The Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the alleged diversion of N2.67 billion meal subsidies, meant for 104 unity schools, into personal accounts.
The action is sequel to the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the funds released to the colleges as meal subsidies during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The minister’s directive was communicated via a statement signed by Mr Ben Goong, Director, Press and Public Relations, of the ministry in Abuja on Tuesday.
Adamu said that the investigation was to establish the veracity of the allegation, so as to ensure that there was no diversion or misappropriation of public funds.
The minister said that the ministry would collaborate effectively with ICPC to unearth the facts, while putting in place a payment system for meal subsidies that would ensure accountability and transparency.
The statement also said that some principals of the unity colleges explained that the payment of meal subsidies to respective colleges was made through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform.
They said that the GIFMIS was also designed to accommodate individual officers of the colleges, who were officially recognised to receive such payments and disburse the monies to food vendors.
They said that the arrangement was adopted because of the difficulties, which farmers, local food vendors and market women who did not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) and other requirements, encountered in efforts to access the payment platform.
The principals also explained that the payments made during the lockdown had to do with debts owed food vendors even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some of which were still pending.
They added that the debts arose from irregular and inadequate budgetary allocations as well as releases over the years.