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CSOs query N195b COVID-19 spending shortfall in four states

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A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has queried the N194.89 billion COVID-19 spending shortfall in Delta, Enugu, Sokoto, and Kaduna states.

According to the CSOs, out of N209.61 billion allocated for COVID-19 related spending in the four states, only N14.73 billion was disbursed, leading to a spending shortfall of N194.89 billion.

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A representative of Follow The Money International, Pearl Utuk, who revealed the findings from a survey championed by BudgIT and other accountability groups in Abuja, yesterday, stated that while an allocation of N50.13 billion was earmarked for COVID-19 related spending in Delta State’s 2020 budget, only N4.92 billion was expended, creating a shortfall of N41.21 billion.

He added: “In the same light, the Enugu State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, the agency saddled with the responsibility of administering the COVID-19 vaccine in the state, got zero out of the N1.45 billion allocated to it for capital spending in 2020 according to the 2020 Financial Statement of the Office of the Accountant General of Enugu State.

“Sokoto received the sum of N1.17 billion as COVID-19 donations from different sources and allocated N525.47 million to COVID-19 related initiatives.

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“In the same light, Kaduna State spent just N9.29 billion out of its N156.86 billion COVID-19 budget.”

According to her, it was also discovered that funds were mismanaged even as politicians largely hijacked the distribution of palliatives and favoured their supporters rather than vulnerable members of the society.

According to her, this led to the vandalisation of COVID-19 palliatives warehouses in the states.

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On vaccine distribution, the organisations observed that most Primary Health Care centres responsible for the administration of the vaccine lacked required amenities, adding that most health workers decried poor remuneration and inadequate personal protective equipment.

Based on its findings, they called on state governments to establish a dedicated fund for Epidemic Preparedness and Health Security as well as stipulated guidelines for accessing such funds.

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“State governments should institute mechanisms to incentivise vaccine uptake by citizens. State governments should intensify collaboration with CSOs to improve the sensitisation of COVID-19 acceptance.

“In the aftermath of the pandemic, state governments should improve investments in healthcare infrastructure to enhance the capacity of the states to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreaks,” they added.

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