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Stakeholders flag poor administration of Covid-19 funds

By Joke Falaju, Abuja
18 January 2023   |   3:03 am
Stakeholders and civil society organisations have expressed concerns about transparency and accountability issues in the administration of COVID-19 support funds.

Stakeholders and civil society organisations have expressed concerns about transparency and accountability issues in the administration of COVID-19 support funds.

They alleged that lack of transparency in the management of the funds has made the COVID-19 funds administration to be enmeshed in several corruption allegations.

The Nigerian Open Contracting Portal (OCOPO) for the COVID-19. Emergency Procurement revealed how N97.6 million was allocated to a contractor to supply Chlorine based chemical to FCT covid-19 center under the COVID-19 intervention fund, while the Primary Healthcare Development Agency also allocated N22 million for the supply of facemask.

The printing and supply of flip charts on COVID-19 for community volunteers at Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa states gulped N31million, the supply of infrared thermometers in the North central zone gulped N50 million, the supply of ordinary facemask to South West, South South and South East gulped N42million, while 330 infrared thermometers were supplied to Rivers, Edo and Delta states at N330 million.

Interestingly, a recent report by Oxfam revealed that Nigeria billionaires increased their wealth by 38percent during the COVID-19 pandemic just as 7.4 million Nigerians fell into extreme poverty during the period.

The report further revealed that the world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700billion to 1.5million at the rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3billion a day during the first two years of the pandemic that has seen 160million people forced into poverty globally.

The COVID-19 accountability study conducted by Citizens Gavel in Oyo, Lagos, Niger and the FCT disclosed that funds received during the period cannot be reconciled with the money spent by the government in terms of reliefs and the vaccine administration, insisting that government obviously has not done enough to provide transparency and accountability in the management of Covid-19 funds.

The Operations Lead, Citizens Gavel, Oluwafemi Ajibade while speaking to The Guardian said a lot of resources were earmarked for ameliorating the effect of Covid-19 on Nigerians but little has been shown, as research shows that there were discrepancies, vaccine inequality and mismanagement of funds.

He stressed the need for the government to be sincere with the anti-corruption process, especially in the COVID-19 management of resources, as a lot of people saw it as a way of making quick money.

Ajibade lamented that government has not dedicated much effort to ensuring the management of COVID-19 funds, saying although the ICPC has some COVID-19 related cases pending in the court, the effort is still not adequate because when people see the sincerity of government in tackling corruption cases, people will sit up.

He noted that following the research, the group submitted seven petitions to the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) regarding some of their findings in the states but the feedback received is not encouraging.

Similarly the Executive Director of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), David Ugolo has raised concerns over utilization of the Special Drawing Right fund (SDR) by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that has been shrouded in secrecy with no information in public domain by the Federal Government neither was there any parliamentary coverage of the SDR issue in Nigeria.

Also the Chairman of Center for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Mr Debo Adeniran, noted that being that COVID-19 pandemic was not anticipated for by the government, CSOs and even the media, led to the lack of preparation, saying it is important for the government to anticipate such outbreaks so as to be able to nip it in the bud.

He stressed the need for CSOs to always track donations by international donor agencies as well as private organizations, adding that there is a need for CSOs to pry into what and how the donations are distributed to the people.

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