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Betta Edu’s suspension commendable, but not enough – Atiku

 

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party
and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said the suspension of the Minister
of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, is commendable, but
not enough.

 

Recall that President Bola Tinubu, on Monday,
directed the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola
Olukoyede, to investigate all financial transactions involving the Federal
Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

 

Edu came under criticism after a leaked memo on December 20,
2023, revealed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation,
Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu
Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant,
Grants for Vulnerable Groups.

 

Reacting, Atiku in a statement by his Special Assistant,
Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, on Tuesday, noted that it was unfortunate
that a programme that was designed to lift over 100 million Nigerians out of
extreme poverty had allegedly become a cash cow for successive All Progressives
Congress governments.

 

He said, “While Tinubu deserves commendation for suspending
Edu, we believe this is a belated move. First, he had no business appointing
her as a minister of such a sensitive ministry in the first place. Tinubu put
politics ahead of competence, hence this scandal.

 

“What experience did Betta have in the development sector?
How was Imaan Ibrahim, with her wealth of experience, overlooked? How did the
Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, stand as Betta Edu’s
referee during her clearance at the Senate?”

 

Atiku who called for reform of the ministry, alleged that it
was not only Betta Edu that was involved in the transactions.

 

“Betta Edu should not be the fall guy. Others who have
remotely and wickedly benefitted from money that was meant for poor Nigerians
ought to be fished out, probed, and prosecuted too. It is demonic and
tendentiously wicked to steal in the name of the poor.

 

 “There is a need for
the government to reform the humanitarian affairs ministry and other
interventionist programmes that had become an ATM and POS for those in power,”
he said.

 

He noted that the fact that the previous Humanitarian
Affairs Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, is also being probed for N37bn fraud was
evidence that immediate and urgent actions need to be taken to reform the
ministry.

 

The statement added, “Even during the COVID-19 lockdown,
Farouq continued to implement the school feeding programme. She ridiculously
claimed that the food would be delivered to the students at home since schools
were shut.

 

“Today, Betta Edu claims that over three million households
got N20,000 each during the Yuletide. Sadly, there is no evidence of millions
of Nigerians getting such money. This shows that money has just been going into
private pockets.

 

“The scandal that we are contending with is not about Betta
Edu, nor about Halima Shehu, or any other person for that matter.

 

“It is about a problem of systemic corruption through which
the APC continues to bleed the treasury, ironically, asphyxiating the poor and
vulnerable segment of the country, all in the name of caring for them.

 

“The APC has weaponised poverty and hunger to control the
minds of the vulnerable masses, and it is even worse that they have devised a
method to use poverty as an instrument of official corruption.”

 

 

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