Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and the immediate past first lady of Nigeria, Dame Patience Jonathan have been accused of a multi-billion naira fraud.
The alleged fraudulent activities occurred in the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) under the supervision of Wike at the time he was the minister of state for education.
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According to a group operating under the aegis of Nigeria Against Corruption Group (NACG), it was alleged that Wike siphoned billions of naira under the UBEC program when he was in charge of the education ministry.
The statement issued and signed by the group's national coordinator, Mr Tayo Olusola, revealed that Wike and the former first lady connived to swindle the billions of naira as the pair sought means of generating funds ahead of last election in the state.
“Investigation conducted by us revealed that the Rivers governor and the former first lady, allegedly plundered over N180 billion from the UBEC purse using fronts in the commissions office," the statement made available to Global Village Extra, a US-based online newspaper, read in part.
Some sources also confirmed that UBEC programs and contracts during the tenure of Chief Wike as the minister, were used as a facade to loot billions of naira for little or no work done.
“But the man who runs the operations on behalf of Wike and directs which account and fund to privilege is Mr. Hama, the so called SA to the executive secretary of UBEC.
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"The SA tag is just a camouflage because the man is the defector Executive Secretary of UBEC. The executive secretary, Dr Dikko dares not take any decision or implement anything without clearance from Mr, Hama who is one of Wike's enforcers at UBEC.
"Any program or project that does not provide an easy avenue for stealing huge sums of money does not get any attention no matter how vital that project may be to the educational system.”
The statement also revealed some fraudulent activities carried out by both Wike and Mrs Jonathan which they reportedly used in stealing billions of naira:
Billions of Naira are stolen each year by arrangement of bogus teaching programs in luxury hotels where little or nothing is achieved but billions of naira are budgeted and wasted as the monies find its way into private pockets. One of such fraudulent teachings schemes that occurred under Mr. Wike is now being investigated by the EFCC.
The investigation involves the top management of UBEC and one of the fronts used in siphoning the money but, was not settled according to plan.
In the said case, over 100 million naira was siphoned from UBEC for a fraudulent teaching program but, all that took place was a jamboree in a five star hotel.
Billions of Naira was budgeted for the building of vocational schools but in most cases not much was done even though huge sums had been disbursed and have vanished under the watchful eyes of Mr. Wike.
Instructional Material Funds:
This is the biggest fraud that has been going on since the Jonathan administration came into office. During Wike's tenure alone, over 60 billion was on the dubious supply of free text books to students, but, actual amount of books supplied is not more than N5 billion and the books in usable condition out there in the schools are not up to 200 million worth of books.
The free textbooks supply scheme is a perfect cover for high yield frauds because billions of naira is budgeted to address a need that does not exist since parents are already providing these books for their wards.
So nobody is clamoring for the books and nobody complains if they are not delivered. More importantly there is no way of verifying whether the supply was made since there is no standing stock as the books are assumed to be in the hands of the students.
So each year the actual amount committed to supply of textbooks is about 10-15% of the budgeted amount, just for the purpose of launching the scheme in the states, the rest goes into private pockets.
That is why the textbook supply is such a favored project in UBEC because everyone from UBEC headquarters to the SUBEBS are settled while the student and our education system are short-changed.
The involvement of the former first lady and Gov. Nyesom Wike made the textbook contractors untouchable. So while our schools remain empty without proper learning, the yearly pillage of government money goes on.
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The group has now called on president Buhari to beam his searchlight on the defaulting pair and empower the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and prosecute government officials including former ministers who stole billions of naira during their tenure.
Only last week, the education agency asked the governor to return the 15 trucks he used during his campaign prior to his election.