Betta Edu’s Suspension

THE suspension of Betta Edu, the erstwhile  Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, by President Bola Tinubu came like a thunderbolt to most Nigerians. It can now be confirmed that Betta Edu one of the most visible and colourful female politicians in the  corridors of power is enmeshed in financial impropriety in the ministry she was presiding over. Among other under-dealings, she was alleged to have approved the payment of hundreds of millions of naira (N582 million), belonging to government, into the private bank account of a civil servant, Bridget Oniyelu, who is the accountant in charge of Grants for Vulnerable Nigerians, which is an agency under the ministry. The act is said to have contravened various sections of Nigeria’s Financial Regulations 2009 that are meant to prevent fraud in government business.   

THERE were also other anomalous expenditures credited to the suspended minister on the social media, like the money approved to take a flight to Kogi State, where there is no airport. Initially, people thought it was a mere speculation, but it is also noteworthy that the money could not be paid into the approved personal account, as the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, had advised the minister against the transaction. It is arguable that with the intention, arrangement had been perfected to siphon the money. Her suspension is a confirmation that certain infractions had taken place. The question then would be why the minister chose not to follow due process.

WE believe that what the president did by suspending the minister, directing the EFCC to interrogate the culprits and emplacing a ministerial panel to investigate the alleged malfeasance in the management of all administered programmes by the National Social Investment Programme (NSIPA) are commendable, as such infractions in the past would have been treated with kid’s gloves. The response of the president will send a strong signal that the Tinubu-led government will not tolerate such conducts. Everyone should note that the president did warn his cabinet members earlier during his inauguration and retreat that they should be wary of corruption and non-performance; as people found wanting would not be spared.   

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THE Hope calls on the president to see through the comprehensive investigation emplaced for the ministry, as it has become a perennial conduit for siphoning funds. This is more so as President Tinubu had earlier suspended Halima Shehu as National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA), over alleged corruption and financial impropriety. The Hope also considered it frightening that the immediate past Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Sadiya Umar Farouq, is being investigated by the EFCC for allegedly laundering over N37  billion .      

THE government should not stop at the investigation of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, but should bring in forensic experts to retrieve stolen money without delay from the ministry, and others as well. The action of the president is to tell the embattled minister that she is on her own, as he earlier warned them. These inappropriate behaviours from the ministry and agencies of government meant to alleviate the sufferings of poor Nigerians are worriedly perpetuated by women, thereby casting doubt on the recurring longstanding clamouring for the involvement of women in governance, against the background of mother conscience philosophy that is desired for a new moral order in public service. The noticeable scandals from Farouk, Deziani, Odua, Shehu, then and now, leave much to be desired.

SIMILARLY, we are of the opinion that the lack of discretion of Edu is a devaluation of the place of the youths that have been hitching so vociferously for public service participation. While awaiting the reports of the investigation of the EFCC and the ministerial panel put in place by the president, we like to nudge government to do more by emplacing new structures, and reinforcing existing ones, that would help checkmate corruption, rather than fighting it. Also, it is a shame that Nigeria is yet to have a reliable data for the citizens, through which opportunities could accrue to them, which has led to agencies of government, like the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, to rely on questionable social registers. As things unfold, only time will tell if President Tinubu would be able to tackle the monster of corruption in his government.

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