Amid accusations of widespread fraud within the National Social Investment Programme Agency (NSIPA) and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, demands are growing for President Bola Tinubu to initiate a thorough investigation.
Established in 2016, NSIPA oversees Buhari’s National Social Investment Programmes (NSIP) aimed at addressing poverty and hunger in Nigeria. The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation was later created in 2019 to manage these initiatives. However, both entities have come under scrutiny, with allegations of corruption prompting investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, along with the suspended National Coordinator of NSIPA, Halima Shehu, have been detained and questioned regarding alleged misappropriation of N37.1 billion in social intervention funds.
President Tinubu has taken decisive action by suspending the chief executives of both organizations, Betta Edu and Halima Shehu, and temporarily halting all NSIPA programs for six weeks. While this move has been applauded, calls are intensifying for Tinubu to extend the investigation to the Buhari administration.
Civil society organizations and political activists have emphasized the need for a comprehensive probe into the alleged corruption within NSIPA and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs. The Secretary-General of the Conference Of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Willy Ezugwu, insisted that such an investigation is essential to address the epidemic of corruption that unfolded during Buhari’s tenure.
Willy Ezugwu stated, “Tinubu should probe Buhari’s government. Under the (Buhari) administration, corruption became an epidemic in Nigeria. If Tinubu is serious about fighting corruption, there is no way some officials under Buhari’s government will not be prosecuted.”
While President Tinubu’s swift actions have been praised, concerns have been raised about the integrity of the investigation given the inclusion of members from Buhari’s government in Tinubu’s team. However, prominent voices, including the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, have called for a thorough probe into the allegations of corruption during Buhari’s presidency.
The prospect of a sitting president investigating their predecessor in Nigeria has historically been uncommon. Eze Onyekpere, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), noted the reluctance of Nigerian leaders to set a precedent, stating, “They (sitting Presidents) don’t want to set that precedent because they wouldn’t want their successor to call them back. They know if that precedent is set, it may get to their turn.” Despite the challenges, there is a growing consensus among citizens and activists for President Tinubu to uphold transparency and accountability by thoroughly investigating the alleged corruption within NSIPA and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.