By Adedayo Akinwale
The federal government has put the amount spent in battling COVID-19 in the last four months at N30.5 billion.
In a response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE), the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, said the amount spent was 84 per cent of the N36.3 billion COVID-19 donations received from April to July.
In another letter signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, and CODE Chief Executive Officer, Hamzat Lawal, the two civil society groups asked the accountant-general to give a breakdown of how the money was spent and plans of how the balance will be expended.
“We note among others that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22 billion and 36 states spent N7 billion to support their COVID-19 initiatives.
“We also note that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spent N877 million for deployment of assets in support of COVID-19 operations; while the Nigeria police spent N500 million on personal protective equipment. N17,865.09 was paid as bank charges.
“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.
“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,” the two groups.