10 of the 104 federal government-owned unity schools paid N135.44m for feeding students more than thirty days after the federal ministry of education ordered the immediate closure of all government-owned academic institutions.
The ministry of education gave the directive on March 20. Data on disbursements made by government agencies in April, obtained from the office of the Accountant general and analyzed by Civic Media Lab, shows that the 15 payments were made between April 23 and 26.
Thirteen of the payments were made to private accounts; the other two were paid into company accounts.
FGC Maiduguri and FGC Azare made seven payments for feeding or meal subsidies, while the other eight schools made one payment each. FGC Maiduguri made four disbursements to one Saidu Inusa N.
The government college in Azare, Bauchi State, made three payments to three different individuals.
The other schools which made food-related payments in April were FGC Potiskum in Yobe, FGGC Bauchi, FGC Birnin Yuri in Kebbi State, FGGC Yola in Adamawa State, FGC Keffi in Nasarawa State, FSTC Zuru in Kebbi State, FSTC Uromi in Edo State and FSTC Tungbo in Bayelsa State.
The Federal Government Girls College in Bauchi made the most significant single disbursement, paying out N21.37m to one Abdulkadir Abubakar on April 23 2020.
When contacted, the principal of the college, Mrs Binta Gangua, gave no explanation why her school paid the sum to Mr Abubakar more than a month after its students were asked to return home.
“Excuse me, go and ask the ministry – federal ministry of education,” she said. Mrs Gangua said the payment had nothing to do with the school.
The second-highest single disbursement was the N18.59m paid by FGC Keffi to Atayi Patrick J., whom the principal said is the school’s bursar.
Mr Isa Ahmed sounded dumbfounded when told that his school paid more than N18m to the said individual.
“Patrick J? He is our (member of ) staff now; he is the bursar of the school, how can we pay him for feeding?” Mr Ahmed said.
“The school was not in session, and we didn’t buy anything for anybody. The school is in session now, and it’s that same money we are using to buy food for the children because we have not gotten any money from anybody,” he said.
Mr Ahmed said the money was a statutory payment that comes to the school monthly. He said Mr Patrick J. collected the statutory money for feeding on behalf of the school.
“He normally collects such money for us. Before now, all the unity schools had a central account, but now they have stopped that system. They now pay the money for feeding and other overheads into the school bursar’s account,” Mr Ahmed said.
According to him, funding for capital projects came directly to the school. After so many devious details, Mr Ahmed said the money paid to Mr Patrick came directly from an account operated by the federal ministry of education.
FSTC Zuru paid N13.82m to Fabs &Sons Integrated Ltd; it was the third single most substantial payment made for feeding three days after unity schools had been shut for a month.
The N26.11m, paid to Saidu Inusa by FGC Maiduguri in four tranches on April 23, was the largest money disbursed by the affected unity schools while their students were at home.
FGC Azare’s three payments summed up to N18.04m, which is slightly lesser than the cash released by FGC Keffi. All the monies released by the Bauchi-based secondary school were made on April 23 as well.
N5m is the lowest sum disbursed by any of the schools. FSTC Uromi credited one Abuh Abdul’s account with N5m while FGC Azare paid the same amount to one Adamu Bappah, in its second cash transfer for feeding.
The spokesperson of the federal ministry of education, Ben Goong, was approached to clarify if indeed the department made these payments itself.
He requested that he be called back an hour after he received the initial call but failed to respond when contacted again. Mr Goong also did not respond to a text message after the second call was made.