- A group of young Nigerians have tracked N96.7billion COVID-19 funds in government coffers
- Led by an activist, Hamzat Lawal, the initiative is under the name Follow The Money
- A town hall meeting to review the success so far by Follow The Money was held on Tuesday, December 8
A Non-Governmental Organisation, Connected Development (CODE), on Tuesday, December 8, disclosed that its initiative, Follow The Money tracked N96.7 billion COVID-19 funds both at the federal and state levels in Nigeria.
CODE’s chief executive officer, Mr Hamzat Lawal, revealed this at a national town hall meeting in Abuja attended by a Legit.ng reporter.
The theme of the meeting was: Dialogue on strengthening accountability measures for COVID-19 intervention funds.
Breaking down the figures, Lawal said Follow The Money tracked N1.4billion in Edo state; N1.4billion in Ondo state, N94million in Bauchi state; N28million in Borno state; N230million on Kwara state; N378million in Oyo state; N2.3 billion in Kano state and N330million in Enugu state.
Others are N28million in Akwa Ibom state and N12.6 billion in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos state.
He, however, pointed out that some of the key challenges they faced were, lack of data on contracting information and the various beneficiaries of these resources, as well as fake news which he said, has caused mistrust between the government and citizens.
“The mega town hall meeting on tracking COVID-19 funds aims to provide an opportunity for the citizens to get information on how the government has utilized public resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“How they have also provided palliatives to cushion the effect of the pandemic and how the governments are unlocking resources and ensuring fiscal transparency and accountability.”
He further stated that the pandemic has highlighted the leadership deficit in fiscal accountability in a public health crisis, adding that it is unfortunate that the government both local, state and national levels did not rise to the occasion.
“We believe that there is a huge opportunity here for the government to come clean and tell the citizens how they utilized resources during this pandemic. We hope that this will rebuild trust between the government and citizens particularly at the grassroots.”
He acknowledged some state governments like Kaduna, Oyo, Osun, and Kwara states have provided information to Follow The Money and the public on how they are utilizing public resources.
Also, CODE’s Staff Attorney, Charles Uche said that from April to October 2020, 90 FOI requests were sent across the 36 states to find out how much they received and how they expended the funds.
He, however, said:
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“Only 2 states responded fully; Ondo and Nasarawa states- yet their responses were either without dates to transactions or huge monies were expended over inconsequential items.”
On her part, the OXFAM Nigeria representative, Maryam Laushi, expressed her organisation's support for CODE in tracking COVID-19 funds, stressing that it is important for Nigerians to know how the monies contributed were spent and where it went to.
She reiterated that OXFAM is working with CODE to ensure that the government is accountable and transparent in regards to the monies received and spent on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The highlight of the event was the panel session which focused on issues like:
1. How MDAs/agencies disbursed funds and the final outcome of these funds on citizens or national development
2. Management of COVID resources in line with emergency procurement processes and
3. State implementation of funds.
Media entrepreneur and respected broadcaster, Chief Osasu Igbinedion was part of the panellists during the session.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that Hamzat Lawal joined thought leaders in Europe to discuss policy formulation, international dependency and solidarity, and vulnerabilities through intersectionality at the 2020 Annual Lisbon Forum.
The event organised by the Council of Europe was tagged Learning from Our Global Challenges: Rebuilding Solidarity and it was held on Thursday, December 2.
Late last year, Lawal joined thought leaders from all sectors of Canada’s foreign policy at the annual summit on Canada’s global leadership.
The Follow The Money chief campaigner gave a keynote address linking climate change and migration for better Canadian foreign policy at the event.
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