By Victoria Onehi
President Bola Tinubu has suspended Dr. Betta Edu from office with immediate effect as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
A statement on Monday afternoon signed by presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, said Tinubu’s decision was in line with the President’s avowed commitment to uphold the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability in the management of the commonwealth of Nigerians.
“The President further directs the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the financial transactions involving the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, as well as one or more agencies thereunder.
“The suspended Minister is hereby directed to hand over to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, and she is further directed by the President to fully cooperate with the investigating authorities as they conduct their investigation.
“Furthermore, the President has tasked a panel that is headed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance to, among other functions, conduct a comprehensive diagnostic on the financial architecture and framework of the social investment programmes with a view to conclusively reforming the relevant institutions and programmes in a determined bid to eliminate all institutional frailties for the exclusive benefit of disadvantaged households and win back lost public confidence in the initiative.
“These directives of the President take immediate effect,” Ngelale stated.
Earlier the former minister Betta Edu had issued a statement through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair saying the fund for Vulnerable Groups In Four States Was Approved and went through due Process.
The statement reads in parts
“The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation notes with dismay, on a memo from the Ministry to the Accountant-General of the Federation approving for payment, of the sum of N585,189,500.00 Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups for four states, which is currently being circulated in the social media.”
“It is glaring that the same sponsored disgruntled elements in the past few days have been trying to smear the Honourable Minister, Dr Betta Edu, and stain her integrity following the Federal Government ongoing 44.8 Billion Fraud in NSIPA. These elements have been trying to link her to a phantom fraud and are behind this latest misadventure.”
“For the avoidance, the said N585,198,500.00 was approved, and it is meant for the implementation of Grants to vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states. We must, however, note that GVG was first launched in the Kogi state where recipients testified.”
“Akwa Ibom and Cross River were launched in December 2023, Kogi in November, and others will be launched in the coming weeks.”
The general public is invited to note that the Renewed Hope Grant for Vulnerable Groups is one of the social intervention schemes of the federal government, which is being implemented by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
“Oniyelu Bridget is the Project Accountant for GVG from the Department of Finance and it is Legal in civil service for a staff, the Project accountant to be paid and use same funds legally and retire same with all receipts and evidence after project or Programme is completed.”
However,the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Dr. Oluwatoyin Madein clarified that the OAGF does not make payments on behalf of MDAs for projects and programmes implemented by the MDAs.
The AGF was reacting to media reports concerning a request from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation for payment of grants to vulnerable groups in some States of the Federation.
She stated that allocations are released to self-accounting MDAs in line with the budget and such MDAs are responsible for the implementation of their projects and payments for such projects.
In a statement in Abuja by the
Director (Press),Bawa Mokwe,the AGF explained that although her Office received the said request from the Ministry, it did not carry out the payment. The Ministry was however advised on the appropriate steps to take in making such payments in line with the established payment procedure.
The AGF noted that in such situations, payments are usually processed by the affected Ministries as self-accounting entities and no bulk payment is supposed to be made to an individual’s account in the name of Project Accountant.
She added that such payment should be sent to the beneficiaries through their verified bank accounts.
Dr. Madein reiterated her determination to uphold the principles of accountability and transparency in the management of public finances. She advised MDAs to always ensure that the requisite steps are taken in carrying out financial transactions.