BudgIT, a civic advocacy organisation focused on budget and public finance issues, says there are no comprehensive details of disbursed COVID-19 funds on the open treasury platform.
The platform, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, is to help promote transparency and track spending in the public sector.
In a research report on COVID-19 fund management titled “COVID-19 Fund: Fiscal Support, Palliative Analysis and Institutional Response”, released on Tuesday, BudgIT said it analysed donations, allocations, disbursements and palliative distribution processes at both the national and sub-national levels.
BudgIT said its report indicates that there is no proper framework for COVID-19 fund accountability in the country.
“Our report reviewed the activities of these agencies as well as the support received by the government from both private and international institutions, including the $5.6 billion received as donations, grants, and relief support by the Nigerian government,” BudgIT said.
“We also spotlighted concerns about intervention programmes from private coalitions. For example, as of April 7, 2020, CACOVID, a private coalition of donors and corporate founders, has received donations totalling N21.5bn, according to PROSHARE.
Suffice it to say that the federal government has disbursed N288bn from the N500bn set aside for COVID-19 intervention programmes through its Economic Sustainability Plan. As of the time of our report, comprehensive details of disbursed funds have not been published on the Open Treasury platform. This further establishes our concerns about the lack of a proper framework for COVID-19 fund accountability in Nigeria.
“It is discouraging to discover that not much has been done regarding COVID-19 fund accountability in Nigeria. To this end, we are committed to partnering with agencies like the ICPC and others, to ensure a proper framework for probing COVID-19 response issues.
“The call for an effective framework for COVID-19 transparency and accountability could not have happened at a better time, especially in an environment deeply rooted in a profiteering culture and aversion to openness in the use of public funds. Per our findings, the continuous mismanagement of palliative items and funds earmarked for the COVID-19 response has created a wider gap between the rich and the poor where the vulnerable and marginalised are denied access to the palliative items that rightfully belong to them.”
Gabriel Okeowo, chief executive officer of BudgIT, said there should be a proper process for monitoring transparency in the disbursement of COVID-19 funds and palliatives in the country.
“Health emergencies are inevitable, and a country must never be caught unawares. An effective response must begin with adequate preparation and resource allocation to the health sector, after which a proper process for monitoring, transparency and accountability should be established.”