BY HENRY TYOHEMBA,
The federal government has ordered a full-scale investigation into the N2.67 billion payment made to some federal colleges for school feeding during the COVID-19 lockdown, which was allegedly found in individual accounts.
Recall that Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) recently 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.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who gave the order yesterday, said the investigation was to establish the veracity of the claims and to ensure that there is no diversion of public funds or. misappropriation of same.
He said the ministry would 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.
In a statement by the director of Press and Public Relations, Ben Bem Goong, the minister 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 was designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges, who are officially recognised to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors.
“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.
“The principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown period had to do with debts owed to food vendors even before COVID-19, some of which are still pending, adding that these debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations and releases over the years,” he said.