From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Chairman of the Governing Board of the Projects Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, Enugu State, Daniel Onjeh has written the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to demand an apology over a misinformation that emanated from the Green Chamber, that he has been suspended on the directive President Muhammadu Buhari.
In an open letter to the Speaker, made available to the press, Onjeh, former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and former President, West Africa Students’ Union (WASU); said the demand for apology became necessary to protect his reputation especially when he is not under any form of investigation in relation to his stewardship as Chairman of PRODA.
While stating that he will not hesitate to go to court if his demand is not met, he explained that only public/civil servants who get penalized with suspension or dismissal especially if they had been either suspected or indicted of an act of gross misconduct.
The House of Representatives had on Wednesday resolved that the PRODA, Enugu, stop all further procurement activities on the 2020 budget and pay contractors, suppliers and consultants who have executed contracts.
The House resolved had also resolved following a motion of urgent importance to investigate the procurement deception, staff victimization and ongoing management problem in the Institute, which is under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
The House Committee on Public Procurement was mandated to investigate the serious allegations by inviting the Minister of Science and Technology, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Director General of Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and PRODA management to appear before the Committee and report back to the house within seven days.
The House also said it was aware that the Federal Government through the Minister, Science and Technology in its letter dated 17th November 2020, with ref no. – FMST/PARA/110/S.1/111/T suspended the Director General/CEO who is the Secretary of the Board Dr. Charles Agulanna, and the Chairman, PRODA Governing Board, Onjeh.
But in the letter to the Speaker, Onjeh, who is also a former candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Benue South Senatorial Election, explained that as Chair of the Board, he spearheaded the investigation of the suspended Director General/CEO of PRODA, Agulanna, adding that “it was upon the establishment of a prima facie evidence against him on allegations bordering on misappropriation, contract splitting, nepotism, insubordination, concealment of official records amongst others, after following the due process of the law as prescribed by the Circular of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) of 19th May, 2020, with Ref. No. SGF/OP/I.S.3/T/163, and titled, “APPROVED DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE AGAINST CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PARASTATALS, AGENCIES AND DEPARTMENTS”; that the Board recommended his suspension, which was subsequently approved by Mr. President. The directive of Mr. President on the matter, handed down to me by the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology via Circular Ref. No. FMST/PARA/110/S.1/III/T of 17th November, 2020 was unambiguous in Paragraph ii, thus: “…stepping aside of Comrade Daniel Onjeh, the Chairman, Governing Board of Project Development Institute (PRODA), pending conclusion of investigation.”
Continuing, Onjeh said: “Currently, an Independent Investigative Panel has been constituted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to investigate the allegations leveled by the Board against the suspended DG/CEO, and the panel has duly sent me an invitation acknowledging me as the Chairman of the PRODA Board, and requesting that I come along with other Members of the Board to substantiate our allegations against the suspended DG/CEO, Engr. Agulanna.
“It has become imperative for me to clear the air on this matter and to set the records straight, because the deliberate misinformation being peddled by the House of Representatives that I had been suspended as Chairman of PRODA is capable of putting my hard-earned reputation at stake. As a renowned human rights/development activists; former President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS); former President, West Africa Students’ Union (WASU); former candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Benue South Senatorial Election and now Chairman of the PRODA Governing Board, I am ever prepared to go the extra mile to safeguard my integrity.
“One would hope that the exalted House of Representatives would thoroughly check its information to ascertain the veracity before feeding it to the public, and not rely on mere sentiments and emotions at arriving at its resolutions, especially when such information are capable of smearing the reputations of decent and law-abiding members of the public.
“Therefore, I wish to state that the resolution of the House of Representatives that its Committee on Public Procurement should invite the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement and the Management of PRODA over the decision of the current PRODA Management to cancel the contracts that were wrongfully and illegally awarded previously by the agency, is totally uncalled for and a plot to divert the attention of the public from the core subject matter. The House of Reps had better left these authorities to concentrate on the more important tasks of governance before their offices.
“The irrefutable fact, which I can now assert without fear of contradiction, is that some members of the National Assembly constitute the major clogs in the wheel of the nation’s development. Little wonder, in spite of the assiduous efforts of His Excellency President Buhari to bring development to the doorsteps of Nigerians at the grassroots, the citizens are still lamenting palpable neglect by the Federal Government, because of the huge sabotage being perpetrated by some members of the National Assembly.
“Hence, very soon, I shall break my silence and speak up more extensively on the intricate issues connected to the procurement process at PRODA, which I believe is replicated in other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government. The PRODA Board shall soon reveal the true status of Constituency Projects allegedly being executed by the agency. The whole nation would soon understand how those saddled with the onerous responsibility of making laws for the peace and good governance of Nigeria, have become massive conduit pipes in their quest to amass public wealth at the expense of the taxpayers and poor masses.”