Morality has jumped out through the window at the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), one of the agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology located along the Airport Road, Lugbe Abuja.
Amorous relationships among the staffers cut across all cadres. The despicable trend recently assumed worrisome dimension, prompting the management of the parastatal to issue stern warning to members of staff to refrain from indulging in such unholy act.
Abuja Metro investigation revealed that some senior members of staff sexually harass, coerce and intimidate their juniors.
A circular with Ref. No: NASRDA/ADM/06/III and dated February 28, 2016, which was circulated to all the directors at the headquarters and activity and pasted on the institute notice board gave away the agency as place illicit amorous escapades must have taken the place of the research the institute was created for.
The content of the notice posted on the notice board for the general staff, the management decried the act, threatening to deal with any culprits in line with public service rules.
The circular titled “CAUTION ON HARASSMENT AMONG MEMBERS OF STAFF OF NASRDA AND ITS ACTIVITY CENTRES: read”: “Management has received with rude shock the growing penchant among some privileged staff of the Agency who are in the habit of harassing particularity (sic) the female staff members of the Space Agency through threats, coercing, extorting including making illicit, illegitimate, unholy and clandestine demands of the opposite sex.
“Staffers are to note that management of the Agency frowns seriously at such indecent, uncivilised and unbecoming habit.
“In tandem with recent Federal Government directive on harassment in universities; tertiary and research institutions nationwide, Management has cautioned that members of staff should desist from these ignoble tendencies forthwith, in their own interest.
“Defaulters and nonconformist (s) with the above directives will be visited with the full wrath of the law in accordance with the extant circulars and Public Service Rules (PSR), irrespective of rank or status.”
Abuja Metro gathered that the memo signed by the Director of Administration and Finance for Director General/Chief Executive became necessary to curtail the scandal and opprobrium such ignoble act had brought on the Agency.
In fact, an insider source that would not want her name mentioned saw it as “mere face saving measure,” since previous complains by some victims of sexual harassment and intimidation within the Agency fell on deaf ears.
It was also gathered that sexual perversion remained a way of life at NASRDA until recently when things got to a head with a staffer snatching a colleague’s wife. The man whose wife was allegedly snatched by another staffer is said to be a secretarial staff that will be retiring from service in September this year after attaining the mandatory 35 years of service.
His wife, Angela (not real name) reportedly moved out of their matrimonial home last year.
A senior staffer who also volunteered information to Abuja Metro but pleaded anonymity expressed sadness at the level of humiliation the husband of the lady had suffered in the hands of some well-placed co-staffers.
‘’The man has been humiliated so much in the hands of his colleagues. He is slightly above 50 years old but started work with ordinary level certificate. So, the wife moved out of their home last year to satisfy her men outside maybe because the man will be retiring this year,” our source stated.
Efforts for the man whose wife was allegedly snatched by a colleague to speak to Abuja Metro were not successful. When contacted on telephone on Sunday, he promised to meet us after a programme in his church.
But he became evasive afterwards, refusing to pick calls to his two telephone lines.
Nonetheless, because the management of the space agency had previously treated cases of sexual harassment with levity, some members of staff would want a ministerial investigation panel set up to recommend appropriate sanctions in line with the public service rules.
“Our parastatals have become something else because of high level of idleness,” the source added.
Yet, we found from a reliable staffer that the man lost the wife to another colleague who also has a wife. The mother of four children including two already in the higher schools still boldly come to work, just like her wife snatcher big boy in NASRDA to the knowledge of every worker about the illegal souse barter. Bad enough, most of the people, especially four of them are said to be well educated even with doctorate degrees in their disciplines.
The man is said to be dying slowly with the shame he suffered and compounded by the fact that the woman has packed out of his home with the children and living possibly with the impostor ‘husband’.
The man is said to be lamenting that he has become a victim of inter-tribal marriage as the woman from the south west of Nigeria had told him that what she did is no big issue where she comes from. Bad enough, these parties, the broken partners and the wife snatcher are all members of a prominent new generation church.
Fallout of the indecent partner snatching is already a matter pending before a court in Abuja where the woman has filed for collapse of the marriage, which she already had done prior to approaching the court.
What could be the likely causes of sexual travesty in NASRDA?
A Sociologist and Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) University of Uyo Chapter, Dr. Aniekan Brown blamed it on absence of deterrent.
“What encourages crime is when there is no deterrent. So, historically, if the thing has piled up and there is no measure of punishment for offenders, in the context of social exchange theory, if you embark on something and it pays you, there is no negative pay back, there will be encouragement to keep doing so. And for people that are observing to begin to do the same thing. It may also be that the particular organisation has not come out with any punitive measures for those who indulge in such act,” he said.
Dr. Brown argued that aside that the power sharing structure of any organisation places those on the top at advantage over those below them, in gender relations, men are ordinarily more powerful than women and so, more men would naturally harass women sexually than the other way round in an organisation.
The university don also attributed it to the social structure generally, involving the economy, education and religion.
If the prevalence is fueled by economic reason, he said it could be a case of using what you have to get what you need.
Stressing that sexual harassment is a very serious ethical issue that could lead to sack if established, Dr. Brown further said that the kind of work people do in an organisation could influence their sexual behaviour; if their socials begin and end in the organisation, the tendency is that they would abuse the virtues of the organisation.