In a significant development, President Bola Tinubu has taken swift action by suspending the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, amidst growing concerns over the delayed NPower payments. The delay has prompted rumors of possible mismanagement of funds, casting a shadow over the transparency of financial operations within the ministry.
The suspension follows a major scandal involving the approval of substantial payments, amounting to hundreds of millions of naira, into private accounts of civil servants. This has led to public criticism and questions about the integrity of financial transactions authorized by Edu. The controversy revolves around Edu’s directive to transfer N585.2 million into the private bank account of a civil servant responsible for grants for Vulnerable Nigerians. The leaked memo revealed that this payment request was made in December 2023, in apparent violation of Nigeria’s Financial Regulations designed to prevent fraud and corruption in government business.
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President Tinubu’s decisive action includes directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct a thorough investigation into the financial transactions of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation. Edu has been suspended with immediate effect, and she is required to hand over her duties to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry.
To ensure a comprehensive assessment of the financial framework of social investment programs, a panel led by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance has been appointed. The primary objective is to reform relevant institutions and programs, aiming to eliminate institutional frailties and restore public confidence in the initiatives.
Despite Edu’s defense, claiming the payment was legal within the country’s civil service, financial regulations clearly state that personal money should not be paid into a government bank account, nor should public money be paid into a private account. Such actions are considered to have fraudulent intent.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Madein, has distanced herself from the controversy, stating that her agency had advised the ministry on the proper mode of such transfers. She emphasized that bulk payments should not be made to an individual’s account in the name of the Project Accountant.
As the investigation unfolds and public scrutiny intensifies, the NPower payment delay is now speculated to be intricately linked to the broader financial irregularities and mismanagement alleged within the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, raising concerns about the overall stability and integrity of the N-Power program.
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