Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the alleged diversion of N2.67 billion released for school feeding of the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown found in individual accounts.
The order was made known in a statement signed by the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Gooong, in Abuja.
According to the statement, investigation is compulsory in order to establish the veracity of the claims and to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
However, the education minister said the principals 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.
It could be recalled that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission-ICPC had earlier reported that the sum of N2.67 billion released to the 104 Unity Colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies found its way into individual accounts.
“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”.
He said his 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
The minister also stated that the principals said the 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 ICPC to unearth the facts as well as find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that will ensure accountability and transparency,” he said.