Nigerian President Bola Tinubu appoints former senator accused of embezzling $870m as head of federal civil service as governors endorse subsidy removal
President Bola Tinubu on Wednesday at the State House Abuja, swore into office a former two term governor and senator George Akume as Secretary of the Federal Government. A position that oversees the behemoth federal civil service.
Akume, 62, was accused by the Benue state government of emptying the state treasury, when he was governor between 1999-2007 and when he was senator representing Benue north west senatorial district. He was accused of stealing $870m about N4.6b in local currency in November 2021 while he was a minister in the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Michael Gusa, the state attorney-general and commissioner for justice, made the accusation in a letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
Gusa alleged that the former governor unilaterally approved the sum of N117 million which is above his approval limit without consulting the executive council.
“The reckless financial expenditures was said to be for consultancy and feasibility study for Mbatiav Cement which turned out to be a white elephant project that never saw the light of the day,” the letter read.
“Further findings according to the petition also alleged financial indiscipline, abuse of fiscal policies and misappropriation for various contracts amounting to N3,125,882,409.25 billion.
“During the audit report, it was also discovered that under the watch of the former governor, a loan of N150 million was taken from defunct Afri-Bank in December 2000 for purchase of shares in companies but the money was transferred to All Securities Limited for which no receipts were found for the transaction.
“It was also discovered during the audit that the former governor, Akume, claimed to have executed ‘many projects’ that were never located, which the petition deemed to be an aberration of due process, abuse of fiscal policies and criminal violation of relevant laws.
“Regrettably, many of such projects, valued at N1,074,017,023.65 billion were not accounted for as there was no evidence of their execution anywhere.”
Since 2021, the relevant anti-corruption agencies are yet to complete their investigations.
Following the swearing in ceremony, Tinubu tweeted. “As a distinguished public servant who has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities and a deep understanding of the workings of government, I have no doubt that Senator Akume’s service in the new position will be to the benefit of our nation.”
The President with the governors
Also on Wednesday, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) led by its Chairman and Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq expressed solidarity with President Bola Tinubu’s decision to end fuel subsidy payments in the country and other early policy initiatives of the administration.
Some of those physically in attendance include the Govenors of Zamfara, Kano, Taraba, Kogi, Ogun, Nasarawa, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Lagos, Rivers, Osun, Jigawa, Benue, Taraba, Delta, Enugu, Rivers, Oyo, Plateau, Kebbi, Abia, Imo and Bauchi.
“We need synergy to fight other vices like corruption. We are trying to get smugglers out of the way. How do we work together to galvanize the economy, and put resources in place. We must think and perform.” The Nigerian President told the 22 governors out of the 36 that attended.
“After removing subsidy, there must be savings accruing to the Federation Account,’’ Tinubu noted.
He also drew attention to the security problems in some states, admonishing the governors that all efforts should be put in place to tackle the security situation, without thinking it’s only for those facing it.
AbdulRasaq, thanked the President for the invitation to deliberate on the challenges of poverty and security, promising that the governors would support the Federal Government in meeting the targets of human development.
“The NGF will follow the tradition of working constitutionally and harmoniously with you,’’ he said.
Vice President Kashim Shettima and Akume were in attendance also.
Akowe with reports from Abuja