Workers and Union leaders at the Project Development Institution (PRODA), a research institution in Enugu have praised the Acting Director General (DG), Dr. Fabian Okonkwo for exposing the deep-seated corruption and contract racketeering in the Institute.
The workers alleged that the Institute, formerly the research and development arm of the defunct Republic of Biafra, before it was converted by the Federal Government to a research institution after the civil war, had been replete with corruption which was responsible for its stunted growth over the years.
The workers, including their leaders, spoke during a rally held to welcome the Acting DG on arrival at the office after visiting a probe committee of the House of Representatives in Abuja, alongside the board and management of PRODA.
Chairman of Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research and Allied Institutions (SSAUTHRAI) in PRODA, Mr. Gabriel Ohiomi and leaders of other sister unions condemned the alleged witch-hunting of the Acting DG of PRODA for exposing the rot in the research institution.
Ohiomi said, “We want to thank you all for coming out enmass to welcome our indefatigable Acting DG. A lot has been said within the media space, a lot has been said to malign his person but we remain unbowed and unbroken. He stands for the truth, our Acting DG is a man of integrity, and nobody anywhere can soil his name because of some powerful persons in politics who have interest in PRODA.
“This is to assure you that the whole population of PRODA is solidly behind you, they are aware of the good things you are doing, they are aware of the feathers you are ruffling…”
Other union leaders, including the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) Reform Group, and the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCN), said the Acting DG was doing a good job but that the suspended DG, Dr. Charles Agulana, who is currently facing financial probe, and some federal lawmakers who are alleged beneficiaries of contracts from the Institution, were working to scuttle the good works of the Acting DG, “at the expense of Nigerians.”
It will be recalled that the research institution has been facing industrial strife, allegations of official corruption and underdevelopment, which resulted in the federal government suspending the DG, Dr. Agulana, and appointing Dr. Okonkwo to act in his stead.
But the House of Representatives also commenced investigations into the accumulated rot in the Institution leading to the invitation of the Institute’s Acting DG, management, and board; and where the Acting DG opened a can of worms including allegations that some federal lawmakers were major beneficiaries of unexecuted contracts in the establishment.
According to the workers during the solidarity rally, “billions of naira has been embezzled in PRODA through contract scam, making the Institution one of the Agencies in Nigeria that has failed the country”.
“We should ask, where are the new tools, pencils, modern machines, carbonised coal, I.C engine, and hydro turbines which projects in the Institute had the tag. Also, we should ask for the rural electrification projects, road projects, etc which PRODA executed from 2013 to date.
“These are issues and questions that should call for answers”.
The Union leaders alleged that in most projects in PRODA, the previous management used cronies, relations, and those in the National Assembly for such executions.
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