COVID-19: Over N30bn spent on fight against pandemic, says FG

COVID-19: Over N30bn spent on fight against pandemic, says FG

- The Nigerian government has given an account of how the N36.3bn COVID-19 fund was spent

- Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, said 84 per cent, totalling approximately N30.5bn, had been spent while N5.9bn is left in the accounts

- The government's report has, however, fallen short of the expectations of rights group who requested the details

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The federal government of Nigeria says no lesser than over N30bn has been used up in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic currently afflicting the globe.

This revelation was said to have been made by the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris while giving an account of government's spending on the battle to stop the pandemic.

The COVID-19 fund is made up of individual and group donations as well as public funds pooled together for fighting the crisis.

Premium Times reported on Sunday, September 6 that the stated amount is about 84 per cent of the N36.3bn total.

Idris was replying to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by some social rights group, SERAP and CODE.

The Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE) however, faulted Idris' account.

According to them, some crucial details which they sought in their FOI were not included in the reply provided by the accountant-general.

COVID-19: Over N30bn spent on fight against pandemic, says FG
Ahmed Idris said over N30bn of the COVID-19 funds have been spent. Photo credit:
Source: UGC

“...the documents sent to us do not contain other significant details as indicated in our FoI request dated August 10, 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,” the rights group replied.

SERAP and CODE, however, praised the account-general for providing the details and urged other government officials to do the same.

"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,” they said. reported in April that SERAP demanded that the government should provide details of how the donations made towards the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is being spent.

SERAP announced on its official Twitter handle on Sunday, April 5 that it had submitted two FOI requests to the Nigerian government.

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The group had said it wanted to know how funds donated by well-meaning Nigerians, international bodies, religious groups and countries to kick COVID-19 out of Nigeria was being used.

SERAP later dragged the federal government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to court when details of the spending were not released.

The rights group said it sued both respondents, including the health minister, Osagie Ehanire, over the spending of funds slated for tackling coronavirus in the country.

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