FG Releases N63.8bn for COVID-19 Response

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Anthony Ayine

AuGF report indicts NCDC for financial irregularities

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The federal government released the total sum of N63.8 billion for COVID-19 response for the period that covered between March and June 2020.

The released amount is N20.097 billion lower than the N83.9 billion the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 had budgeted in its proposals.

This was disclosed in the “Interim Report of the Special Audit of Federal Government of Nigeria’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic for the Period, 1st March to 30th June, 2020” that was submitted to the Clerk to the National Assembly by the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine.

A copy of the interim report that was sighted by THISDAY showed that N22.2 billion was released to the PTF and N24.6 billion was released to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from the 2020 Capital budget.

The report observed that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) failed to keep proper accounts of its financial expenses, donations and other activities amounting.

It showed that N17 billion was released as the federal government’s financial intervention to the state governments on COVID-19; N1.9 billion was obtained from public donations into the five dedicated commercial bank accounts and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) while funds mobilised for COVID-19 responses stood at N226.9 billion.

The report said: “A total of N83.9 billion was budgeted by the federal government for the response to the pandemic and the expected sources to fund this budget were as follows; N16.9 billion from the 2020 Budget; N32.5 billion from the COVID-19 Special Account/Levy and N34.5 billion was to be funded through donations from the public and private sectors.

‘’In the course of implementing the COVID-19 intervention activities, funds mobilised from various sources as at June 30, 2020 include: “N30.1 billion raised by Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and is under their direct management. N110.05 billion in cash and in kind was raised by 12 international development partners and their intervention efforts are on-going in collaboration with the PTF. N21 billion was raised by the NNPC and its oil and gas sector partners and is under their direct management.”

The auditor-general said the interim report covers findings from the audit of transactions amounting to N4.9 billion as at June 30, 2020, which is comprised of N191 million at the PTF and N4.7 billion at participating agencies.

He explained that the breakdown of the agencies and entities responsible for the transactions is included within the report, and the audits of the participating agencies remain ongoing at the time of publishing this interim report.

Further findings in the report revealed that there were gaps in documentation, low utilisation of funds allocated for the containment of COVID-19, no sufficient and appropriate documentary evidence of donations, failure to submit procurement documents for post-review, no sufficient and appropriate documentary approval for funds disbursed, insufficient documentary evidence of expenditure, improper procurement procedures, funds utilised on project unrelated to COVID-19 and non-distribution of food items.

The report stated: “The NCDC paid the sum of N19,257,650.74 to some members of staff for the shipment, clearing and distribution of donations received. The NCDC was unable to account for these items as records showing particulars of donors, nature of items donated, and list of beneficiaries were not presented for audit scrutiny.

“It was observed that the sum of N1,147,891,839.87 was spent by the NCDC on the procurement of various goods and services. The procurements were not recorded on the Nigeria Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO). This is contrary to the procurement guidelines issued by the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP). Audit observed that the NCDC disbursed a sum of N233,200,000.00 as special allowances to some members of staff from COVID-19 fund without approval of the Head of Service or the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.”