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COVID-19: CSOs demand breakdown of N22bn spent in 4 months by PTF

The citizenry is entitled to know how the common wealth is being utilized

Leading Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Connected Development (CODE) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have demanded that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 provides details of how it spent N22bn disbursed to it by the Office of the Accountant-General to combat the pandemic in Nigeria.

The Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, had revealed that his office disbursed N22bn to the PTF and N7bn to the 36 states to support their COVID-19 initiatives in four months, in a letter received on the 2nd September responding to CODE and SERAP’s call for the breakdown of N36bn received from the AGF.

In another response letter to the CSOs dated 15th September, 2020 signed by the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. T. E. Afolayan, on behalf of the Accountant–General of the Federation, the AGF noted that it is not involved in or supervises the spending by the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) or organizations to which the COVID–19 Eradication Support Funds were disbursed to.

The Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, said in a statement in Abuja that the AGF, however, failed to provide details and breakdown of the N7bn given to 36 states, and the specific amount of money collected by each state, so that Nigerians can have sufficient information to follow COVID-19 money received by their state government.

Lawal said, “It is commendable that the PTF on COVID-19 gives a daily brief of how it is tackling the pandemic. It should, however, use the platform to brief Nigerians on how it spent N22bn allocated to it by the AGF and any other donations it may have received to fight COVID19.

“The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, and other Agencies and Organisations that are beneficiaries of donations and interventions to combat COVID19, must also be held to transparency standard.

“How much in naira were the palliatives that were distributed? How many beneficiaries? The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouk, owes Nigerians this information,” Lawal said.

Also, the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare said, “Public officers are mere custodians of public funds. There is a general public interest in promoting transparency, accountability, public understanding and involvement in the democratic process.

“The citizenry is entitled to know how the common wealth is being utilized, managed and administered in a democratic setting, as this positively influences the feeling of belonging in the society.

“This right to know will no doubt help in promoting a transparent democracy, good governance and public accountability” he added.