Redirect security votes, life pension to healthcare funding, SERAP tells governors
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to governors urging them to redirect their security votes and life pensions to the funding of public healthcare facilities and quality education.
It urged governours of the 36 states to urgently provide information details of spending on COVID-19 in their states and to immediately redirect security votes and life pensions for former governors to invest in and improve public healthcare facilities and access to quality education.
“Given the rising number of deaths in Kano state reportedly linked to COVID-19, your state and other state governors now have to show leadership, transparency and accountability, if you are to effectively and satisfactorily respond to the COVID-19 crisis, curb the spread of the disease and save Nigerians,” the group said.
The letter dated April 25, 2020, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation stated, “Redirecting security votes and life pension funds to public healthcare facilities and quality education in your states would improve your ability to respond to COVID-19, provide palliatives, socio-economic reliefs to residents and meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“It would be a betrayal of your oath of office to continue to receive security votes, pay life pensions and other allowances at a time of public health crisis in your states. Taking these steps will not only help save lives but also help ensure that the necessary institutional reforms in the health and education sectors occur within your state.
“The situation in Kano State is reportedly linked to lack of effective leadership, transparency and accountability, which would lead to grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity if not urgently addressed.”
Continuing, it stated that Kano situation showed the urgent need for all governors to demonstrate leadership at a time of public health crisis by immediately stopping payment of security votes and life pensions and redirecting such funds to respond to COVID-19, invest in healthcare facilities and quality education in the states.
“We ask you to provide the requested information within seven days of receipt or publication of this letter. If we did not hear from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”
“According to our information, some states like Kano are waiting for handouts from the Federal Government and have refused to take any action to respond to COVID-19, stop the spread of the disease and save lives.
“We are concerned that most governors are spending scarce state resources to pay themselves security votes and their predecessors’ life pensions rather than using public funds to invest in public healthcare infrastructure and improve education in their states.
“We are concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds by several states to respond to COVID-19.”
With a few exceptions, there is a lack of information on what exactly most governors are doing to respond to the COVID-19.
“There are also increasing reports and allegations of corruption and mismanagement of resources linked to COVID-19,” it added.
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