The Federal Government has revealed that it has already spent N31 billion in four months to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, revealed that the amount spent so far represents 84% of the N36.3 billon public funds and donations received to respond to COVID-19 between 1st April, 2020 and 31st July, 2020.
In the statement released by the Accountant-General’s office in response to the Freedom of Information request dated August 10, 2020, and sent to him by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE), it was revealed that N5.9 billion is the balance from the donation.
In response, Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare and Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, in a letter dated September 4, 2020 addressed to the Account General, lamented that his office did not provide a breakdown on how the money was spent.
“However, we also note that the documents sent to us do not contain other significant details as indicated in our FoI request dated 10 August, 2020, including details and breakdown of the number of Nigerians who directly or indirectly have benefited from the spending, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
“It is refreshing to note that 115 ordinary Nigerians donated between N1 and N100 to support the authorities’ efforts to fight COVID-19, despite the fact that it is the country’s poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of the population that continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a huge lesson for public officials and politicians about the idea of public service to one’s country. It also sends a powerful message about the need for politicians to see public office as an opportunity to serve and give something back to the country, and not a place to mismanage, steal or divert the people’s commonwealth into private pockets for personal benefits.
The letter read; “We welcome your demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability, and hope other public officials and institutions would emulate and learn from the good example you have shown by honouring and respecting FoI Act as a matter of routine and practice.
“We would therefore be grateful to receive more specific details and additional information on the spending of N34.4bn between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
“Of the N36.3bn public funds and donations received, N1.4bn came from Nigerians and companies through accounts at the First Bank; Access Bank; GTB, Zenith, and UBA, while N536m donations were made through the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN]. The N536 donations comprise of N89m and N279m from the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
“In addition, China General Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria donated N48m; the Petroleum Equalization Management Board gave N50m while the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board donated N70m.
“We would be grateful if the requested details and additional information are provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and CODE shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our request.”