New Telegraph

NSIPA: FG Recovers Over N10bn From Consultants

Following poor handling of the National Social Investment Programme under the last administration, an investigative panel set up by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, has recovered over N10 billion from various consultants handling the project. The funds recovery was sequel to Edu’s suspension of payment to the over 960,000 beneficiaries of the cash transfer programme under the previous administration, which has been greeted with a lot of criticism and erosion of confidence in the programme.

Competent sources told Sunday Telegraph that the findings of an audit panel set up by the Minister indicated that some consultants handling the disbursement of the funds on behalf of the Ministry had withheld some funds with them over time. Accordingly, the consultants have appeared before the investigative panels and returned billions of Naira in their coffers to the Ministry, as part of investigations designed to ensure the pro- gramme operated in tandem to the dictates of its reason for existence. “The findings of the investigative panel are mind- blowing.

The operations of the programme have been mired by irregularities and the report of the investigation will be presented to the Minister in the next few days and Nigerians will be shocked by the findings. The entire developments are the outcome of the verification and updating of the register as promised by the Minister on assumption of office,” as source said. Upon her assumption of office, Edu had ordered verification of the social register to ensure that it is truly populated by the poorest of the poor, who deserve the monthly stipends but investigation has indicated that the register may have been crowded by ghost beneficiaries.

Speaking on the recovery, Communication Manager, National Social Investment Programme, (NSIPA), Mr. Jamaludeen Kabir, confirmed the recovery of “a huge amount of money from the consultants,” but could not ascertain the figure. He said any time from now, the beneficiaries who are being owed nine months and below would start to receive their stipends,” he said. In a statement issued on the behalf of the Minister recently, N-Power National Programme Manager, Dr. Akin Egbuwalo, said there was a need to audit the number of beneficiaries of the programme, identify those who have exited, those who are being owed, whether they reported to work or not and how funds have been utilised overtime.

“Preliminary findings of our audit have shown that some consultants are holding on to beneficiaries’ funds disbursed to them long ago even when their contracts have ended in March 2023 without any renewal. We condemn this practice and will not tolerate it going forward. Work is ongoing to identify those involved, understand why the payments didn’t get to the final beneficiaries, and recall the funds to pay those owed.” Over the weekend, Edu said in Ogun State that about 50 million Nigerians are targeted under the programme and the Ministry would work with governors and local government chairmen to ensure its successful implementation.

Meanwhile, the Federal government on Saturday commenced the distribution of relief materials to the victims of flood in Isheri area of Ogun State. Dr Edu who handed over the materials to the victims, said President Bola Tinubu was deeply touched by the recent flooding in Ogun and Lagos States, adding that the government is seriously working to end perennial flooding in Isheri, border town between the two states. Edu said the relief materials were distributed to alleviate the hardship brought about by the flood incident said to have affected no fewer than 33,000 people.

She said “We are here to assess the extent of the damage caused by the recent flooding in Isheri and to also present these food items as a form of humanitarian assistance. It is in line with the agenda for a renewed hope by President Bola Tinubu. “The President is deeply touched by this flooding challenge and he has promised to bring a permanent solution to this recurring problem. We are well aware that beyond this palliative, what you desire is a permanent solution to this perennial flooding problem. “I want to assure you that talks are ongoing about construction of buffer Dams to tackle this challenge and when next I am here it will be to join other government officials to commission some of these projects that will help to permanently end this problem”.

Edu also disclosed that the federal government is also interested in supporting those who lost their businesses to the flood saying that the present administration is rolling out quite a number of programmes such as conditional cash transfer, under which the beneficiaries will receive N25,000 for three months. She said there are also grants or zero interest loans to support the vulnerable to have means of livelihood as well as end-hunger among others saying that all of these programmes are tailored towards lifting 50 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 42 months as directed by President Tinubu.

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