By Temi Ohakwe, Abuja
The Minister of Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) in which N2.67 billion budgeted for school feeding of the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown was found in individual accounts.
The minister in a statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Ben Bem Goong, said the investigation is to establish the veracity of the claims and to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
He said in response to queries issued by the Federal Ministry of Education, the Principals explained 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 the same to food vendors.
The principal stated that , “this followed 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.
According to the statement, 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.
The statement further stated that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years.
The ministry, in line with the Minister’s directive, is to collaborate effectively with officials of the 1CPC to unearth the facts as well as find lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency.
The Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, had said about N2.67 billion meant for school feeding during lockdown was uncovered in personal bank accounts and that the payment was made to some federal colleges.