A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) has faulted the management of COVID-19 funds which, they said led to large scale corruption due to lack of transparency and accountability.
The CSOs on Wednesday in a report in Abuja said the COVID-19 funds and resources, especially donations and grants from multilateral and bilateral agencies bypassed parliamentary budget oversight and government financial management controls and processes.
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The report jointly written by Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), The Innovation for change, BudgIT and TIDES, specifically focused on COVID-19 funds and spending as well as data on the NCDC COVID-19 efforts, was a result of a citizens-led survey conducted in Lagos and Ogun states.
The report signed on their behalf of others by the Executive Director of WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, faulted the non-inclusion of CSOs in the monitoring of the implementation of the funds under the COVID-19 emergency support packages for improved transparency and accountability.
“Hence, the anti-corruption protocol for the Presidential Task Force in charge of monitoring procurements and financial transactions developed by ICPC for corruption in COVID-19 relief measures was not far-reaching,” she said.
They said that there should be an adoption of communication approaches to work with risk communication experts in order to design a risk communication strategy for prevention and response as well as share information accordingly.
“The federal government failed to demonstrate its fidelity to the rules in the way and manner it disbursed or distributed the funds or resources to citizens, as there were several reports and allegations of misuse its diversion or resources, third party observers in distribution monitoring teams to ensure fair and equal distribution of relief materials.
“Also, the federal government did not carry CSOs along while it was receiving COVID-19 donations or spending the funds. Hence, the anti-corruption protocol for the PTF in charge of monitoring procurement and financial transactions developed by the ICPC or corruption prevention in COVID-19 relief measures was not far reaching.
“Essentially, there was poor involvement of CSOs, local authorities, and traditional leaders among others and the misuse of ICTs for phishing misinformation and further fraudulent activities by various interest groups and criminal organizations,” the report said.
The CSOs among others called for legislation in the management of donations, grants, or loans during pandemics, epidemics and for the design of standardized frameworks of managing COVID-19 funds or resources.