.
The letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, reads, “I am directed to refer to your letter No. NIPRD/DG/OHCSF/2015/vol.1/03 of March 30, 2015 on the above subject, and to convey the approval of the head of civil service of the federation for waiver to fill a total of thirty five positions in your institute.”
The letter was signed by Kehinde Adeyemi, the director, organisation design and development, for the head of civil service of the federation.
Mr. Adeyemi said the approval was based on the institute’s confirmation of available funds in its 2015 budget to pay the employees without recourse to the treasury.
“I am to advise you to adhere to extant rules including the principle of federal character, while filing the vacancies,” Mr. Adeyemi added.
The affected positions are: one deputy director (scientific officer), an associate professor Conhess 14; seven principal scientific officers (research fellows I), Conhess II; eight senior scientific officers (research fellow II), Conhess 09; four scientific officers I (junior research fellows), Conhess 08; one higher science laboratory technologist, Conhess 07 and three administrative officers II, Conhess 07.
Others are: two confidential secretary I, Conhess 07; three accountants II, Conhess 08; three planning officers II, Conhess 07; one information officer II, Conhess 07; one procurement officer II, Conhess 07 and a zoo assistant II Conhess 03.
Mr. Gamaliel did not respond to several phone calls, text messages and an email.
His senior special assistant, Mr. Jegede, denied comment on the matter.
Mr. Jegede said he would only speak on authorization from the director general, and promised to get across to his principal as soon as possible on the matter.
Other senior officials of the institute also declined to speak.
However, one source said job racketeering was nothing new at the institute, pointing to how Mr. Gamaliel managed to recruit his relatives and friends as staff of NIPRD, in breach of established rules.
For example, his wife, Benna Gamaniel, works at the library and information unit of the institute, a unit supervised directly by her husband. The DG’s sister, Elizabeth Gamaniel, works at the department of medicinal plant research and traditional medicine, while, his brother, Habila, works directly under the DG at information and technology unit.
Mrs. Gamaliel’s cousin, Wesley, is the DG’s official driver.
Our sources also claimed there were a number of “ghost” workers in the institute, although that could not be independently verified as at the time of publishing this report. Ghost workers are non-existent names listed on the payroll monthly to enable dubious government officials pocket their salaries and benefits.
A senior official at the office of the Head of the Service told PREMIUM TIMES he was not aware of the waiver sent to the NIPRD, although he admitted Mr. Adeyemi was in charge of such waivers. Mr. Adeyemi could not be immediately reached.