Edu Saga:Tinubu Radical Moves To Stop Stinking Mess In Ministry Of Humanitarian And Poverty Alleviation And NSIP

By Suleiman Umaru and Lateef Aegbite

 Between August, 2019, and now, officials of the Federal ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, now bptised ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Allaviation by President  Bola Ahmed Tinubu,  who took advantage of former President Muhammadu Buhari weak supervision  to the ministry and its agencies to come up with specific programmes  to address  the high level of poverty  in the country  have been exploiting the country.

The then Katsina state born Nigerian President was particular in solving  the emerging  issues  over the return and rehabilitation  of Nigerians displaced  in the conflict  and insurgency  in the north eastern  region, which  was said to have been extended to other parts of the country going through various forms of security challenges. The ministry was also mandated to include the number of orphans and windows in their programmes.

This may informed why he has directed Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the minister and Hajia Halima Shehu, Director General, Nigerian Social Investment Programmes, NSIP, to come up with some social programmes to address the needs of these less privileged Nigerians.

The fallout was that the NSIP, said to have been that was created by the Buhari’s Administration in 2016,  to tackle  poverty and hunger across  the country and transferred to the new ministry went to the draawing bard immediately to designed programmes that would be implement to serve the need of the underprivileged Nigerians. The suite of programmes under the old NSIP ,taken over by the   ministry of the Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation , according to an insider  include equitable distribution  of resources to vulnerable Nigerians, including children, youths and women.

The N-power, according to the source  was designed  to assist young  Nigerians between  the ages of  18 and 35  to acquire  and develop  life-long skills  for becoming change makers  in their local communities and players  in the domestic and global  markets  and given stipend of N30,000.00 monthly.

The Conditional  Cash Transfer, CCT,  Programme , the source informed The Value News Magazine was meant to support those  within  the lowest poverty level  bracket  by improving  their nutrition, increasing household consumption and supporting the development of  human Capital  through benefits  to various categories  of the poor and vulnerable in the 36 states of the Federation , including Abuja, the Federal Capial Territory, FCT.

Another of the NSIP programme inherited by the all-important ministry was  the Government Enterprise  and Empowerment programme, GEEP,  , which is a micro-lending intervention  that was said to have targeted traers , artisan,  enterprising youths, farmers  and women , particular,  by providing  soft loans between  N10,000.00 and N100,000.00 at no monthly cost to the beneficiaries.

The Home Grown  School  Feeding Programme, HGSFP,   further disclosed  aims to deliver  school feeding to  young children  with a specific focus  on increasing  school enrollment , reducing the incidence of malnutrition, among the poor  and those  ordinarily unable to feed  a-day., empowering  community  women   as cooks  and by supporting  small farmers  expected to help the economic growth of the nation.

Clement Agba, a former minister of State, Budget and National Planning, had said at the one of the conferences organized by the  Nigerian Economic Society, NES,  in Abuja, that the Buhari’s Administration had spent so much on the NSP  programmes . The former minister had alluded to the fact that  since 2016,  the Buhari’s Administration has been investing N500 million  annually  on the social development programmes. The minister had confirmed the disbursement of N1.71 million loans to small businesess and farmers across the country.

But Hajia Umar-Farouq, the immediate past minister of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, who is on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukoyede, net ,  over alleged mismanagement of  N37 billion earmarked  for the Conditional Cash Transfer  Programme    had said that the  Buhari’s Administration  spent the North American country of the United States, US, a billion dollars,  $1 billion,  annually  on the implementation  of various components of the NSIP , since 2016, meaning that for the eight years, of  the  Administration, it had spent over $7 billion on the NSIP alone  .

Edu: suspended minister

 Given the improper supervision of the NSIP, by the former minister overseeing the ministry and Betta Edu, the incumbent  suspended   minister  of  ministry of  Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation may have informed why officials of the NSIP had indulged in malfeasance, by following the footsteps of the ministry officials.

 Take for instance ,   Hajia Halima Shehu, the CEO, NSP, had transferred N44 billion  of the agency funds to private account and some company accounts  with days in December 2023,  without Presidential approval , which she had said was a mistake. Officials of the EFCC were said to have so far recovered n39 billion from the looted ministry funds. 

Many believe that ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation became home of fraud because  the agency heads  have approval limit  of N10 million  from government coffers, which may have led to the  suspicious  payment  of billions  of naira  to some individual and Corporate accounts. 

The recovery of about N50 billion by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commissions, ICPC,  between July and August, 2023, from the stinking ministry   which was said to have been paid  into the Federation account and the quizzing of several top level civil servants  linked to the scandalsf by  the EFCC,  speaks volume.

