A Project Development Agency, PRODA, under the Ministry of Science and Technology is currently engulfed in an internal crisis following ongoing attempts to sack the Director-General, Dr. Fabian Okonkwo.
DAILY POST reports that the agency’s DG was recently sacked following a recommendation by the investigative panel set up to look into the allegations by the board of the agency, then headed by its Chairman, Comrade Dan Onjeh.
The board had raised about seven strong allegations against the then DG, but forces in the ministry and other interested parties frustrated its effort to sanitize the agency.
A source in the agency told DAILY POST that, “despite the effort of the board to sanitize the agency, forces frustrated the board to the point of asking the then board Chairman, Comrade Dan Onjeh to step down.”
It said that in the wisdom of the investigative panel set up to look into the seven-strong allegations leveled against the then DG by the board, he was sacked.
In the report of the investigative panel obtained by DAILY POST, all seven allegations including those of violation of staff promotion process, recruitment, contracts and others, were all upheld by the panel.
The panel consequently recommended the sack of the then DG, with the presidency acting upon the recommendation.
But a report available to DAILY POST says the new board of the agency allegedly working with some forces had sacked the DG that took over in acting capacity from the then DG.
“After the DG was sacked, another board was set up because the Ministry of Science and Technology said the tenure of the board had elapsed. But that’s not even the problem, the new board was not comfortable with the man acting as the DG. He was fired. There are forces interested in ensuring that the person in charge must allow them to run the way they want to run, especially in relation to contracts and others.
“When the Acting DG was sacked, the most senior person in the agency, Dr. Fabian Okonkwo stepped in as the new Acting DG. And since his emergence, he has known no peace as the new board is now after him.
“They want him to go back to the initial recommendations by the House of Reps committee which was in line with what the then DG and the ministry wanted. And because he wanted to follow due process in his dealings with the board and award of contracts, they are now looking for how to push him out of office,” the source told DAILY POST.
Our correspondent gathered that on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, the board Chairman, Hon. Emma Eneukwu, was at the PRODA headquarters in Enugu to hand over a sack letter to the DG, who was said to be out of office. The letter, according to sources, was at the instance of the ministry working with the board to ensure that the DG leaves office.
The source said, “Because the agency’s DG is not dancing to the tune of the board, it’s now in alliance with the Ministry to remove Mr Fabian. Just imagine that the DG has always been away from the office because of the several threats by the board. I think he is saying he can’t be taking orders from them because he is answerable to the presidency who appointed him.”
When DAILY POST contacted Eneukwu, he said the board was not interested in the job of the DG, and they were only carrying out the directive of the ministry, alleging that the DG was running the agency down. He said, ‘’Whether he is DG or not, it doesn’t concern us. He is running the board down.
“We came in here and we saw him running the place down, grounding the place completely. He has no interest in uplifting the place. His interest is to sell the place and make money from it and the board is not happy about it. The board is not interested in anybody being DG or not, our interest is to make sure the place thrives.
‘’Any DG that comes with the interest of running the place down, the board will not be happy with him. And the ministry is aware of the development and is doing something about it. The board reports to the ministry, and it’s the ministry that oversees these things that will take decisions. And I think they have taken the decision which is being implemented.
“The board doesn’t implement, the board doesn’t remove. The board only advises on steps that should be taken. The board is not interested in the day-to-day adjudication of happenings.
‘’I don’t know who Fabian is. I met him for the first time when they appointed me board chairman but he refused to allow the board to sit. There is a regulation that guides the board and the parastatal. Since we came in, we have never sat. For 3 months now! Where does this happen? ‘’
When the board chairman was asked to highlight areas the DG was running the agency down, he said he was not in the position to respond to that question as he was working on the implementation of the directive of the ministry. And when he was asked to disclose the position of the ministry he is implementing, he hung up.
When the DG, Dr Fabian was reached, he declined comments on the matter.
Attached to this report is the petition by the Dan Onjeh-led board, the observation of the panel, as well as its final report and recommendations leading to the sack of the then DG.
Crisis looms at PRODA as agency DG, board, ministry clash