COVID-19 funds: CSOs demand audit, launch second accountability project in 10 African countries | Dailytrust

COVID-19 funds: CSOs demand audit, launch second accountability project in 10 African countries

The BudgIT Foundation and Connected Development (CODE) have asked the Federal Government to conduct a public audit of how COVID-19 funds including the N50bn loan was spent.
The organisations at a joint press briefing during the inauguration of the second phase of the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability in Africa on Wednesday in Abuja also said that they would mobilize at least 1.7m Africans digitally and offline to monitor emergency funds and demand health sector accountability.

The Global Director of BudgIT, Oluseun Onigbinde and Chief Executive of CODE, Mallam Hamzat Lawal, said that beyond collaborations with the government and sectoral leaders, they would also strengthen citizens’ engagement and equip civil society organizations (CSOs) in each focus country on how to prioritize vulnerable communities in their advocacy for improved healthcare investment.
The project which was in collaboration with Global Integrity, Oxlade Consulting and funded by Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and Skoll Foundation is an initiative which seeks to promote accountability and transparency through the tracking of COVID-19 intervention funds across 10 African countries.
Lawal said that for the first phase of the project, both organizations leveraged their Tracka and Follow The Money platforms to address the deeply rooted systemic profiteering culture associated with COVID-19 interventions and ineffective feedback mechanisms for tracking COVID-19 fund disbursements and management across focus countries.
He expressed optimism that the first phase strengthened civic engagement on COVID-19 response related matters to ensure that targeted governments use COVID-19 funds effectively.
He said that building on these successes, the second phase of the project will advocate for improved healthcare funding and address the issues related to vaccine deployment and equitable distribution across focus countries.
“Both organisations will do this firstly, by conducting research on the post COVID environment, the distribution of health sector resources, the government’s commitment to healthcare funding, vaccine procurement plans and the issues affecting the equitable distribution in Africa, with a special focus on vulnerable groups in terms of commercial activity and socioeconomic status.
“The government owe Nigerians a public audit of how COVID-19 funds were spent. The public audit should be jointly undertaken by both the executive and legislature,” he said.
Gabriel Okeowo, Country Director BudgIT, who stood in for Onigbinde said, “This research will set a pathway for identifying the peculiar issues with procurement plans and vaccine distribution, after which we can build partnerships with relevant stakeholders and sectoral leaders to co-create inclusive frameworks and solutions for long-term health sector accountability.
“We will not only collaborate with governments in focus countries to institute proper and sustainable accountability systems, we will also enhance the COVID-19 accountability platform with a digital dashboard that tracks health sector resourcing and accountability approaches.”

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