How Interior Minister Tunji-Ojo Survives Scandals Amid Calls for His Suspension

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, is facing mounting pressure to resign or be suspended over his involvement in the corruption scandal that has engulfed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

Tunji-Ojo’s company, New Planet Project, received huge sums of money as consultancy fees from the ministry, which is under investigation for mismanaging the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

The scandal has already led to the suspension of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Betta Edu, by President Bola Tinubu, who also halted all the NSIP activities pending the outcome of the probe. However, Tunji-Ojo, who is seen as one of the rising stars of the Tinubu administration, has remained in office despite the public outcry.

Tunji-Ojo has defended himself, saying that he resigned from his company in 2019 after he was elected into the House of Representatives, in compliance with the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act. He also claimed that he has done nothing wrong and that he is committed to reforming the problematic passport application system in the country.

But his critics have dismissed his explanations, arguing that he still has a stake in the company and that he has a conflict of interest in the matter. They have also pointed out his history of involvement in other scandals, such as:

  • The NDDC off your mic scandal: Tunji-Ojo, who was the Chairman of the House Committee on NDDC in the 9th Assembly, was accused of benefiting from some dubious contracts in the NDDC by the former acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei. Pondei refused to cooperate with the committee and walked out of the hearing, saying that Tunji-Ojo had no moral authority to preside over the probe. Tunji-Ojo later stepped down from the investigation.
  • The NYSC scandal: Tunji-Ojo faced allegations of certificate forgery during his ministerial screening, when it was discovered that his NYSC certificate had some irregularities. He claimed to have completed his NYSC in 2020, which raised questions about his age and his status as a lawmaker. The certificate also had 2023 as the date of issuance. The NYSC eventually cleared him, saying that he was mobilized in 2006 but absconded and completed his service in 2020.

The minister has beat all previous scandals, and in the ongoing one, the president appears not ready to suspend him.

Many believe that Tunji-Ojo’s relationship with the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila may be a major factor.

A former aide of the Minister, who spoke with DAILY POST on the condition of anonymity, said the strategy of the minister is to always allow “time to address issues”.

“Honourable (Tunji-Ojo) appeared on Seun Okinbaloye’s programme (on Channels TV) to discuss the passport portal knowing fully well that Seun will ask him about the Edu matter. Some politicians will avoid speaking, thereby creating more doubt,” the former staffer said.

Many believe the minister’s strategy is working.

It would be recalled that during the interview, he emphasized that he resigned from the company in 2019, hence, those who support him argued that he complied with the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

Meanwhile, reports indicated that the minister failed to appear before the Code of Conduct Bureau on Tuesday as scheduled.

He was requested to appear before the Bureau yesterday, Tuesday, January 16, 2024, at the CCB Headquarters, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja.

A letter of invitation was signed by the CCB Director, Investigation and Monitoring, Gwimi S.P., on behalf of the CCB Chairman, Murtala Aliyu.

“The Bureau is investigating a case of alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers in which your name featured prominently. Consequently, you are invited for an interview scheduled as follows:

“Date: Tuesday, January 16 January, 2024. Time: 1100hrs prompt. Venue: CCB Headquarters on 5th Floor, Annex III, Phase I, Federal Secretariat Complex, Abuja,” the letter read in part.

Emerging reports indicated that the minister asked for a new date to make his appearance.

Some observers have suggested that the current campaign against Tunji-Ojo is a result of his enemies trying to sabotage his reforms and his political ambitions. They have praised him for his efforts to digitize the passport application process and reduce corruption and inefficiency in the system.

However, others have called for his suspension or resignation, saying that he is a liability to the Tinubu administration and that he should face the same consequences as Edu. They have also urged the president to take decisive action against him and other corrupt officials in his cabinet.

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