By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Research and social activities at the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) Idi-Ayunre, Ibadan were grounded as the entire workers of the institute mobilized at the main entrance and padlocked the gigantic gate just as they embarked on a peaceful protest calling on the Federal Government to remove the institute’s Executive Director, Professor Malachy Akoroda, without further delay.
The teeming workers who cut across the various departments of the institute carried placards with assorted messages just as they sang solidarity songs in stout condemnation of the management style of Prof. Akoroda, whose regime they tagged as autocratic and insensitive to workers welfare since inception.
They insisted that the removal of Akoroda from CRIN by the Federal Government is the only panacea to peace and progress in the institute.
While lamenting that “virtually all research activities at CRIN had been grounded since 2013 as a result of disillusionment following the insensitivity and high handedness of Professor Akoroda,” the aggrieved workers enjoined the Presidency to beam its searchlight on the affairs of the institute, before much more havoc is done.
“If Government failed to intervene immediately, Akoroda’s autocratic regime at CRIN will continue unabated,” one of the placards read.
Specifically, the protesting workers urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, make public the report of a probe panel it set up on CRIN in 2014 and, in addition, re-deploy Prof. Akoroda forthwith “for peace and progress to reign at CRIN.”
Among other accusations against the professor, the protesters alleged that Akoroda had proscribed union activities at CRIN and unilaterally sacked 96 workers in 2014.
They also accused the Executive Director of non-payment of their four-month salaries spanning October 2013 to January 2014.
Efforts by newsmen to reach the embattled Executive Director of CRIN were futile as he was allegedly taking refuge at the nearby Idi-Ayunre Divisional Police Station.
His personal assistant, Mr. Bunmi Olukotun, however, told inquisitive journalists that the Executive Director would react appropriately to the issues at stake which he said would be amicably resolved through dialogue.