The Chief Whip of the Senate, Ali Ndume, on Monday, commended President Bola Tinubu for suspending the embattled Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu.
This was just as he said Tinubu’s suspension of Edu was a timely action.
He also advised the President to immediately curtail the excesses of what it called an emerging political cartel and warned that it may be worse than a cabal if unchecked.
The President had earlier suspended Edu after coming under attack over a leaked memo on December 20, 2023, which revealed that she directed the Accountant-General of the Federation, Oluwatoyin Madein, to transfer N585m to a private account owned by one Oniyelu Bridget, who the ministry claimed currently serves as the Project Accountant, Grants for Vulnerable Groups.
In a telephone conversation on Monday, Ndume said the alleged fraud committed by the suspended Minister may not be isolated.
He warned that if unchecked, the emerging political cartel may destabilise the administration of the President.
The Borno South senator maintained that for Tinubu to succeed and deliver on his Renewed Hope Agenda, some tough decisions must be taken and some elements curtailed within the administration.
He said the prompt suspension of Edu is a confirmation that Tinubu is serious about tackling corruption and eliminating waste within the administration.
Ndume said the move will restore confidence in his government and Nigerians will begin to take his administration seriously.
He said, “What President Tinubu has done is very timely. The suspension of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs is a welcome development. It will allow the relevant agencies to conduct a proper investigation.
“Some people in the same position Tinubu is would not have acted. But as a leader who is in charge, he acted swiftly and the minister has been suspended. We should commend the President. This is something Nigerians should commend.”
He, however, added, “But the President should not stop there. There is an emerging political cartel within the corridors of power. The President must act swiftly and dismantle the cartel.
“If they’re not stopped, they’ll be stronger and worse than the cabal. The President must not allow that to happen. I don’t think what the minister did was an isolated case. I don’t think she acted alone.
“The President needs to look deep and flush out those involved in mismanaging the funds meant for humanitarian assistance. We’re hopeful that the President will take more decisive actions in the future.”
Meanwhile, Ndume has called on Tinubu to revisit the issue of motivation of security agents in the country, especially members of the Armed Forces.
He said the President needed to equip, empower and motivate security agents to enable them to carry out their responsibilities decisively.
The Senate Chief Whip said soldiers and other members of the Armed Forces fighting insurgency are not well-equipped, motivated or empowered to fight the war adequately.
He argued that the salaries and other allowances they were paid were grossly insufficient to motivate them to win the war.
Ndume said since Tinubu has openly told heads of security agencies that he will not accept failure, he needs to revisit the welfare of men and officers tackling insecurity across the country, especially in the North East.
He noted, “President Tinubu has made it clear that he won’t accept excuses from heads of security agencies. And I agree with him. We need to win this war. But we need to do more. Those soldiers and other members of the Armed Forces fighting to protect the country are not properly motivated.
“I’m urging the President to do more and revisit these issues I’ve listed-equip them; motivate them; and revisit their salaries and allowances.
“This move will go a long way in changing the tide of war in favour of the government. But currently, what they’re getting is too small to even take care of their daily needs in the field while fighting.
“I’m optimistic that if the right things are done, we’ll see a different outcome in the ongoing insurgency war in various parts of the country. Let’s equip and motivate them and we’ll see drastic changes.”