An advocacy group, BudgIT, says it will soon launch research report that reviewed the Nigeria’s current fiscal support and institutional response to COVID-19 pandemic.
Its Senior Programme Officer, Mr Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, made the call in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Akwa.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that BudgIT is a civic organisation that applies technology to intersect citizen’s engagement with institutional improvement to facilitate societal change.
It is also a leading advocacy for transparency and accountability in Nigeria, with a primary aim of raising standard of transparency and accountability in government.
Bolarinwa said that the research report on COVID-19 Fund Management in Nigeria was entitled: “COVID-19 Fund: Fiscal Support, Palliative Analysis and Institutional Response”.
He said that palliative distribution processes at both the national and subnational levels, were also analysed in the report.
“In 2020, the COVID-19 response in Nigeria began with the establishment of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The task force headed by Mr Boss Mustapha was mandated, alongside other government agencies, to coordinate and oversee Nigeria’s multi-sectoral inter-governmental efforts to contain the virus’ spread in Nigeria.
“The Federal Government further initiated a process to provide palliative measures, including funds disbursements and food items distribution to Nigerians, especially the vulnerable.
“Our report reviewed the support received by the governments from both private and international institutions, including the 5.6 billion dollars received as donations, grants, and relief support,” he said.
Bolarinwa said that the report also spotlighted concerns about the intervention programmes from private coalitions, such as CACOVID.
He said that as of April 7, 2020, CACOVID, a private coalition of donors and corporate founders, had received donations totalling N21.5 billion, according to PROSHARE.
“Suffice it to say that the Federal Government has disbursed N288 billion from the N500 billion set aside for COVID-19 intervention programmes through its Economic Sustainability Plan.
“As of the time of our report, comprehensive details of disbursed funds have not been published on the Open Treasury Platform.
“This further establishes our concerns about lack of a proper framework for COVID-19 fund accountability in Nigeria,” he said.
Bolarinwa said that the group would partner with agencies, such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to ensure a proper framework for probing COVID-19 response issues.
Also, Mr Gabriel Okeowo, the Chief Executive Officer of BudgIT, said the research revealed that many people vehemently disagreed with the government’s method of palliative distribution in their communities.
According to him, using six states – Niger, Lagos, Kano, Ogun, Enugu, and Rivers – as case studies, it was revealed that vulnerable were denied access to the palliative items that rightfully belong to them.
Okeowo, however, urged the Federal Government to improve investment in the healthcare sector, and ensure the timely release of audited statements on COVID-19 funds.
He also called for an institutionalised access to information, to reduce misinformation and prioritise citizen inclusion in committees and decision-making process.