Franklin Osaisai, chairman of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, has said that five Nigerian universities now host nuclear energy centres of excellence.
Mr. Osaisai, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said that the Nuclear Technology Centre, Sheda, was also a part of the nuclear centres of excellence.
He said the first two were the Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.
He listed the latest centres as the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research and Training (CNERT), University of Maiduguri, and Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies (CNES), University of Port Harcourt.
The other is the Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies and Training (CNEST), Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
According to him, the establishment of these centres without a corresponding increment in the allocation to NAEC led to the reduction in funding of CERT and CERD.
“It is the mandate of NAEC to develop nuclear technology for the economic development of the country and produce and dispose atomic energy.
“To carry out research into matters connected with the peaceful uses of atomic energy, among others.
“CERT and CERD are arms of NAEC but in order to boost capacity of nuclear research and training, government created a lot of other centres.
“Remuneration, compensation, allowances are part of the public service and everything is paid according to guidelines.
“We have tabled the challenges of funding the centre to before the appropriate authorities; everything is now paid through IPPIS.’’
Mr. Osaisai who reacted to allegations that CERT and CERD were comatose and underfunded, said massive infrastructure developments were going on in all the centres.
Some staff of CERT and CERD had on Aug. 27, while briefing newsmen alleged that the two university centres were suffering from neglect by NAEC.
Prof. Mark Oladipo, Research Professor, CERT, who briefed newsmen alongside, Prof. Adeniyi Fasasi, Research Professor, CERD, said the aim of establishing the centres was being defeated by the management of NAEC.
Mr. Oladipo said that CERT and CERT came into existence in the universities in 1976 when the Federal Government challenged universities to bring the benefits of atomic energy to the country.
However, he said that the establishment of NAEC under the leadership of Osaisai in 2006 had brought the atomic energy programme to a state of comatose.
“The mandate of CERT and CERD are to “ provide the facilities for the training of Nigerians at all levels in all aspects of energy matters and nuclear technology.
“Develop nuclear techniques necessary for the advancement of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes.”
Mr. Oladipo said that in 2007 when the centres were moved under NAEC for coordinatory roles, progress and development took a downward trend.
He said Mr. Osaisai confused coordinatory roles to mean total control of academic, administrative and financial matters of the two centres.
According to him, the overhead allocation to two centres which unusually captured the requirements of the centres has drastically declined since they started receiving funds through NAEC.
“For instance, the overhead allocation in 2014 amounted to N900, 000 per month as compared to average N6, 000,000 per month to each of the centres in 2006.
“Incidentally, the headquarters retains an average of 76 per cent of the commission’s overhead, leaving the centres with only 24 per cent.
“This development has grossly affected the discharge of the mandate of the centres,” Mr. Oladipo said.
However, Mr. Osaisai said that funds that previously went to only CERT and CERD were being shared with other four centres.