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CSOs demand audit report on N141b COVID-19 spending from FG

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia (Lagos) and Matthew Ogune (Abuja)
13 November 2021   |   2:46 am
A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged the Federal Government to make available to the public the audit report of the expenses of the Presidential Task Force

Clinical Pharmacists Laud Govt’s Vaccination Efforts

A Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has urged the Federal Government to make available to the public the audit report of the expenses of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 detailing how monies were disbursed to cushion the effect of the pandemic.

This is coming as the Clinical Pharmacists Association Of Nigeria (CPAN) has applauded the Federal Government and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) over the decision to include community pharmacies among vaccination centres for COVID-19 in Nigeria.

They made the demand yesterday in Abuja at the end of the COVID-19 spending audit meeting organised by BudgiT.

According to the accountability groups, the Federal Government through the Minister of Health had disclosed last week that it received a total of N141.1 billion from donors in seven categories.

However, BudgiT’s Chief Executive Officer, Gabriel Okeowo, yesterday, disclosed that research by the CSOs revealed that the audit statement at the national level had not been released to date, even as states like Lagos had made some efforts to make their audit statement public.

Okeowo said: “In the meeting, we realised that Lagos State raised the sum of N17.8 billion as donations; the Federal Government raised the sum of N141.1billion in donations.”

While Lagos State has given an audited statement for the funds released, we can’t say the same of the Federal Government.
“From the United Nations basket fund, it was highlighted that Nigeria received N22.6 billion in donations; CACOVID donated N43.2 billion; oil and gas industry, N21.4 billion; development partners group on health, N42.9billion and GAVI N4.5 billion.

“The Federal Government also noted that it received private donations to its accounts to the tune of N2.0 billion while other donations worth N4.04 billion were received, making a total of N141.1billion in 2020.

“While we appreciate the breakdown, we are requesting the Federal Government and the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation at the earliest to cause a performance audit to be conducted on COVID-19 expenditure to ensure value for money.”

In his presentation, Ismail Adeleye, a retired director from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF), said the country was in dire need of the services of the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) to ensure and assist in good governance, better public management and transparent, accountable and responsible use of public funds.

On the efforts by the government to get the majority of Nigerians vaccinated against COVID-19, the CPAN said the decision made by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 was highly commendable, noting that Nigerians would be the greatest beneficiaries.

A statement yesterday signed by its National Chairman, Dr. Joseph Madu and National Secretary, Dr. Moteehat Bukkie Olu-Lawal, read: “Community pharmacists are usually the most accessible trained healthcare professionals in the community, and they are usually utilised by most members of the public as the first point of call on health matters.

“The use of community pharmacies as vaccination centres is not new to the world as this is the norm in most countries with good health indices such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom. CPAN strongly believes that this singular decision of the Federal Government to use community pharmacies and other private health care facilities as vaccination centres will go a long way in exterminating the pandemic in the country.”

While noting that people could now walk across to nearby community pharmacies in their neighbourhood to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once the decision is implemented, the association stressed that people would not require a prior appointment to consult with community pharmacists.

“Furthermore, the community pharmacists are highly trained healthcare personnel on drug matters, and their proximity to the members of the community in which they practice, as well as a trust by the community on the pharmacist, can also assist in educating members of the public against false information and myths surrounding the COVID-19 situation.

“Hopefully, the FG and NPHCDA will extend the use of Community pharmacies as Vaccination Centres to other vaccine-preventable diseases and not just COVID-19 that is in line with international best practices,” the statement added.