Lawan, Gbajabiamila Task Buhari on Accountability in Mgt of COVID-19 Fund


Urge president to act on proposal for free electricity

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The two presiding officers of the National Assembly yesterday in Abuja tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to put the machinery in place that will ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement and management of donations made by individuals and organisations in support of the fight against COVID-19.The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, made the call during a closed-door meeting with the president in the State House.

The two leaders also implored the president to implement the proposal for provision of free electricity for Nigerians for two months to cushion the effects of the lockdown on the poor.

Speaking with State House reporters after the meeting, Lawan said as a follow-up to the earlier engagement of the leadership of the National Assembly with the Presidential Task Force, he and Gbajabiamila met with the president on resolutions at the meeting.

According to him, they advocated the need for donations made to be put into a single account and a fund management committee set up to oversee the releases.

He insisted that in the spirit of accountability and transparency, the donations must be kept in a separate account and its management and coordination made effective in a way that no one is left in doubt.

He said: “The leadership of the National Assembly has been holding series of meetings with ministers and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and this afternoon, we had an engagement with the president to discuss with him what we have resolved as leaders of the National Assembly and our opinion on various issues regarding the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria as well as going forward.

“For example, the various donations that we are receiving should go into a single account and should have a fund management committee that would be in charge of releases. Accountability and transparency require that we have that separation.

“It is also an opportunity for us to commend Nigerians and corporate bodies that have given us donations but we believe there should be more coordination as far as the management of the funds donated is concerned.”

He also said the National Assembly would be ready to reconvene to consider the proposal of N500 billion as stimulus package by the federal government whenever it is presented.

Lawan also commended the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, noting that the group had worked hard to address the challenge posed by the virulent to the nation.

“I believe the Presidential Task Force is doing a very good job, they have been very proactive and they deserve our commendation,” he said.

The Senate president also spoke on the National Social Investment Programme which has pitted the handlers of the programme against the leadership of the National Assembly.

Lawan called for a review of the handling of the programme with a view to accommodating more beneficiaries and ensuring that a level-playing field is provided in its operations in all parts of the country.

According to him, having run the programme for four full years, it is high time its level of efficiency and effectiveness was assessed with a view to making necessary changes.

Also speaking, Gbajabiamila on his part, said they discussed the proposal for free electricity for Nigerians as part of the palliatives to cushion the effects of the lockdown in the fight against COVID-19.

He said such offer would provide reliefs to Nigerians as they stay at home.

The speaker who said he is very passionate about the provision of power for Nigerians, added that following his discussion with the president, he may meet with the electricity distribution companies (Discos) very soon to look at the modalities for this offer.