A leaked memo from the Chief of Staff’s office has thrown more light on the controversy surrounding the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Betta Edu.
The document reveals President Bola Tinubu’s approval of a N3 billion contract for verifying the National Social Register, a program established under the previous administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
The memo, dated September 18 and signed by Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila, confirms the President’s green light for the N3 billion expenditure from the COVID-19 Palliative Fund.
The document was titled “CONVEYANCE OF APPROVAL; RE: APPEAL TO USE N3,000,000,000.00 (THREE BILLION NAIRA) FROM THE COVID-19 PALLIATIVE FUND FOR VERIFICATION OF THE NATIONAL SOCIAL REGISTER.”
“The above subject refers. 2. Please be informed that Mr President has approved the expenditure of N3,000,000,000.00 (Three Billion Naira) only, from the Covid-19 Palliative Fund for verification of the National Social Register. 3. Please accept the assurance of my highest regards. Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to the President,” it read.
Recall that many companies were revealed as beneficiaries of this controversial contract. Among them is a company owned by Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, New Planet Project Limited, which raked in a staggering N438.1 million for consultancy services.
Fabunmi Olanipekun & Co. got N419.5 million, while Vintsolve Global Consult took N558.8 million. Smaller companies like Periscope Consulting, Blue Trend Enterprise, Laitop Dynamics Interlink Services, Memak Nigeria Limited, MC Van Management Consult Limited, and Danzinger Nigeria Limited also feasted on the N3 billion bounty.
There is also the allegation that Edu authorised the transfer of N585 million from public funds into a private account belonging to a project manager in her ministry. Additionally, the minister reportedly approved flight tickets and airport taxis for her team travelling to Kogi State, despite lacking an airport.
Edu has since been suspended by President Tinubu.