We Discovered N2.67bn COVID-19 School Feeding Money In Personal Accounts” —ICPC.

The National Dailies of today September 29, 2020 are replete with stories of how the “The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has uncovered N2.67bn of funds meant for school feeding programmes stashed in private bank accounts” (see SAHARA REPORTERS).

The anti-graft agency revealed this yesterday, Monday September 28, 2020, during its second National Summit on Corruption at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. During the briefing, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman of the commission, further revealed that the money was meant to feed children in federal colleges around the country during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“He added that ICPC also discovered over N2.5bn appropriated by a deceased senior civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture for himself and accomplices. Some 18 buildings, 12 business premises and 25 plots of land were also recovered in the same ministry” (see Ibid).

News like these is why the International Community never takes us seriously. When the Federal Government rolled out its palliative programme for COVID-19, many Nigerians cried out. We knew it was another attempt to steal money. How did the Federal Government fail to see what the ordinary Nigerian saw from the onset. If no one received the billions of money that was purportedly shared, how did the Federal Government expect that school children in their homes would be fed?

Who came up with the idea of FEEDING school children during the lockdown? Didn’t these persons know that school children would be at home? So why would N2.67bn not end up in private accounts? Does the Federal Government not have a data base of all school children in its colleges all over the country? If it does, how difficult could it have been to reach out to the parents/guardians of these children?

So we’re supposed to clap for ICPC for discovering the very same SCAM that many of us predicted? Don’t we know how expensive it is to conduct forensic audits? Were the experts who discovered this ‘obvious’ scam not paid for their services? What kind of a country is this?

So while the Federal Government continues to borrow huge amounts in the guise of infrastructural developments, nothing is being done to seal financial leaks in Government? We cannot continue to fetch water with leaking baskets.

Going further, does it not bother us that one deceased senior servant in the Ministry of Agriculture gained access to N2.5bn? Why didn’t ICPC discover him while he was alive? At least, then we would have heard his own side of the saga. Now they would have us believe that their ‘hardwork’ suddenly unraveled this man after his death. They’re talking in the rubbish.

Over the weekend, the leadership of the NLC made a fool of itself when it suddenly suspended their earlier planned strike action. We woke up Monday morning to realise that the planned strike had been suspended indefinitely. Of the many ambiguous plans made by Government to cushion the harsh effects of its recent policies, the one that raised a red flag in my opinion was under the section marked “General Intervention”.

It read, “A SPECIFIC AMOUNT to be unveiled by the FGN in two weeks’ time will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.

I sincerely hope this “specific amount” will not end up in someone’s personal account. Truth is, anyone can become corrupt in Nigeria. The Government itself thrives on corruption. It doesn’t matter what anyone does. Until, lawmakers are ready to make laws that truly make it almost impossible for them, or anyone else to steal public funds, corruption will continue to have a field day.

In all of these, we’ve never had it this bad. Many Nigerians KNEW for a fact that the whole idea of the Covid-19 palliatives wasn’t meant to palliate anyone. As far as I know, not one of my friends and acquaintances (and I have quite a few) got a dime in the form of government palliatives for COVID-19. Abi did yours receive anything? Who are we deceiving?

Finally, it’s quite sad that not many took Covid-19 seriously because of the high level of insincerity of the Government of the day. We therefore may have lost many more lives than we should have if there were indeed sincere efforts in all quarters to provide palliatives in whatever ways humanly possible to the many who were hardest hit.

God bless you greatly.

© Oselumhense Anetor, 2020.