A formidable anti-corruption group in northern Nigeria,Arewa Citizens Against Corruption, has warned against unnecessary commentaries against the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the scandal rocking the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and social programs under it, continue to generate public discourse.
The group warned that such “unholy dragging” and “illicit media trial” of Hon. Gbajabiamila over the alleged approval of N3bn for the Humanitarian Ministry to prosecute its social mandate, was unnecessary and capable of distracting the smooth operations of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government.
Arewa Citizens Against Corruption, in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday and signed by Comrade Hussein Babangida, its National President, passed a vote of confidence on Gbajabiamila, saying, “we in the north are happy with the level of support he has provided to Mr. President” and “the dexterity with which he has carried out his functions as the Chief of Staff to Mr. President which has translated maximally to the good of the generality of the Nigeria’s citizenry”.
The group said, “President Tinubu is a man given to a high sense of integrity, laced with high taste of transparency and accountability and we are sure he would not leave any stone unturned in his fight against corruption, even if it involves members of his household.
“Nigerians have seen the speed with which he suspended the NSIPA National Program Coordinator and how he swiftly suspended the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and caused a holistic probe into their activities, while instituting many committees to reform the Ministry and its programs.
“What else do these people want from the President? Why wouldn’t they wait until the various panels and the antigraft agencies investigating the matter invite whoever that deserves to give testimony in their course of investigations?
“In a space of one week, the EFCC has not only quizzed the suspended Minister, they also invited the immediate past Minister; top Directors; other officials of the Ministry and Accountant-General of the Federation. If they feel that RT. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila needs to answer questions to clarify some things or memo, they would surely invite him. You cannot lose elections and be going behind to instigate faceless groups to be dragging a Man who is the engine house of the inner cabinet of Mr. President, where vital decisions and policies of this administration are formulated, for the betterment of us all”.
The Arewa anti-corruption group also advised those who are in that train to pay solid attention to the testimonies of some officials of the Humanitarian Ministry, whereby, they asserted that the suspended Minister, Dr. Betta Edu followed due process and did not violate the modern administrative procedures in transferring fund meant for a project to an assistant director’s account for execution.
The group said, “they should go and read the document that alluded to the fact that the suspended Minister adhered to established processes within the Humanitarian Ministry, supported by Financial Regulations for MDAs”.
While urging President Tinubu not to be “distracted by the antics of sore election losers”, the group pledged its total support for Gbajabiamila to continue carrying out his constitutionally guaranteed duties, pledging loyalty also, to the APC-led Federal Government.
In recent weeks, the suspended Minister has been in the news for seeking to transfer 585 million naira meant for distribution to vulnerable Nigerians into a private account.
She was accused to have raised a memo requesting the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to send the said amount to the private account of one Oniyelu Bridget, an Assistant director, to prosecute the Ministry’s mandate in some states.
There have been some reports in some section of the media since 24 hours ago, alleging that, the Chief of Staff to the President, approved the suspended Minister, Betta Edu, to remove 3 billion naira from the COVID-19 Palliative Fund for the verification of the National Social Register.
According to the report, there was a leaked memo where the Minister had requested approval, which the Chief of Staff granted on behalf of President Tinubu.