Special Report: Edu Saga, How Tinubu Is Winning Support Of Nigerians With His Bold decisions

By Lateef Adegbite

 President Bola Ahmed, appears to have won the heart of many Nigerians with his bold political decisions, particular, the suspension of the 38 year-old Betta Edu, minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation from Cross river state over alleged N585.18 million fraud.

Information had leaked out  that Betta Edu, the immediate past Commissioner of Health,  under Prof. Ben Ayande’s Administration in the state  had directed  Oluwatoyin Madein, the Accountant General of the Federation  to transfer  the said amount  to a private Account  allegedly  owned    by one Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

Betta Edu: suspended minister of Humanitarian Affairs & Poverty Alleviation

Mojisola, according to an insider was  the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups in Cross river,  Akwa Ibom, Ogun and Lagos, the nation’ Commercial nerve center.  The Lagos state born Nigerian President may have been touched by the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation financial saga that he had decided to go tough on the officials of the ministry and its agencies to ensure that the right thing was done.

The high level of fraud in the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social development   created by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 now baptized ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Allaviation by Tinubu,  may have informed why he has beamed his  searchlight on Hajia  Halima Shehu,  National Coordinator  and CEO, of  National Social Investment  Programme Agency, NSIPA, an agency of the ministry. Hajia Shehu was said to have    transferred N44 billion from the agency’s account to a private and some company accounts.

Although, the Nigerian President had suspend the NSIPA boss, but the Economic and Financial Crimes , EFCC, under the close watch of Ola Olukoyede has moved in to recover N39 billion from the private accounts.

Olukoyede: EFCC Chairman

 There is no gain saying the fact that President Tinubu, who may have won the heart of Nigerians because he has beamed his searchlight on the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation which he believes officials of the ministry are not doing what they   were mandated to do by the previous Administration: ‘’ Poverty alleviation through disbursement of cash to vulnerable Nigerians’’ in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Tinubu was emphatic that’’ the ministry never made any impact in the lives of vulnerable Nigerians as the process of doing so  was dogged by widespread allegations of corruption’’ as operators in the nation’s banking sector had facilitated the transfer of the public funds to private and some company accounts.

The invitation of the Managing Directors  of Zenith, a Bank which Godwin Emefiefele , a immediate past  governor of the Central Bank  of CBN, had served as the CEO, and that of   Providus  and Jaiz Banks, relating to the accounts  operated by  the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Aviation to the  EFCC  Headquarters at Abuja, FCT, speaks volume.

The Banks’  CEOs , were said to have  supplied all the relevant  transaction  documents  requested by the anti-graft agency  to help in  its ongoing investigations into the  alleged financial  impropriety  in  the ministry  over the years.

Aware that the Banks had aided and abeted the ministry officials  in divert public funds into private accounts    may have  informed why Sadiya Umar-Farouq, the immediate past minister of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management  and Social development , now ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation  and Edu, her successor, Passports were seized by the EFCC . This may have encouraged Michael Olayemi Cardoso, the current apex Bank governor to dissolve the Board of Directors and Management team of Union Bank, which majority shareholding had been taken over by Titan trust, a subsidiary of TGI Group, Keystone and Polaris Banks.

Michael Cardaso: Governor, CBN

 Recall that in May 2023, after completion of the core investors’ sale of majority shareholding, of Union Bank, the CBN, which had the mandate of the President to get to the root of the matter in the illegal transfer of the ministry of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation funds to private and some company accounts has sacked the  Bord of Directors and Management teams of Union Bank, Keystone and Polaries Bnaks.  Cardoso, the CBN, governor, had said that the dismissal of the Union Bank, Kestone and Polaris Banks Board of Directors and their Management teams . The boards and Management teams of the three Banks were aid to  have  been sacked  over  their non-compliance to sections  2 ( c, f and g )   and (h),of the Banks and other Financial Institutions  Act,  2020.

The Edu saga may have led to sacking of Farouk Gumel,Union Bank Board Chairman,  Mudassir Amray the Bank Managing Director/CEO and  Hajia Aisha Abubakar,   Andrew Ojei,  and Abubakar  Mohammed, all non- Executive Directors in the Bank. The CBN was said to hvae also applied the sledge hammer on Mckombo Omile, Joe Mbulu, chief Financial Officer and Farouk Gume of Titan Trust Bank because of their alleged roles in the transfer of the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation funds to private counts and some company accounts on the orders of the past and present suspended minister of the ministry of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation.

MK Ahmad, Chairman, Polaris Bank Board of Directors,  Adekunle Sonola, Executive Managing Director/CEO, of the Bank, Abdullahi .S.Mohammed, Segun Opeke, both Executive Directors and Abubakar  Dalami Suleiman, Salma Mohammed, Adeleke Alex Adedipe, Ahmed Mustapha, Francesco Cuzzocrea, and Olubunmi Odunowo,  were not left out as they were said to have   also been sacked.  Note that Polaris Bank, which was the defunct Skye Bank, was acquired in October 2022, by Strategic Capital Investment, SCIL.

President Tinubu was said to have also mustered the political will to sack and replaced the Board and Management team of Keystone Bank on account of the Edu saga.  Umaru .H.Modibbo, was said to have lost his position as the Chairman of the Bank, while  Olaniran Olayinka,  lost  his exalted office of  Managing Director and CEO, of the Money Deposit Bank, MDB. There are indications that more heads would roll in the Banks soon as part of the moves by the CBN’s,Authorities  to reposition the nation’s financial institutions.

