By NBF News
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PetroleuM Technology Development Fund (PTDF). Remember it? That honey pot that drove a wedge between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Vice, Atiku Abubakar while they were in office is in the news again.

This time, employees of the agency are accusing the Executive Secretary (ES), Engr Muttaqha Rabe Darma, of using PTDF fund to promote the interest of his kinsmen in Katsina State and systematically 'northernising' the organization.

But the spokesman of the agency, Kalu Otisi, dismissed the allegations as a figment of the imagination of the petitioners.

'There is no recent recruitment in the PTDF that suggests that due process was ignored and I challenge those that made the allegation to produce the proof that 11 northerners were secretly employed,' he said.

Otisi also explained that it is 'practically impossible for a state to produce 200 persons in a scholarship list of 550.'

The PTDF was established to assist students with bias for oil and gas technology to acquire requisite foreign and local knowledge to assist the industry.

But PTDF staffers are accusing Darma of recruiting 11 employees within two weeks without recourse to due process or laid down rules and regulations.

The aggrieved staff, in a petition made available to Sunday Sun and titled 'PTDF in the Dark age', also alleged that 200 of the 550 students that got foreign scholarships during the 2009/2010 sessions are from Katsina.

They further claimed that the 200 Katsina beneficiaries did not sit for the aptitude test that should have qualified them for the award.

According to the petitioners, the Executive Secretary carried out 'extremely secret recruitment of 11 new employees of northern origin without the full knowledge of other members of staff, or potential candidates that recruitment is taking place in the Fund except for a few members of staff he considered as panel members who have been secretly sitting late into the night to conduct interviews of only selected eleven candidates they expected to recruit.'

They listed the panel members as Miss Jacqueline Guyil, Mrs Rabi Wazeri, Mr Nasir Ahmed, Mr Alhassan Lukman. The petitioners added that the ES, who himself is a former Commissioner for Youth Development in Katsina during the Yar'Adua governorship, employed one Abubakar Sadiq Bello, an indigene of Katsina, 'while the employment of the new eleven are being fast tracked without following due process'.

They contended that the recruitment was 'against the PTDF condition of service that requires placement of advert, federal character principle and due process.'

But Otisi, while dismissing the allegation, insisted the accusation of employing 11 northerners 'has no basis as the executive secretary I have worked closely with for some time now is a man known for his firm belief in due process. He is a meticulous person who would not allow such a thing to happen under him.'