idoamebo -The Office of the National Coordinator for the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has witnessed a major shake-up as the incumbent, Dr Halima Shehu, has been suspended by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President of Nigeria.
The suspension, which was announced on Tuesday, January 2, 2024, was based on the allegation of financial impropriety involving the NSIP funds.
What is NSIP?
NSIP is a government agency that was established in 2016 to tackle poverty and hunger across the country.
It comprises four social investment programs: N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, and Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
These programs aim to provide employment opportunities, cash transfers, loans, and meals to millions of Nigerians, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Who is Halima Shehu?
Dr Halima Shehu is a renowned economist and development expert who was appointed as the National Coordinator for NSIP in 2019.
She has been overseeing the implementation and coordination of the four social investment programs under NSIP.
She has also been responsible for the disbursement and management of the NSIP funds, which amount to over N500 billion annually.
Why was she suspended?
According to a statement from the Presidency, Dr Halima Shehu was suspended following an allegation of financial impropriety involving the NSIP funds.
The statement did not provide any details on the nature or extent of the alleged fraud, but said that an investigation has been launched to verify the allegation and determine the culpability of Dr Shehu and other officials involved.
The statement also said that the suspension was a precautionary measure to ensure the integrity and transparency of the NSIP.
Who is her replacement?
The statement from the Presidency also announced the appointment of Mr Akindele Egbuwalo as the acting National Coordinator for NSIP. Mr Egbuwalo is a seasoned administrator and project manager who has been working with the NSIP since 2023.
He was previously the National Project Manager for the N-Power project, one of the four social investment programs under NSIP.
He was appointed to that position in September 2023, after receiving commendations from a party chieftain and member of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Honourable Chris Ayebusiwa.
What is the status of the N-Power project?
The N-Power project is a social investment program that aims to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country by providing skills training and job placement to young Nigerians.
The project has enrolled over 500,000 beneficiaries since its inception in 2016.
However, in October 2023, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the temporary suspension of the N-Power project due to the need to audit the number of people in the project, as there were discrepancies amidst reoccurring beneficiaries’ claims to be owed by the government.
The suspension also aims to ascertain the claims of beneficiaries being owed by the government, ascertain how much, and eliminate ghost beneficiaries causing discrepancies.
What is the future of NSIP?
The suspension of Dr Shehu and the appointment of Mr Egbuwalo have raised questions about the future of NSIP and its impact on the lives of millions of Nigerians.
While some observers have expressed optimism that the new leadership will bring more efficiency and accountability to the NSIP.
Others have expressed concern that the suspension will disrupt the smooth running of the NSIP and affect the delivery of its services to the beneficiaries.
The outcome of the investigation into the alleged fraud will also determine the fate of Dr Shehu and the credibility of the NSIP.