Minister speaks on ‘irregular’ N11 million staff say he pocketed

Protesting workers lifting placards with various inscriptions
Protesting workers lifting placards with various inscriptions

The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, has acknowledged benefitting from a payment made by the Energy Commission of Nigeria, days after staff of the commission alleged he had been corruptly paid.

But the minister said the money funded an international trip by a Nigerian delegation he led.

Striking workers of the energy commission, which the minister supervises, had on Tuesday accused the leadership of the agency of ineptitude and corruption, and accused it of paying N11 million into Mr. Onu’s account. The workers said the payment was “irregular”.

They demanded the removal of the director general of the commission, E.J Bala, whom they said did not understand the mandate of the agency.

“The director had described the commission as a research institute and this is at variance with the mandate of ECN which is strategic planning and coordination of policies on energy,” said Promise Chukwu, the chairman of the staff union.

Mr. Chukwu also said the management made payment of N11 million through the project account of the commission to the account of the minister, Mr. Onu.

Mr. Onu acknowledged there was a spending by the commission, but did not say the amount. He said the money was not in his favour, and that the claim that the payment was “irregular” was “baseless and untrue”.

“No money was ever raised in favour of the Honourable Minister,” a statement by a spokesperson for the ministry, AbdulGaniyu Aminu, said.

He said the money was to fund the travelling expenses of the minister and other officials to the last Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), held at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate in January 2017.

“The delegates to the Assembly, who were accredited by the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, comprised of officials from both the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN),” the statement said.

“Nigeria’s delegation comprised, among others, the Honourable Minister of Science and Technology, the Director-General of the Energy Commission as well as the Director/Technical Adviser to the DG. The Honourable Minister is expected to serve as Head of Delegation,” the statement read.

IRENA is an inter-governmental agency established in 2009 with headquarters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and with membership of over one hundred and eighty (180) countries. Its objectives are to promote the widespread and increased adoption and the use of all forms of renewable energy. These types of energy include, inter alia, bio-energy, hydropower, solar, wind, ocean tides and waves as well as geothermal energy.

The statement said as the focal agency for the co-ordination of matters relating to Nigeria’s membership of IRENA, the Energy Commission supports all members of the national delegation through its budgetary provisions.

The statement said Nigeria benefitted from participating at the conference.

“During the 2017 Assembly, the Honourable Minister was able to secure for Nigeria the position of Vice-President of the Assembly up to 2018. The Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the Agency,” it said.

It described Mr. Onu as “a man of impeccable character who has demonstrated high moral standard and integrity in piloting the affairs of the Ministry”.

When contacted on Saturday, the chairman of the staff union, Mr. Chukwu, said the strike had been suspended after the management agreed to meet some of the union’s demands.


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  • felicia jones

    Save the lives of Hyprep Staff owed 5 years salaries and allowances send this message till Mr Buhari, President of Nigeria pays them and restores
    their positions in the NNPC.

    • Contact Point

      Send which message? For your selfishness I guess.

  • Isyaku Muhammad

    Na don hear ba? The minister only benefit for foreign trip

    • share Idea


  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    This type of monetary crisis must be referred to the ICPC for prompt investigation and final court handling and settlement as the workers are desperate for their outstanding salaries at all cost.This is a stain on the Federal Government of Nigeria, that one of its ministers, was accused of being involved in corrupt-practices. This allegations must be fully examine thoroughly as such a minister must not remain in president Muhammadu Buhari,s cabinet as a minister.

    • Contact Point

      Accusation is not conviction, so it’s still an allegation. Workers and labour unions in Nigeria just want to be paid for doing nothing, yet the keep picketing those that disagree with their modus operandi. From the statement released, and for the fact the office of the Minister stated how it all went, I do not think that the staff were well informed before their accusation against the person of the minister.

    • Senator D

      Really? Yet, Chief of Army Staff is still there. Abba Kyari, IGP, Liar Mohammed and so on haven’t lost their job yet…Olodo!

  • mumaru

    Mr Minister, how many kilowatts of energy is being Vice-President of IRENA going to give us to boost our national grid. Attending that meeting has no evident benefit to the country. This is not the change people voted for.