Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the allegation that N2.67 billion meal subsidies to 104 Unity Colleges, found their ways into individuals accounts.
This followed the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the fund released to the colleges during the COVID-19 lockdown for meal subsidies.
Adamu gave the order in a statement signed by Mr Ben Goong, Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that the investigation was to establish the veracity of the claims to ensure that there was no diversion of public funds or misappropriation of same.
The minister said that the ministry would collaborate effectively with ICPC to unearth the facts and find a lasting solution to the payment system for meal subsidies that would ensure accountability and transparency.
The statement also contained responses of principals of the unity colleges to the queries by the ministry.
In response to queries, the principals explained that payments on meal subsidies to their respective colleges on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, (GIFMIS) platform, was designed to accommodate individual officers of those colleges who were officially recognised to receive such payments and disburse same to food vendors.
This followed difficulties encountered by farmers, local food vendors and market women who do not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), PENCOM and other requirements to access the payment platform.
The principals also explained that payments made during the lockdown had to do with debts owed food vendors even before COVID-19, 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.