Series of interest groups comprising of the host community, students, the Alumni, engineering experts and even staff have jointly filed a petition to President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari against the outgoing Director/Chief Executive of Metallurgical Training Institute (MTI), Onitsha, Mr. Olabode Fakuade over corrupt practices and management ineptitude.
In a statement forwarded to the media, the petitioners urged the President to discountenance any recommendation seeking to reappoint Mr. Fakuade as NTI Boss.
The petition which is jointly signed by His Royal Majesty, Igwe Chidubem Iweka, the Eze of Iweka III and Engr Steve Nwoha, Mr. Anayo Okolo and Mr. Jude China the representatives of Staff, Alumni and students respectively, the petitioners in the elaborate document spelt out a litany of administrative wrongs accredited to Mr. Fakuade and have further advanced reasons why his stay at MTI was a sham.
They further insisted that, President Buhari should not contemplate the possibility of reappointing Mr. Fakuade owing to his porous administrative abilities and have equally charged the President to consider an expert in regard of the nature of the institute in appointing the next Chief Executive. The petition highlights in part the many atrocities of Fakuade in view of the foregoing:
1. The Director created a conduit for misappropriation and embezzlement of fund named Consult Unit meant to provide special services on special arrangements at a cost. He incorporated an organization to operate this unit to be run by an appointed stooge and opened a corporate account with First Bank Plc: Account Name – M.T.I Consult and Account No – 2011050993. Only the Director and the appointed stooge are signatories of the bank account opened in contravention of the Federal government directive on TSA account. The issue of misappropriation and embezzlement of fund through this illegal account is a subject of pending ICPC investigation and indictment at its Enugu Office.
2. In 2017, a fictitious contract was awarded to VUCO Consult Limited through Metallurgical Training Institute and it was never executed while the contract fee of forty one million, six hundred and eighty five thousand naira only (N41, 685, 000) was paid in full upon directive of the Director.
3. The contract for the completion of rehabilitation of erosion – ravaged internal roads and construction of reinforced concrete box culvert was dubiously categorized as phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3 and awarded three times by the Director to Blue Fortune Limited, a company belonging to his brother, Mr. Bayo Olatoke. In 2016 and 2017, the project was awarded and re-awarded at the cost of fifty four million and seventy five thousand naira only (54, 075, 000) respectively to the said Blue Fortune Limited without due process but it was abandoned after full payment to the company. In 2018, the Director re-awarded it to the same company and paid the contract value in full despite non-execution of the contract in 2016 and 2017.
4. Operation of two separate accounts; at FCMB and first Bank Plc with account number: MTI Consult and Account No. 2011050990 one for student’s contribution to training and the other whose number should be investigated. Investigation of these account would reveal huge embezzlement and diversion of public fund as well as non-compliance with TSA directive.
5. The outgoing Director/Chief Executive was indicted by an audit team from the Ministry of Mines and Steel development which visited the Institute on 25th November, 2019 to investigate the judicious use of the Ministerial intervention of eighty eight Million naira (N88, 000, 000) and Ninety Seven Million Naira sent to the Institute in 2018 and 2019 respectively for procurement of training equipment.
6. The outgoing Director/Chief Executive was also indicted by an audit team from the Accountant General’s office for failure to account for judicious use of almost One Billion Naira (N1, 000, 000) allocated to the Institute for 2019.
MISMANAGEMENT AND ORCHESTRATED FALSEHOOD
The outgoing Director/Chief Executive is apparently bent on running down the Institute over the last four years as reflected in the following specifics:
1. The Information Technology Unit of the Institute is presently moribund as the internet service subscription has expired since 2018 and most of the computer systems are down while the functional ones lack updated or functional software.
2. Despite huge budgetary allocation for capacity building in the Institute, more than 80% of the Staff of the Institute have not gone for any course for the past four years
3. Despite huge amount expended, the power supply situation in the Institute has been very poor and epileptic with most machineries rendered idle and non-functional, with street lights and some installed solar power units working for only few hours while others are not working at all.