The funds which were earmarked to be disbursed  to vulnerable Nigerians  during the tenure of Hajia Umar-Farouq, the former minister  was said to have been blocked  during attempts to transfer  it into private accounts but recovered by the Commission  immediate past Chairman, Bolaji Owassanoye.

It was gathered that the funds were recovered when former President Buhari and Hajia Umar Farouq, the then minister of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, were leaving office and TinuBU , yet to appoint  a new minister to take over the running of the ministry.

There are indications that the refunded N50 billion was part of the N44 billion allegedly laundered by NSP and the N585 million, Edu, the suspended minister had authorized for disbursement.  The rot in the ministry and NSIP , may have encouraged Nigerian President   who could no longer take it  suspend all administered programmes by NSIP , an agency of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The administered programmes of NSIP suspended by Tinubu includes N-Power Programme, Conditional Cah Transfer Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme. This is in addition to Home Grown School  Feeding  Programme. Segun Omohiosen, Director Information, office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, who was said to have broken the news on Wednesday, January 9, 2024, had said that the President’s decision was informed by the ongoing investigation of alleged malfeasance in the management of NSIP and its programmes over the last seven years.

He had said that NSIP  programmes were suspended’’ for a period of six weeks  in first instance’’, to allow the Wale Eddun , minister of Finance and Coordinating  minister of the Economy , led Special Presidential Panel drawn from the Federal Executive Council, FEC,  mandated to look into the operational lapses  and improprieties  surrounding  the authorized transfer of funds to private accounts and some company accounts  including payments  to the programmes’ beneficiaries.

The Nigerian President may have made a bold statement when he disclosed that the Edun led Presidential Investigatio Panel ‘’ is tasked  with immediately  undertaking  comprehensive  review and audit  of existing financial frameworks   and policy guidelines  of the social investment programmes of the ministry of the Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation  with a view to implanting a total overhaul of the financial architecture  of the programmes with detailed modification  to procedure s  guiding the programmes mplementation moving forward.

There are indications what Edu, the suspended minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation did within seven months in office,  was worse than what Diezani Allinson –Madueke, a former minister of Petroleum Resources under former President’s Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration did in office.

The suspended minister, now described as ‘’disaster minister’’ in both official and unofficial quarters, and who had played into the hands of the officials of the anti-graft agency would no longer hide all the assets she has used public  funds to acquire  within  seven  months of overseeing the affairs of the ministry of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation  and superving NSIP, an agency under the ministry implementing government social investment programmes over the last eight years.

Olukoyede EFCC Chairman

  Based on it Investigations, the Commission, had exposed some of the properties and cash lodged in Zenith and Polaris, both in local and foreign currencies. The anti-graft agency  had revealed that  the N70 million  estate at Linda  Chalker Road, Asokoro Extension, FCT,  a N1.4 billion plaza   at El-Rufai Crescent Guzape, Asokoro extension , FCT,  and the  filling station  along Abuja-Kubwa expressway, valued at about N1.2 billion belong to the embattled minister   .  She was said to have also owned four estates at Metropolitan estate, Abuja valued at about N350 million, and another four estates along the Abuja airport road worth N300 million.  This is in addition to being the owner of the four estates   at Abuja airport road worth n530 million and an additional six plots of land along the airport road worth n30mmillion

      The suspended minister was said to have also extended her craze to acquire property to Calabar,  capital of Cross river state  where she owns two   estates  at the Federal Housing  Estate   worth  about N190 million , according to estate valuation experts.   The EFCC, was said to have discovered that the 38 year-old suspended minister of   Affairs and Poverty Alleviation equally own a Dillion station  in Calabar Metropolis  billions, both N430 million.

The invitation of  CEOs of Zenith Bank, one of the supposed  solid Banks in the nation’s Banking sector and that of  Polaris, Pridus and Jaiz, into an embezzlement  scheme  linked to Hajia Umar-Farouq,  former minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation  and Edu, her successor, and who interrogated   over  the improper  transfer  of public funds  into private accounts allegedly approved by the duo  leveraging on their ministerial positions.

The  suspended minister alleged cash deposits, both local and escrow accounts in Zenith Bank, First  Bank, and  Polaris Bank particular, speaks volume.  The EFCC, was said to have discovered that the suspended minister of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation currently has cash deposits of N2.7 billion in Zenith Bank,  N725 million in First Bank, and N388 million in Polaris. In her escrow accounts in the Banks,  she was said to own cash asset of $2.1 million in Zenith Bank, $6500 in Polaris Bank, €13,000 in Zenith Bank and  £57,000, also in Zenith,  meaning that Zenith Bank was one of the major Banks keeping the embezzled funds by the embattled minister.

This is why, Financial analysts believe Ebenezer Onyeagwu, CEO, of Zenith Bank have questions to answer over Edu alleged fraud in ministry of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation.

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