By Ugo Aliogo
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in conjunction with Transparency International in Nigeria have commended the ongoing donations by indigenous groups towards combating the COVID-2019 virus pandemic and its socio-economic impacts, while calling for total accountability of the utilisation and distribution of funds.
A statement made available to THISDAY and signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, lauded the recent constitution of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 response with specific responsibility to coordinate donations for efficient and impactful spending.
They stated that they were surprised that the selection and appointment into the Committee did not take cognisance of representatives from the media and other credible governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working “on anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in governance and public financial management.”
The statement explained that in times of global public emergency, proactive measures to ensure judicious utilisation and distribution of these funds are needed more than ever.
They remarked that the inclusion of media and other accountability entities in the Committee would compel transparency and accountability in the utilisation and dissemination of information on managed funds.
The statement said at this critical juncture, Nigeria could not afford mismanagement and misappropriation of public and donated funds.
The statement further noted that the diversion or misappropriation of the funds would be tantamount to total betrayal, unpatriotic, and selfishness in the management of the nation’s treasury which are punishable under relevant laws.
According to the statement, “While we monitor with keen interest the response of various authorities to the commitment of the federal government towards alleviating the impact of the newly pronounced lockdown in some states, we demand sincere effort to ensure relief materials and other financial and material assistance are deployed accordingly to citizens irrespective of their socio-economic status with holistic and transparent strategy to adequately distribute relief package to citizens at the grassroots level.
“We also observe that ongoing development has further revealed the government’s inadequate preparedness to mitigate impact of the pandemic and other national emergency with existing poor national storage capacity for food and other basic needs to respond adequately.
“Let us recall that, according to United Nation Children Education Fund (UNICEF) only 26.5 per cent of the population use improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, around 75 million Nigerians do not have access to electricity.
“Given the global trend, we observe that the lockdown cannot be meaningful without adequate proactive measures by the Government on the provision of basic amenities such as sufficient food supplies, access to water and regular power supply to genuinely address the plights and agitations of common citizens, whose daily means of income would be largely affected. Any lockdown must take into consideration these underlying infrastructure deficits.
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government, relevant authorities and anti-graft institutions to ensure proper accountability in the utilisation and distribution of the donated funds. All distributed funds need to be recorded and pro-actively published so that impartial and objective verification is enabled.”