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Edun-led panel seeks removal of social investment programmes from humanitarian ministry

Edun-led panel seeks removal of social investment programmes from humanitarian ministry
March 02
08:46 2024

The presidential panel on social investment programmes has recommended the removal of intervention initiatives from the purview of the humanitarian affairs ministry, TheCable understands.

The panel led by Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, sent its recommendation to President Bola Tinubu.

The social investment programmes are currently domiciled in the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation.

They are implemented by the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) by law.

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The programmes – N-Power Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, and Home Grown School Feeding Programme — were put on hold after Tinubu suspended Betta Edu as the humanitarian affairs minister.

Edu has since submitted herself to a probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

BACKGROUND

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Edu ran into trouble after a memo surfaced wherein she asked Oluwatoyin Madein, accountant-general of the federation, to transfer the sum of N585 million to a private account.

Thereafter, other documents where she made controversial approvals, including approving air fares to Kogi, a state without an airport, went viral, prompting the president to suspend her.

A week prior, Halima Shehu was suspended as the chief executive officer (CEO) of NSIPA over alleged financial malfeasance. Edu had alleged that billions of naira went missing on Shehu’s watch.

Apart from the EFCC probe, Tinubu directed that the panel led by Edun should “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”.

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THE PANEL’S RECOMMENDATIONS

In an interim report seen by TheCable on Saturday, the panel recommended that the programmes should be resumed to alleviate the sufferings of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, but that a new board under the leadership of Edun should oversee the social investment programmes.

“Convene a steering committee/board under the leadership of the Hon. Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister of the economy to oversee the coordination of programmes,” it reads in part.

“Determine the future of the NSIPA by advocating for a proper review and amendment of the NSIPA act.”

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‘DUE PROCESS NEEDED TO PUT PROGRAMMES UNDER NEW BOARD’

A government official who pleaded anonymity, said before the social investment programmes are transferred to a new body for implementation, the relevant laws would have to be amended.

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“The executive bill sent by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to the national assembly, placed the NSIPA, which is in charge of these social programmes, in the federal ministry of humanitarian affairs and poverty alleviation,” the official said.

“A bill would have to be sponsored to amend the principal act.

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“Anything outside of that is illegal and against the laws setting up the NSIPA.”

TheCable has contacted Bayo Onanuga, special adviser on information and strategy to the president. However, he did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

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Before the humanitarian affairs ministry and NSIPA got embroiled in this saga, the senate, in October 2023, commenced moves to place the agency under the presidency.

A bill to that effect has since passed second reading at the upper legislative chamber.

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