NDDC, NYSC, Beta-Edu Saga: The Many Scandals Of Interior Minister, Tunji-Ojo

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo is in the eye of the storm over his links to the scandal rocking the Humanitarian Ministry.

The young minister’s company, New Planet Project, got paid hundreds of millions of naira as consultancy fees for some work done for the scandal-ridden Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

The revelation has prompted calls for his suspension.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu has already been suspended by President Bola Tinubu.

In addition, President Tinubu has equally suspended all programmes under the NSIP.

Public opinion on the Minister of Interior has been divided.

Many believe that he should be given the same treatment as Edu, while others have described him as the star of the Bola Tinubu administration due to his work in reforming the knotty international passport process; hence, they believe he should be spared.

The minister has maintained that he has done no wrong.

According to him, he resigned from the company following his election into the House of Representatives in 2019 in accordance with the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

But critics said resignation is not enough because he remains the beneficial owner of the company hence the argument of conflict of interest.

Fisayo Soyombo, a Nigerian journalist posted on X that the “Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo will NEVER be able to revolutionise Nigeria’s messily-corrupt passport application system. Zero percent chance!”

“You know why already: his hands are not clean,” he claimed in the post.

However, there are many people out there who believe that the current push for the minister’s ouster is a matter of corruption fighting back.

“The digitization reform for processing International passport that Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (introduced/embarked on) clearly threatened the livelihood of so many “civil servants.” And there is a huge fighting back going on. Unfortunately Nigerians, in their ignorance, will be used as pawns in this battle,” Kelvin Odanz, a popular handle on X posted.

But the minister is not new to scandal, here are some of other scandals involving him.

NDDC off your mic scandal

Tunji-Ojo, who was the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on NDDC in the 9th Assembly, also faced corruption allegations during the probe of the NDDC under Daniel Pondei.

It would be recalled that Pondei staged a walkout during the investigation, stating that “we are not comfortable with the chairman of this committee presiding over a matter he has been accused of.”

He added that “There is no point of order here. As long as he is the chairman of this committee, the NDDC will not make any presentation here.”

According to the NDDC, Tunji-Ojo’s company was also a beneficiary of some of the questionable contracts in the NDDC.

Subsequently, Tunji-Ojo was forced to recuse himself from that investigation due to the corruption allegations against him and his company.

NYSC scandal

During the ministerial screening, Tunji-Ojo also faced scrutiny over his NYSC certificate prompting allegations of certificate forgery.

The minister claimed to have concluded his NYSC in 2020 which raised two questions- one, he was well above the 30-year age limit.

Secondly, the date raised another issue, which is that he was serving while he was in the National Assembly as a lawmaker. Lastly, the certificate carried 2023 as the date of issuance.

NYSC later “authenticated the genuineness” of the certificate, stating that Tunji-Ojo was initially mobilized in 2006 but absconded before the completion of the one year mandatory service.

Despite the controversy, Tunji-Ojo was cleared by the Senate and confirmed as minister.

Minister’s strategy of dealing with scandal

The minister has beat all previous scandals, and in the ongoing one, the president appears not ready to suspend him.

Many believe that Tunji-Ojo’s relationship with the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila may be a major factor.

A former aide of the Minister, who spoke with DAILY POST on the condition of anonymity, said the strategy of the minister is to always allow “time to address issues”.

“Honourable (Tunji-Ojo) appeared on Seun Okinbaloye’s programme (on Channels TV) to discuss the passport portal knowing fully well that Seun will ask him about the Edu matter. Some politicians will avoid speaking, thereby creating more doubt,” the former staffer said.

Many believe the minister’s strategy is working.

It would be recalled that during the interview, he emphasized that he resigned from the company in 2019, hence, those who support him argued that he complied with the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that the minister failed to appear before the Code of Conduct Bureau on Tuesday as scheduled.

He was requested to appear before the Bureau yesterday, Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at the CCB Headquarters, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

A letter of invitation was signed by the CCB Director, Investigation and Monitoring, Gwimi S.P., on behalf of the CCB Chairman, Murtala Aliyu.

“The Bureau is investigating a case of alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in which your name featured prominently. Consequently, you are invited for an interview scheduled as follows:

“Date: Tuesday, January 16 January, 2024. Time: 1100hrs prompt. Venue: CCB Headquarters on 5th Floor, Annex III, Phase I, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja,” the letter read in part.

Emerging reports indicated that the minister asked for a new date to make his appearance

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