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Calls For Tinubu To Investigate Buhari Administration Intensify Amid Allegations Of SIP Fund Misappropriation




Nigerians Should Blame Buhari Not Tinubu For Economic Hardship - Arewa Group

Calls for President Bola Tinubu to investigate the alleged fraud in NSIPA and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs during Muhammadu Buhari’s administration are growing.

Accusations of widespread fraud within the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation have prompted demands for President Bola Tinubu to investigate the administration of his predecessor, former President Muhammadu Buhari.

In 2016, a year after assuming office as Nigeria’s President, Buhari established the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) to oversee his administration’s National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP).

These initiatives were designed to address poverty and hunger nationwide. Presently, NSIPA functions as an agency under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

Buhari’s administration also set up the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation – originally as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Buhari established the Ministry via an Executive pronouncement on August 21, 2019.

The NSIPA oversees various programs, including N-power, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP), and Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF).

Alongside the broader mandate of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, these initiatives were intended to alleviate poverty and provide relief to distressed Nigerians.

However, a range of Nigerians, including civil society organisations and political activists, have spoken with DAILY POST and expressed concerns that the establishment of these institutions has become counterproductive.

They say the NSIPA and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation have become synonymous with corruption.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has recently detained and interrogated the former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, along with the suspended National Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of NSIPA, Halima Shehu.

The investigations are related to allegations of corruption in the management of N37.1 billion social intervention funds.

The sum of N37.1 billion is alleged to have been misappropriated during Sadiya Umar-Farouq’s tenure as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development under President Buhari.

The Ministry, now named the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, has faced ongoing fraud allegations even under a different leadership. The current minister, Betta Edu, has been suspended by President Bola Tinubu due to her alleged involvement in a N585 million fraud.

Edu is accused of attempting to transfer the N585 million, designated for social intervention programs, into a private account.

In light of the widespread fraud allegations affecting NSIPA and its overseeing Ministry, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, President Bola Tinubu has taken action by suspending the chief executives of both organisations, Betta Edu and Halima Shehu.

Edu is under suspension pending an investigation into her alleged involvement in a N585 million fraud, while Shehu faces suspension over allegations of financial misconduct.

Taking additional measures, President Bola Tinubu has suspended all four programs under NSIPA, including N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Government Enterprise and Empowerment, and Home Grown School Feeding. This suspension is initially set for a period of six weeks.

A statement issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF, which announced the suspension, hinted at plans to reform the agency, but also noted that Tinubu “raised significant concerns regarding operational lapses and improprieties surrounding payments to the Programs’ beneficiaries”.

Tinubu Should Probe Buhari’s Government

While a number of Nigerians have praised President Bola Tinubu for promptly suspending Edu and Usman, along with the NSIPA programs, there are calls for the President to take further action by initiating a probe into the Buhari administration.

The Secretary General of the Conference Of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Willy Ezugwu, highlighted in a conversation with DAILY POST that the revelations of extensive fraud within NSIPA and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, significant components of Buhari’s administration, underscore the necessity for President Tinubu to investigate the government of Buhari.

Tinubu should probe Buhari’s government. Under the (Buhari) administration, corruption became an epidemic in Nigeria. If Tinubu is serious about fighting corruption, there is no way some officials under Buhari’s government will not be prosecuted. If Buhari’s government is not probed, Tinubu should forget about fighting corruption,” Ezugwu said.

The Executive Director of the Resource Center for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Ibrahim Zikirullahi, has also called on President Tinubu to investigate the government of Buhari.

Zikirullahi observed that, based on its track record, it seems that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation was established as a means to plunder the national treasury.

In discussions with DAILY POST, Zikirullahi pointed out that the establishment of the Ministry was unnecessary since there were already existing government agencies handling similar mandates.

Zikirullahi said, “From all indications and from all that has happened in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, it is clear that it was set up just to fleece the country. What has been uncovered so far is just a scratch. If a detailed investigation is to be conducted, more will be uncovered.

“Now, can we say that what the Ministry has done so far is equivalent to the mass stealing that has been perpetrated? No.

