Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has commended President Bola Tinubu for taking action against Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, but insists that more needs to be done.
In response to the leaked memo revealing financial transactions and directives, President Tinubu instructed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the matter.
Atiku expressed his views, stating that while the suspension is commendable, it is belated, raising questions about Edu’s appointment in the first place. He emphasized the need for competence over political considerations, questioning Edu’s qualifications for such a sensitive ministry.
The leaked memo disclosed that Edu directed the transfer of N585 million to a private account, raising concerns about the integrity of a program designed to alleviate extreme poverty.
Atiku called for broader reform within the ministry, highlighting the need to address systemic issues beyond Edu’s alleged involvement in financial transactions.
He also questioned the appointment process, asking why individuals with relevant experience, such as Imaan Ibrahim, were overlooked.
Atiku raised concerns about political considerations influencing appointments and called for a thorough review to ensure competence in key ministerial positions.
He said, “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.”
According to Atiku, the fact that the previous Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq, is also being probed for N37bn fraud showed that immediate and urgent actions need to be taken to reform the ministry.
He said, “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.”
As the investigation unfolds, Atiku’s stance underscores the importance of addressing not only the immediate scandal but also implementing reforms to prevent such incidents in the future.