Kzeem Awojoodu, Ibadan.
A group of concerned Staff members of Nigerian Institute of Social & Economic Research, NISER, have urged Federal Government to consider an extension of tenure for the outgoing Director General of the Institute, Dr. Folarin Gbadebo-Smith.
Terming their move on the unprecedented successes recorded during Dr. Smith’s initial four-year term in office, the group said he is in the process of re-positioning the institute for relevance in the policy space as a world class Think-Tank.
In a statement made available to journalists and signed by one Dr. Adebimpe Adepoju, the Group argued that Gbadebo-Smith’s administration which was etched on the core mandate of NISER has influenced policy making and policy decisions in the Country.
“This was the main point on NISER’s reform agenda which he was charged to drive. To this end, capacity and skill gaps are being filled since he assumed office. The DG has helped to re-orientate NISER to lean towards a blend of scholarly research and public policy focus”, it read in part.
“The core mandate of NISER is ‘to conduct Socio-economic Research’, with the goal of influencing policy making and policy decisions. This Dr. Gbadebo-Smith achieved in his first tenure, tremendously well”, the Statement read.
The Statement further read that prior to his administration, the Research institute focused solely on Individual Research Projects and Team Research Projects, but on assumption of office, Dr. Gbadebo-Smith enacted reforms that turned the institute around.
“Dr. Gbadebo-Smith was specifically charged to enact reforms that would turn NISER around and make it relevant in its advisory and influencing function primarily in Nigeria’s policy and decision-making space, as well as in the global space”, it read.
The statement further said that, Dr. Gbadebo-Smith’s administration brought reformation and new strategic plan to the institution, which has yielded creation of new departments.
“The first is the Research Management Department (RMD), with a core mandate to manage the research process, control quality and thereby improve the quality of research output. The second is the Knowledge Management Department (KMD) with a core function to co-create knowledge products from research output, which are relevant for public policy and decision making in government. KMD serves to drive NISER’s externally facing functions including policy engagement, external collaborations and brand management. It has the ICT and library divisions as critical divisions driving knowledge acquisition and technological relevance. These two new departments are designed to help NISER achieve a blend of scholarly research (through the RMD) and public policy relevance through KMD”.
The group argued that Dr Folarin Gbadebo-Smith has moved NISER forward in the last four years, adding that his initiatives have helped NISER researchers improve their capacity for research and policy influencing tremendously.
“NISER campus is now a more enabling environment for research and he is not yet done. Things are looking up and it will be a great disservice to the institute and its well-meaning staff if Dr Folarin Gbadebo-Smith is denied opportunity to finish up these laudable initiatives”.
The Group further said Dr. Smith’s clinical experience, diverse academic training in public policy, research methods and bio-materials combined with work in business, grassroots politics at state and local government in Nigeria, along with management of an NGO, gives him a deep understanding of the human dimensions of development, a clear insight into structure and workings of government and how government functions within a political environment.
A recipient of many Research awards and fellowships, Dr Smith has a background in dentistry, which is arguably the most versatile professional cadre that exists as this is evident in his subsequent career path.
He served as an elected Local Government Chairman Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA in Lagos State, Nigeria for four years (2003- 2007) before earning a Masters degree in Public Policy as a Mason Fellow at the Harvard School of Governance between 2007 -2008.
The Group therefore said the rare attributes possessed by Dr. Smith makes him a unique resource as a practitioner in public policy, and more than qualified to head an institute like NISER.