CSO seeks Comprehensive Data on COVID-19 Donations, Expenditure

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Connected Development (CODE)  a civil society organisation, has urged Federal and State Governments to provide comprehensive data of interventions, recipient organisations and expenditure of donated funds for tackling COVID-19.

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The Chief Executive Officer of CODE, Mr Hamzat Lawal, made this call in a statement on Tuesday  in Abuja.

Lawal said the group demanded the breakdown of the 50 per cent contribution by the 43 Cabinet ministers who pledged half of their March 2020 salary to support the Federal Government effort to combat the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

“Following the spate of donations and interventions to tackle the current pandemic threatening Nigerian healthcare system, CODE is holding the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to transparency standards.

“According to CODE, trust in Nigerian public institutions has recently been measured by lack of transparency, poor accountability and poor communication.

“However, the current crisis provides an opportunity for the Nigerian Government to regain citizens’ trust in its fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While commending donations by well-meaning Nigerians and Organisations, CODE notes that although donations have risen to N44 billion, there is no clarity from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health on proper collation and disbursement.”

Lawal said the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, had earlier responded to CODE on twitter, stating that NNPC and its 30 partners donated about N11 billion.

He said that Kyari said that NNPC would donate in kind and donors would follow their company procurement processes to deliver on their pledges.

According to him, there is need to know which partner donated what? How much is cash and how much is in kind?

“The vagueness of this response makes it impossible to hold either NNPC, its partners or the NCDC to account,” he said.

Lawal further said that President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed in his COVID-19 speech that “all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralised to ensure efficient and impactful spending”.

“How is the Presidential Task Force looking to effect this? What measures have the Ministry of Health, the NCDC and the Ministry of Finance put in place to collect, aggregate funds and ensure proper utilisation?

“These are pertinent questions that require timely responses.

“Now is the time for the government ministries to champion a culture of transparency, consistency and high-quality communications,” he said.

Lawal said that CODE would utilise its social accountability platform, www.ifollowthemoney.org, with over 5,300 members and its well structured community mobilisation strategy to advocate strongly for improved healthcare facilities for all as the nation combats COVID-19.

He said that citizens would be provided online tools to monitor, drive conversation to spark actions and advocate for a transparent and inclusive approach.

He said that the group would urge government stakeholders to make public all funds released for the fight against COVID-19 and its implementation plans.

He said that CODE had severally urged the federal government and the Ministry of Health to prioritise the nation’s healthcare sector.

Lawal said that CODE’s call for accountability and transparency in the sector was to prepare the country to tackle challenges that a pandemic like the Coronavirus presented.

He said that the group was disturbed that the existing healthcare structure in the nation was not sufficient to combat the pandemic, especially with the prediction that COVID-19 cases in Nigeria may rise to up to 39,000.

He however said that CODE was hopeful that the interventions and other non-monetary resources would cushion the gaps and develop Nigeria’s healthcare system.

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