Groups seek improved transparency, accountability in NCT programme
• Say inclusion of 1M households in two weeks is unattainable
• Allege deliberate attempt to confuse scheme with COVID-19 palliatives
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Community Life Project (CLP), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Good Governance Team (GGT) have called on the government to improve transparency, accountability and value for money in the National Cash Transfer (NTC), and COVID-19 Response Programmes.
According to the right groups, the funds being spent under the NCT programme belongs to the public, but the framework for the compilation of the households that qualify to receive the payments and be in the Social Register is not in the public domain.
The groups said this in a statement signed by the Lead Director, CSJ, Eze Onyekpere; Founding Director, CLP, Ngozi Iwere; Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa; and National Coordinator, GGT, Jimoh Salman, noting that there is no Nigerian Framework Law under which the funds are being disbursed.
They maintained that the Framework Law should set the parameters for qualification for the fund, amount to be disbursed, timeframes, and other criteria necessary for the efficient utilisation of the fund.
They complained that the authorities have refused to publish the names and details of the households, who were recipients of the public money under the NCT programme for specious and unfounded reasons.
“There is a statutory obligation under Section 48 (1) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act for full transparency in the management of public expenditure and revenues.
“It says, ‘The Federal Government shall ensure that its fiscal and financial affairs are conducted in a transparent manner and accordingly, ensure full and timely disclosure and wide publication of all transactions and decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and their implications for its finances’.
“The President’s mandate in his recent broadcast for the inclusion of one million households within two weeks seems unattainable if there is no background support or already available compilation of poor households. It may imply that unqualified households will be listed as beneficiaries,” they noted.
Meanwhile, the groups alleged a deliberate official attempt to confuse the NCT Programme with the palliatives under the COVID-19 Response Programme, noting that the two are not the same, and should be managed separately.
They maintained that for fund to be spent under the COVID-19 Response Programme, it must be appropriated according to Section 80 and 81 of the 1999 Constitution, stating that the National Assembly is yet to enact a Framework Law for a meaningful response to COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the groups called on the Federal Government to publish the names and details of all the existing 2.6 million beneficiary households who are already participating in the NCT Programme, in an electronic portal available to every Nigerian.
“The National Assembly should enact a Framework Law for expenditure in the COVID-19 Response Programme, which details the comprehensive Federal Government response to the pandemic. The Law can also contain detailed financial responses to the pandemic or become the basis for approving specific executive requests for expenditure through appropriation.
“They should immediately reconvene without being in one physical space considering that modern information technology tools can be deployed by Nigerian IT experts to convene and moderate a virtual meeting at little or no extra cost to the nation.
“It is imperative that the COVID-19 Response and the NCT be kept separate and their resources not mixed up. This is necessary for accountability and transparency.
“The President’s mandate for the inclusion of one million households should be done transparently, with the participation of civil society after the authorities have publicised the criteria for enlistment,” they added.
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