- Former board chairman of Project Development Institute, PRODA, Daniel Onjeh, has raised the alarm over alleged corruption in the institute
- Onjeh in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urged the president to take immediate action before it's too late
- The APC chieftain has accused the Ministry of Science and Technology of overriding President Buhari's order on the crisis in PRODA
A former senatorial aspirant and the immediate past Chairman of Project Development Institute, PRODA, Comrade Dan Onjeh, has raised the alarm over endemic corruption in the civil service, using PRODA as a case study.
In an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari which he personally signed and titled, “Impunity and disregard for presidential directives: A major setback to your administration,’’ Onjeh alleged that despite Buhari’s effort to rid the current endemic corruption, heads of ministries, agencies and parastatals have continued to be saboteurs, consequently working against Mr president’s efforts.
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Charging the President to act now, Onjeh said that time is of the essence if his administration must take decisive actions to address the root cause of the underperformance of successive federal budgets.
Onjeh commends Buhari
While commending the president for putting some round pegs in round holes in some ministries, agencies and parastatals, he said he was using the letter to relate his experience of alleged massive corruption in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, FMST, and by extension the Nigerian system, using PRODA as a reference point. He said there was the need to sanitizing not just PRODA and the FMSTI, but all other Ministries and Parastatals of the Federal Government.
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The former PRODA chairman, in the letter, was very particular about the development at PRODA, where he alleged that the Ministery of Science and Technology led by Chief Ogbonnaya Onuh disregarded the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari by allegedly sacking the Director-General of the agency illegally, even after Mr President had issued a directive on what ought to be done.
Onjeh recalled how a former Director-General of PRODA, Engr. Dr. Charles Agulanna was sacked based on the recommendation by the presidency, yet the ministry went behind to issue a different directive, leading to the sack of the DG the presidency had said should take over from Agulana.
Corruption in PRODA
He recalled how the board he chaired at PRODA in less than a year noticed the massive inefficiency and corruption at the institute under the previous management
According to him:
“The Board wrote to the DG/CEO on two occasions, cautioning him on the need to improve the manner in which he was administering PRODA, in line with the “Change” mantra of your excellency’s administration which places premium on anti-corruption, due process, and strict discipline. But all our warnings fell on deaf ears.
“Hence, amid mounting allegations of contract splitting; absence from duty without leave; nepotism; misappropriation; insubordination and total disregard for board resolutions; suppression of vital information and sabotage; and extortion of money from contractors as admin charges leveled against the then DG, the PRODA Board under my leadership served him a query on 2nd March, 2020,’’ he said.
Onjeh alleged that despite the recommendations sent to the Minister to act swiftly in order to save the agency, no action was taken as the minister sat on it for 6 months, before the Secretary to the government of the Federation, SGF took action on the matter after reviewing the letter of the board.
SGF’s intervention at PRODA
According to Onjeh:
“It took the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, one of your most dependable political allies whose office we copied same recommendation earlier, to intervene in writing and draw the Minister’s attention to our letter, further directing him to act on the matter,’’ he said.
The ex-board chairman commended the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, for his untiring efforts at ensuring that all ministries and parastatals of the federal government adhere strictly to due process and the rule of law, in the current administration’s fight against corruption.
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“It was the SGF that followed through and ensured that the recommendations of the previous PRODA Board under my leadership, and the subsequent report of the SGF Panel, got to your office for approval,’’ he further revealed.
The former senatorial candidate further alleged that Dr. Fabian Okonkwo who later took over from the sacked DG as recommended by the SGF has been forced out of office. Onjeh alleged that Fabian’s sack was based on a directive by the ministry.
He said to compound his worries, the cronies of the suspended DG/CEO of PRODA with the active support of their accomplices at the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and other agencies/institutions did not relent in their bid to frustrate the efforts of Engr. Dr. Fabian Okonkwo, the successor of Engr. Dr. Agulanna, at PRODA.
He said they were able to use the agents of the State Security Service to forcefully take over the management of PRODA on 25th January 2022; and install their preferred DG, one Dr. Mrs. Arit Beta Etukudo, the Director, Ceramics Research and Production Department, as the overseeing DG/CEO of PRODA.
Industrial disharmony at PRODA
According to Onjeh:
“Their action has sparked off an industrial disharmony in PRODA, for which I humbly seek Your Excellency’s kind intervention before it escalates beyond proportions,’’ he decried.
Onjeh made 5 key recommendations that the president can use to resolve the trouble in PRODA, calling for a proper investigation into the matter by the president through a fresh committee.
Legit.ng reached out to Ministry Science and Technology
When Legit.ng contacted Mr Farncis Adebisi, Human Resource Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology who chaired the committee on the implementation of the presidential directive, he admitted he was made the chairman of the committee by the minister but was not in the office as at the time, as he was on leave.
He said he was, however, briefed by his deputy who chaired the committee on his behalf.
He, however, refused further comment on the matter.
When Legit.ng reached out to the S.A Technical to the Minister of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Engr. Oguejiofor, all calls went unanswered. A text and WhatsApp messages forwarded to him were not responded to as at press time.
Buhari is epitome of integrity - Onjeh
While speaking at the APC national secretariat, he added that President Buhari was an epitome of integrity, transparency, and accountability.
He said then that Buhari`s exemplary qualities and leadership disposition informed his adoption by the African Union as the continent’s Anti-corruption Champion.the