Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

Between Dr. Beta, Saadiya, Halima And The All-Female Triangle Of Corruption

By Dr. Abubakar Alkali

Typically, women are known to be very good managers of money but that seems like a fairy tale in Nigeria, at least within the context of the public service and the current female dominated high-profile corruption scandals involving Betta Edu, Saadiya Farouq and Halima Shehu.
From Patricia Etteh, to Diezani Allison-Madueke to Saadiya Umar-Farouq, to Halima Shehu and Betta Edu just to mention but a few, the notion of women being good managers of money seems to be lost in the air. Past and current corruption scandals exclusively involving women have lend credence to the notion that ‘what a man can do, a woman can do even better.
Indeed, it was the famous British born American writer Ashleigh Brilliant who put it more succinctly when he wrote ‘women can do anything men can do, but often have more sense than even to be interested.

Without being sexist, one could say that there has never been a time when multiple women raised dust in corruption in Nigeria as the case today in the current triangle of corruption involving 3 women fighting one another and 1 on the sidelines; Betta Edu in the red corner and a team of Saadiya Farouq and Halima Shehu in the blue corner. The AGF Oluwatoyin Madein as the umpire in the financial administration side of things. Judging by the speed with which the scandal unfolded within few weeks, there is certainly an unfinished feud and carryover of acrimony between Betta, Saadiya and Halima which predates the Tinubu administration.

This triangle is a very serious matter involving diversion of public funds and abuse of trust albeit they remain allegations until proven otherwise. The presumption of innocence is clearly encapsulated in section 36(5) of the constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and article 66 of the Rome statute. To this end, these 3 female corrupt gladiators remain innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The expose of the all-female triangle of corruption is for a good cause though as the in-fighting exposes the malfeasance in the humanitarian affairs ministry through the social investment programme (SIP) with billions of Naira alleged to have been stolen. In one instance, one of the gladiators in the scandal is accused of using stolen funds from the social investment programme in her ministry to fund the gubernatorial campaign of a certain candidate in the 2023 general election which he lost in grand style. The gladiator thought she was playing smart and could be on her way to becoming the First Lady of a state enroute to enjoying ‘immunity’ from prosecution. In fact, she boasted before the 2023 elections that her husband will be the next governor of the state. It didn’t work and her file is now with the EFCC.

It is worthwhile to look at the other side of this scandal. Dr Betta never wanted Halima as the CEO of NSIPA because she (Betta) had her candidate in Ms Delu Bulus Yakubu whom she got appointed as CEO NSIPA in September 2023. The stage for combat was set from the moment Delu Bulus Yakubu was sacked and replaced by Halima Shehu as the CEO of NSIPA.
Normally, women look at each other as competitors and there is an internecine warfare among women with such feelings as ‘I am more beautiful than you or ‘I have more class than you’ or I have better-looking fingernails than you’ etc. This trend of internecine competition may have played out in the triangle of corruption involving the 3 women but this is serious business as it involves the management of public funds entrusted with public office holders.

Without sounding comical, let’s look at the other side of this scandal: Saadiya broke the bank and is alleged to have diverted billions of Naira from the humanitarian affairs ministry meant to help the poor. Halima is a friend and close ally of Saadiya (the two names can be used interchangeably). Both worked together for the CPC and APC Buhari Presidential campaign in 2011, 2015 and 2019. Halima was appointed by Saadiya (when she was minister of humanitarian affairs) as Coordinator, conditional cash transfer (CCT) to help her (Saadiya) run the show and together they allegedly helped themselves to our commonwealth.
Betta fraudulently approved the payment of N585.2 million into a private account. She had no powers to do so because under civil service rules, government funds cannot be paid into a private account. Moreso, she is not the accounting officer of the ministry. The Perm Sec is the accounting officer of the ministry.
When Betta took over as minister, she appointed her long time trusted ally Ms Delu Bulus Yakubu as the CEO NSIPA. Saadiya and Halima were not happy about Delu’s appointment so they went to work. In fact, Saadiya had already pencilled Halima to hold the NSIPA for her (Saadiya) after her exit as minister so that she (Saadiya) can continue to milk from the agency. Halima thought she deserves the position much more than Delu based on her experience as the coordinator (CCT).
Eventually, Halima was able to outsmart Betta and Delu to become the CEO NSIPA through her powerful ‘connections’. Delu was actually removed by President Tinubu barely after a month in office as CEO NSIPA and Halima announced as the new CEO NSIPA in October 2023.
This really infuriated Betta who started having problems with Halima as she (Halima) was not taken orders from her (Betta). Also Betta already got her candidate Delu appointed as CEO only to be dribbled by Halima in the 6 yards box as she (Betta) was about to score a goal and settle down to work with Delu.
‘Did you see what they did? Betta said to Delu.
Yes ma’ Delu replied. ‘What are we going to do about it? She asked Betta.
‘Am I not the minister? Betta shouted at the other end ‘Yes I am the minister. I will show them (Saadiya and Halima) who is in charge’ Betta went in search of evidence to nail Halima and was able to uncover N44 billion allegedly stolen under the watch of Saadiya (her predecessor). Betta was also able to rope Halima into the scandal as Halima was the coordinator CTC. Betta sent all documents to the EFCC and Gbam, Halima is in the net, answering questions from the EFFC investigators as Saadiya wait for her turn.
Halima sought an easy way out when she was asked about the N44 billion and her reply was ‘I moved the money because if I don’t, Betta will clear everything.