The trio of Adeyemi  Odusanya,  Lawal Jibril Ahmeed and Gemi Aribaloye, Executive Directors  South and Corporate Directorate, north and public sector and  Group Risk Bank respectively were said to have also  lost their jobs in the Banks. Michael Cardoso, governor of CBN, who may be working on the instructions of the President who may has beamed his searchlight on the banks to get to the root of the Edu’s financial  scam This is evident with the Department of Yetunde Oni, as the new Managing Director of Union Bank, while Manir Ringim  was appointed as the Bank’s Executive director. For Keystone Bank, Mrs. Hakama Sidi-Ali,  the apex Bank  director, Corporate Communications disclosed  that  Hassan Imam, was appointed as the CEO, while Chioma Mbang was appointed as the Bank Executive Director. Lawal Akintola was appointed as the CEO, of Polaris Bank, Chris Ofikulu took the position of the Executive Director of the Bank.  

The Nigerian President who has won the heart of Nigerians, irrespective of their political persuasions over the suspension of the minister of Humanitarian and Poverty Alleviation may have sent a signal to Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of Interior, to prepare leave the Cabinet over his alleged involvement of the   N438 million contract scandal in the ministry under the supervision of the suspended Edu.

The suepected Interior minister’s company, New Plane  Project Limited  which was  said to be  one of the numerous Consultants engaged by the ministry  which   was said to have secured  a N438.1 million contract   from the   N3 billion   given out  by the suspended minister  for the National  Social Register Contract. The Company was said to have initially been paid the sum of N279 million for verification of the social register   and another N159 million for the same purpose by the ministry.

The former Lagos state governor who has proved to be a no pushover over the last seven months in office and determined to fight Corruption to a standstill irrespective of who is involved. He  was said to have summoned  Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the minister of Interior  over  his alleged involvement  of the controversial  N438.1 million  scandal involving Edu,  his counterpart in the ministry of Humanitarian and Povert Alleviation     to come and explain  his role  in the contract awarded to New Planet Project linked to him.

Tunji-Ojo:Minister of Interior, summoned by President Tinubu over N438.1 million from ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Aviation

Close Associates of the minister had labelled the N438.1 million paid to New Planet Project by the   ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation as Consultancy fees for job done, but that the minister is not a signatory to the company’s accounts as he has resigned his directorship of the company since 2019.

 The question on the lips of most people was that : If the minister of Interior was  not a complicity  in the Edu saga, why make attempts to see the President at the Presidential Villa  between Monday, January 7, 2024, and Wednesday , January ,9, 2024, but  the President could not see him  as he was  said to be too busy  attending to other matters. Already, the 41 year-old minister is currently being investigated   by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of Olukoyede.

Given the bad image which the Edu saga has given to the seven months-old Tinubu’s Administration may have emboldened him to establish a Special Presidential Panel on Social Investment Programmes headed by Wale Edun, minister of Ginance and Coording minister of the Economy.

 Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, had said that the Panel, which had members drawn from the Federal Executive Council, FEC,  is tasked with immediately ‘’undertakinga comprehensive review and audit of existing financial frameworks and policy guidelines of the social investment programmes  with a view  to implementing   a total financial engineering  of the financial architecture of the programmes  with detailed modification to procedures  guiding  the programmes’ implementation moving forward’’. 

Members of the Panel, were said to have been drawn from the FEC, in order to usher in a new era of operation of the social investment programme for the country based ‘’on open and accountable governance frame works ‘’

The tough decisions taken by the President over the last seven months which had been described as very courageous by people from all walks of life, may have informed why Tinubu has continued to attract more followers from the Opposition parties   who are ready to work for him particular, the G5, within the PDP.

Daniel Bwala, PDP, Chieftain & President Tinubu in a warm handshake

 The most recent of such new converts was Daniel Bwala, spokesperson of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administartion   and Presidential Candidate of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the February 25, 2023, general elections,   had said that he is committed  ‘’to supporting  the Administration of  President Tinubu, even  if that requires him  to defect to the APC’’.   

 He may have sent a message to the Leadership of the PDP, ‘’I have no apologies to anybody’’. Describing Tinubu as ‘’ his motivation’’, Bwala, had told those that cares to listen ‘’that the Opposition   political parties must form a strong coalition if they successfully want to wrestle power from the ruling APC in the upcoming 2027 elections’’.

He was emphatic that ‘’without a coalition of the Opposition parties, President Tinubu would spend eight years in office’’.  The Atiku’s political ally may have formed his opinion about Tinubu, after a closed- door meeting at the Villa, which he had said was on the invitation of the President. 

Pat Utomi, a professor , in  Lagos Business School and politica; ally of Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambara state and flag bearer of the  Labour Party, LP, during the February 25, 2023, Presidential elections, may have read the hand writing on the wall and corroborated  what Bwala, a Chieftain of the PDP  had said that  Leaders of  Opposition Parties  in Nigeria  should plan to form a new political party  that will  be able  wrestle power from the  APC in 2027 or reman the Opposition .

The Lagos Business school Professor, turned  Politician was said to have held  discussions with the three frontline Presidential Candidates in the 2023, general elections:  Atiku , PDP, Obi and  Rabiu Kankwaso, Presidential Candidate of  the New Nigerian People’s party, NNPP, Ralph Okey Nwosu  of the ADC  and some of the people who probably  constitute the base  on the need for the parties  to form another mega party  that will be ‘’a clean start from the existing parties that had been on ground since 199’’.

He may have shocked Nigerians when he said ‘’that ‘’ since 199, what the political class had only  managed  is to create  platforms  from which to grab  power  usually  for the purposes  of state capture’’. Nigerians are watching  to see what will happen in 2027.   

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