“There was not even any need for the creation of that Ministry. If you have a Ministry of Women Affairs, you can domicile whatever department you want to create under it, not creating a full-fledged Ministry.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), created in 1999 to handle disasters in Nigeria, is currently one of the agencies under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

However, Zikirullahi contended that the Ministry is essentially an upgraded version of NEMA.

He said, “I would have expected Tinubu to hold on and conduct an investigation before even appointing a minister into that Ministry.

“He should have done a thorough check to know if we even need that Ministry. What is their work? What exactly are they doing? It is NEMA that Buhari elevated to that Ministry. And what have they done so far to alleviate poverty? Even Betta Edu, between the time she was appointed and the time she was suspended, what practical things has she done to alleviate poverty?

Fraudulent implementation of Conditional Cash Transfer Programme

CHRICED, Zikirullahi’s organisation, actively monitored the implementation of the conditional cash transfer program in the North-West region.

Based on their observations during this monitoring, Zikirullahi provided additional insights into the fraudulent aspects of the program.

They talk about palliatives here and there, conditional cash transfer to the poorest of the poor. My organisation monitored the disbursement of the conditional cash transfer of the Abacha loot in the North-West, and we saw the shady deals that were going on.

“Where they are supposed to pay N10,000 to a household, they will just give them an envelope and say ‘sign, sign, sign’, and the person will sign and be smiling, but when they count the money, they find ₦4,000 in the envelope. This was what was going on.

“In some cases, when they want to disburse, they will fail to notify us, or they will give us a different date. We travelled far and wide, only to find out that it had been postponed or it was conducted yesterday. We saw all that, and we did a report and submitted it. Nothing happened,” Zikirullahi said.

The Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, echoed the call for President Tinubu to investigate the government of Buhari. Rafsanjani noted that numerous issues went awry during the immediate past administration.

The truth is that there are so many wrongdoings that happened under Muhammadu Buhari. You can take some well-established cases where breaches happened. I think they have already invited Sadiya Abba-Farouq.

“There are others like the former Minister of Justice (Abubakar Malami) and the former Minister of Aviation (Hadi Sirika). Once there is evidence of their wrongdoing, I think the Tinubu government should go ahead and do that (probe them),” Rafsanjani told DAILY POST.

Rafsanjani, who serves as both the President of the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) and the Executive Director of CISLAC, went on to note that some significant members of Buhari’s government, previously accused of corruption, are now part of Tinubu’s team.

“The Tinubu administration itself is not very strong in morality because many of the people Tinubu appointed were also part and parcel of the Buhari administration.

“They were also having a lot of corruption allegations against them,” he said, suggesting that it will be difficult for Tinubu to probe Buhari’s government.

Buhari announced plan to probe Jonathan’s government

Upon assuming office in 2015, Buhari had declared his intention to investigate the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

He expressed his commitment to arresting and prosecuting former ministers and other officials who were accused of embezzling Nigeria’s funds.

In response to demands to broaden the probe to include other previous administrations, such as those of Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalam Abubakar, and Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, clarified that the investigation would be confined to the government of Goodluck Jonathan.

While some officials from Jonathan’s government, including the former Minister for Petroleum Resources, Dieziani Alison-Madueke, were eventually taken to court on corruption charges, there was limited information on the outcome of the proposed investigation into the Jonathan administration.

Why Tinubu will not probe Buhari

The Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Eze Onyekpere, remarked in a conversation with DAILY POST that there appears to be an unspoken rule that no Nigerian President holds their predecessor accountable.

Onyekpere pointed out that while investigating Buhari would be the correct course of action, it is improbable that Tinubu would take such a step.

Have you ever heard of a Nigerian sitting president calling the former one to account? It appears to be an unwritten rule in Nigeria.

“Buhari handed it over to Tinubu, so if you are expecting him to probe his predecessor, that is going to be very difficult. It is the right thing to do, but I don’t see it happening,” he said.

They (sitting Presidents) don’t want to set that precedent because they wouldn’t want their successor to call them back. They know if that precedent is set, it may get to their turn,” he added.