Contrary to some media reports that the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, cannot account for N34 million received in 2017 and various other sums totaling N172 million, investigations have revealed that the claim is false.
It was learnt that the money meant to fund research studies on the economy might have been utilized by other officials at the Presidency for other purposes.
A Presidency source said Dipeolu did not receive the said amount in 2017 or at any time as he was not the Chief Economic Adviser.
Dipeolu had in the wake of the publication threatened legal action against the publication, demanded a retraction of the said publication and an unconditional apology from the International Centre for Investigative Reporting for holding him responsible for funds disbursed to the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.
“Dipeolu is the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters and his role is performed within the Office of the Vice President. He does not function out of the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President neither is he privy to the budget or any other operational matter relating to the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser.
“The money was said to be allocated to the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President and not to the office of the Special Adviser on Economic Matters to the President which Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu occupies.
“The money may have been used by other officials at the presidency even though no individual is known to have held the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser in the President’s office, but certainly not by Dipeolu or the office he occupies, as erroneously speculated in some quarters,” the source also clarified.
Investigations also showed that when ICIR sought clarification on the matter in 2018, Dr Dipeolu had said that the budget item ‘OCEAP85893258’, about which explanation was being sought, was “not under the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters in the Office of the Vice President”.
Thinking Dipeolu was trying to deflect the issue, the publication went ahead and reported erroneously that the OCEAP had received a sum of N34 million in 2017 to fund research studies on the economy, but it has so far failed to make this research available.
According to the publication “In 2016, the office requested for a capital allocation of N78 million, out of which N47.8 million was budgeted for research and allocation. In 2018, the office’s capital allocation is N60 million from which N19.9 million is budgeted for research and the rest for purchase of vehicles, computers, office furniture and so on.”
It ignored the clarification that was provided then by the Vice President’s spokesman, Mr Laolu Akande. Akande had stated that Dr Dipeolu’s title is the Special Adviser on Economic Matters and not ‘Chief Economic Adviser to the President’.
Although one of the Presidential spokesmen, Mallam Garba Shehu had said the CEAP or the official acting in that capacity is Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, the publication refused to make the obvious distinction that the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser was not the same as Special Adviser on Economic Matters.
While Dipeolu is not known to have relinquished his right to sue the publication, a top government source said Presidency officials had investigated the matter and found that Dipeolu was not the one that disbursed the funds or was he ever in a position to even access the funds.