Halima and Saadiya went to work the second time and made sure they turn the table against Betta. They searched and searched and Gbam, they laid their hands on a very incriminating document where Betta approved the payment of N585.2 million into a private account. ‘Hey, Check this out’ Saadiya said to Halima, holding the incriminating ‘payment into a private account’ document signed by Betta. Yes I also got something’ Halima said to Saadiya holding up a document in which Betta approved payment for air tickets and airport taxi for a trip to Kogi which never had an airport.
Hahahaha, Saadiya and Halima laughed uncontrollably, exchanging a Hi-5. ‘Betta can’t get out of this, thank you my Sis’ said Saadiya.
Saadiya continued with a sarcastic smile ‘I told you I will get her’ Halima smiled back, feeling relieved that Betta is now effectively roped into the corruption saga at the humanitarian affairs ministry. Everyone is now involved.
This supports a key doctrine of corruption which reads ‘if you are going down, don’t go down alone.
‘Let’s get some journalists and CSOs into this’ the more experienced Saadiya said to Halima. ‘We are ready to pay them to blow this out so that the whole world knows about Betta.
‘Please plot a non-governmental organisation (NGO) immediately. Give them any name and let them appear on TV tomorrow to blow this out against Betta. Said Saadiya ‘I agree Hajiya. Who does Betta think she is? We will show her that we know the ministry of humanitarian affairs better than she does’ said Halima.
The next day, Betta called her media aide Rasheed Zubair ‘Rasheed, did you hear what these people are brandishing all over the media? They got that document where I approved the payment of N585.2 million into Bridget’s personal account. You remember I
mentioned to you that I am scared they may find a copy of that document. Now what do we do Rasheed? The media man paused looking down and suddenly raised his head ‘No problem ma. I know what to do.
Betta jumped from her seat ‘No, don’t just tell me you know what to do, give me the details’
‘Ok Ma’ Rasheed paused again ‘I will issue a press statement to say that they are trying to smear your name and making efforts to divert attention from the EFCC’s probe of Saadiya and Halima. I will say you didn’t break any rules. If they like, let them go and check the civil service rules.
‘Ok but make sure the statement is our first thing tomorrow’ Betta said
‘Yes Ma’ Rasheed replied before taking his leave.
True to his words, Betta’s media aide Rasheed released the statement the next morning Saturday 6th January 2024. It went viral and was meant to clear Betta of any wrongdoing, at least in the public domain but it made the issue worse for Betta. It backfired big time because the accountant-general of the federation Oluwatoyin Madein distanced herself from the purported payment. That sank Betta deeper.
Unknowingly to Betta and Rasheed, the statement of rebuttal by Betta can potentially incriminate the accountant-general of the federation (AGF) Oluwatoyin who promptly distanced herself and her office from such payments. Betta is now back to square one. She has flouted section 713 of Nigeria’s financial regulations 2009 by approving payment of government money into a private account. This relevant section is clear that ‘personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private account.

The accountant-general of the federation (AGF) has questions to answer herself. She should come clean and tell the nation:
1. If the funds (N585 million) approved by Betta Edu left the national treasury
2. ⁠If the N585 million left the treasury (which appears to be the case), through what channel were they released to the humanitarian affairs ministry?

President Tinubu has taken the right steps by suspending both Betta and Halima. It is our candid opinion that the ministry of humanitarian affairs should be scrapped entirely as it has turned out to be a cesspool of corruption. Indeed, the humanitarian affairs ministry looks to be a duplication of sort. All the work domiciled in the ministry can be effectively implemented by the ministry of finance, education, health etc. Cash transfers can be effected through individual bank accounts through the ministry of finance without having to create another Ministry just for cash transfer and IDPs when there is an IDP commission that is responsible for IDP issues.
The Tinubu administration should use the experience from the Betta-Saadiya-Halima triangle of corruption to conduct a forensic audit of the federal civil service which to say the least, is overbloated, duplicated and a cesspool of corruption.
Late Gen Murtala Muhammed’s key policy initiative when he assumed power as head of state in 1975 was to purge the civil service enroute to making his mark as one of the great leaders Nigeria ever had. You cannot stamp out corruption without purging the civil service.

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