Federal and State Governments have been asked to ensure transparency in the management of the over N30 billion donated by different groups and institutions towards the management of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a mid-week statement, a coalition of several civil society organisations led by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption group urged the tiers of government to ensure the funds are disbursed in an open and transparent manner.
“We appreciate all the contributors and donors in the emergency funds and materials in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The best that can happen is accountability. No one should be encouraged to profit from the current human misery. We urge all government MDAs and special task force to uphold procurement and operational standards and policies in procurement, awards and payments of services and distribution of materials”, HEDA Chairman Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju said in the statement signed by 25 other civil society organisations.
The coalition is also putting together a bill that would compel Health and Social Security and special economic priority for private and public health institutions for the benefit of all Nigerians, adding that COVID-19 has exposed the helplessness of millions of poor Nigerians especially in a time of adversary.
Members of the coalition include but not limited to Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Centre (WARD-C), Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER), Civil Society Network Against Corruption, (CSNAC), HURIDAC, Green Peoples Environmental Network (GREPNET), Nigerian Human Rights Community, (NHRC), COPEAIDS Foundation, a health-concern rights group, Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection, (CSCMAP), HELP Center for Development, amongst others.
Suraju said the coalition is monitoring the donations and would do a technical evaluation of Governments disbursement and expenditure in the nearest future.
The groups also wanted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to be included in the Federal Government’s NEC Special Committee on COVID-19 Chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and the Presidential Task Force led by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, in order to strengthen the mechanism for public accountability and transparency.
In the past one week, funds and materials have been donated to states to enable them deal with the COVID-19 spread. The bulk of the donations went to the Lagos State Government. The Federal Government which earlier donated N10billion Naira to Lagos State also set up a Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo tasked with the responsibility of providing the balm that would heal anticipated misfortunes.
The coalition urged the various authorities to allocate resources through tracking of beneficiaries of allocations and distributions through verifiable means and databases.
On Lagos State, Suraju said being the Chief beneficiary of the donations, should involve civil society and anti-corruption officials in order to ensure diligence and public trust.
Suraju said the coalition is set to launch a public social media forum that would take records of donated funds and also monitor how the funds will be disbursed for constant public enlightenment, promoting accountability and building public trust for government institutions.
He said “The public forum will also provide an effective media guide to redirect Nigerians from the specter of fake news” adding that the platform will provide an alternative platform for Nigerians to monitor local and international donations of cash and materials