By Williams Anuku, Abuja
Following the embarrassment caused by allegations from the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) that N2. 67billion meant for school feeding programme was traced to bank accounts belonging to some public officials, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu has ordered a full investigation to unravel more facts.
The Minister’s directive is sequel to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education to officials handling the school feeding programme on behalf of the 104 Unity Colleges.
However, the queries got some Principals of the Colleges explaining that payments on meal subsidies to Unity Colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform is designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who are officially recognized to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors.
They said such payments were made into individual accounts because of difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM and other requirements to access the payment platform themselves.
Some of the Principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID 19, some of which are still pending, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.
Adamu who issued the directive on Tuesday, in Abuja, noted that further investigation will establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
In line with the Minister’s directive, the Ministry will collaborate effectively with officials of the ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency.
Recall that ICPC had recently revealed that it traced the sum of N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies in individual accounts, a development that generated diverse reactions from Nigerians, especially on the anti-corruption policy of the Federal Government.