By Bakare Lukman
In response to recent developments within the nation’s governance structure, the Platform for Liberty & Democracy (PLIDE) issues a call for comprehensive investigations and system reforms.
Notable figures and institutions, including Betta Edu, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, Halima Shehu, Tunji Olubunmi-Ojo, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs & Poverty Alleviation and National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) faces allegations of corruption and resource mismanagement.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by the PLIDE Convener, PLIDEite Tunde Owoseni and General Secretary (IHQ), PLIDEite Sola Fayemi.
Commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for proactive measures, PLIDE emphasizes the need for thorough investigations and transparent disclosure of findings. Drawing attention to past cases with unresolved outcomes, the organization urges a departure from superficial actions and demands accountability for those implicated.
The group recall the case of the “Grasscutter” i.e. former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal, who was eventually suspended by then President Muhammadu Buhari after relentless calls for action by civil society, the Press and citizens. Not much was heard of the very bad case until we learnt he had been cleared ‘somehow’ by the system.
PLIDE stated” “In this case, we demand that full investigations be carried out by the relevant agencies and the findings made public whilst ensuring all those with cases to answer are hauled before the courts of justice, to have their day in court whilst the innocent (if any) are allowed to continue with their normal lives.
“Beyond this matter, though, is the more serious matter of how easy it is to move funds from government coffers to accounts in the name of individuals, all in the name of running government business. If these recent matters did not come to the open, little or nothing would have been known about this very opaque structure. Little wonder individuals such as the former Accountant-General of the Federation could have, allegedly, stolen over a hundred billion naira from our patrimony, without the system knowing until the deed had been done.
“We take note of President Tinubu’s directive to Chief Wale Edun, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Minister of Finance, to restructure the payment architecture of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry. This is a step in the right direction but would amount to tokenism if Nigerians are not told whether or not the same lax financial processes in Betta Edu’s Ministry also apply to every other Ministry of government.
“In light of the foregoing, we call for the following:
” A full Root & Branch Review of the Financial/Payment Architecture of the Federal Government, so as to ensure that lax and inadequate systems are identified and steps taken immediately to ensure identified loopholes are plugged and appropriate measures taken to ensure that adequate systems (and structures) are put in place to ensure that stealing of government funds is eliminated or, at least, minimized greatly if not possibly to eliminate.
“The setting up of a monitoring unit in the EFCC, charged with, on an ongoing basis, carrying out checks and initiating investigations into payment requests received by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and ensuring frauds against the Nation are stopped into their tracks whilst, also, going after perpetrators in order to bring them to justice and ensure that the confidence of Nigerians is restored in their leaders and in governments across all levels (as we expect these initiatives to be extended to all levels of governance as well).”
PLIDE underscores the urgency of a full review of the financial/payment architecture of the Federal Government to identify and rectify loopholes, preventing future misappropriation of funds. Additionally, they propose the establishment of a monitoring unit within the EFCC to conduct ongoing checks on payment requests, ensuring swift intervention against fraud.
The organization’s call extends to a nationwide initiative, advocating for similar measures across all levels of governance to restore public confidence in leadership.