The scandal surrounding the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, has been a topic of discussion in the media space for some time.
It goes without saying that most Nigerians have expressed disappointment over the allegations against the chirpy and vivacious politician.
A viral video shared online sometime back showed how excited the suspended minister was over her appointment.
In the video, Edu was spotted in Winners Chapel, thanking God for answering her prayers of becoming a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at such a tender age.
Despite Edu’s excitement and very obvious interest in carrying out her assignment properly it seems that the she might have soiled her fingers.
Perhaps she was simply navigating her ministry with the footprint left by the her colleagues.
Edu’s Incredible Journey To Power
Before her suspension, Edu was a beacon of hope to young Nigerians, especially women. Born on October 27, 1986, Edu’s rise to power has been nothing short of credible. The politician has chalked up an impressive portfolio.
Edu completed her secondary education in 2001 at the Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, and obtained her first degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Calabar in 2009.
She was appointed the Special Adviser on Community and Primary Healthcare to Governor Ben Ayade in 2015. Shortly after, she became Commissioner for Health, and in 2020, she also doubled as the chairman of the Cross River State COVID-19 Taskforce.
In August 2020, she became the national chairperson of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum.
In March 2022, Edu, transcending state politics, became the youngest national Woman Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In July 2023, the Asabe Bashir-led Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, bestowed on her an award of excellence in leadership for gender inclusion and women empowerment.
Despite her exceptional resume, Edu has fallen from grace and is now facing allegations of fraud, corruption, and abuse of power in her ministry.
President Bola Tinubu had ordered a thorough investigation into her request for the transfer of N585.189 million meant for vulnerable groups in Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ogun, and Lagos states into a private account.
However, before this recent scandal that led to Edu’s suspension, the minister has been involved in certain controversial issues. Below are some allegations that might have marred Edu’s reputation and subsequently led to her suspension.
Scandals And Controversies
Appointments into non-existent entities: It was alleged that Edu had appointed certain persons into entities that no longer exist.
A report from Daily Trust revealed how the suspended minister appointed one Olubunmi Bello as the National Coordinator of the Community and Social Development Programme (CSDP), a defunct $415m World Bank-funded intervention project that was launched in 2009 and officially closed in June 2021.
She also appointed one Richard Romanus as the National Programme Manager of the Youth Empowerment and Social Support Operations (YESSO); another defunct World Bank-supported project.
N72.3m Flight Tickets To Kogi: A leaked memo dated December 20, 2023, revealed another multimillion-naira scandal.
Edu had allegedly approved funds for flight tickets and airport taxis for her advanced team to travel for an event in Kogi, a state with no airport.
In the memo, each member of the embattled minister’s advanced team received N200,000 for flight tickets and N20,000 for airport taxi and other expenses, amounting to N72.3m.
Edu allegedly earmarked N300,000 for her flight tickets.
N3bn Loot: Edu had allegedly looted billions of naira from NSIPA.
The allegation was made following the suspension of NSIPA’s Coordinator, Hajiya Halima Shehu, who was arrested and interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over an alleged N37.1bn scandal.
This sparked allegations that Dr. Edu was an accomplice in allegedly siphoning over N3bn from the NSIPA account using various fraudulent schemes.
9 Months Unpaid N-Power Stipends: In another scandal, it was alleged that Edu failed to settle nine months stipends of some beneficiaries of the N-Power, another flagship programme of NSIPA.
Some beneficiaries of the programme planned a protest, accusing Edu’s ministry of delaying their stipends, terminating their contracts without due process, and failing to provide them with exit packages or transition plans.
N585.2m Scandal: The latest scandal, which is the straw that has broken the camel’s back, is the accusation that Edu planned to divert funds meant for the NSIPA to a private account.
A viral document signed by Dr. Edu to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation revealed that the minister directed the lodgment of N585.189m into the private account of one Bridget Mojisola Oniyelu.
Despite the various allegations against Edu, she still remains innocent until declared guilty.
However, there is no smoke without fire.
Edu, who obviously has worked hard to attain the position she is in, would certainly not get involved in nefarious activities that would put her under the radar of the anti-graft agency.
However, this might not be the case if the politician felt she could carry out suspicious activities and get away with it, given the culture of the political environment in the country.
During the heat of the scandal, a political analyst, Deji Adeyanju, claimed that it is a norm for politicians to transfer government funds to private accounts, and Edu is simply under scrutiny because she got caught.
A Corrupt Political System Is No Excuse To Be Corrupt
In a bid to get a secondary opinion on the situation, a correspondent of Naija News reached out to a Professor of International Relations and Political Science, Nasarawa State University, Jideofor Adibe.
Speaking in a phone conversation with Naija News, Adibe opined that a corrupt political system is no excuse to be corrupt.
He insisted that the embattled minister could have acted differently even if her colleagues were carrying out such activities.
He insisted that the fact that other people are doing something does not make that thing right.
Speaking further, Adibe noted that President Bola Tinubu cannot be blamed for Edu’s alleged nefarious activities. He insisted that irrespective of how well a person is screened before given an appointment, such a person can still be involved in corrupt activities.
He, however, asserted that the president can do better in screening his appointees.
Asked if the way Edu handled her position shows that the youth are not ready to take over governance, Adibe replies that performance has nothing to do with age.
He said, “The idea that the youths have not been given a chance to run the country is not correct. Infact if you look at our history from the time of independence the oldest person that became president before Buhari was Obasanjo because he became president at 62 years. Every other person were in their 50s. Gowon became a head of state at age 29. All the military heads of state, the oldest at that time was Buhari who was 41.
“It’s gibberish when people talk about it. In the second Republic most of the governors were in their 30’s, 40’s
“Anybody saying it’s the time of the youth should know that there is no correlation between age and performance.
“The current dispensation the youngest governor is Yahaya Bello, what is special about him? What has he done specially that others have not? So it’s neither here nor there. Age has nothing to do with that.
“We should be looking for other ways instead of saying give the youth a chance.”
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