The Board Chairman of Projects Development Institute (PRODA), Enugu, Comrade Daniel Onjeh, has described members of the House of Representatives as professional blackmailers who are hell bent on pressuring the agency into approving fake constituency projects.
Reacting at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja to the Lower Chambers Committee’s resolution to “immediately suspend and prosecute PRODA acting Director General/Chief Executive”, Fabian Okonkwo, Onjeh described the report as hogwash and lacking in substance.
The Board Chairman revealed that there was over N11 billion in PRODA’s account meant for execution of Constituency and other projects which would lapse and return by 31st March, 2021 if the fund was not utilised, but the lawmakers want the agency to pay out the money without projects execution.
He said, one Hon. Henry Nwawuba from Imo State and the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila have vested interest which they have mounted pressure on PRODA to pay for contracts not executed against insistence of the Board.
To achieve their subterranean aim, Onjeh maintained, the Imo lawmaker was appointed Chairman of House Public Procurement Committee Probe of PRODA 2020 Procurement Exercise.
He said: “All I can say at this juncture is that the members of the National Assembly (NASS) are professional blackmailers. At first, they tried to discredit me and my position by preventing me from talking at the committee’s self-styled public investigation.
“Knowing very well that as PRODA Board Chairman and a major stakeholder, I have the right to speak at the investigation.
Onjeh said, the Committee attempted to intimidate him by claiming that contractors executing various projects have petitioned against which he insisted on seeing copies of the petition, but haven’t been made available to him to date.
Displaying a copy of a recommendation letter which Hon. Nwawuba sent to PRODA for award of contracts on his behalf, Onjeh insisted that their offence was nothing short of ensuring that constituency projects are executed before payments.
According to him, he wasn’t bothered that PRODA contractors are mere fronts for National Assembly members, but stated that projects must be executed before payments.
He continued: “Therefore, blackmail, I have found, is the NASS’s stock in trade. No wonder the PRODA DG, Engr. Agulanna, whom the President suspended on the recommendation of the Board, which I chair once recounted how he was forced to bribe members of NASS with N6 million, as they could make life difficult for him and cut his Agency’s budget.
“We have discovered that PRODA contractors are mere fronts for NASS members, used as conduit pipes for siphoning monies meant for zonal and constituency projects.
“Lawmakers colluded with the suspended DG on several occasions and received full payments for contracts without proof to justify government spending of such huge sums.
“Sadly, they have been doing this for several years.”