In a statement released through Phrank Shaibu, his special assistant on public communication, Atiku acknowledged the suspension as a positive step. However, he deemed it insufficient to address the more significant issues.
“While Tinubu deserves commendation for suspending Edu, we believe this is a belated move,” the statement said.
Tinubu had, on Monday, suspended Edu and instructed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate financial transactions linked to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
The move came after Betta Edu faced severe criticism following the leak of a memo that disclosed her directive to transfer N585 million to a private account.
In his statement, Atiku expressed that while Tinubu’s decision to suspend Edu was commendable, it should be considered a belated move.
Atiku argued that Edu’s appointment to such a sensitive ministry resulted from prioritising politics over competence. He questioned Edu’s qualifications compared to other experienced candidates, particularly Imaan Ibrahim, who was overlooked for the role.
“What experience did Betta have in the development sector? How was Imaan Ibrahim, with her wealth of experience, overlooked? How did the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, stand as Betta Edu’s referee during her clearance at the Senate?” Atiku questioned.
Furthermore, Atiku emphasised the need for broader reforms within the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and other interventionist programmes that have seemingly become channels for misuse of public funds.
He stressed that Betta Edu should not be the sole focus and called for a thorough investigation into others who might have unjustly benefited from funds allocated for the well-being of impoverished Nigerians.
Atiku raised concerns about systemic corruption within the ministry and questioned the transparency of programmes, citing examples such as the alleged continuation of the school feeding programme during the COVID-19 lockdown.
He called for immediate and urgent actions to address these issues, asserting that the ongoing probe into former Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq’s N37 billion fraud indicates the need for comprehensive reform.
The statement concluded with Atiku accusing the All Progressives Congress (APC) of weaponizing poverty and hunger for political control, expressing deep concern over the party’s alleged use of poverty as an instrument of official corruption. The former Vice President urged the government to take decisive steps to rectify these issues and ensure that funds meant for the poor are utilised transparently and effectively.
“The APC has weaponised poverty and hunger to control the minds of the vulnerable masses, and it is even worse that they have devised a method to use poverty as an instrument of official corruption,” he said.