4. As observed and vehemently condemned by the Project Monitoring and Evaluation Team of the Ministry of National Planning and Budget, most of the internal roads awarded and constructed by the Director have been washed away and overgrown with grasses in average period of 6 months to one year because the contract was awarded without due process, thereby leading to poor execution and use of expired or substandard asphalt. Also, Huge cost inflation and poor execution were also condemned by the Project Monitoring Team in respect of 800m concrete drainage and culverts which was awarded three times without due process.
5. As witnessed by the Honourable Minister of States for Ministry of Mines and Steel Development during his visit to the Institute, most of the critical and vital equipment in all the training workshops of the Institute including Process Flow in Instrumentation and Control Engineering Department, Power Console in Industrial Electrical Engineering Department, Welding Machines in Steel & Fabrication Welding Engineering and so many lathe & milling machines in Mechanical Maintenance Engineering Department are all non-functional despite misappropriation and embezzlement of huge fund in acclaimed repairs of broken down training equipment. Also, the Minister condemned the fact that most of the training equipment budgeted for were not procured and those procured were not done according to specifications.
6. The outgoing Director/Chief Executive a geologist, and not an Engineer as required to lead such an engineering-based Institute. This clearly explains his odd, curious and retrogressive management decisions in appointing an English Teacher as Head of Training, an office equivalent to Dean, School of Engineering of the Institute instead of a COREN registered Engineer as severally demanded by Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) through several letters and as also requested by National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) as precondition for full accreditation of courses for the Institute. In similarly odd and curious management decision, the outgoing Director/Chief Executive appointed someone who read Primary Education Management as the Head of Curriculum Planning of Engineering Courses in Electrical, Mechanical, Structural and Fabrication, Instrumentation and Control, Industrial Metallurgy and Heavy Mobile Engineering instead of a COREN registered Engineer.
7. There have been Newspaper reports on the demand by the ALUMNI of Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha for the removal of the outgoing Director/Chief Executive for reason of not being a qualified Engineer, professional incompetence, mismanagement and corruption; the most recent being news report of ICPC investigation of alleged fraud by the management of the Institute on page 9 of Sunday Telegraph of June, 2019.
8. With lack of accreditation, professional incompetence, abysmal mismanagement, corruption, bizarre appointment decisions and dubious and fraudulent contract awards and execution, it is not surprising that everything about the Institute has been going from bad to worse particularly in the past four years of the leadership of the institute by Mr. Fakuade, the outgoing Director/Chief Executive.
The outgoing Director/Chief Executive of the Metallurgical Training Institute, Mr. Olabode Fakuade is a geologist and yet wrongly appointed to head a training institute for engineering expertise in Electrical, Mechanical, Structural and Fabrication, Instrumentation and Control, Industrial Metallurgy and Heavy Mobile Engineering. This is clearly a case of square peg being forced to cover a round hole which is both illogical and impossible. This explains the request and recommendation by Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) that a COREN registered Engineer should be appointed to head the Institute. In a similar vein, the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) advised, as precondition for full accreditation of courses that the Institute be headed by a COREN registered Engineer and that same should apply to its training department.
CONCLUSION AND DEMAND
Given that this strategic institute has great implications for the development of technical expertise for our Engineering profession, the mines and steel sector and industries generally, the renewal of appointment of Mr. Olabode Fakuade for another four years term will greatly worsen the already decadent situation of the Institute.
We have information that the outgoing Director/Chief Executive, Mr. Olabode Fakuade has deployed falsehood and misrepresentation of facts to deceive the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite into approving or recommending his re-appointment for another four years tenure. By this public petition, we appeal to His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari and the Minister of Mines and Steel Development to consider the interest of stakeholders of the Mines and Steel Sector, Engineering Profession, Industrial Development and concerned alumni, student representatives and academic members of the Institute to appoint a COREN registered Engineer as Director/Chief Executive of the Metallurgical Training Institute.