The Nigerian Senate was on Tuesday forced to put on hold the screening of nominees whose names were forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman and Members of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
Although the list of seven nominees was circulated by the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, there was a huge gap which made the chairman of the committee, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe to halt the entire screening exercise.
And what was the gap? Six members proposed on the list had all necessary information about their persons like date of birth, educational and other qualifications as well as experience listed in the appropriate columns. However, the proposed chairman, namely Prof. Akintunde Akinwande had no personal information against his name. Indeed, the Senate committee had no information whatsoever on the candidate the President put forward to chair the commission.
In announcing that the screening had been put on hold indefinitely, Senator Abaribe said: “Regrettably, when members of the committee assembled to screen the nominees made by President Buhari, we were told that the chairman designate was unavoidably absent. The Presidential liaison who brought the nominees informed us that the chairman was unavoidably absent.
“The commission is vital and cannot function without a chairman. We cannot screen them until we have a formal communication from the presidency.”
Informed sources on Tuesday seemed agreed that Prof. Akinwande has apparently turned down the President’s offer. One source pointed to the fact that the professor did not even submit himself to the Department of State Services for clearance as required by law meaning that he was never interested in the appointment.
The other members of the commission whose names were submitted to the Senate were Sanusi Garuba (Vice chairman), Nathan R. Shatti (Commissioner), Dr Moses Arigu (Commissioner), Dafe Akpedeye (Commissioner), Prof. Frank Okafor (Commissioner) and Musiliu O. Oseni (Commissioner).
Now, who is Prof. Akintunde Akinwande?
Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande is an engineering egg head who is highly regarded in engineering and computer science research circles in the United States of America. These past several years, he has been a professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department of the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His sojourn in the world of learning began here in Nigeria, at the University of Ife where he earned a B.Sc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 1978. Between 1981 and 1986, he was at Stanford University in Stanford, California where he earned a Master’s and a doctorate in Electrical Engineering.
He began to make major research impact in America when he joined Honeywell Inc. in 1986. He later moved on to work at Si Microstructures group where he conducted research on pressure sensors, accelerometers, thin-film field emission and display devices.
In January, 1995, he joined the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interest has been mainly in the areas of micro-fabrication and electronic devices.
In 1996, he received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Award in the United States. Over the years, he has served on the technical committees of many major international engineering conferences.
Akinwande is a holder of many patents in MEMS, Electronics on Flexible Substrates as well as Display Technologies. He has over 100 journal publications to his credit. He has worked as a visiting professor at the Engineering Department of Cambridge University.